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How to Choose the Right Firm to Meet Your Contingent Staffing Needs

The case for using a staffing firm to help execute a contingency staffing strategy is fairly airtight. Firms that specialize in providing contingent workers already have a pool of experienced people they can assign to your company. They understand the complex legalities (including tax-related issues) of contingency staffing. They handle all the paperwork.

You can engage many types of contingent workers for your company without going through a staffing firm. But here’s the question: Why put you and the overloaded line managers you’re working with through the extra effort? If help is required, managers are probably in a time bind already. Why add to everyone’s miseries by involving everyone in such labor-intensive details as recruiting, interviewing, hiring, payroll, and other responsibilities?

True, the cost is a little more than the average pay rate for people in that particular specialty. But the staffing firm handles preliminary evaluation of the candidate and government-mandated benefits and assumes responsibilities as the employer of record.

Your company has a number of options, as staffing firms expand their services in efforts to remain competitive. But with so many options available, making the right choice can be a problem.

Reputation is important. The best job candidates — and these are the people you want access to — work for the best staffing firms. Specialization is a key factor in attracting skilled talent, so look for staffing firms that focus on the types of positions you’re looking to fill or individuals with the types of skill sets or experience you need.

To help you on your way, the following checklist offers several questions you may want to ask whenever you’re checking out staffing firms:

  • Does the firm specialize in the areas where you need help?

  • How long has the firm been in business?

  • Does the company have locations in other cities where you have operations?

  • How does the service recruit and retain a highly skilled set of candidates?

  • How does it evaluate and select its workers?

  • How broad and deep is its candidate base?

  • How does the service match needs with skills?

  • Does the service guarantee its contingent workers? Does it provide replacements?

  • Is a contact person available after hours?

The Staffing Firm Evaluation Checklist on the CD can serve as a quick reference when evaluating staffing firms.

One last thing: Make sure that you nail down all the costs ahead of time. Clarify this information with the departmental supervisor who’s going to be managing the worker(s). A reputable firm is always willing to communicate its fee structure in writing.

You should also have the staffing firm’s representatives come to your office and give them a tour of your facilities. Introduce them to the managers and supervisors who are going to be coordinating the work of the contingent workers.

Most important of all, make sure that you’ve worked with line managers to provide the staffing firm with a detailed, written description of the jobs involved, including the required skills and anticipated length of the assignment.

Another good idea is to tell the firm whether your company is thinking of turning the assignment into a full-time or part-time employee position. Remember that some contingent workers have more interest in landing a full-time job than others do, and you want to make sure that you bring in people whose personal goals are consistent with the nature of the assignment.

The more familiar a staffing firm is with your business — how it operates, who your employees are, the needs of various departments — the greater its ability to provide you with the right workers.

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