How to find the best staffing firm for your company

Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, Major accounts manager, Ashton Staffing, Inc.

A company is only as good as its employees, a statement that applies to the top executives through to the people in the mailroom.
“Because employees are vital to business, employers need the right staffing services to make sure the right people are on board. It is not a decision to be made quickly,” says Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, a major accounts manager for Ashton Staffing, Inc.
A good rule of thumb, she says, is not to wait until your staffing needs are urgent to check out available agencies.
Smart Business spoke with Coon-Leeper about how to select the best staffing agency for your needs.

What steps should employers take to choose the right staffing firm?

There is a staffing firm capable of filling any position. It can provide flexible staffing for temporary, temp-to-hire or direct hire positions. Some services provide high-level executives, some specialize in a certain skill sets such as graphic designers and computer programmers, and some concentrate on specific industries.
Whatever your staffing needs, there are a few things to consider when shopping around for the right agency. For example, the firm’s ability to fill the job, how it qualifies candidates and what it charges for its services.
After you determine the title, pay rate, hours and assignment duration of the position you need to fill, the search for a staffing firm can begin to be narrowed.
Instead of picking at random, try choosing a firm dedicated to the same industry. If an employer is looking for a forklift driver, choosing a staffing firm that specializes in industrial placements is an excellent way to quickly tap into a pool of qualified candidates.
The search will require making a few phone calls as all firms are different and one size definitely does not fit all. Employers need to feel comfortable with the person staffing their order. A qualified staffing representative should be able to answer every question quickly and efficiently while delivering top-notch customer service. First impressions are everything so don’t be afraid to keep shopping around.

What should an employer know about a staffing agency’s process for placing candidates?

When searching for a staffing firm it’s important to know how the agency qualifies candidates. Each staffing agency is different so it’s key to know what has been done with a candidate before you are presented with one.
Depending on the position and length of assignment, most candidates should come with a background and reference check and drug screen. Once they’ve been placed, the agency should run an E-Verify check. Employers should make sure they’re aware of the type of background checks being run and what type of drug screen is used as some staffing agencies won’t run some checks unless requested, especially for short-term assignments.
Candidates also can have pre-employment testing conducted to determine software skills, personality, dexterity and basic math skills. Many staffing agencies can even certify someone on a forklift if the employer asks. Just remember, like buying a car, any upgrades to the base package are more expensive. It’s important that employers discuss costs up front with their staffing representative.

How can employers be sure to get the best candidates from a staffing firm?

Get to know your staffing agency and ask lots of questions. Each staffing firm is different as is each staffing representative. Some will spend time narrowing down candidates to find the perfect fit. Others will throw every qualified resume at the employer hoping one will stick. Most businesses prefer quality over quantity, depending on the position to be filled, although some prefer lots of options. Talk to the staffing firm and make sure the selection process works for your company.

What should an employer expect as far as service from its staffing firm?

At the very least an employer should expect excellent customer service and follow up from a staffing firm, no matter what position is being filled.
For example, an employer may call in looking for an administrative assistant with 10 years of experience and excellent computer skills, but cap the pay rate at $12 per hour. Part of the job of a staffing firm is to inform the employer that the average $12 an hour administrative assistant today has no more than two years experience and limited capabilities.
It is up to the staffing firm to approach the employer with this information when the order is placed, see how the employer would like to proceed, and then keep the employer informed of possible candidates and how the overall recruitment of the position is going.

What would be the case for using a staffing firm rather than handling the hiring internally?

There are many great reasons for seeking a staffing firm, such as expertise, improved productivity, increased flexibility, decreased costs and that the employer gets to try the employee out before offering a permanent position.
Staffing firm representatives generally have a high level of expertise related to job knowledge, employment trends and recruitment practices by virtue of continuous placement of employees.
When there is work overload, hiring temporary workers is the best solution. Employers can maintain their full-time staff while having temporary workers handle the overload. But the main advantage of using a staffing firm is that it can provide the employer with immediate help.
Further, employers can save money and time because they have no commitment to these workers and don’t need to provide benefits, conduct pre-employment testing and background checks, cover unemployment costs, workers compensation costs or payroll taxes.

Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, is a major accounts manager for Ashton Staffing, Inc. Reach her at [email protected] or (770) 419-1776.

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