What to look for in a potential IT staffing provider

If you’re in Procurement, HR, or are a Manager tasked with finding tech talent to fill temporary or longer-term business needs, finding a single candidate to fill an opening can be a challenge – let alone several people for a team. That’s why many companies turn to staffing vendors to help with their recruitment needs.

But how do you know a potential staffing provider is a quality vendor who you will want to do business with? There are many factors to consider before hiring a firm. Here are some helpful tips that will help you identify highly qualified vendors.

RELEVANT INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE

Is the staffing company a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ when it comes to filling positions? Do they recruit for positions across a variety of service verticals? When it comes to information technology roles, you want a provider who has industry experience, and ideally, specializes in recruiting tech talent. Experienced and established providers understand the unique needs for sourcing, screening, and hiring quality information technology professionals. Just as you wouldn’t hire a mechanic to perform heart surgery, you wouldn’t hire a heart surgeon to replace an engine. Experience and specialization counts. Stand-out providers will also have direct experience recruiting for your industry.

Questions to ask:

How long have they been in business?

How many years have they been doing staffing specifically for IT?

Do they have experience staffing for your industry?

KNOWLEDGE OF LOCAL MARKET

Whether your business operates in one city or has a presence across the globe, your staffing provider should have thorough knowledge of the market where your talent needs are. Having local knowledge and insight of market conditions that can impact salary demands (such as a talent shortage for a specific skills-set or in-demand skills), employee quality and availability are critical. A staffing agency that lacks this information may not be able to provide you with the best prospective employees in your market, or the market labor information many businesses use for competitive analysis and human capital resource planning.

Questions to ask:

How long have you been operating in this market?

Do you have an office here?

Where does most of your talent come from – are they local? *Do you sponsor H1 candidates?

What are the most in-demand skill-sets in the market?

*H1 candidates work on employment visas sponsored by an employer, including some staffing providers. This can help fill talent-gaps for in-demand positions where there is a clear shortage

THE NETWORK

Having a deep and broad network is essential for any staffing provider, and more importantly, a well-established network within the information technology sector. An established talent pool helps to fill employer’s quantitative needs in addition to increasing the quality of talent made available to the employer. The firm should have prior knowledge of their candidates – no knowledge can be a real disadvantage when it comes to making a placement that will be a good match for all parties involved. In addition, they should also be actively receiving referrals from their talent pool.

Questions to ask:

What percentage of your talent came to you through referral?

What are some of the most common roles that you fill?

What is the make-up of your talent pool – what percentage is new to the industry? What percentage are experienced and in mid-career? What percentage is at a senior level?

THEIR CREDENTIALS

When you’re hiring a staffing vendor, you’re hiring the whole firm, or in some cases, a dedicated team within their firm to focus on certain areas of business. In the staffing industry, turnover can be high for internal staff (sales/recruiting) and their pool of Consultants. It’s important to know the retention rates and quality of staff for the staffing vendor you’re considering. Additionally, learning more about their business ethics and employment practices can help provide you with valuable insight as to what kind of company they are. Remember – if you hire their Consultants on a temporary or longer-term basis, you will be responsible for some of the relationship, but not all. These Consultants are (unless they are a direct hire) their employees, and how they are treated not only reflects upon the staffing vendor whom they work for, but your business as well if it is a shared relationship. In short, would YOU want to work for them?

Questions to ask:

How long is the average tenure of your Consultants?

What percentage of your Consultants convert to a regular status/full-time position at your client’s offices?

What the average length of employment for your Recruiters? How many years have your most Senior professionals been with you? How many years for your most junior people?

How long have your account people been with you? Do they manage the relationships with your talent pool, in addition to managing business account relationships and new business development?

Is upper Management involved in the day-to-day business operations?

What do you offer your Consultants in terms of standard and ancillary benefits and professional development?

KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES

Just as the title says, a stellar staffing vendor is ahead of the curve. They are on top of the latest technologies and trends and can translate that into market intelligence and high-quality candidates with the skills at the forefront of the ever-evolving technology industry for their clients. As such, their staff should be educated on new and in-demand technologies and equip to ask and respond to relevant questions that can help with sourcing and screening candidates. Firms that are only concerned with their mark-ups, pipeline, and schedule of invoicing are usually only concerned with just that – their own agenda. These sorts of staffing providers are likely to care very little about keeping up with the industry, or the changes that could impact their client’s business. Evolution is essential for the survival of any company. If they struggle to keep up with the industry they’ve bet the house on, this is a clear sign of a problem. The rapidly evolving IT industry and talent industry requires providers who keep up with the latest technologies, tools, and trends. Star providers know this and have adapted accordingly, and continue to evolve in order to be a best-in-class provider for their clients.

Questions to ask:

What are some of the leading-edge technical skills that your clients are seeking?

How do you train your staff on new and in-demand technical skill-sets?

How does your agency stay on-top of IT industry trends?

What sort of intelligence reporting do you provide clients on an on-going basis as it relates to staffing for IT?

What methods do your Recruiters use to find talent? Do they use social tools? If so, which ones?

Is your firm engaged in the local IT ecosystem? How so?

What do you see as being the biggest talent or technology challenge that will impact my business? How would you address it?

Can you provide me with current references for clients that you work with?

In closing, selecting a quality IT staffing provider in your local market doesn’t have to be a challenge. With some careful research and screening, you can partner with a stellar staffing provider and eliminate those that don’t align with your business needs. Don’t be afraid to insist on more from your staffing agency. After all, they’re in business to provide real value to you, beyond just filling job requisitions.