Can Your IT Recruiter Get the Job Done?
What to Look for, What to Ask and Why It Matters
By Jeff Welsh
With the economy gearing up, businesses are turning to staffing companies in increasing numbers: Studies by the American Staffing Association show that 90% of companies now use staffing services. This hasn't just become status quo, it's now considered a market advantage. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor found that, "Employers that have flexibility in adjusting labor requirements to meet product and service demands have a competitive edge over those with less flexible human resources policies."
In some ways, the stakes are even higher when it comes to IT staffing. From helping with fluctuating workloads and locating hard-to-find skills for new product and service opportunities to meeting increasing regulatory complexities, IT staffing companies are becoming indispensable.
Not All IT Staffing Services Are Created Equal
While an excellent IT recruiting firm is worth its weight in gold, an incompetent one can waste your time and worse — can cost you opportunity. So, how can you tell the good from the bad and the ugly before it's too late? There are three important things you should check without fail: credibility, depth of consultant screening and spectrum of services.
In assessing credibility, make sure that your recruiting firm has direct experience in staffing for the technology industry. Ask to see a list of clients or references to determine legitimacy. Do they have a niche? Does that niche fit with your needs? Verify that they have proven expertise — and not just according to them. Find out if they are members of reputable national or industry associations, or if they have any other proof of legitimate subject matter expertise.
Next, it is critical that you identify how in-depth they are in their consultant screening. Some questions to ask include:
· How many candidates are interviewed before choosing one?
· How many of the candidates presented has the recruiter met with in-person or at least done a truly extensive interview with?
· How thorough is the candidate screening?
· How in-depth are the reference checks?
· Does the candidate match my cultural profile?
· Does the recruiter conduct quarterly project/assignment reviews with their candidates?
Finally, you need to determine how in-depth their client services run. If you are still in the selection process, request a presentation to your management team before they are hired. This is your chance to gain as much information as possible about the company. Ask them if they offer orderly transition assistance on contract positions and assistance with market salaries and rates? Do they offer a strong pool of candidates — and not just a long list of job board applicants?
You can also tell a lot by how the intake of your needs is conducted. Do they go beyond the requirements document and the short job-order form to ask additional questions that truly get at understanding your needs? We consider these questions the MVQs — the Most Valuable Questions — and they are a great indication that your recruiter is up to par.
How to Know You've Got the Right Firm
A great test to know if you've got the right firm is to find out if they can sell your company to you. Recession or not — when it comes to certain skill sets — it is the jobs that are competing for the candidates. You need to know that your recruiter is able to present your company in the strongest light possible, lest you allow needed talent to slip through your fingers.
Another great test is simply if you are hiring the first candidate sent to you. At a recent seminar with well known trainer Al Dubuc of Oz Consulting and Training, he put it like this: "If you are interviewing more than one person, your recruiter is wasting your time." This is absolutely true. If a recruiter is doing their job, all the interviewing should be done on their side. For example, at STAR BASE, we have one client that has so consistently hired the first candidate we send them that they now trust us to skip this step entirely. They simply give us the needed skill set and start date, and trust that whoever walks through their door that day is exactly the right resource.
There are tremendous advantages to leveraging the expertise and resources of IT staffing services, but if they don't perform, they will wind up costing you both in financial terms and in missed opportunity. Conversely, an IT staffing services firm that is up to the job will give you a significant competitive edge. If you find that you aren't hiring the first candidate they send your way, it may be time to recruit a new recruiter.
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