Alpha Headhunter

Choosing the right recruitment consultant

Choosing the right recruitment consultant


You, our client, arethe decision maker of a company and largely responsible for ensuring its success and growth. The management staff and employees you have selected are the ones who help you do this. The times when you could effectively fill every vacancy reasonably quickly with your own resources are over. Given today’s market situation, you are forced to seek external help. Because the best heads – the top performers – are not ‘on the market’.


A cooperation with a service provider can be extremely successful. For this to happen, both sides(you as the client and the chosen recruitment agency) must go well together. However, problems or misunderstandingsmay occur that disrupt the cooperation or even cause it to fail entirely. To prevent this from ever happening, we provide you with an overview of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing a recruitment agency and deciding on one particular consultant.



The first cardinal mistake is often made at the beginning of the selection phase when choosing the right provider: you think that they are all the same! The so-called executive search consultant,a proper recruitment consultant (who feels bound by the principles of proper recruitment consulting),the success-driven recruiter and the jack-of-all-trades HR specialist working from home (who offers training, coaching, hypnotherapy and,of course,a direct approach) tells you that they can solve your problem.


You, the client, don’t bother getting to know the methods of the different providers and select one according to criteria thatare no longer relevant at this point.

But if you don’t try to understand the way your service provider searches for suitable employees to achieve the desired results for you, you are making a mistake that may have severe consequences.Because if you don’t care about the method of the selection criteria, this is what happens: the probability of success will not be the benchmark of your decision, but rather something else (price, regionality,or some other factor).


The better solution: understand the methods your providers use and evaluate them based on who can give you the highest probability of success. There are predefined criteria to determine this. Here are just a few essential ones to get you started:


  • Does the consultant direct his or her contact channels to the target persons according to THEIR preferences?
  • Does he use different types of searches to reach as many top performers as possible?
  • As a person, is he capable of getting top performers to open up in a conversation (empathy, communication skills, listening skills)?
  • Does he boost your image or that of your company in the market?
  • Does he understand your sector/company/thinking?
  • Can he represent your brand as an employer in a positive way?
  • Can he convince candidates to agree to an interview with you?
  • Can he enable YOU and help you to acquire top performers?
  • Do you trust him enough to tell you what you need to hear (and not what you want to hear)?


In other words, take the right criteria into account when choosing a consultant.


It would be surprising if the cheapest provider could accomplish all of these tasks. He can’t, because many search channels require a significantly higher budget. It is also misguided to assume that someone from your sector can fulfil all of these criteria just because he knows that particular line of business. It is especially strange logic to say that you are choosing a provider ‘from the region’.


To equate ‘from the region’ with ‘right for thejob’ is faulty reasoning!


To equate ‘comes from the sector’ with ‘is capable of getting a top performer in for an interview’ is faulty reasoning!


Both of these are just assumptions that have nothing to do with finding a successful solution to your problem.



If you conduct your own search, you have fixed costs, at least for placing ads and processing incoming applications. If you intend to make these costs flexible by hiring a success-driven headhunter, you are making a decision based on the wrong criteria.


If you then also assume that the headhunter himself is now investing in search channels (e.g. ads or qualified people who carry out research for your complex project), you are wrong. Why should the headhunter do that? He is under no legally binding commitment to you whatsoever except for your declaration of intent. So why should the headhunter invest in your project when his only prospect of a return is based on your declaration of intent?


The better solution: understand the recruitment market. If a recruiter delivers from his existing pool of candidates, he can take the success-driven approach. The ‘product’ is already there, he can market it several times and place it as quickly as possible.


But is this really how to go about finding the right employee for your vacancy?

A consultant who searches on your behalf based on specific criteria is not a broker, so you can’t treat him like one; nor does he wish to be treated like a broker by you. And that’s why he only presents candidates he has contacted and selected for you – exclusively. This is his commitment, and you have ‘purchased’ it in the truest sense of the word when you enter into a real collaboration with a good consultant.



A good consultant is your service provider as well as your mentor and partner, but he is also these things to the candidates. Throughout the collaboration, the consultant is the interface between your company and the potential employee. He knows both sides and understands their interestsand needs. Furthermore, he has a great deal of expertise in acquiring (not just ‘delivering’!) top performers. He asks the right questions, pays attention to nuances and possesses specialised knowledge (long-term planning, employee dismissal coaching, negotiating counteroffers, onboarding support, etc.)..


Among the many providers, there are CV dealers with low rates. But, there are also real consultants who invest a lot of time and possess the required expertise. They get to know your company, the vacant positions and the candidates in depth. In the end, the client is the one who benefits from this added service and expertise. However, it does require more of an investment.


The better solution: don’t consider your consultant as just a supplier (or as we would say, just a recruiter). You will otherwise lose out on a lot of expertise, since the recruitment phase over the duration of the interviews is not just a simple exchange of facts. It is more of a process in which the best employees must be acquired for your company. Above all, the ongoing support provided by a consultant for the company and the new employees is a very good tool for ensuring a stable HR structure. This enhances your own image, prevents high sick leave rates and ultimately helps you keep the staff turnover rate to a minimum.


At the same time, consultants who work this way can successfully enhance your company’s image on the market.These additional benefits you get from the consultant will automatically increase your chances of filling vacant positions on your own in future.


The consultant can achieve all of this with professional competence and a strong commitment, because it is in his vested interest to do so for his own business. He must be able to achieve more in this field than you can – so take advantage of the additional skills that he has to offer!



Christoph Paus, CEO Alpha Headhunter International GmbH