How to choose the best staffing agency for your needs

Sarah Finch, Business Development Manager, The Daniel Group

When choosing a staffing agency, culture, size, location, industries served and services provided are factors to consider. There are many to choose from in any given area, so you need to do your research to ensure you choose the right one to fit your needs.
“The biggest thing is being open to the idea,” says Sarah Finch, business development manager with The Daniel Group. “There are so many advantages to using a staffing company because, bottom line, the company’s success is all about the type of people you have working for you. And whether the company is overloaded with openings or is having difficulty filling niche positions, staffing firms are here to help for those reasons.”
Staffing agencies can help a company gather all the necessary details to determine its hiring needs, then determine which candidates fit that company’s culture, work environment, industry and position.
Smart Business spoke with Finch about how to choose the best staffing agency for your needs.

What is important to consider when choosing a staffing agency?

Before you think about which staffing agency to call on and which you are going to use, you have to define your needs to better determine how an agency can help you.
For example, consider whether you would prefer to hire a candidate based on education or experience. Many positions require either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. However, for example, for a lot of IT jobs, a bachelor’s degree isn’t always as significant because many who work in the field have a niche vocational, associate’s or technical degree, in addition to years of experience. Decide first what you’re going to require because you may pass up many excellent candidates just because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
Also determine what projects you have upcoming. Many staffing companies can help you solve hiring needs on a per project basis.
Location is also a consideration. Some companies prefer to use local staffing companies when looking for people from that area, as opposed to national agencies that aren’t rooted in those states or don’t have the capability to meet the candidates in person.
You should also look for a staffing company that will consider your business’s culture when selecting candidates. It can matter whether you have a huge corporate environment as opposed to a smaller mom-and-pop shop, where personality might be just as important as skill set. That can also apply to your decision when selecting what kind of staffing company you want to work with. Do you want a boutique firm or a big national firm?
Also consider the level of customer service you expect. Getting the right sales rep or recruiter who returns your phone calls, who is able to get in touch with candidates quickly and who can provide you with strong resumes soon after receiving an order is key.

How can a company benefit by working with an agency that specializes in a specific field?

Specialized agencies have recruiters who have worked in a specific industry and with those candidates for some time, which means they have a large pipeline of people to choose from. This can be a benefit because the candidates, while possibly not looking for a position themselves, often know someone with similar experience who is.
In addition, an agency that specializes becomes an expert in that field by keeping up with developing trends, mergers and acquisitions, and hiring trends. An agency with that industry insight can quickly become more of a consultant to its clients than just a staffing agency. When the market for candidates gets slim in a particular industry, it’s good to have a recruiter with experience because candidates who have been placed by these recruiters often return when they’re ready to move on.

What services can a staffing agency provide?

Some staffing agencies offer candidates who can work in different capacities, including temp-to-hire and temporary. And while companies don’t have to take advantage of all of these, some prefer to have the choice.
Contract hires fill a position temporarily. You could have these employees for a day, a week or for years, but this is typically used for project-based work. The employee’s payroll is handled through the staffing agency and the agency provides an invoice to the client.
Temp-to-hire means bringing in a candidate with the intention of transitioning that person into the position full time. Companies will use this service when they want to fill a position permanently but first want to try the person out. The staffing agency will set a time limit that the candidate will work as a contractor, and payroll and benefits are handled through the agency. Before the candidate has completed the predetermined amount of hours, the client can decide to hire or not.
In direct hire, the staffing agency qualifies candidates and passes them on to the client. The agency has nothing to do with payroll, benefits or time sheets and will typically charge a fee based on the first year’s salary.
Payrolling is also an option in which the client company chooses the candidate but the staffing agency performs the hiring procedures and pays through its payroll and benefits service. This often comes at a lower markup rate because the agency didn’t have to spend time searching for the candidate.

How can a company get information about a staffing agency?

Companies can take staffing agencies for a test run, requesting that they send resumes for a position they’re trying to fill. That allows an agency to prove its skills and allows the company to see what the agency can produce. Staffing agencies also get business through referrals from companies and divisions within a single company. Ask the agency what other companies it is working with to see if it has filled staffing needs effectively within its industry. And request a client list of the businesses an agency is working with to see if there are similar companies to yours.

Sarah Finch is business development manager for The Daniel Group. Reach her at (713) 932-9313 or [email protected]

Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group