You have objectives you need to hit, and you are on a timeline to do it. A key person on your technology team left, and spreading out that work to the remaining staff may mean losing more of your valued people to burnout. You are growing and haven’t been able to keep up with onboarding the internal talent you need. You have a deliverable or project that you need staff for but you aren’t sure that there will be enough work to justify a full-time position once the project is done. Your internal team doesn’t have the bandwidth, the network, or the know how to get you the candidates you need for a crucial role.
At some point in time, every manager finds themselves in at least one of these scenarios. Some companies understand staffing firms to be a crucial partner in achieving their business goals and objectives, while others see them as a necessary evil. A company’s view of staffing agencies is dependent on the quality and skill of the agencies they have worked with. Unfortunately, there are plenty of sub-standard firms making empty promises and falling short on delivery. To ensure a positive experience, approach working with an agency with the same level of scrutiny and diligence that you use when you interview the candidates they present to you. Taking the time to vet out an agency will save you time and frustration in the long run. A great agency can help you get the right talent out the gate, but what should you look at and what questions should you ask to figure out which is the right agency for you?
Can I come to your place of business?
Of all the questions our clients ask me, this is the one that is asked the least yet has the potential to give the most valuable insight to the inner workings of an agency. The first red flag is if the answer to this question in anything but “Yes!” Once you are in, ask yourself a series of questions: Is it a one or two-person shop trying to present themselves as having a much larger team with more recruiting bandwidth? Are there interview rooms where you see recruiters meeting with candidates face to face before sending their resume over for your requirement? Are there visuals of urgent requirements and clients to help keep the recruiters focused on your needs? Is there a buzz? Do you hear recruiters on the phone, having in-depth conversations with candidates or is it a person just sending a mass email of your job posting? Approach the visit with the staffing firm through the eyes of a highly skilled and in-demand candidate – is this a place that you would be willing to put your career in the hands of? If you aren’t comfortable with your observations on any of these points, you need to continue your search.
What is your hiring methodology?
Asking about hiring methodology is really about answering one fundamental question: will they find you better candidates than you can on your own. Are they going to post an ad? You can do that yourself. Are they going to search a resume board? You can do that too. How are they going to find you talent? How many candidates do they have access to? How do they engage with their candidate pool? How many of their placements come from referrals? How are they finding passive talent that isn’t interviewing everywhere else? What kind of screening are they doing? What benefits do they offer contract staff? What are they doing to ensure retention?
Everything sounds great; can you prove it?
It’s one thing for a staffing firm to say they can deliver results, it’s quite another to actually live up to it. This is when as a client, you really begin to interview the staffing firm in earnest. What is their client base like? How are they ranked among services for those clients? What awards and accolades have they won? What kind of record do they have for consultant retention? What are your areas of specialty? Would this be novel for your agency, or do you have experience with this type of role or project? How much growth have they experienced? Think about the things that you were most excited about when meeting with the staffing agency, and ask them to back up what they said they could do.
Having a partnership with a strong staffing firm can be the difference between your department struggling and your department accomplishing their goals for the year. Don’t enter into the arrangement with anything but the agency best suited to meet your needs.
Jeff Styers is the President and CEO of Arrow Strategies, an award-winning talent acquisition and staffing firm specializing in IT, Engineering, Professional, and Healthcare placements.