What to Look for in a Contract Recruiting Partner – Kevin Kinkor of Kinkor Consulting

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Kevin has more than 19 years of experience as a recruiting/HR professional in Silicon Valley. He started his career on the agency side of recruiting through the Dot Com boom and subsequent bust, managed workforces through the Great Recession and has played a key role with startups during this most recent surge of hiring. His experiences prior to starting Kinkor Consulting include building out recruiting for Facebook when they were a midsize company, establishing Pandora’s (Internet Radio) recruiting function to scale growth, and starting from a blueprint on BrightEdge’s hiring plan to hiring over 275 employees.

Since the inception of Kinkor Consulting, he’s worked with executive teams of a company as small as 15 (Round-A funded) to 300 (Round-C funded) to scale their organizations. His belief is that a company sells two things: Its core product and their employee brand. Following his guidance, clients have planned their workforces effectively, hired to the highest optimization and positioned their companies for long term retention/success.

On occasion, he’s been known to compete in Ironman length triathlons and to be a pretty cool dad.

Read the interview on what Kevin believes is necessary when thinking about partnering with a contract recruiting firm.

When is the “right” time for a company to seek a contract recruiting partner? What kind of questions should they be asking themselves?

There are a few indicators that contract is the route to go:   

First, you have more than 6 roles to hire for… and yesterday. The volume and hiring cadence is too fast for hiring permanent or going to a staffing agency. Recruiting consultants know how to quickly ramp (within a week) and the cost per hire is lower.

Second, you’re moving to an internal team but not sure what you need. A recruiting consultant will help you optimize your recruiting function, develop a pipeline and catch up on hiring. This will allow your permanent staff to have a better start and employee experience.

Lastly, you can turn on/off your contractors within a short period of time. So you can have cost containment while getting an exact amount of result.

As for what questions should you ask yourself? Well, they should understand how their hiring pushes their business forward. As such, what are your top priorities and lower priorities? As questions about what Recruiting should look like by the end of each of the quarter. Understand your metrics around hiring, like candidate inflow from sources, interview speed, drop out rates at each step of the process.

What are some of the ways you recommend seeking options for recruiting partners?

It’s best to determine where your function is. I’ve seen companies range from almost no function (simply hiring friends ad hoc) to innovative and tight processes. Your recruiting partner needs to balance your need for strategic thinking/implementation and execution.

What are 5 things to prioritize in the evaluation of a contract recruiting partner?

  1. Do they understand my business and the goals we are looking to achieve short/long term?
  2. What is their process of evaluating my talent function?
  3. How do they determine the right resources for my company’s needs?
  4. How do they set up a project plan, track metrics/achievements, and angle towards project goals?
  5. Do they actively have the resources with the experience we need?

What is your process/advice for creating alignment with hiring managers to overcome and avoid roadblocks in the recruiting/hiring process?

There are many roadblocks, but I’ll put most of them into two buckets:

Chasing a Unicorn: Their open roles are not realistic to the talent on the market.  This could be the ask of the skillset/experience, the trajectory of those candidates or compensation needed to secure the talent.

The interview process is not optimized, whether that be too long, too short, not selling to the candidate or just disorganized. This can turn off candidates and cause the opening to stay open for long periods of time.

Please share any actionable strategies:

Chasing Unicorns – Start with metrics.  Using Linkedin Recruiter, you can show how many candidates exist for the opening,  Equally, you can use salary surveys to understand expected compensation. If you find your target market is excessively small, re-evaluate what is critical versus nice to have. Once the pipeline has started, look at conversion rates from one stage to the next.   If it seems that there is a high drop off at one point, have a discussion about how to make that better.

Interview process optimization – We live in the tightest white-collar hiring market, EVER.  As such, candidates have choices; you’re not the only company they are talking to. You need to impress candidates in every way possible, by selling your employer brand in every interview and showing you interview in a smart/valuable way to everyone involved. The more buttoned-up you are around the interviewing process, the greater the chance your offer will be taken over others.

Do you use any checklists/templates etc?

Yes, have a workflow for the interview, competencies that will be asked, question banks that interviewers can tap into and pre/post briefs on interviewers. Equally, you need to mimic this to the candidate so they always know status and expectations.

What are the key value propositions offered by working with a contract recruiting partner that typically are overlooked by executive teams or HR groups?

3 factors jump out.

Overlooking cost to value.   The hourly rates of contractors are higher on paper than a salary.  But it’s rare that I’ve seen an executive/HR group factor in all the costs of a perm staff member, as fringe, employer taxes, IT, and office space. Equally, in the absence of multi-req carrying recruiter, you’re pay per placement fees that are often 2x/3x higher than having a contractor or perm recruiter.  

The cost of having that seat empty, whether it be lack of revenue, build or losing good employees to burn out.

Lastly, every management team has a milestone they need to reach to keep investors happy.  Without the right people hired and executing, you’re looking at missing on results. This will cost the company venture capital and/or company value.   

Ultimately, you need to keep the companies objectives in mind and develop a realistic plan to meet your goals.

How do you evaluate your Recruiting Partner? 

It’s paramount they understand your company’s objectives, talent function and how they intersect.  A good partner can explain their solution as if they own the company.

Lastly, I would state that a quality HR Partner is needed too. The employee experience needs to be great from the beginning (first contact) through an exit from the company.  The best companies (for example, Google) do this so well, that everyone wants to work for them. This is only accomplished by having that HR professional to carry the employee experience from onboarding onward.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit Kevin Kinkor and Kinkor Consulting on LinkedIn. 

Read more Guild Talent articles on our blog.

Jeff Possiel

Jeff Possiel

Content Lead | Guild Talent

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