Below you will find tips, hints and advice for working with a recruiter or staffing agency, from the perspective of the employer.
The first and most important bit of advice carries through to other industries, but is most important with any service provider, not only a staffing agency or recruiter. Be clear about your needs when working with staffing agencies. Great staffing organizations want to find the best employees possible for your company. Communicate plainly and directly about your job opening, your company’s goals, and the type of candidate you want for the position.
After coming to terms with what your team needs and who your company is really looking for, give yourself a high five and proceed! It can be pretty difficult to isolate the detailed needs for a role or new hire. You’ve done not only your team a great service with defining that, but also your staffing agency vendor. Now to the list. Let’s answer the question. How does an employer best work with a staffing agency or recruiter?
When an employer works with a staffing agency it’s helpful to follow these tips to maximize your experience with the staffing agency or recruiter you choose.
1. Define the skills and opportunity, write a job description and ask for it to be reviewed for inherent bias.
When working with a staffing agency you should take the time to define the skills, personality type, goals, and objective for the position. They may write their own listing and often do, but by priming the effort with a thorough review of your company needs and wants will make the experience with your staffing agency much better.
Explain your company culture and values so the recruiter can get an understanding of the type of candidate you seek. Try to be as clear as possible and throw cordiality out the window. It only impedes progress in these types of conversations. It matters to you, it matters to the candidate, and the recruiter is the one who doesn’t know but is working to introduce the two parties.
2. Know your options. Not every staffing agency or recruiter is setup to hire permanent placement, contract, or per diem.
Make sure you have a good understanding of all the services the staffing firm provides. They may offer contract, contract-to-hire, or direct hire services. Most staffing agencies can also payroll a candidate you find if you just want to try them out on contract before extending a long term offer.
3. Make sure the budget is approved. REALLY approved. This is a big time-saver, or time-waster.
Nothing is more frustrating for you or the staffing agency than when after a candidate has been identified, you have interviewed the candidate and are ready to make an offer, upper management decides they do not want to pay the fees associated with using the staffing firm. This is vastly different from the salary or hourly pay rates the candidate or position will see.
4. Be upfront about your budget (pay rate) for the position.
Time after time employers using staffing agencies give vague answers and open-ended ranges for salary and hourly pay rates. Employers are often shy about giving the exact number they wish to pay but they shouldn’t be.
DO NOT BE VAGUE IN PAY RATES, SCALES, SALARIES or other benefits. You’re working with people, to hire people. Use the Department of Labor or Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a general idea of the market value of a position if you’re feeling too shy to use your company’s real numbers.
It’s understandable an employer may feel the agency will only send candidates at the top of the pay range they give; however, a good agency’s goal is to find you the best candidates available, they will not rule out a candidate that comes in under your budget just to make more money. Often because that’s not always how they make their commission.
Occasionally what can happen from vague position budgets, is that they identify a candidate that requires a higher pay range than you give them and you miss out on that candidate even though you would have paid what the high-quality candidate wanted.
The more information you give the staffing agency, the better the candidate they should be able to provide.
5. Make sure the position is ready to be filled.
It may seem like a good idea to contact an engineering staffing agency and have them start sending you candidates when the position is 5 or 6 months away from kicking off.
The problem is any candidates they send you now will most likely not be on the market by the time you are ready to hire. This wastes your time and the recruiter’s time. How much time do you think you wasted of the candidates’ as well? Interviews can take hours and hours; if someone is looking for another role while still trying to perform well at their current position, this “do it in advance” tactic can lead to very negative brand perception. Yes, this type of information spreads. Rapidly.
If you want to get ahead of the position that is fine but usually a good staffing agency should be able to find you candidates for a role in a matter of days or weeks, not months unless it’s particularly hard to fill position or executive-level position.
6. Give a precise job requirements.
For example, don’t just tell the staffing agency “I need a mechanical engineer,” that’s too vague and will return only candidates with a general experience level in mechanical engineering.
It’s important to give the staffing firm the exact requirements you must have as well as ones that would be nice to have. This will save time when filling the role. Creating a need-to-have and nice-to-have qualification list will bear you the most return.
7. Be patient when expecting resumes.
It can take time to find candidates, especially for high-level roles. Set expectations and a timeline with the recruiter upfront so they can allocate the appropriate recruiting resources toward the role.
8. Don’t wait for the perfect candidate.
If a candidate has 90% of what you are looking for making them an offer, many times employers wait around for a perfect candidate that checks all the boxes, which never comes. The long-said and seldom wrong idiom that hiring is like dating holds truth in this. An employer employee relationship is just that, a relationship. Both parties will grow to be the perfect fit over time, or not. But who is performing those job duties in the meantime? Likely you, or a manager that is getting overworked and will quit soon, leaving you with another role to hire for.
Meanwhile, they have interviewed 5 candidates that could have done the job and are now gone, having accepted positions with other companies.
Don’t be that company.
9. Communicate quickly and effectively.
When working with recruiters or staffing agencies, it is more important than normal to keep the lines of communication open. Give them details about the work environment, benefits package, and what makes your company unique, informing your recruiter of certain personality nuances can also prepare them for sourcing a more applicable candidate.
Additionally, the faster you give detailed feedback to the recruiter you’re working with on candidates whether they are a fit or have missed the mark the better.
Lack of communication is one of the big reasons a staffing agency may move on to other positions where the hiring managers are more engaged and respectful of the recruiter’s time and energy.
If a staffing firm can’t get feedback on candidates they submit then it’s impossible for them to dial in their search and find the candidate you need. Keep in mind this is a service provider and they do need to make margins like any other business. Oh and word spreads if you’re notoriously difficult. Seeing a theme yet?
10. Be honest and direct.
Please leave the “bless your hearts” and dancing around the statement with your personal relationships. If you have interviewed several candidates and do not like them for one reason or another you need to tell the recruiter why. Don’t ignore the recruiter for days or weeks leaving them and the candidates guessing.
Honesty is the best policy when talking with recruiters, it won’t hurt their feelings if you feel a candidate is lacking a particular skill set you need, and they will let the candidate know they’re not a fit tactfully.
11. Stay in close contact after the hire is made.
If you have brought on a contractor through a staffing firm it’s essential to keep each other informed. It’s important for the client to give honest feedback quickly and promptly. Is the contractor doing well or are there any challenges? If they are doing well, great. If not what can be done to fix the situation.
So, we’ve reviewed the cheat sheet. Now how do employers choose a staffing agency once they are prepared?
1. Work with a specialist not a generalist.
When searching for a staffing agency it’s ideal to find one that fits the type of roles you’re recruiting for. You shouldn’t engage an engineering staffing agency to find an accountant just as you would not contact an accounting recruiter to find you a software developer.
A technical staffing agency that has spent time building their talent pools giving them access to candidates a general staffing agency just won’t know.
A healthcare staffing agency that’s established their credentialing process ahead of time will be able to provide more than just this immediate need.
2. Find an agency that is easy to work with but not entirely new to the market.
You want to work with an agency that makes you feel comfortable and stays engaged. Like any vendor, their data protection policies, their compliance practices, and their brand identity is going to matter when it’s learned they’re partnering with your company.
Do they ask the right questions when taking the job order? Do they follow up after submitting candidates? Do they stay engaged after a candidate has been placed? Do they provide excellent customer service?
3. A dedicated point of contact is going to make your life easier.
You want to work with one point of contact from start to finish. If you are dealing with multiple people expressing what you are looking for can get lost in translation. Ideally, you will want to find a full desk recruiter who will work with you every step of the way until you find the right candidate for the position.
4. Look at the agency’s current job openings, especially if you can see their speed-to-market.
This should give you an idea of the types of positions they are currently working on. If you see they are looking for several candidates similar to the position you are looking to fill, it should be a good indicator that they have a good feel of the talent available for that type of position.
Bonus points for asking about their recruiter KPIs and getting an overview of their performance metrics. If they’re a high-dollar staffing agency, this is a must-have.
5. Ask how the staffing agency accesses and screens candidates.
You want to find an agency that doesn’t cut corners. Depending on your industry, it could even be a legal issue if they provide you unvetted candidates. They shouldn’t be floating resumes over to you without the candidate’s knowledge, which happens too often and violates a slew of privacy regulations.
The agency should be speaking with the candidate and thoroughly screening them for the skills and abilities needed for your position. They need to make sure the candidate has proper employment eligibility/immigration status. The staffing agency or recruiter should use primary source verification to confirm certifications and credentials. The recruiter should be checking references with former managers and supervisors before submitting a candidate to you.
Effective vetting procedures result in saving time and money during the hiring process by eliminating unqualified candidates, choosing someone who will be a good fit in the organization, and decreasing the possibility of personnel committing acts that violate policy/law, to include those related to insider threats. According to a study by SHRM, organizations need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of one’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. Doing the math, someone salaried at $60,000/year will cost the organization anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement. (Source)
After all, you’re paying the staffing agency or recruiter to do this the right way and you spent all that time preparing for them, since you followed the tips above!
This is what it comes down to.
Staffing and recruiting is an industry that relies on efficient and prompt communication, details and specifics, and timelines. The best tip for working with staffing agencies or a recruiter, as the employer, can be summarized as “learn what you want first, then clearly express it to your vendor.” It’s really as simple as that! You can set your company on a successful path with any staffing agency or recruiter by following all of the above advice. Alternatively, you can source your own talent by using software like an applicant tracking software or candidate management software system. There are hundreds out there, always go for one that is specific for your industry if you have a laundry list of industry compliance hoops to jump through.
RapidHire Tool is a mobile-friendly web-based application for recruiters and staffing agencies. This pay package calculator allows customizable and accurate pay package calculations that managers can control, recruiters can access anywhere, and RapidHire expedites the entire offer process to increase SPEED to market – and we all want to feed our hungry recruiters with good PBJs.