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Finding the Right Staffing Firm

Whatever position you need to fill, there’s a staffing service that can do it. There are thousands of staffing firms, from small operations to large multinational firms. Some specialize in certain industries, such as accounting, food service or manufacturing, while others may concentrate on specific employee types, such as temporary or contract workers, entry level, or executive. Which staffing firm is right for you?

Obviously, before contacting a staffing company you should clearly define your own needs. What kind of business or industry are you in? Are you looking for short-term or long-term help? What kind of employees do you seek? Do you need multiple temporary workers tomorrow, or do you have a mid-level position that you’d like to try to fill on a temp-to-permanent basis? Do you want to work with a large multinational firm, or a smaller staffing company more familiar with your local area and market? Formalizing your objectives will help you match your needs and desires with a qualified staffing firm.

Finding a staffing firm is not difficult. Finding one that meets your particular needs requires a little research. Ask around and see what staffing firms others in your area have used successfully. Consult your local yellow pages. Next, visit some candidate websites. Are they informative and up-to-date? That’s a good sign. A great deal of information can be gleaned from your initial contact with the company. Telephone or e-mail the companies to get your first clue as to their business styles. Were the people you spoke to on the phone friendly, helpful and professional? Remember staffing firms are employers, and their management practices greatly affect the quality of the employees who come into your offices. Staffing firms recruit, hire, and train their staff, so make sure you are dealing with a professional, capable organization.

Check out several companies and ask for references. Is the company a member of the American Staffing Association? If so, they conform to the industry’s highest standards, and are up-to-date on all the latest human resources developments and trends. Find out how long the company has been in business. Call references and ask how satisfied they were with the staffing company employees as well as the quality of the workers assigned to their organization.

How does the staffing firm work with its clients? Does it assign an experienced account executive to handle your business? The account executive should visit your company’s offices, meet with managers and get a feel for what personalities, as well as skill sets, are needed to fill open positions. Ask the account executive how long he or she has had the job, and ask about employee turnover at the staffing firm in general. It is difficult to build a relationship with a firm if every time you need to hire someone, you have to start fresh with a new account executive. Also, find out how to reach the company after regular business hours in case of an emergency.

Are they experienced in your industry? Find out which type of staff is the firm’s specialty. Whether you’re looking to hire financial, scientific, technical, hospitality or administrative staff, for instance, make sure the firm has a strong concentration and extensive network of contacts in the area you require.

Can they fill your particular position? How does the staffing firm recruit, test and train potential employees? Many staffing services will test their applicants to determine which skills they have. Make sure the tests they use do a thorough job of attracting prospective employees for the skills you’re looking for. In addition to skills testing, find out if the staffing firm conducts background checks and drug tests. If you’re looking for a very specialized employee—someone with nursing skills, certain technical knowledge, or certain creative experience, for example—it can sometimes be better to hire a firm that specializes in placing this type of employee. Specialized firms sometimes attract more highly qualified workers than general staffing firms.