Frequently asked questions for employers

How do I staff for growth?

Why do some recruitment firms charge a fee and other don’t?

Recruitment Firms that don’t charge a fee are usually part of the Jobs Network or another government initiative aimed at getting a certain demographic back into the workforce.  Recruitment firms involved in these initiatives are paid by the government when they place a candidate.

What are the various levels of service provided by recruitment firms?

This is an ever-changing world, and like many services recruitment has been commoditised significantly.

At the lowest end of the service spectrum are the ‘click and click’ recruiters.  Here, the company will on-forward candidates to clients as soon as they are received, with little to no screening and the aim to get to the client first and increase chances of a fee if the candidate places. If this is the sort of service you are getting, make sure that your fee reflects this. The candidates come unscreened, unqualified and uninformed.

Next in line is the ‘resume received, telephone screen and forward on’ recruitment firm. Again this is at the lower end of the spectrum.  If you are not sure that you’re getting the full value, ask to view the interview notes for the candidate.

At the middle end of the spectrum are recruitment firms that ‘interview and report’. When choosing this type of firm make sure you find out what the consultant will interview on, what style of interviewing they will conduct and what you can expect the report to cover.  Is this the only service? Or, will they manage the process, including reference checking and managing the candidates etc, through to the end?

What is executive search and when should it be used?

Executive Search is a fully mapped out research project aimed at gaining a group of potential candidates (usually incumbents in roles similar to that you are hiring in similar companies) that are approached by the recruitment consultant (head hunter) to determine their interest in pursuing the job at hand.

The recruitment consultants take the prospective candidate through the process of engaging their interest and presenting the opportunity. This is a highly specialised service and the time and effort usually requires the skills of a researcher as well as the consultant. Fees are usually upwards of 18 per cent of the overall remuneration package of the position being placed, and recruitment firms and usually work on a retained/fee for service model (first third of the fee due on commencement, second third at shortlist, final at placement).

If a consultancy is pitching this, get them to show how they would map the market. Get them to show, with names of companies and contacts missing, what their lists look like. Anything short of this is not search. It is general networking, which should come with all recruitment assignments – so check your consultant is providing you a detailed search model before you engage them.

Companies use Executive Search when the role is senior and it would not be appropriate to advertise for the role. The role is confidential – for example a key sales director/manager – which the company does not wish to alert the competition, or when a company wants more than just candidates who respond to advertisements.

I pay my recruitment firms on success. Is this the best model?

With so many recruitment companies out there, why would you pay upfront? There is one key reason: you get what you pay (or don’t pay) for. Recruiters who work for a ‘fee on success’ are usually juggling multiple jobs that have a similar orientation. For example, if a recruiter has 10 jobs on the go, over the week your job may only get one-tenth of the recruiter’s overall time.

If you want preference and priority – then engage a recruitment firm, retain them and give them exclusivity. All of these higher forms of commercial trade will increase the priority the Recruitment firm gives to you.

Do all recruiters interview their candidates?

No, and when they don’t ensure the fee is less than for those that take the time to thoroughly screen on your behalf?

Who pays for recruitment advertising and why?

For press-based advertising the employer usually bears the cost. Mainly because the fees associated with press advertising are very high and a recruitment firm could not bear this cost in their standard fees. However, most recruitment firms buy ads in bulk from the internet job boards. Usually you can either buy these ads for a heavy discount or the recruitment firm may be prepared to absorb the cost of the ad into their overall fee.

What level of reference checking can I expect?

Your recruitment firm may just pass on previous written references, alternatively they may email a reference check form to referees for completion, or call them to ask specific questions designed around the candidate being interviewed. The beauty of telephone reference checks is that the recruitment consultant can gauge the responder’s feedback. Pregnant pauses and uncomfortable silences say a lot.

Do recruiters put all of the information they gather in a reference check report?

Good recruiters do and will make you aware of potential development issues or character flaws of the incumbent so there are no surprises.

What is the guarantee that is offered?

Usually the guarantee will have the consultant undertake the process on your behalf again – free of charge – should the placed candidate leave or not see through their probation period. Again, be sure what is on offer and any restrictions. Ensure your account is paid within the trading terms, as those with outstanding accounts may lose out on the guarantee.

Guarantee periods are usually three or six months – depending on the role.

How do I deal with a recruiter that’s sent me an unsolicited resume?

Check your company policy. Check also that you want to receive the resume.  If not, send an email back immediately stating that you do not wish the resume and do not accept the transmission of the resume to you.

I recruited a candidate who I knew and only after placing him/her did I discover they were presented by a recruitment firm.  They have invoiced me for his/her placement?

Sound farfetched? No, this is one of general industries biggest gripes with recruiters and it can go legal if you have an aggressive agency and it’s not handled appropriately. Be sure that your organisation has a policy to accept, or not accept, unsolicited resumes. If you choose to receive unsolicited resumes, ensure they go to a nominated recipient – if not, they should be ignored. A quick response is the best advice to nip this in the bud.


Any more questions or queries? Feel free to contact Maree Herath, Principal Harvest Recruitment and Harvest Human Resources on 0438 517 085 or contact us for further information.