6 Incredibly Important Questions to Ask a Staffing Agency
Hiring employees to fill open positions is a delicate and extremely time consuming process. This is especially true in those businesses where there is not a dedicated HR department. The number of job openings increased to 6.2 million in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employing a staffing agency to fill open positions is becoming essential for many companies to keep pace with the market and grow their businesses. A partnership with a staffing firm can be one of the most valuable affiliations your organization can have, but choosing the right one requires some research. According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), there are nearly 750 staffing firms in Pennsylvania, and more emerging every year. The staffing industry is not regulated by any governing body, and recruiters are not required to retain any type of licensing. The standards of quality and performance vary widely. Before you begin to discuss fees, contracts or guarantees, you need to size up the agency you’re considering and confirm they are the best pairing for your organization. Here are a few questions to ask to “interview” your new prospective staffing partner.
What is your primary source of candidates?
If you are reaching out to a staffing agency after having tried to fill a position on your own through job boards or job search engines, you may find that some agencies are sending you candidates you’ve already found through those resources. Most staffing firms do utilize job boards or professional networking sites on a regular basis. The most renowned and successful firms, however, have their own database of off-market candidates that they use as their primary source for placements. They have an established relationship with those candidates and a good understanding of the hard and soft skills they bring to the table. Because of those well-nurtured relationships, reputable staffing firms also receive referrals from their trusted candidates. These referrals are also not often found on standard job boards, and may need to be recruited from one position into your organization. Having the right recruiter that has those connections will help you gain access to a large group of candidates who are selectively looking for a job, but not posting their resumes.
What is your understanding of our company and industry?
Some agencies will source for positions in a variety of different industries and titles. Not having a focus or areas of specialty means that an agency is less likely to have an understanding your specific needs and how to fill them properly. A grievance that many employers have with staffing agencies is never hearing back from the agency after they provide them with a job order. The lack of follow up could be due to a heavy volume of business. More likely, it means that they are unable find candidates to fill the position, so they’ve gone silent. A recruiter that is unfamiliar with your industry will often submit the wrong kind of candidates, resulting in wasted time and a longer hiring process. Familiarity with your industry also means that the recruiters filling your jobs have an understanding of the appropriate salary range for those positions. Boolean searches on job search engines today result in a mixture of various designations for similar job titles. A seasoned recruiter can read between the lines to identify the best fit for a job. An agency that has your long-term interests in mind will go to great lengths to understand your company and culture, as well as the industry-specific needs of your company. This understanding will ensure that the agency explains the position and environment accurately to candidates, resulting in better fitting placements.
Talk about your candidate screening process.
One of the most common grievances that our clients report is that they have used staffing agencies in the past that send them candidates who are not a good fit. By fit, we are referring not only the skills and knowledge to do the job, but also the personality and ability to interact with others in your organization. A good candidate screening process begins with an initial phone screen, followed by an in-person meeting. If a staffing firm has clients and candidates all over the country, it is more likely that they will submit candidates without ever having met them in person, which can lead to candidates that are a poor fit for your organization. A thorough background check, while not always required by clients, is a very reliable way for employers to verify claims made by jobseekers. According to Statistic Brain, more than 50% of all resumes contain falsified information. A fabrication made by a candidate during the hiring process is grounds to question the candidate’s honesty and integrity. A comprehensive background check including criminal history, salary history, education and past positions should be offered by the agency with which you choose to partner.
Does your firm support confidential searches?
Staffing agencies often receive job orders from companies that, for various reasons, may require a confidential search. The organization may be attempting to build a pipeline to replace someone who will be let go in the future. Companies go through mergers and acquisitions often that demand a confidential search. When a client’s name can’t be disclosed, the agency will need to employ the skills of experienced recruiters that have the skills to attract a candidate to a position without the benefit of the client’s name and reputation to assist them. Even if a recruiter knows a candidate would be perfect for a particular position, that recruiter must be adept at providing valid reasons why a career move would benefit the candidate. In some situations, there is a great deal at stake if a confidential search is disclosed by an inexperienced recruiter. Besides jeopardizing the reputation of your organization, it could result in legal ramifications as well. Confidential searches can certainly be challenging to present to a candidate, but the right staffing firm can package your organization and the position so that top talent will understand, appreciate and value the opportunity.
Do you know your numbers?
While most businesses do not think to ask the question, one of the most important measures of a recruiting agency’s success is their time to fill a position. The average time to fill a position in today’s market has been quoted as high as 68 days. An experienced firm knows the importance of measuring their efficacy in the market and has procedures and systems in place to benchmark their results. Besides being a qualifying factor for an agency, this figure can have very practical application when you have a position that you need to fill in a specified amount of time. You should also ask the agency how many placements they have made in their tenure. Any seasoned recruiter or veteran agency uses some type of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and can generate reports on their stats. The metrics provided by the firm should be in alignment with the needs of your company.
Why should we work with you and not someone else?
While choosing the right firm is important, pairing with the right recruiter within that firm is even more vital. Veteran recruiters build their own brand in the industry and will have forged longstanding relationships with candidates based on trust, mentorship and honest recruiting. If a recruiter has not been in the industry long, they are not as likely to have forged those relationships. You are essentially interviewing this individual to represent your company. You should ask a potential recruiter how long they have worked in the industry, and ask them to describe a difficult placement experience. By employing a more behavioral interviewing style with a prospective recruiter, you will gain insight into how they interact with candidates and how they will represent your company. A recruiter’s effectiveness at communicating with their candidate base is a huge determining factor in their ability to build relationships. Very well-respected firms may employ recruiters who are not as seasoned; and very reputable recruiters may work for firms that have bad reputations in the market. The recruiter as an individual is the key to connecting your organization with top talent, so make sure you have a good understanding of their abilities and experience.
Conducting research about a potential agency is a necessary and crucial part of beginning your staffing industry partnership. Take advantage of the wealth of resources that are available online, and ask for referrals from trusted colleagues. Be sure that your partner agency is a member of The American Staffing Association (ASA). As a condition of membership, agencies are required to adhere to business practices, ethics codes and legal procedures that are in the best interests of the staffing services industry, its clients, and its employees.
Bradley Staffing Group is a full-service staffing firm based in Wayne, PA. We are committed to matching A-level talent with best-in-class businesses. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff brings a combined 70+ years of staffing experience to our clients and candidates alike. http://useful-sock.flywheelsites.com/employers/