A Hiring Manager’s Guide to ‘Finding The One’

5 things to Look For and Avoid in an External Recruiting Partner

By: Ryan Tweedy, Partner, DeWinter Technology


Finding the right external recruiting partner can be challenging. Some hiring managers and internal recruiters may decide to avoid it at all costs, unless there’s no other option. Alternatively, if you do work with external recruiters, you may just pass along your current job description to multiple vendors to see what candidates they can come up with. I’ve been in Tech recruitment for the last 13 years and I get it. I’ve heard first hand accounts of really bad experiences managers and internal recruiters have had working with external recruiting firms. However, when you find the right partner, they can help accelerate your business and help you make connections you otherwise wouldn’t make!

Why is it difficult to find a trustworthy recruiter?

The problem is, there are many external recruiters to choose from! For example, take a look at these stats regarding the city I live and work in, San Francisco:

  • External recruitment firms within a 1 mile radius of my office in the Financial District  – 205
  • 10-mile radius, people that associate their profile to the Staffing/Recruiting Industry – 5,924
  • 25-mile radius, people that associate their profile to the Staffing/Recruiting Industry – 10,981
  • People associating their profile as “Recruiter” in the SF Bay Area – 16,351

And these statistics do not even include the “Management Consulting” or “Solutions/Services” companies that offer up talent solutions, let alone the non-local recruiting firms that support locations remotely! As you can see there are so many companies to choose from, it’s completely understandable to ask yourself, “Where do you even begin looking for help to fill my current job opening!?”

Finding ‘The One’

5 Important Factors to Look for in your External Recruiting Partner

Having spent over 13 years in this industry, I have personally worked with and worked for several great (and some not so great) external recruiters. Here are 5 key attributes which are critical when evaluating an external recruiting partner.

  1. They were referred to you: Past experience, relationships, and trust build a great foundation
  2. Accomplishment/tenure/experience: Let’s not downplay this, with almost 16,000 other external recruiters in the Bay Area make sure you feel comfortable with their level of competence to deliver results for you. This is an opportunity for you to test them on their credibility in the industry. What have they accomplished in this business, have they stuck with an organization to deliver results and ultimately can they support you at a high-level.
  3. They act as a partner and advisor: How many of your recruiting partners talk to you about things like talent attraction strategies, vetting models, streamlining onboarding processes, retention strategies, interview best practices, competitor intel and overall candidate experience. Do they advise you on your Glassdoor and other Social reviews and go out of their way to help you in getting the top talent in the market? The good ones do!
  4. Network/Community involvement: Recruiters are networkers and should be able to answer intelligently and in-depth when asked things like, how do you find your people? Tell me what you’re seeing in the market? What associations are you affiliated with? What does your overall network look like? Are there specific areas you focus on?
  5. They take time to understand your business and your goals: Make sure your partner takes time to understand who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. Do they understand your team, goals and how the different hiring needs you have fit into achieving those goals? Did they do their homework before meeting you? And understanding your business doesn’t mean just reciting details from your Earnings Report and/or the most recent news headline.

The Red Flags

5 Indicators they Are Not the ‘Right’ External Recruiting Partner

  1. They market your brand, and not in a good way!  What’s your partner's sales pitch on your organization? How do they describe the work you’re doing? Do they mass mail your openings? Ask your partners to give you their pitch on you and organization, see how they come across. Sometimes you would be surprised, and remember, they represent your brand just as much as their own. A bad marketing job and poor candidate experience can damage your reputation!
  2. They avoid telling you things you don’t want to hear: One thing I’ve learned in this business, rarely do things go as planned! Do your partners give you the not so great news? Do they share red flags about candidates they are presenting? Do they advise you on how you could be more competitive in the marketplace (and that’s not just salaries)? And most importantly, do they have solutions to present to you and give you options to make informed decisions to overcome obstacles. Your partners should be transparent in helping you navigate through these challenges. If they avoid the conversation, you don’t have the right partner.
  3. They don’t retain their own employees: Your partners should help you with employee retention and if the firm you’re working with is not retaining their own employees, you will find yourself in a cycle of re-explaining your needs over and over again. Ultimately, this becomes time consuming for you and your organization and results they bring will be inconsistent due to knowledge loss. On top of that, good luck on getting them to help you secure your top talent.
  4. They say “yes” to everything and claim they can do anything: Everyone should have a core focus and if that is not easily translated, be wary. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of this in the past, but the respect I’ve received from saying “sorry, I can’t do that” has enhanced relationships and given me the ability to deliver strong results where I know I can be successful and add value.
  5. They inundate you with resumes: This is where you may run into a slew of resumes being sent your way. They didn’t take the time to fully understand your business goals and hiring profiles. They’re hoping to play the numbers game to get a hit and move on to the next opportunity. They aren’t invested in you or your business.

Conclusion: Find a Partner to Raise Your Organization’s Hiring Standards

There are some really great people in the recruiting business that do the job really well. It gets a bad rep because it’s not an easy job and some people just can’t keep up the pace and/or aren’t willing to go the extra step. I would use the above criteria to vet through the calls/emails you’re getting and test drive a few people to see what kind of service you get. The good thing is, you won’t have a shortage of people to try out and hopefully you find one of those amazing partners that raises the standards for your organization!


Hiring Managers/Talent Acquisition/HR, what else is important to you?



About the Author

Ryan Tweedy is a co-founding partner of The DeWinter Group’s technology division, DeWinter Technology. He’s been in the recruitment business for 13 years holding various roles as a Recruiter, Account Manager, Recruiting Manager, Director of National Recruitment, Market Leader and Partner. Ryan has previously sat on the Board of the Society for Information Management and is currently a member of the Alliance of CEO’s in the Bay Area.