When To Add Contract Recruiters Into The Tech Team Building Approach

Posted on May 16, 2019 by BWBacon. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

Ok, bear with us for a minute. We know this post could come off as very "salesy" considering we are a recruiting partner. We are also well aware that there are certain times where contract recruiters are less valuable or even redundant. Fear not, we are trying to help set baseline criteria for when the best times are to add contract recruiters or recruiting agencies to the mix. We came up with these by inspecting all of our successful client relationships and figuring out what made them work from a timing perspective. We also looked at the times that helped empower a complementary relationship; an aligned relationship. These five items below should serve as guides for assessing the addition of contract recruiting resources to your hiring strategy.

The delta between internal recruiting team bandwidth Vs. growth need has gotten too large

Do you have any internal recruiting experts? If no, is that sustainable? If so, is the team size equally matched to the product goals and/or headcount goals? Do you have headcount milestones in your funding? The answers to these questions all affect how critical recruiting team bandwidth current situation is. The rule of thumb is that a full-time internal recruiter should not be expected to handle more than 40 hires per year.

Internal recruiting team bandwidth is rarely discussed as a primary bottleneck in business. In tech, it absolutely is though. Access to talent is the primary concern of tech leadership today, assessment and growth of the team that achieves that goal should be as well.

We have found that a clear indicator of when to add more recruiting horsepower is when the feature backlog limits new customer acquisition or existing customer success. How often and for how long has sales or account management been saying they need a certain feature to be successful but product/engineering cannot deliver? That's when you know...

Whenever internal referral has been tapped out on a key technology role

We always recommend looking internally and leaning on referral for key leadership roles. If you can find a person through the internal team you already know and trust, that's a likely win with less potential cultural thrash. But in this competitive market, if you can’t get that done internally, you need to increase the top of your candidate funnel exponentially to make it happen. Adding a recruiting agency can double or triple your team's effective bandwidth.

When a very public re-org happens

If a reorganization needs to happen, damage control will be necessary and recruiting horsepower will be needed to help manually reset the image of the company. The candidate pool will need to be far larger than if the company was getting positive press. Uncertainty is one of the greatest deterrents for candidates.

If the existing recruiting strategy (internal or external) has "lost its mojo"

This can happen, people can get burnt out whether they are part of the internal team and/or existing contract resources. Your recruiting team is the first impression of what it's like to work at the company. If they aren't able to bring a positive energy of optimism and possibility, the candidate drop off is definitely higher than it needs to be. Sometimes the best solution is to get some fresh blood into the mix.

As soon as possible, if possible...

We know this sounds biased, but in today's competitive some open recs can take up to a year to fill even with outside help. While that happens the contract recruiter is effectively doing free recruiting marketing to the talent pool of the target city. As long as it's a contingency relationship, it's like adding an on-demand team of internal recruiters with little to no risk. As long as you have evaluated your contracted recruiter or agency as a partner, versus a vendor, then many times the cost is far less than the alternatives. Not hitting growth milestones because of team bandwidth (either tech or recruiting team) can mean life or death in the modern world.

Also, building a relationship with an external before your back is up against the wall, it gives the recruiting partner more time to align with your culture and messaging. An external recruiter should act as an extension of the internal methods, vocabulary, and company as a whole. Ideally, there is some time to allow the DNA of the client company to percolate into the contract recruiter.


Adding outside recruiting help can be a hard pill to swallow if the approach is off. If you keep those three items above in mind while you are assessing "when" and look for partners in your external resources, it will be a successful relationship.


Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!