How can a recruiter guarantee they’ll get better candidates than you can get for yourself?

Updated: a day ago

Simply put; they can’t. Guaranteed performance in recruitment is a difficult thing, given that people tend to have free will and all…

But then, maybe the question is wrong. Perhaps we should ask “will working with a recruiter maximise the chances of hiring the very best person possible for our role(s)?”. Working with the right recruiter, the answer is most certainly yes.

So here’s the thing: you could pop up an ad this afternoon for a critical role that you have in your team, and by tomorrow morning you could have the best candidate apply directly. This could happen. It is possible. Is it probable, however? No.

So the question then is not “can we get candidates that are just as good by ourselves?”. The answer to that is clearly, “yes, you can”. A better question is “how likely are we to get candidates that are just as strong by ourselves?”. This time the answer is “not very likely at all”.

How then does a recruiter attract more and stronger candidates to your role? The main reasons are Reach, Method of Approach, Scope and Assessment.


As a recruiter, I know how to identify all relevant talent in a given market. It’s my job. I pay for the many tools and systems that allow me to do this, and I have been doing it successfully for many years. My experience makes me effective and efficient in this process.

As I know who the possible candidates are, and I know how to engage with them, I start the process with a much larger talent pool to work with than you would have yourself.

“But we have LinkedIn” I hear you cry. Contrary to popular belief, you do need more than LinkedIn to map out your talent market. Let’s say that you are looking for Software Engineers with strong object-oriented coding skills; say in C#. Would it surprise you to know that less than 30% are on LinkedIn? And, less than half of those are active on the platform!

Real recruiters do use LinkedIn. But it is just one of many tools required to identify and engage with potential candidates.

Unless you are investing the resources into these systems, and the time into maximising them, then simply put: an external recruiter has greater reach with potential candidates for your role.

Method of approach:

So we start with a significantly larger pool of potential hires. But that’s actually the easy bit. Once the best candidates have been identified, we need to engage with them.

How do you engage with potential candidates? If you’re like most businesses, you post your job online and wait for the applicants to roll in. Perhaps you send some relevant candidates InMails or invites on LinkedIn too.

For the former, that is posting your job online, you are going down the most passive route possible. You cannot grantee that you will get the best candidates in the market. The best you can reasonably expect is to get the best people on the market. That is, those who are actively seeking a new role.

What’s the difference? Less than 10% of your target audience is actively looking for a new role at any given time (you can bet it’s way lower than this in the current economy!). Only people who are actively looking will see your ad. This doesn’t mean that 10% of your market will see it. The numbers will depend on where you post (your own career site, LinkedIn, major job boards, niche job boards etc.) and how frequently. More frequent posts on a greater number of channels equals greater visibility. Also, greater cost. Ultimately though, with the best coverage for your ad you can expect to reach about 10-20% maximum of active seekers in your market. To put it into perspective, that 1-2% of the people who could do the job. Not great.

Beyond this, the viewers now need to be compelled to apply. Most job posts do not elicit this response! Many actually serve to repel candidates. But that’s for another post…

But what about the LinkedIn approaches? Again, with the diminishing returns. 30% of your target market have a LinkedIn profile. Less than half are up-to-date and active on the platform. And the response rate for InMail messages? 10-25% depending on the quality of your message. That’s response rate. Not positive response rate. InMails sent to 30 candidates. 3 respond. None are interested. What now? How good are you at crafting compelling messages to people you’ve never met before by the way?

Recruiters post job ads (sometimes). The send messages on LinkedIn too (a lot!). Top tier recruiters are doing these activities every day. They understand how to write ad copy that attracts relevant applicants (and repels irrelevant ones!), and where and when to post to achieve the best results. They know how to write messages that get positive responses on LinkedIn. Even if a recruiter is just using the same tools as you have (and good ones are using way more!), they have the skills and experience to get significantly better results.

Method of approach is all important. It is the difference between a top-class recruiter who can bring you genuinely unique candidates, and an agency hack re-circulating the same old CVs. And, it is one of the key reasons why talented recruiters can find more and better candidates than you can get for yourself!


When you engage with any outsourced specialist, whether it’s a lawyer, accountant, estate agent or whatever, one of the primary things you are taking advantage of is an economy of scope.

Just as a lawyer can draft your legal terms in 30 minutes, a recruiter can conduct an end-to-end search campaign much more comprehensively, quickly and effectively. The lawyer already has the templates to hand. They just fill in the blanks that are relevant to you. The recruiter already knows the market and the candidates. Who’s open to new opportunities. Who is not. Who has just changed roles, but not updated their online profiles. Who won’t consider a thing until bonuses are paid in April. The recruiter will be hiring similar roles day in day out. So when you need to hire, you can tap into the scope of the work that they are doing anyway.

This is of course a core aspect of the business services industry. You can do many of the things that you outsource on your own. But can you do it as well. Probably not. And if your time and energy is diverted away from your core business, it will likely cost you more to do it yourself anyway.

Take advantage of the scope of activities that your recruiters are engaged in. This needn’t just be hiring. They should be able to provide competitor analysis, compensation guides, employment legislation advice, candidate assessment guidance and training etc. There’s much more value there than simply CVs!


What’s the difference between a candidate who applies to your role online and one who is introduced to you via a recruitment search specialist? The suitability and legitimacy of the latter has already been assessed. In retained assignments for example, we conduct background checks, educational verification, references and we include aptitude, competence and psychometric assessments in each candidate dossier. We’re not sending you a CV to consider. We’re introducing you to someone you should interview. Someone who can fit in the team and who can deliver on your role.

The alternative to this is to assess later on. This means trawling through CV after CV, and more interview stages that you need to be involved in. A slower process overall. And, discovering at the wrong stage of the process that the candidate you love does not have the qualifications they claim to and that they are looking for way too much money anyway. Consider your time well and truly wasted!

These are things that should be qualified at the beginning of the process. Not the end. And this is exactly what a top-level recruiter does for you.

To sum up…

There are many things you can do for yourself without having to pay someone else to do. Hiring is one of them. You can paint you house yourself. It won’t look as good, will take 5 times longer and you may injure yourself. But still, it can be done! You could even do your own accounts. A few YouTube lessons and an Accounting for Dummies book; how hard can it be?

The thing is, getting specialist support carries a price. That’s natural. You may choose to save on that price and DIY it, but what is the overall cost of that decision?

The decorating can result in a mess of a house that can’t be sold until a professional comes in to tidy it up. Doing your own accounts might result in a visit from Hector the Tax Man, costing you many multiples of the accountancy fee you ‘saved’.

And doing your own recruitment? Hiring the wrong person is devastatingly expensive. Taking too long to hire, particularly in revenue generating roles is likewise, very costly. And what about lost productivity from the time you have to put into the process?

You may save on a fee. And you may luck out and get a star. But, get it wrong and the costs will far outweigh the fee that you have saved on.

If the recruiter gets it wrong? Then there’s rebates and free replacements.

If you'd like to discover if Elemental can help you to hire the best possible people to your team, we're always happy to talk!

+44(0) 1382 238 988