Why “Hands Off” Always Starts with “Hands On”
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 embarrassed 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.