7 questions for finding an International Recruiter

Many employers do not like working with recruitment companies. In markets that employers know well and have social media connections, perhaps it is possible to avoid independent recruiters or at a minimum reduce the dependence on outside agents.  When the needs of  companies expand beyond a local market and into countries where there is no physical presence, recruitment agencies may be the only way to achieve the results that are needed. What are some great things to know when you go searching for international recruiting expertise? Consider these basic questions to identify the strong players from those who may waste your time and money:

1. How does your fee structure work?
There are many different approaches that recruiters use. If you have a real and immediate need opt for paying some sort of engagement fee or retainer so that you know that your opening will get some attention. As you can imagine, if you are working with a 100% contingent international recruiter, then the easy jobs and the higher fee jobs get that recruiter’s attention first. Change the rules by asking — and paying — for a minimum number of hours applied to your job each day to week.

2. Does your firm have partners and connections where we are hiring?
It is often desirable to make a connection to a local recruiter with international connections rather than searching for a recruiter in the market where you have a one-off need. Develop a relationship with someone in your time zone, who speaks your language, where you can meet them for coffee or have a meeting to hold them accountable for results. Have a relationship that is more than a single transaction. Opt for a relationship that gets leveraged around the world for your benefit, but keeps you grounded right where you are.

3. What is the most common source of the candidates you place?
Try to find international recruiters who are recruiting (we used to call it headhunting) and not just doing LinkedIn searches. Having said that, a LinkedIn account does not make any employer a good or effective recruiter. Locating names is easy; selling people on making changes to their lives as significant as leaving one employer and moving to another is not easy work. It is even more difficult for the hiring company to be seen as an impartial coach or motivator of change. Sometimes the recruiter can do what even very talent hiring managers cannot. Also, look for recruiters with connections to a group of peers. You want the best candidate available not just the best candidate in their database. More like the best candidate in 20 or 30 recruitment companies’ databases.

4. How long will it take you to provide me a short list of 5 candidates?
If they answer this question without asking you 10 or 15 clarifying questions…run! A short list of 5 could take 1 hour or 1 year. The recruiter needs to understand the requirements of the job and the fit characteristics that will make someone a top performer in your company. They need to be a partner and not a vendor, so start treating the recruiter you select that way.

5. Can you tell me about international placement you have done or your affiliates/partners have done?
Examples or success are a good predictor of future success. Not every recruiter you connect with will have partners and connections and be able to share success stories. The ones who are capable will know others who are successful and have made international placements.

6. Does your firm belong to an international network or association of any type?
Ask what organizations they belong to. If they do not belong, then this show a lack of commitment or focus on what you are defining as necessary to support your search. They may have developed networks and connections independently…if so, they need to share some details on how they remain relevant in the market they hope to search for you.

7. Ask if they know what time it is in the market where you will be hiring or if they have a way to find that out.
If the recruiter doesn’t know how to track time globally, you might have the wrong recruiter. It is Communication 101 and everyone needs to know the country code and the current time in order to communicate. Tough to recruit someone if you are calling at 3AM. It seems silly, but it shows basic awareness and past experience in one quick question.

There are many more you can add. In the end, it is about building a partnership and developing trust. The big things to take away are: look at the need creatively, you may find someone locally that has connections where you need to be, look for the ability to communicate examples of personal/partners success stories, and find someone who is doing recruiting not just list building.