Partnering with a staffing firm

8 Steps to Take Before Partnering with a Staffing Firm

In Recruiting Tips by Kyle Roots

Are you considering partnering with a staffing firm. The right staffing firm, or recruitment agency, can free up vital resources, open up access to a deep talent pool and bring with them a wealth of industry experience.

Before you start sourcing potential partners, we recommend you follow our 8 step process below. To simplify this process, you can break it down into three phases: preparation, research and onboarding.

Partnering with a staffing firm

Preparation Phase

The preparation phase is where you extract all of the information you need from your business ahead of searching for a suitable staffing firm. Hooking up with a recruitment agency is best treated like a relationship-building process rather than a procurement exercise.

The best agencies will be picky about who they work with, so you must give a good account of your organization from the first meeting. By communicating clearly your brand, vision, values, culture, strategy, business processes and organizational structure, you will demonstrate that you are a partner that knows its own identity. This will give compatible agencies confidence that they can find suitable hires for you.

Step 1: Clarify your brand

It is always a good idea to look with fresh eyes at your business and ask the following questions:

  • What is our overall vision?
  • Why do we do what we do?
  • What makes us unique?

If your branding looks or feels outdated, or is at odds with the answers above, consider a brand refresh (or even a complete rebrand).

Why is this step important when sourcing a recruitment partner? Because your partner is going to have to sell your organization to prospective candidates. Not only will a clear brand identity make that task easier, it will also appeal to those quality candidates who work for more than just a paycheque.

Step 2: Clarify your culture

Your workplace culture is (or should be) closely tied to your brand. A brand refresh can even breathe new life into a jaded team. Spend some time observing how team members interact with one another and soaking up the general atmosphere. Implement changes if necessary, but these can take time to embed.

Again, by communicating your culture to your prospective recruitment partners, you will make it easier for them to answer candidates' questions. Culture is another factor that is increasingly important to the top employees.

Step 3: Clarify your business structures

When was the last time you looked at your business plan? Is the organizational structure on your Intranet up to date? Did you even write down a marketing strategy this year?

Auditing and organizing your business documents and structures is a great way to prepare for meeting recruitment partners. The more clarity they have about your business processes and direction, the easier it will be for them to align their firm with yours.

Being clear about your branding, culture and business structures will also set a high bar for ongoing work with your new partner. By communicating clearly and professionally, your agency will know they have to bring their A-game.

Step 4: Identify your hiring needs

Before moving on to the research phase, look closely at your hiring needs. Are you filling a short-term gap or do you need to hire for future growth? Will you need a staffing firm to handle all recruitment or could some be handled by your internal talent acquisition team?

The answers to these questions will help guide your research.

Step 5: Research Phase

Whether you are approaching a staffing firm cold or have been introduced to one by an employee or industry contact, you must carry out thorough research. Solid references from employers and candidates who have worked with the agency in question always outweigh online reviews and slick marketing.

Online reviews can be useful though, especially detailed ones, but if they are hosted on the firm's website, they are likely to have been curated.

During your research, find out the following:

  • Is the agency a generalist or industry-specific?
  • Do they hire industry professionals as agents?
  • How many people work for them? Large agencies have expansive networks, but small firms may offer a more personalized service.
  • What other employee partnerships do they have? Do any have similar recruitment needs to you?

Onboarding Phase

Once you've short-listed your potential recruitment partners, it's time to schedule some meetings and go through the specifics of how you intend to work together.

Although we've presented these final steps as a sequence, they will usually arise together as part of your ongoing discussions.

Step 6: Set overall objectives

Here is where you spell out your specific hiring goals and decide how you can both support one another to achieve them. Are you looking for a one-off contract and an intense burst of activity to fill a new app development division? Or do you want an ongoing partnership to supply a steady flow of talent into your organization?

You will need to know how your mutual goals will be achieved. Ask the staffing agency for full details on how their recruitment process works. What deliverables will they provide? A simple list of screened and tested candidates or a detailed analysis of each applicant's strengths and weaknesses?

How involved will your organization be with the process? Will you provide contact numbers for senior managers who can make interim decisions on candidate suitability, or will you take a laissez-faire approach, relying on the recruitment agency to do all the screening and testing?

It is important for both parties to be clear and honest. If you suspect that the staffing firm is just giving you the answers you want to hear, test them with some open-ended questions like, "How would you respond if no suitable candidates applied for our priority role?"

Step 7: Assess fit

This step moves away from practical considerations and focuses on alignment of values, processes and personalities. Again, this is a two-way process.

In terms of business processes, are you comfortable with the balance of responsibilities and assignment of tasks? Are there any grey areas you need to work on?

Are you happy to follow the agency's lead or do they need to be flexible to your demands. For example, if you want to set a candidate a specific test, will the agency agree to source that test and integrate it into their process?

And importantly: do you respect and like working with each other? This may be a business arrangement but if you click on a personal level, your work together will be more productive and enjoyable.

Step 8: Costs and contracts

The final step is to agree costs and, of course, sign contracts. Make sure you are aware of all costs and their implication for your cost of hire. These might include conversion and replacement costs.

By following the above model when collaborating with a staffing firm, you will build the foundation for a successful end result, whatever your recruitment goals.

If you are looking for a recruitment partner in the IT industry, please add Myticas Consulting to your short-list.