Given the talent acquisition difficulties many employers face, you probably have thought about the benefits of partnering with a staffing firm to meet your company’s personnel needs instead of attempting to hire employees on your own, especially staff for specialist roles (e.g. IT staff or engineering staff). But how do you choose the right staffing firm? Aren’t they all basically alike?
Umm, technically no. While it is true that whether we call them employment agencies, staffing agencies, recruiters, or search firms, they do the same basic job: To find candidates for client firms. What distinguishes each one from the other is their ability to help you, and how they will go about it. So, as an HR manager, or a top executive, you need to thoroughly vet an agency before making your choice.
To help you narrow down your options, we’ve listed a few pointers to guide you.
A specialist role demands a specialized staffing firm.
There are generalist firms (across the board), specialist firms (niche-based), and micro-specialist firms (niche-within-a-niche-based). So, the first question you have to answer before choosing a kind of firm to work with is: “What do I do and who am I looking for?” In other words, your decision to choose a certain kind of staffing firm will depend on the kind of hiring you need to do, and the kind of business you are in.
If you’re a manufacturing company and need the same sorts of engineers, operations managers, and plant managers among others, a generalist firm with manufacturing experience is good for your needs.
However, if you need a person with a very specific (and very rare) skill set, such as information technology staff, and you already know there are not a lot of those professionals in existence, a specialist or micro-specialist firm is the way to go (say an IT staffing firm, or an engineering recruitment agency). These firms have the best sector knowledge, have forged connections with talents in their sector, and have the best recruiters with enough knowledge about the roles they are filling in for their client firms.
A proven track record comes from years of experience.
Ideally, you are looking for a firm with a proven track record of success (of course you do), and that typically comes from years and years of experience.
Why is this so?
Because firms that have been in business for years will generally have weathered several economic downturns and survived during tough times. They survive because employers want them. Employers want them because they meet their clients’ needs. They meet their client needs because they have the means to meet them (e.g. recruitment methods, resources, and a strong talent community or pool).
A firm that’s been around for a number of years is most likely to be an industry leader for it is abreast with industry best-practices, trends, and prospects. And that’s a dependable firm.
A firm with reputation and reach is a firm you can trust.
A proven track record of success is accompanied, usually, by a stellar reputation. A staffing firm that has been in the business for years has already developed rapport with and respect in their niche industry. They are the kind of staffing firms that attract the most skilled candidates.
A reputable and stable firm that has been in business for years most likely has an extensive reach or network. If you feel you’ve already tapped your local market for the right candidate and come up dry, you may be surprised at what a staffing firm can do. The best staffing firms have access to talents that you don’t such as professionals who may not have seen your job posting — or passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for a new job but are open to the right opportunity.
Success in talent acquisition boils down to methodology.
One of the major reasons why employers turn to staffing firms is to reduce their administrative burden filling in vacant staff. So, it pays to ask: How does the staffing firm work? How will the firm reduce your administrative burden? What services do they provide?
Understand what services you are buying and how the process is going to work. Know how the firm can help you by asking them to document or describe the steps they will take to complete your search. How do they source talent? How do they qualify candidates? And other questions to help you paint a picture of how they will go about the task.
Another take home insight: When selecting a staffing firm, it’s imperative to ask how many potential candidates the staffing firm expects to find for your vacancy and what process or process its recruiters will use to select the best options for you. Of the numbers don’t sound promising, or seem too good to be true, or the staffing firm doesn’t have enough knowledge of your industry (rarely the case for specialist firms though) to identify top candidates, you may try to go somewhere else.
Topping it all, the perfect staffing firm for your staffing needs is a staffing firm that offers specialization, industry recognition, stability, a wide enough reach to meet your specific recruitment needs and satisfying answers to the “numbers question.” If the agency has all of the above nailed, skilled candidates are likely to follow.
First Published in Sysgen Career Information and Resources (How to Select the Right Staffing Firm – As an Employer).
All GIFs grabbed from Giphy.