According to the American Staffing Association, 3 million temporary and contract employees are put to work by staffing companies in the United States during an average week. On top of this, there are almost 15 million staffing employee hires per year.
These numbers showcase the influence and expertise that staffing agencies have in finding suitable employees for their clients. Staffing agencies have great relationships, evaluation processes, and intuition, all of which helps their clients find great candidates for open positions.
Here are some of the most crucial areas that staffing companies focus on to find the right candidates for open positions.
The best recruiters and staffing agents keep thorough notes on candidates with whom they’ve built rapport within their applicant tracking systems. This allows them to quickly match vetted candidates with open positions. In turn, as candidates continue to work with the staffing agency, they learn to trust that the recruiter’s expertise and dedication will find the right job for them.
Building good relationships with candidates and experts in assigned industries can also help recruiters gather good referrals for open positions they’re trying to fill. Thanks to contacts they’ve met through engagements, networking, or other means, they can gather referrals of stellar candidates they may have not found otherwise.
No matter how they found their potential candidates, recruiters always look closely at candidates’ resumes and cover letters. These are an invaluable first impression. A study conducted a few years ago found that potential employers only spend an average of six seconds on a resume before deciding if they want to look deeper or are ready to evaluate someone else.
The best cover letters and resumes are tailored to the job description so the evaluator knows how that candidate’s experience is best applied to the open position. For cover letters, The Muse recommends applicants include information that isn’t already on the resume. Recruiters should look for concrete details in cover letters that outline past performance and key statistics that make a candidate stand out from the rest of the applicants for the specific role.
Overall, the better attention to detail a candidate has in their cover letter and resume — tailoring to the position and making sure it’s free of grammatical errors — the more likely you’re going to reach out to them down the line. Attention to detail is always seen as a positive trait, and in many cases is a requirement for a role. Some staffing agencies will ask specific questions in job listings for applicants, and if left unanswered, the candidate could be out of the running. This makes it easier to narrow down potential hires.
As part of the initial review process, many staffing agents also use search engines to research potential candidates. According to CareerBuilder, the number of employers who evaluate a job candidate’s online presence (e.g. their social media profiles or personal websites) is up 500 percent over the last ten years. Furthermore, 60 percent of employers say they look at a candidate’s social media profiles, and recruiters often use social media sites (especially LinkedIn) to find experienced candidates who could be a good fit for jobs they are trying to fill.
An online presence also tells recruiters more about the candidate’s personality and experience. This can help determine if a candidate is going to be a good fit for a particular position or company. If a candidate’s tweets are an interesting mix of industry insight and personal commentary, they are more likely to be hired than someone who only has derogatory tweets or who expresses strong opinions that are a red flag.
LinkedIn profile testimonials are also a good indicator as to what current and former coworkers, customers, and business partners liked about working with a candidate.
Colleague testimonials, resumes, cover letters, and a person’s Twitter account can give recruiters a good picture of a candidate. Often, however, staffing agencies rely on their experience to figure out if someone is going to be the best person for the job.
Josh Bersin, principal and founder at Bersin by Deloitte, says he goes with his gut for hiring decisions and looks past a candidate’s experience for a person who is “confident but humble.” He also wants his hires to be passionate and tenacious, ready to grow their knowledge and increase their experience in these new roles.
As staffing agencies grow their relationships with businesses and candidates, they are better able to play “job matchmaker” and evaluate which company would best suit each candidate (and vice versa). Getting to know a company’s culture, values, and needs helps staffing agencies make better decisions about recommending candidates for open roles.
After hiring hundreds of candidates for temporary, contract, or permanent roles, a staffing professional has a much better knack for knowing if it’s going to be a good fit or not.
If a recruiter is on the fence about whether a candidate could be a good fit for a role, they rely on asking the right questions during the interview process. Going past the basic interview questions, such as “What was your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?”, these more in-depth questions can give interviewers a better idea of how the candidate will react under pressure or in certain situations.
Recruiters ask questions that delve into the company’s core values and specific needs, as well as the candidate’s priorities for their career and work. Jeff Haden recommends asking questions like, “What things do you not like to do?” as a way to gauge if they would enjoy some of the mundane tasks you know will be a part of the role. Recruiters can also get a better view of a candidate’s personality by asking something like, “What animal best describes who you are?” to learn which traits they value.
When it looks like a candidate’s personality is going to fit in the role, it may be time to try them out. Many staffing agencies hire on behalf of companies for temporary or contract roles, but that isn’t always the case: Recruiters are often brought on board to hire for long-term, permanent roles, too. Either way, staffing agencies have the unique advantage of offering their clients (and their candidates) flexibility in making sure they have the right person.
Many companies prefer to hire a new employee in a contract, freelance, or temporary role first to see if they need the person long-term and if it’s going to be a good fit. This is a good way to evaluate candidates, and this temporary arrangement can help make onboarding costs more justifiable, especially since the candidate will get a chance to prove his or her experience and value.
Sarah Max reports for The New York Times that many companies are hiring on a “temp-to-perm” basis, offering 30-day trials to new hires before making the leap to offering them a full-time or permanent positions. This can cut down on turnover rates and make sure the hire benefits everyone involved.
Evaluating the candidate by assessing their personality, experience, and their ability to fit into both the role and at the company lets staffing agencies ensure that clients get the best person for their needs. In turn, candidates will appreciate getting placed in an arrangement that they enjoy and that could eventually turn into a full-time job. If hiring new employees is a difficult process for your company, consider using a staffing agency to find the best candidates for your open positions.
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