Hiring the right people can be difficult; having learned this, many companies turn to staffing and recruiting agencies to help them get the right people in the door. Trusting a staffing and recruiting agency with your business is a big leap, but it often pays dividends in saving time and money. Every day that a key role sits vacant, after all, is hurting your company.
However, working with an external agency can bring its own headaches. It’s important to choose wisely, set expectations, and communicate clearly to have a healthy, lasting relationship with an agency. Here are a few ways to cut down on potential problems.
1) Choose your staffing and recruiting agency wisely.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of competition in the staffing and recruiting agency; the options are certainly plentiful, and many seem the same. However, each company has a unique core competency and way they do things. Some specialize in executive headhunting; others excel at placing large quantities of candidates for high volume general labor. Make sure that the agency is actually capable of doing what you need.
( How to choose a Staffing Agency? Check out tips from the American Staffing Association on selecting an agency )
Also, of course, there are some agencies that have some practices that are not so good for your company.
Don’t be just a number.
Your account manager at the agency should ask you lots of questions about your business, and provide realistic expectations for staffing the positions you need. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is – make sure you are working with an agency that is honest about the challenges with the positions you need, and seems to really understand how your company works. Many agencies, driven by promises of fast money, will just send anyone and everyone to fill a position – these candidates usually do not fit very well, and probably will not last too long.
Make sure the candidates are not just a number either. The candidates (your future employees) should be treated well. According to Virgin founder Richard Branson, a happy employee leads to a happy customer.
Work with, and value, an agency that genuinely cares about their candidates. If an agency is invested in its people, those people tend to want to be better employees for YOUR company.
Don’t let the agency be just a number to you, either. Choose a staffing agency that wants a long-term relationship with your company, and reward them by investing in them too. The more they understand you and your business, the better candidates you will receive.
2) Be realistic and communicate well.
If the three rules of real estate are “Location, Location, Location,” the three rules of staffing are “Communication, Communication, Communication.”
Being upfront with your staffing agency account manager on your practices and unique needs is absolutely crucial. Remember, all companies are different; this means yours is too. Frequently, it takes trial and error for an agency to understand what you’re really looking for in candidates. Companies who communicate clearly, and are honest and open about both the positive and negative aspects of their job positions, can fast forward this process and find who they need – faster.
Job descriptions are not enough.
Most businesses have “soft skills” that they are looking for, or people who exhibit certain characteristics that are hard to measure just by matching a resume with a job description. Informing your agency about what you’re looking for beyond just the job descriptions is essential and, again, will save you a lot of time in the long run.
Some examples of special characteristics some of our clients look for (and we would not have known about if we didn’t ask them directly!)
– People who are team players and don’t say things like “I’m not doing that, that’s not my job”
– People who are used to handling a “blue collar” environment that’s a little rough around the edges
– Candidates who are money-motivated and have a flexible home life, since they often are asked to work extra time and weekends at the last minute
– Candidates who can handle a heavily regulated environment where cell phone use is not allowed and temperatures are kept under 40 degrees (food industry!)
3) Set expectations – you both owe it to each other!
Business is business – it’s not dating. The temptation is to only show your good side and hide flaws, especially if you are on the side trying to get a contract. Staffing agencies, and other companies jockeying for your business, like to make the promises then try to fulfill them later – this rarely turns out optimally.
Often, vendors do this because they feel that they have to to get your business. If you want this kind of relationship, with consistent over-promising and under-delivering, feel free; I’d recommend, however, being realistic with your own business’ limitations and empowering the agency to be realistic about theirs. It’s a two-way relationship, and it’s not going to work if both sides are not invested.
Insist that they are transparent with you – are they really capable of finding x position? Where are they getting their people and what is their process? Do they really understand your business needs?
In change, it’s important to be a good client.
Just as they owe you professionalism, you owe it to them also. It may be more effort, but it will pay off in the end.
At minimum, understand the ramifications of the expectations and process that you have set. For example, an agency may tell you that they can fill any position within 24 hours; they may be able to do this if you want, but understand that if you tell them you expect them to do it within a week instead, the quality of the submitted candidates is will likely increase. Sure, some positions require a quick turnaround, but getting organized on the business end and anticipating what you will need in advance, in order to give some heads up to the staffing company, will pay strong dividends.
As Tom Cruise said, “help me help you!” Remember that we are juggling a lot (managing candidates to get the top few to you is not painless); once we do our part, it’s important to know what we can expect from you also. Who is approving the candidates? Will they approve candidates within a day? 2 days? A week? Any of these are fine, but we need to know. Candidates can spook easily and we can lose them if they don’t know what’s going on, or the process takes too long. This is one of the main ways to lose good candidates!
At SIS, we strive to streamline the staff placement process as much as possible, emphasizing quality by achieving a true understanding of your business needs. We never charge you anything unless someone is successfully placed, so give us a shot risk-free and Request an Employee.