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The ROI of Hiring Through a Recruiter:

Learn when and why a recruiter might be your best shot for key hires


We all know there are cheaper ways to find candidates. So why do so many companies choose to go the recruiter route?

What recruiters bring to the table

When to consider using a recruiter

Making the most of an engagement

Hiring great talent has always been hard. Today, it’s harder than ever.

As we find ourselves at the intersection of the pandemic and the Great Resignation, many organizations are forging ahead with hiring. The current challenge is called “recovery recruiting,” and it’s not for the faint of heart.

The workforce has shrunk and skillsets are scarce. Salary benchmarks are out the window and inflation is throwing us all for a loop. The candidates are in control and competition for their attention is fierce.

And hey, can your hire be fully remote? If you’re not prepared to hire someone who can work in their pajamas, your candidate pool just got a lot smaller.

So what’s a hiring team to do? You can post on all the job boards and hit up your network for referrals and you may have some luck.

But what if your next hire isn’t looking for a job right now? And what if you don’t have time to wait? After all, 95% of business leaders have said it’s very or somewhat challenging for their company to find skilled professionals.

This is where a third-party recruiter comes in.

There’s a reason demand for recruiters has soared in this tight labor market. Although they can be expensive, a vacant seat can have a much higher cost—in both dollars AND impact on your goals and your team morale.

Not only can a good recruiter help you navigate the uncharted waters of hiring in 2022, but they can be one of the best investments you make for your organization.

The Value of a Third-Party Recruiter

Despite conflicting reports, the Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down. And talent acquisition teams aren’t immune, since they’re often at the front lines of dealing with the consequences, leading to high percentages of overwhelm and burnout.

In such a competitive talent market where existing recruiting teams are spread thin, it makes sense that so many organizations are turning to third-party recruiters to help fill some of their empty seats.

For a third-party recruiter to be worth the investment, companies need to see more than just cost savings—they need an actual return on the money they spend on a third-party partner. Luckily, ample evidence shows that third-party recruiters can deliver big value.

But first, how do you actually quantify the full cost of a vacancy? It can be difficult to measure the actual impact since the effects usually go beyond the financial numbers. Luckily, there are cost of vacancy calculators available to help give you a baseline on direct costs.

Many business leaders assume the cost of an open role boils down to something as simple as missed revenue opportunities, but there’s a lot more at risk:

  • Leadership can run into challenges when prioritizing competing open roles.
  • Remaining team members pick up the slack, juggling additional day-to-day tasks and lowering productivity—ultimately adding more stress to those carrying the burden.
  • Morale can suffer if team members don’t have visibility into how and when management fills the open role, leading to more vacancies.
  • If the role is filled in a rush, candidate evaluation errors are more likely to occur, resulting in a costly bad hire.


Regardless of your existing talent acquisition structure, outsourcing your hiring process to a third-party recruiter is one of the fastest, most efficient ways to prioritize filling vacancies with minimal internal effort.

We talk to hiring teams and recruiters every day, and what we consistently hear is that recruiters bring a multi-faceted return on investment to the organizations they collaborate with:

Specialized experience. Third-party recruiters often specialize in particular niches, and they’re experts at filling roles in certain fields. Not only do they know where the best talent hangs out, but they also have access to those communities.

Ultimately, regardless of their type of role, your employees will do a lot of the branding work for you—from review sites to social media and word-of-mouth referrals.

Enhanced pipeline and network: It’s not enough to throw a req onto a job board and hope for the best, and gone are the days of scouring pre-existing databases for “leads.”

Recruiters know the market in ways your internal team may not—since this is their specialty, they know how fast roles are moving, what it takes to get candidates interested, and which candidates are on the move.

Diverse outlooks: It’s well-documented that people tend to hire other people that look like them, which means bias can easily enter the candidate sourcing process.

As companies prioritize making true progress in creating and supporting a diverse environment, a third-party recruiter can help reach underrepresented talent in their networks and present a diverse slate.

Diversity and inclusion matters—and ample evidence exists to show diverse companies financially outperform those with less diversity.

Alignment of needs: With the unparalleled market knowledge recruiters bring to the table, recruiters can help you identify and align your talent needs, refining your search according to both the realities of the market and what you truly need.

Incentivized collaboration: Reputation matters in the recruiting industry. It’s in a recruiter’s best interest to fill roles quickly, and with great candidates—after all, this is how they develop consistent relationships with the companies they work with.

Freed-up resources: You may already have an internal talent acquisition team, or maybe your organization has a small HR team balancing multiple priorities, including hiring. And we’re all trying to work smarter, not harder, right? Bringing in a seasoned third-party recruiter can free up your internal resources to focus on daily priorities.

In fact, according to HR Dive’s 2nd annual Identity of HR Survey, task outsourcing is on the rise year over year. “With fewer administrative tasks, HR departments equipped with vendor support may assume more strategic work. Or departments busy with administrative workloads can assign strategic goals to consultants and experts.”


When to Use a Third-Party Recruiter

Most organizations have an existing talent acquisition structure—even if that structure is just a one-person team.

But in a tight labor market where many teams are trying to do more with less, a third-party recruiter can complement an existing strategy by filling high priority roles or dividing and conquering a percentage of open roles with an internal team.

Bottom line? There’s no single “right” strategy when bringing in a third-party recruiter. What we do know is companies that work with one get quality candidates, an overall shorter time to fill, and freed-up internal resources.

If you’re trying to narrow down a good starting point for when to actually reach out to a recruiter, think about engaging them when you’re hiring for:

Roles that need to be urgently filled:

Need a candidate, like, yesterday? You may be trying to fill a role that’s revenue-generating, or the rest of the team is taxed by the vacancy. Or you may just be trying to grow, and not having this role is a limiter.

In any of those situations (or a million more we didn’t list), getting a great candidate in that seat fast is a priority, and a third-party recruiter can step in quickly.

A role that ISN'T urgent:

If you have a nice-to-have role that you can take your time filling or a role that’s been sitting for a while without much movement, hand it over to a third-party recruiter and take it off your to-do list.

Niche or hard-to-fill roles:

This one might be a no-brainer, but like we mentioned before, many third-party recruiters specialize in a niche, have in-depth industry knowledge, and can find great candidates for roles that need specialized experience.

Not only do they have the right network, but they understand the necessary mix of skills that someone needs to excel in those roles.

Executive roles:

Filling a leadership role can be a time-consuming process, and although the process varies depending on the hiring company, it’s not always as simple as posting a job req and hoping for the best.

Not only can a recruiter tap into their network for active and passive candidates for these roles, but they understand market trends, compensation benchmarks, and competitive advantages—all insights that can give you an edge in your candidate search.

This list isn’t exhaustive, and it’s common for several of these needs to align with yours. A good third-party recruiter can help fill any or all of those roles, freeing up valuable internal time and resources.

Making the Most of an Engagement

Working with a third-party recruiter definitely requires less time than building out a TA organization, but you’ll still want to make sure to proactively dedicate some initial time to set your recruiting partner up for success.

After working with thousands of recruiters and hiring teams, we’ve seen the highest success rates when employers:

Collaborate with 2–3 active recruiters:

Use performance statistics to select recruiters best suited to your needs, and evaluate their performance on milestones that you set ahead of time.

Have a kickoff call:

It’s important to hold an intake session to answer questions and build a connection with your recruitment partner. This can help both parties set expectations, clarify and align needs, and communicate what you’re looking for beyond what’s captured in a job description. Make sure to communicate metrics you’ll use to track progress and set milestones for engagement review.

Move quickly:

Nobody likes to feel ghosted! At the other end of the recruiter is a candidate forming an opinion on your company based on their experience, so you want to make it a great one. The faster you can answer any questions that arise, the faster the recruiter can communicate with the candidate.

There are common misconceptions about outside search—like it’s only worth the price tag for highly skilled executive roles, or third-party recruiters aren’t needed if the company has an existing TA team.

Every day, we help companies identify their true cost of vacancy for open roles and understand how third-party recruiters can fit their hiring needs regardless of their organizational structure or existing resources.

No matter what role you’re looking to fill, a third-party recruiter can save you time and money while securing a high-quality candidate. Isn’t that what recruiting is all about?