Employment Professionals: Puzzle Solvers


Employment Professionals: Puzzle Solvers

Each year 9.7 million people are hired by staffing firms to report for work at companies in the U.S. Sixty-four percent of management and executive positions are filled by third-party recruiters … these guys definitely do something right.

Whether you are outsourcing your entire HR function to a multinational staffing firm, using a specialty recruiter working on straight commission or engaging the world’s most elite executive search firm, the rules of getting the most for your money are the same – good communication.

Susan LeMiles
Susan LeMiles Holmes

Start with picking the right type of firm. To outsource your entire personnel function, you need a staffing company or an HR outsourcing organization big enough to have the financial resources to front your payroll, to have adequate staff and technology to fill your needs (recruiting, benefit processing, specialized workman’s compensation requirements), and enough legal savvy to manage the regulatory issues employers have to deal with today.

To identify and hire a specific employee who can give you a competitive edge, take a department to a higher operational level, represent you as an individual in business situations or even turn your company around, you need a firm that does not spend its time processing claims and doing payroll. You want to work with a firm that spends all of its time networking and identifying talent in your field or industry.

The most effective recruiters usually choose either a horizontal or vertical market that provides synergy for both themselves and their employer clients. For example, they may choose to place accountants in all industries (horizontal) or they may choose to place employees in the oil and gas industry (vertical). In either case, every business conversation they have is a “revenue producing activity.”

Yes, both staffing and recruiting are businesses where time and knowledge is what’s for sale. Sounds like your law firm or your accounting firm, doesn’t it?

The best ones become your business partners, just like these other professionals and you will get most for your money if you allow them to serve you. Like any successful relationship, understanding and respect are the keys. Choose a staffing professional or recruiter you like as a person, build the trust necessary for very honest communication and agree on a process that accomplishes your mutual goals. Pick someone who listens well … and you do the same.

Every business has to focus its efforts based on real potential to generate income. Staffing companies and recruiters have to seek the most likely profitable assignments possible, just like you do. If you want employment agencies to work hard for you, position yourself as someone who is committed to filling the open job in a timely way. Position your job opening as an opportunity the best candidate in the market would want and your company as a team player in the hiring process.

Don’t order employees like fast food. Give recruiters information, a written job description that includes more than skill and experience requirements. Placement professionals do their best work when they have a description of the duties, the tough challenges that arise, even the events of a typical day or week. Identifying sales points about the job, company, future opportunities or even the supervisor for whom the person will work will get you the best committed candidate possible. If you need help clarifying any of these things, good recruiters can do this.

The more time you spend with these professionals when you place the order, the more likely your expectations will be met. A good recruiter asks a lot of questions, repeats a synopsis back to you that indicates he understands your needs and bravely embraces clarification. Be honest about the obstacles you face. Good recruiters are puzzle solvers and many will spend time with you discussing your options before taking your assignment. Take advantage of their up-to-the-minute perspective. They typically engage in 25-50 business conversations a day regarding the very problems you face in hiring.

When it comes to negotiating price, even though employment services are intangible, remember, it simply costs more to design and produce an Avalon over a Corolla. The price or mark-up you are quoted reflects the cost and the amount of attention that will be given to your project.

Recruiting and staffing services performed properly feel better than going to the doctor. A great recruiter can say, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. I’ve been working on getting you the right people all year!”

Column by Susan LeMiles Holmes. Susan is Director of Career Services at Texas State Technical College and a published novelist. You can inquire about hiring TSTC graduates by emailing susan.holmes@harlingen.tstc.edu or learn about Susan’s novel set in the Valley, “Touch the Mayan Moon” at www.susanlemiles.com.