2014 / 01

Your Flexible Workforce – A Temporary Annoyance or Strategic Opportunity?

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 28, 2014

0 Flexible Staffing Strategies-Best Practices Charles Handy, direct hire, flexible workforces, strategic staffing, Temporary agency, temporary agency Kent, temporary agency Seattle, temporary help services

You've likely noticed that the number of temporary and contract workers in your workplace has been steadily increasing and probably more than ever since the start of our last recession in late 2007. In December 2013, we learned that the economy added a disappointing 74,000 jobs—but even more disappointing for some was the fact that over 40% of those 74,000 jobs were temporary positions, targeted for project work, or to last for short periods. Since the 2007-2008 recessions, the number of temporary or contingent jobs has outpaced the growth in core positions by a ratio of 2-to-1, a labor trend poised to be replicated for the next decade.   Since the publication of Charles Handy’s Age of Unreason in 1989, Prof. Handy and other futurists have predicted the growth of non-traditional staffing models. Believing that workforce flexibility would be a key driver of organizational success in a global marketplace, futurists rightly projected that outsourcing the employer relationship was one of the primary ways companies could ensure workplace flexibility. Up and downsizing core workforces are costly propositions. Up and downsizing a workforce composed of workers who aren't your employees, and are only attached to your workforce on a temporary basis, not so much. While the earliest predictions regarding the relationship between flexible to core workers, frequently targeted to reach 40% have fallen short, current research is still pointing to employers increased reliance on flexible labor pools to meet their business needs. In their 2012 Workforce Management Report, the Aberdeen Group predicted that 27% of the worker population will be attached to the workforce in temporary, contingent, or other non-traditional roles. For some companies these types of predictions create discomfort and angst. For others, they earmark opportunities to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. If current trends hold up and flexible workforce solutions become the staffing strategies of choice, it is important to ask just how forward thinking your company has become in terms of embracing this shift in workforce demographics. Do you tend to view your flexible workforce as an annoyance—a necessary evil that is only in place to deal with temporary issues or periods of uncertainty? Or, is it embraced as a workforce solution that your company can use to set itself apart from its less nimble counterparts? Here are ten questions you can ask yourself to find out if you’re ready to turn your flexible workforce into a competitive advantage. 1. How transparent are the staffing strategies already in place? Do you know when, where and why your company will use a flexible workforce model instead of hiring direct? Is there a clear philosophy about what staffing scenarios dictate flexible rather than core staffing solutions? 2. Is temporary or contract staffing visible in your operating budgets and considered a part of your overall staffing costs—or do the costs of your temporary and contract workers get buried somewhere in administrative overhead, making it impossible to  identify what your company is actually spending on the people it needs to get work done? 3. How effectively have you integrated your core employee screening and selection standards with the standards applied to your flexible workers? Do these two components of your staffing operation tend to work together or are they seen as two different functions with little to no overlap? 4. Have you optimized how your company uses temp-to-hire auditioning processes as a way to leverage your internal recruiting resources, reduce turnover, and lower your costs of hire? How carefully have you thought through your temp-to-hire auditions to ensure they allow the right talent to be identified, auditioned or to surface during the audition? To be hired after the audition has been completed? 5. How often and in what ways do you work with your temporary staffing agencies as talent acquisition partners? How often do you use their talent pools for direct hires? If not, why not? 6.  What is it costing you to select and manage your current suppliers? Are you getting the results you need? How many suppliers are you currently using to deliver your flexible workforce? What have you done to vet these suppliers and/or manage their service performance? What controls have you implemented to ensure uniformity in what is paid to your flexible workers and/or the suppliers delivering them to your organization? 7. When was the last time you did an analysis of the relative costs of an internal vs. internal employer solution - hiring direct as opposed to using the services of a third party employer? Are you up to date on the current trends in staffing to know what kind of employer of record services and service platforms you might use to drive down your overall staffing costs? 8. How do you know if the monies you are currently spending on your flexible workforce are market competitive? When was the last time you compared you current bill rates and pricing models with what might be available in the staffing marketplace? 9. When was the last time you reviewed your risk mitigation policies and practices specific to your flexible workforce - co-employment, the handling of confidential or proprietary information, and access to facilities, equipment or other security issues, etc.? How safe do you feel from unknown legal or accounting liabilities associated with an increasedNancy level of flexible workforce complexity? 10. Have you established some key performance metrics and standards for your staffing operation—flex and core? Are you reviewing your staffing performance regularly to improve internal efficiencies and the ease with which your company has access to flexible workforce solutions? The PACE Staffing Network has been helping clients design and optimize their flexible staffing solutions for close to three decades. We believe that the right mix of core and non-core employees integrated inside a larger talent acquisition strategy can become a significant and competitive advantage for companies willing to embrace change. For a complimentary consultation to assess just how ready your company is for the new world of flexible work models that is fast becoming the marketplace norm, contact Nancy Swanson our Vice President of Partnership Development at nancys@pacestaffing.com.  

Why “Hands Off” Always Starts with “Hands On”

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 20, 2014

0 Managing People. Team Leadership direct hire, Seattle Temporary Staffing, staffing agency Bellevue, staffing agency kent, staffing agency seattle, staffing partnerships, Temp to hire, Temporary Staffing

Part of our “How to Get the BEST from your Staffing Partner” Tool Kit       While many staffing companies, the PACE Staffing Network included, will advertise their services as a  “hands free” staffing solution, in reality we all know that getting to  “hands free” always starts with our customer’s “hands on” commitment to building a staffing partnership.    Here are 7 “hands on” things you can do to get the best out of PACE or another staffing partner of your choice, when it comes time to use our services to hire the “just right” employee. 1. COMMIT TO A PARTNERSHIP, NOT A SCRAMBLE.  Some hiring managers believe that the best way to ensure hiring success is to bomb the market - to send out written job descriptions to multiple staffing agencies, post their job on multiple job boards, and then sit back and wait for the response. The motive for this approach is to hire quickly and efficiently, finding the employee amongst the sea of candidates that will be uncovered using this approach.   In reality, the result is often an unintended and unwanted opposite. Here’s why… Most high performing staffing companies will not commit internal resources to work on requests where they believe success is either not likely or determined more by luck than skill. They are also reluctant to represent jobs that have been commoditized, i.e. widely available in the candidate marketplace. They know that when multiple agencies are asked to scramble for candidates, the candidates that are assembled quickly are often not the right fit, lengthening the hiring process and expanding the time spent screening unqualified candidates The alternative? Select one, possibly two, staffing companies who have a financial incentive to invest in the time necessary to ensure quality screening. Spend YOUR time making sure your staffing partner has the information they need to source the right candidates and screen them according to your criteria. Let your staffing partner decide how best to source for the right candidates, so that you no longer have to worry about job postings. If you have given your staffing partner enough time to do their work in a quality way, and they don't perform in the timeframes needed, you've likely selected the wrong partner—a staffing company that doesn't have the resources you need. The right staffing partner will align their services with your work style and standards. 2. PLAN FOR SUCCESS. One of the best ways to start a partnership is to spend time at the beginning of your HIRING project, planning for a successful outcome and all the steps in between. Share all you know about the job you need filled and the type of candidates you believe are most likely to be successful in the job. Your pre-hire homework should include talking to those people who know what the job entails; who have a perspective on what type of candidates will do the job well, and where there have been problems with certain types of candidates in the past. Make sure the information you are providing to your staffing partner captures current work content and all the nuances important to placement success. Job descriptions are helpful, but typically need to be updated when it's time to replace an existing employee.  And if you’re hiring a temporary or contract worker to fill a job formerly filled by a core employee, make sure you assess exactly what you need from that temporary or contract worker. The work to be done and the skill requirements for the right candidates are typically quite different for temporary compared to core hires.   Create a realistic timeline for each step in the hiring process—sourcing, evaluating, interviewing, selecting and onboarding the right candidate. Know what’s at stake if the steps in the timeline aren’t completed as planned so all eyes stay focused on addressing the business need, knowing where you have wiggle room and where you don’t. Memorialize your timeline so that both you and your staffing partner know exactly what’s expected, and by when. Reach agreement about how, when, and what will be communicated throughout the hiring process so that you stay in sync throughout the process – no surprises for you or your staffing partner. 3. DEDICATE THE TIME NEEDED! In today’s job market, the competition for talent often translates into the need for hiring managers to give the hiring process their undivided attention. Once your staffing partner has sourced, recruited, evaluated and submitted candidates, there are critical steps in the process—interviewing, evaluating, and deciding—that, only you can do. Trying to sandwich in resume reviews or candidate interviews in-between other work you consider more important, is not a formula for hiring success. So, we like to make sure our client’s work schedules are arranged to have enough time to review submittals, conduct interviews and provide timely feedback. Because the best candidates are typically in the job market for short periods of time, we recommend that you stay prepared to respond to candidate submittals within 24 hours of receipt and be available for a candidate interview 1-3 days from their submittal.    You also must be available to provide feedback, field questions, or address issues with your staffing partner as they come up. Your staffing partner’s recruiters need to know that the work they are doing to attract candidates to their client's jobs will have a payoff for themselves and their candidates. In the staffing business, we refer to customers who request and then don’t respond to candidate submittals, as “black holes.” Too many “black holes” and even the most sought after clients can lose recruiter attention, reducing the chances of a positive outcome. 4. GET CLEAR ON KEY REQUIREMENTS – REALLY! It’s easy to create a long list of “attributes” that you’d like to see in the hired employee. It’s much harder to prioritize that list so that you know which requirements are key to placement success! If you ask your staffing partner for candidates lucky enough to have “everything” on your list, be prepared either to get no candidates or too many candidates, who perhaps more problematically, lack the requirements you believe to be key. Make sure you are clear on the difference between attributes candidates “must have” and the attributes that are better left as “would like.” The take away from any planning process is full agreement with your staffing partner on a SHORT LIST of candidate attributes considered “key” to placement success. And here’s an important tip, once you’ve agreed on key requirements, ask your staffing partner to present prospective candidates using a summary worksheet of how each candidate meets your key “must have” requirements. Don’t let yourself get distracted by impressive resumes or cover sheets that cover up a lack of skills or experiences in areas considered key—a common cause of hiring errors.     5. MAKE SURE THE CANDIDATE YOU REQUEST IS THE CANDIDATE YOU CAN AFFORD. The candidates who CAN DO the job come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and costs. They will have different skill sets, work experiences, each dictating the amount of money they will request as their pay and benefit package. Be prepared for your staffing partner to share information about the realities of the current job market—things you need to know about what type of candidate’s are available in the marketplace, at what price. If you find that the information you are getting differs from what you thought, don’t shoot the messenger or ignore their message by continuing to insist on the impossible. To make the right hiring decision, the type of candidate you are looking for has to be available in the marketplace and meet the parameters of your budget. Sometimes this requires both discovery and negotiation. For example, let’s say you need to hire an administrative employee to manage your calendar, schedule appointments, and remind you of upcoming tasks. This is a job requiring a very specific set of mechanical skills and a mastery of calendaring technology. If, in addition to these skills, you want to hire someone who will work independently, use their own judgment to arrange meetings and activities on your behalf, keep others informed of projects you are managing, etc. that’s a different set of skills and experiences. Do you need to pay for the higher of the two skill levels? Only you can decide. However, your staffing partner should be able to point out the impact of each requirement on the required pay package. Some employers will simply elect a “developmental” strategy and hire the lesser skilled candidate in order to stay within budget requirements. Others will spend the money on the more highly skilled employee because they need the services of an assistant, not just a technician. 6. BE PREPARED TO BE FLEXIBLE – TO ADJUST THE PLAN. While pre-hire planning is important to an organized, efficient, hiring process, some of the steps in the process or plan often need to be adjusted when faced with the nuances of candidate needs and availability. A candidate who needs to relocate in order to accept your job offer may delay the starting date, requiring you to decide if the candidate is “worth the wait.” A highly skilled candidate whose pay requirements are considerably more than what you had budgeted may or may not be the right hire—but you need to be prepared to decide. Our point? Be prepared to deal with real life candidate situations as they come up, knowing that hiring in today’s marketplace often requires flexibility and creativity. Don’t be afraid to use your staffing partner as your marketplace expert. If you don’t hire the candidate that needs to relocate, what are your chances of finding a similar candidate locally? Is the job you have going to be meaty enough for the higher skilled candidate? Let your staffing partner guide you through your search for answers to these questions. 7. COMMUNICATE CANDIDLY AND OFTEN.  When things change for you, make sure you let your staffing partner know. The work it takes to source, screen, and prepare a candidate for specific work requirements takes time. Your staffing partner doesn’t like wasting time any more than you do and that’s what happens when they don't have the information they need to do their job efficiently. Reciprocally, expect your staffing partner to keep you posted on their candidate sourcing successes as well as information they gather as they track their candidates throughout the placement process. Many times they will be privy to candidate information that will let you know if your preferred candidate is actually going to accept your job offer if extended. We recommend daily touch-points between our recruiting team and our clients to make sure we stay current on what each of us is experiencing as we interact with potential. Feedback processes should be honest, candid and ongoing. This is particularly true with regard to submittal reviews and/or follow-ups after interviews. Your staffing partner needs your feedback ASAP, as they use that feedback to make adjustments in their sourcing and evaluation activities. Don’t be embaNancyrrassed if you don’t think the candidate your staffing partner thought “should be perfect” was not the right fit for you. Selecting the right candidate isn’t about being “right or wrong” in your assessment, but is about gathering as much information as you can on each candidate so your hiring decision can be based on a broad base of information and perspectives. For more information on “how to get the best from your staffing partner” contact me, Nancy Swanson, at nancys@pacestaffing.com or (425) 454-1075 ext. 3010. I’m PACE’s Vice President of Partnership Development – I am focused on helping our customers develop the type of recruiting partnerships that we know will optimize their staffing results.  

What to Look for in a Military Candidate Resume

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 15, 2014

0 Recruiting - Best Practices Job Recruiters for Veterans in Seattle, Job Recruiters for Veterans in Seattle WA, Job Recruiters for Veterans Seattle, Jobs for Veterans in Seattle, Jobs for Veterans in Seattle WA

Resumes come in all shapes, sizes and formats, and they can be extremely difficult for many people to write, especially our returning military veterans.  This is a key issue for many, because of the nature of the job search today. Today, veterans are returning to a grateful nation, but also to an economy that has been challenged by stagnant job growth.  Competition for any available job is fierce. This is a hard set of circumstances for any job seeker, but it is made a thousand times worse for returning veterans. Many, after their discharge, simply do not know how to begin looking for a job in a planned, productive way. They have received little job search training, and most do not know how to write a resume, one that adequately translates military jargon to “civilian speak,or how to handle themselves in an interview. For most veterans the key stumbling block is the resume. Many were recruited right out of high school and have simply never had the need to write a clear and compelling resume. Because it is not up to par, they do not even make it through to an interview.  Therefore, in order to benefit from these high-caliber job seekers, employers should look for certain components within the veterans’ resume. 1. Key “soft skills”. Veterans are different kinds of candidates—invaluable candidates—with battle-tested leadership skills, a strong work ethic, and the ability to learn new skills quickly. These skills will serve you well, but are hard to quantify and define on a resume. Look for proof of their existence throughout the document. 2. Achievements. Everyone has achievements, regardless of their background. Everyone is proud of what they have done.  Achievements should be listed on the resume, and will help you understand the vet’s character, work ethic and values. 3. Proof of training. If the veteran has trained others, that indicates an ability to communicate effectively, learn difficult/complicated material and engage others in the process. 4. Applicable skills. A veteran’s resume is never going to a mirror your job requisition. The working environment within the military is simply too different. However, approximately 80% of the jobs in the military are non-combat oriented. This means that veterans are learning applicable skills in addition to their strong work ethic, dedication and leadership skills. Read through the job duties listed in the resume and look for evidence of any applicable skills—management of resources, supervisory experience or network / programming knowledge. Veterans will not enter your hiring process empty-handed. They bring stupendous leadership and management skills to the table—skills that are the hardest to grow. If you are interested in leveraging this powerful arm of the American workforce, the hiring experts at PACE Staffing Network can help. If you are looking for job recruiters for veterans in Seattle, contact our Hiring Heroes placement consultants today.

Selecting Your Staffing Partner

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 13, 2014

0 Human Resources Staffing PACE Staffing Network, Seattle Staffing, Seattle Temporary Staffing, staffing, Staffing Agency, Staffing Metrics, Staffing Provider, Staffing Solutions

Selecting the right partner to support your needs for temporary and contract staff is becoming an increasingly important purchasing decision. As companies migrate to more flexible staffing strategies, they rely on their staffing vendors to staff long term projects or to be a source of employees they can hire directly. Your staffing partner can oftentimes make or break your operational performance.     Many of the RFP processes often used to select staffing vendors can miss the mark because they focus on a vendor’s written and verbal persuasion expertise, rather than those factors that really matter in terms of service delivery.    Here are 10 ideas for you to consider when selecting a staffing partner: 1. Meet their service staff, not just their sales team. The folks selling staffing services are hired because they look and sound good, but it’s the people doing the actual service delivery that will matter most to partnership success. Are they people you can communicate with? Trust? Rely on? Do they have the expertise that will help your company take your staffing operation to the next level? Do they have the same values around communication and results that you do? 2. Assess their ability and willingness to customize. How easy will it be to adjust your vendor’s services to compliment your staffing process? How broad is their scope of staffing expertise and resources? Are they able and willing to make changes to accommodate your needs? Will you have access to the company’s management/decision makers so that changes can be orchestrated quickly? How good are they at listening to your needs and bringing fresh new ideas to the table? 3. Understand how they organize their client teams to deliver service. How many service personnel would be assigned to your account? In what roles? We believe that even the smallest employer needs at least two points of service contact:   a. Someone to manage the placement process—how orders are taken and filled. In our company we call these people “order managers or service coordinators.” They take your requests, making sure that the worker you are requesting actually exists and will work for the pay you are offering. They also do the recruiting themselves or make sure our recruiting team is focused on the right candidates. They act as our client’s primary “point of contact.”   b. A second person you can go to when there are issues or concerns about the service process or need to expand the type of services you are requesting. In our company we call them Service or Solutions Managers. They provide general oversight to your account, making sure your service program is what you need. The more complex your staffing needs, the more roles that need to be assigned to service your needs. Make sure your vendor has the recruiting resources it takes to fill the quality and quantity of staffing needs you anticipate. 4. Understand their pricing philosophy. A rate sheet is not enough. You need to know what factors are considered when your vendor establishes their bill rates or service fees. How comfortable are they talking about their costs and how those impact their bill rate? In our judgment, the more transparent your staffing partner is in terms of revealing their “costs of doing business” the more likely you are to have a partner that will pass the test of time, most able to work with you on making adjustments when budgets change. 5. Ask about their staffing metrics.  Staffing companies, who are good managers of performance, regularly measure their performance against industry benchmarks. They should have data on their:   a. Placement Ratios – the % of staffing requests that they fill.   b. Cycle time – how long it takes to fill requests.   c. Placement Outcomes – the % of placements that result in either a hire or a successful completion.   d. Customer Satisfaction. 6. Understand how they recruit and evaluate potential employees/job candidates. Do they have a flow chart that describes the steps in their recruiting and candidate evaluation processes? If not, ask them to walk you through each step in their recruiting and evaluation processes. Make sure these processes are a good fit for your standards and that they are either currently doing or are capable of meeting your compliance requirements AND can provide you with audit ready records of their compliance administration. What testing do they administer? How do they evaluate the “soft” skills important to placement success? 7. Check out their technology – what they will be doing to streamline your service relationship. In today’s marketplace, there is an abundance of automated technologies that are used to manage many of the interactions between the staffing provider, you, and the employees being placed in your work environment.   a. Can you place an order online?   b. Can you check on the status of an order online?   c. How will you receive candidate submittals? What documentation will accompany those submittals?   d. How will you approve hours of work?   e. How will you receive invoices? Can invoices be broken down in accordance with your accounting needs?   f. What kinds of utilization information and reports can be made available to you online? Make sure you are working with a partner who regularly invests in state-of-the-art staffing technology. 8. Assess their track record of success as a service partner. Learn more about their current and past client relationships. Ask for the names of their “oldest client,” a relatively “new client,” a “former” client, and a dissatisfied client who they “turned around.” Talk to each about what they like best and least about their partnership. Don’t expect perfection – staffing is too people-dependent for that, but do check out how they tend to respond when issues arise. How quickly and creatively do they solve problems? How have they adjusted to their client’s changes? Brought new service ideas to the table? Been a real partner when things got tough 9. Identify differentiators that will make a difference to you. Although most staffing companies look and sound alike, there are actually fairly significant differences in how they approach their service delivery and develop their relationships with customers. Ask potential partners about how they differentiate themselves from others, use your reference conversations to verify that what they say is what they deliver, and select a staffing partner whose “sweet spot” best matches your needs. 10. Understand what it takes to build a true service partnership. Expecting a new staffing provider to achieve performance perfection out of the gate, oftentimes without client involvement, is all too common and presents unique challenges to the staffing community. A vendor who promises to deliver immediate success should be suspect, as building a true staffing partnership requires a long term commitment from you and your vendor. Your vendor must do the homework, solve the problems, and work thoughtfully through issues to earn their partnership stripes. Auditions, where staffing companies compete for your business by filling open orders, can be helpful IF used to reveal eachNancy unique approach to long term placement success. Filling orders is less important to the audition than is experiencing the vendor’s approach to profiling worker requirements and gathering information important to long term placement success. How does the vendor develop relationships with its clients? With HR? With your hiring managers? What processes do they use to continuously improve their staffing performance and your service results? What are their expectations of you as their staffing partner? If you are looking for a new staffing partner or wondering if your current staffing partnership is still meeting your needs, contact our Vice President of Partnership Development, Nancy Swanson-Marschall, for information-focused consultation to help you with your real needs.  You can reach Nancy at nancys@pacestaffing.com.

Top Tech Jobs that Will Grow in 2014

by Jeanne Knutzen | January 7, 2014

0 IT Staffing Technology Jobs in Seattle, Technology Jobs in Seattle WA, Technology Jobs in Seattle Washington, Technology Jobs Seattle, Technology Jobs Seattle WA

Strategic thinking will be king in 2014.  Rote programming skills will not even get you across the moat. Employers are looking for IT professionals who can not only succeed operationally, but can bring a certain level of business acumen to the table. Regardless of your role, starting in 2014 you will need to have an understanding of the strategic business environment that your department (and even your team) works in. The year 2014 is shaping up to be a mirror image of 2013 as far and job opportunities are concerned. According to research firm, Foote Partners, the following three job categories are poised for another stellar year. However, the reasons about it have more to do about strategy and business know-how than with pure, raw programming skills: 1. Cloud Professionals – In 2013, companies hired enterprise architects, cloud administrators and resource planners …outperforming 348 IT skills and 293 IT certifications… according to Foote Partners’ annual survey. It is expected that the demand for cloud architects, solution architects, administrators and integrators will continue to rise. IT professionals that understand not only what the cloud portends but also have the ability to align business requirements or modify business models in anticipation...well, they will be ahead of the curve. 2. Big Data Experts – There is a ton of information on the Internet today...information that is expected to double every 40 years.  Companies are putting a lot of effort into not only capturing it, but putting it to work. With more and more companies using big data, the demand for business data analysts – or big data experts - is increasing rapidly. Business data analysts know how to manage the overwhelming amount of information these systems generate and then put it into a useful form. They are able to assess the data, spot patterns and draw conclusions...making an overwhelming amount of “noise” usable by decision-makers and providing real business value. 3. Mobile App Developers – Some retail companies earn 40% of their revenues through their mobile apps. As businesses are seeing mobile contribute a larger and larger part of their revenues, the demand for mobile app developers will continue to skyrocket.  However, a developer needs to have a working knowledge of the industry being worked in as well as an understanding of in-app purchasing, paid subscriptions and even mobile display ads. If the app is sold, the developer should be able to provide data points on how much should be charged. Another emerging role in the mobility space this year will be device manager. Device managers may work in-house or for third-party firms that oversee “bring your own device policies” and the myriad of security issues involved. No one understands the IT job market better than Seattle IT hiring pros at PACE Staffing Network. If you are looking to make a change and want a new technology job in Seattle WA, contact us today.