What they don't teach you about hiring in school is that hiring is hard. And knowing how to hire is especially challenging in today’s employment market given the scarcity of skilled talent.

Yet many managers sort of wing it. No one has ever taught them the proper way to hire — even the basics, like writing a job ad, putting together a compensation package, evaluating resumes and what to ask in interviews, let alone keeping up with constantly evolving labor laws.

But understanding how to hire is arguably the most important thing a manager needs to know. Do it poorly, and you risk making a bad hire.

The hard lesson of a poor hire

Robert Half asked executives about how much time a week managers have to spend coaching and/or supervising poorly performing employees. The answer: 10.4 hours. In other words, more than a quarter of the workweek is wasted. That’s time that could be spent more wisely had they made better hiring decisions.

Bad hires are expensive, too. A recent CareerBuilder study involving more than 2,200 hiring and human resources managers found that a bad hire can cost a business nearly $15,000.

As costly as it is to correct a hiring mistake, the money isn’t necessarily what concerns employers most. In another Robert Half survey, CFOs said the single greatest impact of a poor hiring decision is:

  • Lower staff morale (39 percent)
  • Lost productivity (34 percent)
  • Monetary costs (25 percent)

Managers who aren’t familiar with the best hiring practices may not be thorough in their efforts, leading to a poor hire. In a different Robert Half survey, nearly half of managers at small and midsize businesses said most hiring managers underestimate the complexity of the hiring process.

Recruiters know the ropes

This is where recruiters can add value. A reputable staffing firm — especially one specializing in the field where you’re seeking skilled professionals — can help you with all the complexities of hiring you never learned in school. They’re really good at it because it’s all they do.

They can cast a wider net. When working with a staffing agency, you gain access to their vast network of job seekers. Robert Half, for example, has a comprehensive database of job candidates, many of whom are available to start working right away. Recruiters also know how to word job descriptions so they can attract even more candidates to an opening.

They can target passive candidates. Many employed professionals who are not actively looking for a new job are nonetheless interested in promising openings at other companies — if they hear of them, that is. Specialized staffing firms work with these so-called passive candidates every day and can turn them on to your openings. Without the help of a recruiter, this source of valuable talent may not ever be aware that you’re hiring.

They give you speed. Leaving a position open for an extended time means lost productivity and stress on your staff. Staffing professionals can also help you speed up your hiring process and staff openings more promptly. That’s because they have so many great candidates ready to work. They’ve already done the necessary skills testing and can present pre-evaluated candidates for you to interview.

Even though there’s no “hiring school” to teach managers the ropes, bringing in skilled talent that will mesh well with the rest of your team is one of your major responsibilities as a company leader. Learn as much as you can about the do’s and don’ts of hiring. And to make it easier on yourself, work with a specialized staffing firm.