Staffing Agencies: How to Recognize a Good One

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

How to recognize the good staffing agencies from the not so good.

I’m sure if you have any amount of experience, recruiters probably reach out to you fairly regularly. How can you tell the good from the bad? How do you determine who you want to work with? Having a great relationship with a good recruiter can be a wonderful thing. You know its good when a recruiter serves as a personal consultant, someone who makes recommendations to improve your resume, provides interviewing tips, and helps you find work. But a bad recruiter can be a nightmare. You don’t want to align yourself with a person or agency who either isn’t competent enough to represent you or is so transaction-oriented that they only care about closing a deal and pressuring you to make uncomfortable decisions.

It all starts with the credibility and rapport of the staffing specialist. When you work with an agency, your recruiter will representing you and submitting your information to their client. Your recruiter should understand your field and instill confidence in you that they can represent you to a hiring manager. If they don’t seem to understand anything you are saying, or they don’t seem to understand the big picture, you should probably question if you want that person or their agency representing you.

A little research would probably be a good thing for you. This is why companies like Glassdoor exist. When contemplating whether you should work for a certain company, you should consider reading some reviews about them. I’d specifically be looking for “high-level” complaints, such as “this company offered me a job and then took it away” or “this company lied to me and told me I was definitely converting in their contract-to-hire opportunity.” Those types of complaints can be indicative of an organization that uses unethical tactics to close deals.

I’d still pay attention to some “low-level” complaints as well, such as “I got a call from this recruiter and never heard from them again.” But I probably wouldn’t completely cross an agency off my list if they only have 1 or 2 low-level comments. These could be isolated incidents or representative of one bad recruiter (who hopefully no longer works there!). Does the recruiter who reached out to you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, he or she should have a lot of connections and some recommendations. If you don’t see 500+ connections and at least a couple of recommendations, that may be a sign that your recruiter is either new or isn’t doing a good enough job to inspire recommendations. Either way, I’d be suspicious.

At the end of the day, to recognize the top staffing agencies and recruiters, it all comes down to looking at the total picture. If there’s no rapport or no trust (for example, if they still haven’t told you the name of their client by the end of the first conversation), then it would probably be wise to rethink whether or not you wish to forge a relationship with this staffing company. If you are able to build rapport with your recruiter, they seem to have a legitimate LinkedIn profile with a large network and multiple recommendations, and if their reviews check out on the web – then you’ve probably found yourself a good company to align yourself with!

Outside-In® Chronicles: Summer Reading List

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ID-100249568Summer reading is a part of the fabric that defines my free time as well as my summer vacation. The challenge is to decide how to recharge and rejuvenate with that precious time off. Do I really want to read an industry publication or study for that upcoming webinar to keep continuing education credits flowing? It’s not that I don’t like my industry or chosen profession, I just need space and time to decompress. The more space I can create or make more time to think, the more likely I am to find new ideas and thoughts that help with my day-to-day work!

However, sometimes it’s hard to get away without our smart phones tethered to our hand 24/7—we all have to find some compromise, right? The very device that lets you order pizza while on vacation or text the teenagers to find out when they will be home is the same piece of technology that pings every time there is a new email and some work issue that either ruins your vacation mood or requires immediate attention!

I once heard the pile of unread business magazines, articles, books, and white papers on your nightstand or work station referred to as the tower of guilt! I, for one, feel good when I take that pile of work and plow through it. Sometimes I read three or four books at the same time in rotation just to change topics for the sake of staying current. However, this is not the approach I like to take for summertime reading.

So if you’re trying too hard to work and want to recharge while coming back with a new perspective on your business, here are my top three must reads:
1. Anything by Gladwell. Malcom not only sees the world differently, but he does the research to back it up. Try The Tipping PointWhat the Dog Saw, or my all time favorite, The Outliers. If you want to think about your business place in a different way, try escaping to the world that Malcom creates!

2.  How to Win Friends and Influence People. So many smart people know something about their field of study or the technical aspects of their profession yet few invest in their relationships.  No books exists that is more time tested for helping you with tools and tips for great human relations skills!

3.  Zen and the Art of Happiness. Everyone gets down in the dumps from time to time. As Dale Carnegie is for great human relationships this book is for realigning your perspective on your daily life. Things happen to us each and everyday, it is what we do next that matters.

If you have a book that recharges and lifts your energy while helping you reflect and improve your business or your leadership persona please let us know!

Interview Insights: What Questions Do You Have for Me?

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The ending stage of the interview is the part that candidates get most tripped up about. “What questions do you have for me?” The important thing to remember here is that you need to show that 1) you are genuinely interested in and passionate about the role, and 2) that you can articulate and convey yourself better than the competing candidates.

Another thing to note here is that whatever question you ask is a test of how well you were listening to the interviewer. Avoid asking generic questions—cite specific examples about the role and show that you are interested in learning all facets of the company. As always, preparation is the key to confidence! Do some background research on the company and make a mental list of the things that spark your interest and things about the company that you’d like to explore.

It’s important that the interview feels more like a comfortable dialogue than an interrogation for both you and the interviewer. One way to turn your question into a conversation is to ask the interviewer something that affirms your knowledge of the industry while inquiring about the specific goals you would like to see yourself achieve within the role. A good rule of thumb is to NOT ask questions that could be answered with a quick Google search or a couple clicks on the company’s webpage. Think about something you did really well in your last position and apply it to a question such as “In my last position I implemented ______ program where did _______. Is there something like that already in place or somewhere in the company where I can provide a similar solution?”

“The biggest thing I’m looking for is engagement,” says Herb Broadwater, Contingent Workforce Program Leader “Whatever the candidate asks will tell me if they are long-term career minded or not, and that’s a big deciding factor.”

The Practical Guide to Implementing the Value of Defined by Three Customers

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First things first, we all know there is only one paying customer. For the purposes of our value, specifically the way we think, we define our three customers as employees, paying customers, and vendors.

3Customers-01-150x150Defined by Three Customers is about balanced thinking and decision making for all three customer subsets. This is a compass designed to help guide us—it’s not foolproof nor perfect. However, it’s much more balanced than an equation where no thought or care for one “customer” comes into play.

Are you wondering if/how this is relevant to you? I can prove it to you! Did you ever work for the manager that never let his or her people leave the department or post for other positions? The manager’s needs in their job tend to get in the way of the needs of employees or the employer.

How about the salesperson who seems to never hit their plan because they are telling the marketplace and their prospects that they have a monthly quota to hit? They don’t do it intentionally, mind you. They show it in their actions—they are not balancing prospect needs and wants with their own needs.

How can you live the value Defined by Three Customers?

  1. As an employee taking care of your customer who will eventually take care of you, do things for your customers to add value and they will come back!
  2. Challenge (in a good way) and get to your vendors. You would be surprised what they can do to help if you share where you’re taking your business and what value they can bring to you get there!
  3. Sometimes one “customer” wins and another loses in the short term. We must have a long-term view. We can’t always get the employee the raise nor the feedback they crave. A vendor can’t always give favorable terms on their business. A leader can’t always make a balanced decision—their short budget depends on the quick hit. The key is to stay focused on the doing right things right everyday and we will balance the scales in the long run!
  4. Defined by Three Customers is an equal number of debits and credits in the relationship bank account. Make sure you’re taking care of your stakeholders all of the time!
  5. Think longer term. Think about taking care of all groups. Imagine you will break bread with your three customers on a regular basis. When we think about long-term relationships, we moderate our short-term needs and wants!

CBI Way: Getting Your Pipeline Started

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By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Having the ability to tap your own pipeline of talent when trying to fill open positions can be a game-changer. As discussed in the last CBI Way Blog, talent pipelining is about preparing for future openings, and easily identifying quality candidates quickly, reducing critical metrics such as time to fill. As you can probably predict, creating your pipeline starts with a familiar topic: engaging passive candidates.

CBIWayEngaging passive talent can be an incredibly effective way to encourage your pipeline’s success. First, identifying the profile and skillsets needed for future openings is going to help point you in the right direction for engaging those ideal candidates. For example, perhaps you want to build a pipeline of electrical engineers, knowing of a large project kicking off next year. You might be able to get a decent amount of names from LinkedIn, FaceBook, or old resumes on job boards. But more likely, the most effective source for building your pool of electrical engineers is going to be associations, niche groups, and seminars or events where candidates with the skillset you seek meet, interact, and engage one another. Gathering as much information possible about your pipelined candidates will take in-depth research and cross-referencing, but will pay dividends for the long term approach. Emails, telephone numbers, and social media profiles can all help bridge the gap to engagement.

Identifying the sources to generate passive candidates is an important step. But perhaps just as important is engaging that talent, and building relationships to foster interest and help drive referrals. In the next CBI Way blog, we’ll discuss some common strategies to produce success when attempting to engage your newly built talent pipeline.

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Struggling to Fill Your Open IT Roles? Agile Hiring to the Rescue!

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

Have you been struggling to staff your IT needs? Have you been staring at the same open job for weeks or months on end? You aren’t alone! Many hiring managers and internal recruiters/HR staff face a great deal of difficulty in filling their IT needs. After all, this is what created the $27.8 billion IT staffing industry that exists today and keeps people such as myself gainfully employed. The single largest hurdle that I see each day in my job is that hiring managers and internal recruiters are simply too “set” and too “rigid” in their hiring strategies. Having just a little bit of flexibility will go a long way. And that is where I introduce my concept of “Agile Hiring.” What exactly is Agile Hiring, you ask? Agile Hiring, simply put, is having basic flexibility in your search. In IT, there tend to be a lot of rigid requirements.

For example, a hiring manager wants a degreed person, with a certain type of certification, who has a very specific amount of experience, who comes from a specific industry, and is available for a permanent position at a certain amount of money. It may turn out that there are only five degreed people in your area who have the certifications you need, and if three of them don’t have the right industry experience and the other two are not available in your salary range, then there is no one for you to interview. I see scenarios like this day and day out. However, there are several different ways to approach this dilemma.

Let’s take a look at the example above. How can we fix this? How can we turn a position that has no candidates to interview, into something that has viable candidates? Most importantly, how can we do this while keeping the critical requirements in tact so that the hiring manager gets the resource they need and deserve? I say, there are a TON of ways to tackle this problem! For example:

- Is relocation available? If so, we can turn our search from a local one to a national one. This is one simple way to quadruple (or more) your pipeline.

- What if a strong candidate appears who does not have the certification requirements, but the candidate is willing to get these certifications? If your position has been open for six months, at this point, it’s time to consider making the right candidate if the right candidate is nowhere to be found.

- Instead of exact industry experience, would you consider comparable industry experience? Perhaps you are a large retailer, would you consider someone who at least comes from an industry with high warehouse distribution, such as in the manufacturing industry? It may not be the exact same industry, but the tech stack and business intelligence platform of a manufacturer are going to be more comparable to a retailer than say, someone from the financial industry.

- Is your position urgent? Is there a huge gap in your organization because this position has not been filled, and yet the position has been open for a long time? You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t consider bringing in a contractor as a band-aid until the right match can be found. Or, would you consider implementing a temp-to-hire instead of a direct hire? Opening up to contractors will increase the number of available applicants relative to only looking at direct hire candidates.

- Could we slightly adjust the years of experience requirement? We may be able to find someone very good who only has 2 years of experience as opposed to the 5 you require, and they meet every other requirement. Even if it takes them 2-3 months to ramp up, that’s still a lot faster than doing what you’ve been doing and waiting another 6 months for the perfect candidate to magically appear. This person may even have a lower salary requirement and save you money! Or, could we go the other way? What if we find someone who has 7-8 or even 10 years of experience? This may require to readjust the salary, but it is an option could help increase your candidate pipeline.

The point is, it all depends on your specific needs and situations, but there will always be small tweaks and adjustments that can be made to your required criteria to generate excellent and qualified candidates and get these hard-to-fill positions closed! You’d be surprised how often I speak to a hiring manager who has had a job open for 6 months and it’s all because no qualified candidates are being considered because the hiring champion is not thinking outside the box. I’m not talking about doing a major re-organization or coming in guns blazing and changing the way you do business and hiring; I’m talking about making your hiring process agile, and being flexible to make the tiniest of changes to your process and get these positions filled. If you can make these simple adjustments, you will be surprised how quickly you can fill your needs and how satisfied you will be with the talent when you finally get them in the door!