Niche Recruiting Helps SMBs Avoid Hiring Mistakes

By Joe Taylor Jr. | Posted June 27, 2013

According to an April, 2013, survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business, 6 percent of small business owners plan to increase hiring in the near future. Though tiny, that number actually represents an increase from the near-zero figure that small firms reported while recovering from the recession.

Although flexible staffing and outsourcing services can help take pressure off a growing business, expanding companies eventually find it necessary to add employees. If you're planning to take on more staff over the next year, a competent, specialized recruiter or staffing agency can help you access solid prospects without getting mired in the hiring process.

Overcoming the Fear of a Bad Hire

According to experts at Robert Half, a specialized staffing firm, large companies often have the scale to "find a place" if they hire someone who doesn't quite fit in the original role. Bigger firms also have deeper benches, which allow them to groom talent over time. Your small business probably doesn't have the same luxury. And, if you're like many company owners, you share a concern that the financial and mental costs of making a bad hiring decision can wreck your expansion efforts.

That's where specialized recruiters can help. For example, Robert Half's practice now includes specializations in finance, law, and creative work. A company called AGRI-associates has been scouting talent for roles in agricultural businesses for more than four decades. There's even the Celebrity Personal Assistant Network, dedicated to matching patient assistants with entertainment industry divas.

Compare Overhead to Opportunity Cost

Before you bristle at recruiters' fees, consider the value that the right new hire can deliver over the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Compare that to the time investment you should expect to make after posting an ad on Craigslist, especially if you lack a system to keep track of the hundreds of candidates any new hiring notice generates. Without direct experience in human resources, you could also unwittingly violate labor laws related to privacy, diversity and fairness.


Niche recruiters often know where to find top talent and can likely guide you through the process of staging fair, effective interviews. A "contingency" recruiter might charge the equivalent of 1-3 months of a hired candidate's salary. "Retainer" recruiters and placement coaches often charge flat fees based on the effort expected to fill the position. Whichever type of service you choose, an effective recruiter can help you ramp up your organization much faster and with smaller net costs than a do-it-yourself hiring campaign.

Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled "The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards" (Rogue Guide Books, 2012).

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