Candidate QualityChances are that if you’ve been in the recruiting business for more than a few months, you’ve run into that age old question that plagues recruiters: Should you strive for quality or quantity?

Certainly there is an easy answer to this question…but easy doesn’t necessarily mean realistic.  In a perfect world, with perfect candidates behind every proverbial bush, quality candidates in large quantities is the way to go.  But this is reality and sometimes finding one quality candidate can be a challenge.  So what’s the hard and fast rule that you can always follow?  Well, like so many things in this business, it depends on the client.


Nine times out of ten, a career recruiter is going to tell you that they would rather have one quality candidate that gets the job, than three good candidates that almost get it.  Part of that is a pride issue; good recruiters like to make good placements.  We take pride in our work and in our ability to translate generic job descriptions into real, quantifiable attributes, skills and placements that fit like a puzzle piece.  But it’s also a time issue.  If you’re spending your time dealing with ‘almost got the job’ and ‘second best’ you’re losing valuable time (money)…time that could have been spent finding the best candidate.  Slowing down the pace to really delve into a job order, a client’s needs and a candidates’ fit makes for great placements and a healthy bottom line.  If you’re dealing with a single job order or a handful of orders from a good client, quality is the way to go.  Most small to mid-size clients are looking for the best fit, not necessarily the rockstar candidate.  There are all kinds of intangibles that are part of the equation and only the best recruiters are going to find it consistently.  If you’re partnering with a client where each hire and each team member really counts it has to be quality all the way.


Anybody who argues that quantity is more important than taking the time to find quality candidates is crazy…or is a seasoned recruiter working some big clients, with a significant number of job orders and some tough competition.  Simply, there are times when quantity is pivotal to success.  If you’re working a market where you have heavy competition and a truck load of job orders, well guess what? You’re slinging some resumes. It’s not glamorous, it’s not careful, but it can be good business.  Understanding your client, even a juggernaut, is essential to making the quantity model work.  If your client is willing to compromise on quality and simply needs someone who can get the job done and done fast, you need to know that going in.  This isn’t an easy model to work in and it’s one that lends itself to burnout fast.  But, the best recruiters out there can make it work.  Maintaining hot books, building relationships and being able to spot talent at a breakneck pace are all going to earn someone very respectable pay day.

Understanding your client, as always, seems to be the rule for success.  If you know your client well and understand how they view their hires, you’re going to make the right decision.  Is your client looking for the best fit, a true team member who they’ll partner with over the years? Does each hire really count or does your client have a revolving door?  The breakneck speed of ‘quantity’ clients is not for everyone, just like the slower, more detail heavy pace of a ‘quality’ client is not for another.  But both models work and both models can be lucrative; don’t let anyone tell you different.

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