If you ask (almost) any Chief Human Resources Officer about what makes her company successful and she'll say, "Our people--our talent--are the most important thing! Without them, we would be nothing!"

But, a quick search through job boards finds that recruiters aren't a top priority for a lot of companies. 

  • Bilingual Recruiter $12-$16 an hour.
  • Part Time Recruiter $16-$18 annually (I presume that's a typo and they meant per hour).
  • Entry Level Recruiter: We are considering candidates who have a 4-year degree or relevant work experience. Since this is an entry-level position, we are willing to consider a candidate with no recruiting experience if they have an incredible student mentality and meet the criteria of our ideal candidate above.

Now, of course, there are higher level recruiting jobs available, but it's clearly an entry-level role in many companies. While I'm all in favor of bringing in entry-level people and training them, I'm concerned that we take a role that can literally shape the direction of the company and assign it to people who graduated from college 3 minutes ago.

In order to recruit effectively, you need to understand the business and the job functions. Most hiring managers hire one or two direct reports per year, if that. They aren't the expert on hiring. The recruiter should be an expert, but entry-level people are never experts.

Shouldn't You Skip the Recruiter Anyway?
Most job hunting advice tells you the most effective way to find a job is to network your way into one, by going straight to the hiring manager. This is absolutely true. But why on earth are we paying someone (even $14 an hour) that is so ineffective that our best advice is to go around her?

Even if the manager comes with a candidate in hand, the recruiter is the one who does the background checks and drug screens and sets up the onboarding process. (Generally.) If you mess this up, you can permanently damage the relationship with a top candidate.

Additionally, a shoddy background check can allow you to either reject someone awesome or hire a headache. There have been several high-level people who lied on their resumes. A recruiter doing a quick background check could have saved the companies a lot of bad publicity.

Potential Damage to Candidates

Lena Smith, Human Resources Manager for Print NW, a commercial printer in the Seattle area explained it like this:

Sometimes I think people forget that in recruiting and hiring people, you are messing with those people's lives. They are unemployed or looking for an opportunity to increase their income, work closer to home etc. when those people are just a stack of resumes or a list of names in an ATS, some people forget the human as snap decisions are made about job offers, turn down cards, etc.

As Smith points out, candidates are relying on recruiters to help them land a job. Yes, the recruiter works for the company, not the candidate, but if your recruiter treats your candidates poorly, your company will pay the price.

Humans are the most important part of your company, and recruiters need to be focused on that.

It's Not Just Recruiting, It's Public Relations

Remember, recruiters are PR people. They talk to more outside people every day than some of your sales force does. A recruiter that strings someone along for months, messes up a drug test, or never emails a candidate to say the position has been filled is bad PR for your company.

You may not wish to hire a specific candidate today, but that doesn't mean the same person wouldn't be your top pick for a role that opens tomorrow. A bad recruiter destroys that relationship.

If you are finding that your best employees are coming through the back door, consider what you're doing that prevents your recruiting staff from finding great candidates. That's their job. You may need to bump up the pay and experience requirements to get someone who can do the job, not just check boxes.

Published on: Dec 20, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.