Staffing Agencies and Recruiters – 5 Things to Look For When Choosing One

Staffing Agencies and Recruiters – 5 Things to Look For When Choosing One

A staffing agency can be a good job lead source if you find the right one to work with. Here are five questions to ask before deciding which is right for you.

1. Does the staffing firm specialize in a niche that employs your skills?

Well run staffing agencies won’t want to waste your time or theirs. If they can’t help you they should say so. Finding a company that successfully places people with your kind of skills will be key to success. Asking what kind of positions they fill or the types of openings they have will give you an idea of whether it’s worth your time to apply.

2. Does the staffing agency have a reputation for placing quality talent? (Hint: You can tell by its screening process.)

Some temp services will ‘hire’ almost anyone who walks through the door. If it’s simply a matter of registering for work, it’s a sure bet that staffing agency does not have a reputation for quality work. You will suffer by association with such a company. It may seem like a supreme hassle to go through a rigorous screening process, but in the long run it’s in your best interest to be associated with a well respected firm.

3. How is the firm’s external talent treated?

When you make first contact are you treated with courtesy and respect? Does someone take the time to have a real conversation with you? Or are you left on hold for extended periods of time with no one checking back? The best company to work with is the one that recognizes your potential value to them and treats you accordingly.

4. Is communication honest and timely?

Work with a recruiter that communicates fully. That communication includes explaining her process and how you can facilitate your own success through her. It also includes timely feedback (in both directions) and phone calls that are returned within one business day.

5. Does the recruiter require an exclusive relationship?

Contract or temporary placement pros generally won’t expect an exclusive placement relationship with you. They are working with a talent pool that is actively seeking work.

On the other hand, it’s not unusual for an executive headhunter to require an exclusive relationship. She will want to know where you’ve already applied and she’ll want assurances that you’re not working with another recruiter. This may seem unreasonable until you realize that she tends to work with passive (working) candidates. The recruiter goes through a lot of time and expense in vetting you for a particular opening and all that effort is lost if your candidacy is already in the hands of her client. That being said, a smart recruiter will not turn her nose up at an active candidate with the right qualifications. The bottom line is: know what you’re getting into.

Knowing which staffing firm or recruiter you want to work with and being a desirable candidate are two very different things. Staffing companies exist to find people for jobs, not jobs for people. For a win-win the agency must need you as much as you need them. The next article in this series focuses on 5 ways to attract a staffing firm.