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Tips on Working with a Third-Party Agency

Feb 12, 2008

The decision of whether or not to hire additional recruiters can be a struggle. During hectic times, the workload can be overwhelming. It can seem like an easy solution to increase the flow of resumes by opening up positions to numerous agencies. However, it is important to educate these staffing firms on the details of the job, the process, and the environment. Without this knowledge, they won’t have the information they need to deliver quality candidates. Using third parties can be a valuable strategy. But, being proactive and communicating with them every step of the way takes time. Without these extra conversations, positions won’t necessarily be filled more quickly.

Traditional Staffing Firms

Working with a staffing service, particularly one that specializes in an industry, can be a vital resource for a company. An open door allowing them to talk with hiring managers about each job helps them understand your culture and company goals. Even if these solid relationships are built, turnover internally within a staffing firm can have an effect on timeliness and the understanding of your needs.

When dealing with a small talent pool, there can be plenty of debate over who owns a candidate and for how long. To eliminate issues in the future, make a few agreements with agencies in advance. Since they often use some of the same resources a company may already be paying for, be clear upfront about the sources from which candidates will be accepted. If two agencies present the same candidate, you may want to decide in advance who would get the fee. It could be the one to present the opportunity to the candidate for their approval first or the one to present the candidate to you first. Third parties also need to know if the organization is willing to consider paying a fee for a former employee. If your head spins thinking about the groundwork and ongoing issues, why not change the way you work with third parties?

Make Staffing Firms Part of the Team

Rather than only relying upon third parties as a resume supplier, use them as a trusted contract recruiter that enlarges the department without a permanent hire. As an employer working with third parties, Brown Shoe Company has built a unique partnership with The Grapevine Group. An offsite representative of Grapevine acts as a Brown Shoe recruiting team member in all aspects of the hiring cycle. This adopted team member is trained on the internal processes and has access to all our systems. Just like staff recruiters, this person does everything from open to close for assigned positions. Working with hiring managers, this representative learns the needed skills and the department fit. Job assignments are in all departments and levels within the organization.

In addition, Grapevine’s staff completes various projects such as competitor organizational-chart building, sourcing for targeted searches, and scheduling interviews with downsizing companies. The amount of time this outside firm is used fluctuates based on recruiting needs. Grapevine employees have also conducted training at team meetings and have contributed ideas by providing a non-bias outside viewpoint.

Partnership Has Payoff

Your favorite staffing firm may be open to this model since an agreed upon, guaranteed hourly fee can be charged. To weigh the benefits of this type of relationship, determine the time and money spent within the traditional staffing firm model. Calculate the amount of hours your staff spends with agencies (they discuss the position details, your culture, and how your organization works, as well as communicate about resumes and serve as the go-between for scheduling and offers.) Add to this the 15% to 30% fee if someone hired was sourced by the agency. Compare this total to the hourly cost of a contract recruiter, who is actually filling positions without ongoing internal staff involvement.

There are additional benefits for the third party that include job satisfaction and retention within their own staff since they get to see the result of their work in a different way. They also get a true view of your company by being a relied-upon partner. Traditional third parties build and maintain strong pipelines and often have more time and experience with cold calling than many corporate recruiting teams. They succeed in filling difficult openings and can also do an outstanding job of being the go-between for the company and the candidate. However, there is no denying the extra time and communication needed to get everything scheduled, explain the process, and get to the offer stage.

At times, corporate recruiters need the extra help traditional staffing firms can provide by digging into the market for access to more candidates. But when you have an increase in workload, consider using third-party sources as an extension of your talent acquisition team.

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