Hiring help Featured

8:00pm EDT July 28, 2006
For a fee, an employment agency will do all the dirty work of finding the right candidate to interview for a company to interview for an open position.

The agency will handle the pre-screening, background checks and testing, then deliver to a business a small group of thoroughly screened candidates who are well-matched with the available position.

Carol Doering, HR director for CORSA Performance, an exhaust systems manufacturer that relies heavily on general labor and seasonal employment, knows a thing or two about working with third-party employment agencies. She’s been using them for about six years, ever since a general labor job advertisement drew 25 people to the CORSA lobby for interviews in one day.

“At that point, I thought it would be advantageous to start working with an agency,” she says.

The 2006 Workplace Practices survey by Smart Business and ERC shows that employment agency services are still sought by many companies. For the sixth year in a row, the companies surveyed say recruiting and keeping great employees are the two biggest challenges they face. The survey shows that nearly 92 percent of companies do reference checks before hiring, although that is down 5.5 percentage points from a year ago and is the lowest level in five years.

Contracting with an employment agency can make life easier for an HR director, but it isn’t as simple as dumping all your sourcing worries into someone else’s lap. Doering says that smart HR directors treat an agency like another customer, but instead of selling someone on your products or services, you are selling your company itself.

“It’s basically selling the agency on selling your company to candidates,” she says.

At CORSA, Doering brings representatives from area employment agencies in for periodic factory tours. It’s an opportunity to show the agencies the improvements that have been made in the factory and to solidify the company’s reputation as a clean, professional place to work.

“What we try to do is bring the agency out, take a look at our facility, take a look at the jobs we have and get an overall picture of the company,” she says. “Then, they can let prospective workers know what kind of environment we have at the company.”

Doering is a one-person HR department responsible for keeping CORSA staffed. The company’s numbers fluctuate seasonally, but on average, it has about 125 employees, 9 percent of whom are temporary.

She says because CORSA is a smaller company that doesn’t have a highly automated HR department, an employment agency can recruit faster and more efficiently than she could alone.

But for any company with tight budget constraints, hiring an employment agency is always going to be a time versus money question — Is the convenience of an outside agency worth the cost, or is it more prudent for the HR department to perform all the sourcing services itself?

Doering says the decision is based on factors including number of employees, turnover, HR resources and money. In CORSA’s case, the company’s leaders think it’s worth it to allot money for external sourcing help. But that’s not a given year to year, she says.

“Since we’re a small company, the ownership might sometimes want to revert back to the old way and put an ad in the paper,” she says. “But, in their eyes, contracting with an employment firm is still a cost-saving measure right now.”

How to reach: CORSA Performance, www.corsaperf.com