If you are searching for your next employment opportunity, it helps to have someone in your corner that is able to assist you through the process. This could be in the form of a recruiter or a referral from someone you know who already works within your industry. If you are an employer trying to fill a position, you could engage a recruiter who focuses in that area, rely on employee referrals, or post the position on a job board.
This blog takes a close look at the difference between employing recruiters vs. referrals when it comes to landing your dream job or making the ideal hire.
What’s the difference between talent acquisition and recruiting?
Before we get to the question of recruiters versus referrals, let’s discuss the difference between “talent acquisition” a term which is being used more and more within companies, versus a recruiter. At first glance, talent acquisition and recruiting sound like the same thing — and the reason why is that they are closely related. Recruitment involves finding an appropriate individual to fill a specific open position. It includes finding qualified applicants, screening them, and then onboarding them into the organization. It’s an essential business function, however it differs from talent acquisition.
The function of talent acquisition includes strategic planning, looking toward the future to determine what a company might need, developing a talent pipeline, and allowing long-term goals to inform the recruitment process. In short, talent acquisition is more of an ongoing strategy whereas recruiting is about filling vacancies.
Placement through recruiting agencies
There are three main ways in which job seekers get jobs. The first, blindly applying to open, publicly advertised positions, is a solution that we will not discuss in depth here. The second is a recruiting or search firm. Search firms (which typically fulfill a talent-recruiting function) are engaged by employers to source and vet qualified prospects for specific, open positions within the organization, but whenever a qualified candidate contacts them to get active, they put you on their list to be called first when and if they are engaged to fill a position that matches your criteria and skillset. There are many advantages to choosing a recruitment firm for placement purposes. The benefits include:
- They understand your industry well – recruitment agencies understand the challenges you face and how to overcome them, especially if you hire an agency that specializes in your industry and/or your area.
- They assist you with resume improvements – A well-crafted resume that highlights your education, skills, and accomplishments helps you land the right job. Recruitment agencies understand resume optimization well, and they can help you perfect yours.
- They help you prepare for the interview – Recruitment agencies understand the companies who interview you and what they are looking for in a candidate. This helps you prepare and feel confident for your interview.
- Access to more jobs – Recruitment agencies keep a close eye on the job market, and they rarely miss opportunities. In some cases, they are engaged by employers to fill positions that are never made public or posted on job boards This creates a huge advantage for candidates who contact recruiting firms or choose to work with them.
- More timely and accurate feedback about where the employer is in the hiring process and any feedback they had about your candidacy.
If you choose a recruitment firm that you can trust to put you first, there are very few cons. However, there are some risks to working with a less reliable placement firm. For example, less reputable agencies may encourage you to interview for positions that you do not want or submit your resume to employers without your prior approval. Note that recruiters do not charge candidates a fee, so it doesn’t cost a candidate anything to work with a search firm. (Charging applicants any sort of fee is unusual and is likely an indication that you aren’t working with a reputable agency. Recruitment agencies are typically paid and engaged by the employer, not the applicant.) Consequently, it is important to choose a recruiting firm that has good reviews and a proven track record of delivering for its clients.
Benefits of using a referral?
Employee referrals are often a great way to land a job that matches your skillset and expertise. So how does an employee referral work? Employee referrals occur when someone from within a company recommends the individual to the employer. This could be directly related to an open position, or it could be a more general referral. The employee making the referral to their employer typically is paid a fee for doing so, as most companies now have explicit employee referral programs that stipulate the amount of the referral fee. There is no doubt that a quality referral from a trusted member of a company goes a long way and can significantly increase the chances of employment. More specifically, the benefit of employee referrals is jumping straight to the short list of candidates. Employee referrals may not directly land you a job, but they can help you become a top contender. In other words, your name stands out and your resume is reviewed more closely when you are referred by someone within the company.
Are there any disadvantages to using a referral?
There are some potential drawbacks to employee referrals, such as simply not knowing an individual in that position. Some disadvantages to an employer relying only on referrals are:
- Limited pool of candidates – Employee referrals often come from a small group of employees, limiting the pool of potential candidates for a job opening. This can result in missed opportunities to find the best fit for the job and company.
- Bias towards referrals – Employees may refer individuals they know personally or have a close relationship with, leading to a bias in the selection process. This can result in the hiring of individuals who may not have the best skills or qualifications for the job.
- Reduced diversity in hiring – Employee referrals tend to come from similar backgrounds and networks as the referring employees, reducing the diversity of the candidate pool and the potential for diverse perspectives and ideas in the workplace.
- Lack of objectivity in selection process – Employee referrals may be influenced by personal relationships and emotions, leading to a lack of objectivity in the hiring process. This can result in the hiring of individuals who may not be the best fit for the job or company.
- Missed opportunities to find the best fit – By relying solely on employee referrals, companies may miss out on finding the best fit for the job from a larger pool of potential candidates.
One caveat if you are a candidate: If you have not yet submitted your resume directly to a company or if you first learn about a position from a recruiter, we do not recommend asking for an internal referral without disclosing that to the recruiter first. This would be seen as a breach of trust or integrity, will be notified to the employer, and could affect your relationship with the recruiter. Instead, let the recruiter know that you have potential referral options. The recruiter will be pleased that you know someone there who can vouch for you and will support this effort, given that it’s done after the recruiter has confirmed that they have submitted your resume to the employer.
Are you more likely to get hired using a recruiter?
The short answer is yes. Using a recruiter can increase your chances of getting hired for a job, as they provide valuable insight into the recruitment process and are often connected to exclusive job openings that may not be available through other channels. Recruiters typically specialize in particular industries or sectors and can help you prepare your resume and provide tips on how to stand out during interviews. Additionally, they offer advice on salary negotiation and how to make the most of your job offer. Ultimately, recruiters can act as another set of eyes that review and recommend candidates who fit both the company’s needs and culture.
Do employers trust recruiters or referrals more?
The bottom line is that both the use of recruiters and referrals are effective strategies when implemented properly. So, which one is better? This, of course, depends largely on the employer, and it varies for each company. There is certainly evidence to suggest that employers trust referrals. In fact, many companies have employee referral programs as they feel they can trust an employee that has been referred more than candidates who do not have a referral. 63% of companies report having an employee referral program; many more have an informal program.
With that said, recruiters are trusted by many companies as well, and many organizations have ongoing partnerships with recruiters. This allows them to lower the cost per hire, reduce the time it takes to find the right candidate, and ensures all candidates have the proper experience. The most reputable recruiters work hard to cultivate long-term relationships with companies and firms, and these relational bonds lend candidates who partner with them added cachet.
Which is best for long-term placement?
Both recruiters and referrals are good options and should be utilized by both employers and job seekers. Your unique situation determines which path is right for you. If you feel as if you do not have the necessary contacts to find employment via employee referral, then collaborating directly with a recruiter may be a preferable solution. When you do choose to work with a recruiter, make sure it’s one that’s at the top of its field. Momentum Search Partners has a long track record of successfully placing legal talent throughout the Lone Star State.