Founders often see a recruiting firm as a crazy expensive expense. Whether a purely success-based search for an engineer or a retained executive search with a fixed fee of over $100K, they don’t come cheap. Why do you pay this amount if you can spend some time finding the candidate on your own or utilizing your network? First, you should rely on your network to find candidates. The problem is that your network only goes that far, and in most cases, it’s primarily based on luck.

We’ll suggest an alternative way to think about the expense of recruiting. Let’s say it’s time to hire a sales leader. You are burning cash every day, which means that every day without a sales leader is a month without commercial results. These can be much more than $100K, meaning you are not capturing the opportunity and potentially letting the competition win.

A recruiting firm provides a more predictable timeline for hiring. If doing it alone or relying on your network, you should think about what has the higher price - a one-time expense of $100K that increases your chance to find the sales leader at the right time or the risk of delaying this hire by months?

If the position is critical, i.e., your startup won’t be able to move forward without filling it on time, a paid search process might be your best shot.

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