How To Maximize your ROI in Recruiting and Find Top Talent

Many small business owners have antagonistic relationships with recruiting firms. While I understand the frustrations of these biz owners, there are easy ways to better navigate these relationships. So small business owners: let’s talk! I want to help you better understand the process and how to best manage these firms so you can drive your bottom line profitability while identifying and on-boarding top talent. Here are some reasons for this antagonism and solutions for how to overcome these issues.


Many recruiting firms will try to convince you that finding top talent is a difficult task—not true! If you know what you’re doing, it is actually pretty easy to find top talent. What you need to first understand is that there are two parts to doing this.

1. Sourcing Candidates

2. Screening Candidates

Sourcing Candidates: While this is not a difficult task, it does however take a significant amount of time. We estimate that we spend between 40 to 80 hours per search just in identifying “potential” resumes. It also requires a significant monetary investment to access the “full” search ability and run multiple job posting advertisements on multiply job boards like Monster, The Ladders, LinkedIn, etc. and an understanding of how to conduct keyword searches in those applications. And finally, you should also be utilizing other methods to identify candidates like employee referral programs, contacting people in your network, posting on your company website career page, etc. If you do not have the resources to invest in this time, then please understand that this is part of what you are paying for when using a recruiting firm.

Screening Candidates: This the difficult part and where the expertise comes to play in truly understanding how to identify if the person sitting in front of you truly has ALL of the right stuff for the job. The truth is that while many hiring managers and recruiters believe they know how to do this, most do not!

The first step to screening candidates (and this includes the who to source in part one above) is to spend a lot more time up front defining exactly what you are seeking in the role. Saying that you need a high performing salesperson is simply not enough! You must obtain complete clarity about every aspect of the role. Understanding the requirements of a role is based on defining the specific tasks, results or success measures, specific knowledge and skills to execute those tasks and results, and what the ideal and/or required personality traits are. Once these are all known, finding potential candidates who match the specifics of what you are seeking becomes fairly easy. Then, utilize this as an interviewing tool to ask the correct objective-based questions on if, how, where, when and most importantly, what results the candidate has accomplished. Then, it becomes much easier to identify who truly is the most qualified candidate. 

The Solution: At Excelsior, we developed a tool called the Peak Performance Profile (P3) that helps you determine exactly what is required to succeed in the role. You can obtain this for free on our website by downloading our eBook, The Peak Performance Profile: The Job Description of the Future, which includes a P3 template that you can use to create your job descriptions.


#2: No One Wants to Write a Big Check - The CONTINGENCY FEE MODEL  

For small biz owners, the contingency fee model is initially appealing because there is no risk up front for them--The risk is entirely on the recruiting firm.  

Please understand that this model will cost you a lot more on the back end. It also motivates the wrong behavior from the recruiter. This can include not making the investment in time and resources to search for candidates, but more importantly, it motivates them to place the first warm body at the highest salary so they can get paid a BIG CHECK. Contingent firms will rarely use the highly effective assessment tools available due to the upfront costs and because these tools can narrow the pool of candidates they can present to you.

The Solution: Only use recruiting firms that offer several payment options for clients to choose from that will accommodate their budgetary needs and motivate the right behavior. They should offers flat rates based on the workload--not on the salary--and multiple payment options that allow you to spread out the cost over an extended period of time, making it easy for you to manage the expense and motivate the right behavior that should ONLY include finding the most qualified candidate.


Each of your managers probably has his or her own approach to interviewing and screening candidates. Most of them have probably never had any formal training on how to do this. This lack of training and unified approach can result in you missing out on a potential candidate who actually was a great fit. However, when things don't work out with a candidate, you are quick to blame the recruiting firm—when it may be that one of your managers is equally to blame.

Solution: Form a partnership with a recruiting firm that will help you to implement and train your hiring managers on an effective hiring and on-boarding process. At Excelsior, we include this as part of our standard flat rate recruiting fees. We provide a half day hiring manger workshop to ensure that we are all working off of the same script and have a standardized hiring process in place, so we can work as an effective team in finding the right people for your team. 

Learn more about our Hiring Manager Workshop by clicking here.