Published September 19, 2023

When Should You Use An External Recruiter In The Recruitment Process?

Seeking to Hire for Hard To Fill Roles

The role you are looking to fill could be challenging based on a number of factors, a few examples are below:

Geographic Location

There could be a limited number of people who are actively looking AND meet the skills criteria of the job the client is looking to fill. Recruiters can canvas the market, talking to both active and passive candidates in order to determine what the market size is for that location. If the market size is too limited, the recruiter can provide consulting on how to expand the candidate pool.

Niche Skills

There might be a limited number of qualified candidates who have the technical skills (such as actuaries, data scientists etc.) to fulfill the needs of the role. If a client aligns themselves with an external recruiter that has knowledge of the industry/functional role etc, they are more likely to find the best aligned candidate in the most reasonable amount of time.


If the business need is a leadership role of a department, functional area or in the C-Suite, there is often more vetting necessary to identify the right candidate including multiple touchpoints, stakeholders and potential personality or leadership assessments run by outside vendors. Overall, the screening is more in depth, and there are more internal stakeholders involved including (company dependent) shareholders / VC investors.

What Additional Ways Can External Recruiters Add Value?

Whether it’s geographic location, niche skills, and / or seniority, it can help to have an external recruiter to manage the experience and expectations of both the candidate and the client.

“Pre Close”

The concept of the “pre close” is where the external recruiter is staying in regular communication with the candidate to understand what motivates them and what their deal breakers are. This conversation continues throughout the process and covers a range of topics from total compensation, job scope expectations, career advancement desires etc.


Frequent communication touchpoints through the process can help to identify inflection points where both the client and the candidate can decide to either move forward or withdraw /decline to move forward with the process. No one likes surprises, especially a “surprise” withdraw when someone thinks something is going well or a “surprise” decline at the end of the process. While declines and withdrawals are not completely preventable and a natural component of a recruiting process, seeking to avoid these showing up as surprises will increase the likelihood of the right match being made with the right candidate for the role.

Time and Money Savings

A hiring manager may be tempted to review any and all applications for the role. This can be due to a combo of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and FOBO (Fear of Better Options). If there are dozens or hundreds of resumes to review, what is the time cost for the hiring manager and/or internal recruiter doing that work? Having a dedicated external recruiter can save you time (and money), in regards to whittling down the applicant pool to a handful of candidates versus a plethora of candidates who aren’t in alignment with the skills desired for the role.

It may feel “easier”, “cheaper”, “faster” to try to DIY the search yourself. There may be push back from various stakeholders in your organization against a 20-35% “fee” for external agencies services. As a hiring manager, you may also feel the financial pressure of avoiding an up front fee. However, let’s look at the other side of the coin. What is the cost to your team and organization for the role being left unfilled for months or longer? What is the cost in the time of you, your team, basically anyone involved in the recruiting process? Adding up all this time, how does it balance out with the fee you would pay for engaging an external recruiter who specializes in the type of talent you are looking for?

Passive Talent

The best person to meet your business needs might be happily employed at another company. External recruiters ideally will already have that relationship or be able to establish that relationship, making it easier to get them engaged in the recruiting process and ideally help bring them aboard to your company.


If you are facing a limited pool of active talent in your geographic area, are looking for niche technical skills (like actuaries for example), or are trying to find someone to add to your senior leadership team, an external recruiter can be the right resource for you. In addition, external recruiters can bring value in the relationships they build, the way they manage the recruiting process and the savings they bring to you as the hiring manager / interviewing team in your time (and money).

Scroll to Top