Executive recruitment can often be stressful and time consuming

Sourcing Solved MD Iain McKenna explains why it's important not to focus on cost too much when recruiting, and how to value your time more.

"I'm often surprised by how people perceive cost in the recruitment space – and how they'll rank it first in their decision making, even above other more important factors. Sure, we all like a bargain – but most of the time we know where to draw the line.

Let's say you're planning to get fit, so you go out shopping for a new pair of running shoes. You know the ones you want, but when you get to the shop you find they're doing a 'special' promo.

Pay full price and you'll get the right shoes in the right size. Or, you can take a gamble where you pay just half the price and grab an unmarked box from the pile. 10% of the boxes contain the shoes you want in the size you want, so you might get lucky and get a great deal on your trainers.

But the rest of the boxes have random pairs in random sizes, so you're pretty likely to pay a chunk of cash for some trainers that don't even fit.

You can see your risk outweighs the potential saving, so it’s worth paying full price to get what you want.

What would you do? You're probably like most people and would play it safe. You can see your risk outweighs the potential saving, so it's worth paying full price to get what you want. But let's switch to a less tangible product, such as recruitment. Now the decision becomes less clear.

So you're out shopping again, but this time it's for a new executive. Your brand needs a quality hire for a high-level position. You know you could use a headhunting agency to get a shortlist of perfectly qualified candidates. But you've got budget pressures, and you also know you can delegate the task to HR or internal recruitment and get lots of people in for interview at a much lower cost.

But although that second option might be saving you money, you're again getting an end result that's a bit of a lottery. Sure – the job ad your recruitment team puts out will generate tons of CVs, but who's going to be qualifying them? Is it you? Can you rely on any specialists in the area you're recruiting for?

And how about the quality of those CVs? Do they really represent the person applying? You can't be sure until you meet those people face-to-face for interview, and that means you might be sitting through a lot of duff interviews. Meanwhile, you might rule out some excellent candidates just because their CV didn't look quite right or because you just can't squeeze them into your already-packed interview schedule.

The classic advertising approach to recruitment comes with a guarantee to sap hours of your most precious resource.

Your recruitment process has come in under budget but it's starting to feel like we're talking about another risky gamble. This time you're trusting your luck to deliver more than just some cheap trainers. You're banking on it to uncover the recruit who's the right fit for your organisation.

Budgets and cost-cutting bring us to this point, but take a closer look and you'll find a hidden cost, and that's your own time. There's a couple of hours spent compiling the job specification, there's an afternoon spent sifting through CVs. Then, of course, there are all those interviews. The classic advertising approach to recruitment comes with a guarantee to sap hours of your most precious resource.

But what's the alternative? Well, to avoid wasting that time in the first place the obvious choice is to have recruitment professionals do all the heavy lifting for you. People who understand your industry, and who can liaise directly with candidates (eliminating all the fuss of CVs). People who can then present you with a curated shortlist of ideal applicants, leaving you to cherry pick the very best. Only then can you be sure you're making the smart – and value-focused – purchase decision.