How to Improve Staffing Results: An Agency Perspective
By John Rossheim
What do staffing agencies want from their clients? A little respect, sure. But what the best firms want most of all is more effective relationships with their client companies that deliver successful staffing results.
Here are some top opportunities that staffing firms and third-recruiters see for clients to improve their staffing results that bring the best talent on board more quickly.
Give one job to one agency, or risk confusing your candidates. Of course agencies don’t like to be asked to fill the same job that has already been given to other agencies. But it’s also bad for the client’s employment brand.
“Hiring multiple staffing agencies to fill the same role confuses the candidates,” says Joel Capperella, a vice president at national staffing firm Yoh.
Give the agency direct access to the hiring manager. Employers are asking for poor results if they put the demands of their own bureaucracies ahead of quality hiring, agencies say.
“We’re very picky when we’re taking the job order,” says Gus Pena, managing partner of Ascendo Resources, which has several staffing offices in Florida. “We always push to speak with the hiring manager directly. If you put HR middlemen in the equation, something is lost in translation.”
Mike Dsupin, CEO of national technology staffing firm Talener adds: “When we have direct access to the manager of the open position, the information we get is exponentially better than in the job description or vendor management system. Jobs are not static, they change.”
When clients want to know your company culture, take them seriously. Don’t believe that when you just want to fill a few seats, company culture is irrelevant. “We ask new clients: ‘Tell us about your culture, what type of person works well,’ ” says Kim Malatesta, branch manager for staffing agency Incepture’s Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., region.
“For one of our new clients, the first interview is always about culture. Because that culture match is how you keep workers. We ask candidates a lot of open-ended behavioral questions; that way we get a lot of information out of people.”
Clients must get specific about both hard and soft skills. Even when hiring contingent workers, many staffing firms say that their clients shouldn’t only think about checking off the boxes for hard skills.
“The perfect client is one that has very specific job requirements of what they need,” says Capperella. “They’ll give us black-and-white information on the skills sets required, plus a color analysis of where the person will fit in, personality types in their workplace, culture and so on. For example, we ask, ‘Do you work in an open environment today? What do you like about it, or not?’ ”
Get real about which candidates actually exist. Staffing firms and third-party recruiters despair when clients ask for needle-in-a-haystack candidates. “No one is going to be the master of 24 technologies,” says Dsupin.
“The important things for tech will be a couple of languages and one database. We’re trying to figure out what the person will be doing day to day, and working with that.”
The bottom line: Talented people can augment their skills on the job.
Make an offer while that hot candidate is still on the market. What keeps agency account execs up at night? It’s the client who — when presented with an excellent candidate — doesn’t respond for days or weeks. But valiant agencies don’t just grin and bear it; they push for an answer in the context of the challenges that they know their client is facing.
“We ask what has to happen for you to make a decision,” says Capperella. “That’s the account manager’s job: to understand the approval process, including how long things take.”
Get real about what qualified talent costs in the current market. Many companies haven’t accepted that the economic recovery is driving salaries up in a number of industries and functional areas.
“Some clients think we’re still in 2009, so there’s a big gap in understand of labor market conditions,” says Pena. “But bridging the gap is your role as an agency. We show them salary analysis and tell them what we’re seeing. I push them to drill down to the ‘musts’ in the skills sets that they want, to match them with a candidate in their pay range.”
And competitive salaries aren’t the only human capital expense that many client companies resist. Says Malatesta: “People are dying to move down to Florida, but it’s hard to convince employers to do relo package.”