Thinking of Staffing? Here’s How to Get Started

brain_moneySecuring direct hire job orders isn’t what it used to be. Before the recession, they were everywhere, and the biggest problem was finding the right candidates. Now, even as the economy recovers, direct hire job orders have still not returned to pre-recession levels.

Meanwhile, contract staffing seems to be leading the recovery as more companies seek workforce flexibility. Consider the following statistics:

  • The temporary help services industry accounted for 91% of job growth between June 2009 and June 2011;
  • 58% of employers plan to add more contract workers in the next five years.

So if you are reluctant to try contract staffing because you are afraid you won’t be able to get job orders, don’t be. Contract job orders are out there. You just have to know where to look, who to ask, and what to ask.

Where to Look

Let’s begin with the where. Below are the most common places recruiters find contract job orders:

  • Current clients. Let them know that you can do contract and contract-to-direct (temp-to-perm) in addition to direct hire. They may not be telling you about contract job orders because they assume you only handle direct.
  • Former clients. This is the perfect time to re-establish old relationships. If you’ve provided companies direct hire services in the past, let them know that you can now help them with contract or contract-to-direct placements.
  • Small to medium-sized companies. With these companies, you will more likely work directly with key decision-makers who have the authority to quickly make hiring decisions. Larger companies often have slower, more formal hiring processes or vendor management systems that force them to work with specific recruiters at smaller markups.

Who to Ask

Now that you know where to look, who do you talk to? The key is to connect with decision-makers, such as department managers, project managers, operations managers, IT/engineering directors, or vice presidents of specific programs. Not only do they have the authority to issue job orders, but they also have a sense of urgency about filling them.

This is one of the biggest differences between contracting and direct hire. Human Resources (HR) is usually the source for direct hire job orders, but they generally don’t handle contract placements. One reason is that they are not in charge of the budget with which contractors are affiliated. Money for contractors often comes from the project budget rather than the capital budget.

What to Ask

These days, simply asking “Do you need contractors?” may be enough. But with some clients, you may need to ask some questions to help them realize their need for contractors:

  1. Are you afraid to make a long-term hiring commitment? The uncertainty surrounding the economy and upcoming election is keeping many companies from hiring. Some even have hiring freezes. But they still need help. With contractors, they can get that help without making a long-term commitment. And since the money for contractors often does not come from the capital budget, they can get around hiring freezes.
  1. Do you have a deadline or special project to complete? Companies sometimes put off projects because they require extra people or specialized skills they won’t need once the project is done. With contractors, they can get the talent they need and simply end the contracts when the work is over.
  1. Do you have independent contractors who may be misclassified? The government has been cracking down on the misclassification of W-2 employees as 1099 independent contractors. You can help companies avoid misclassification audits by offering to convert their 1099s to W-2 employees and outsourcing their employment to a contract staffing back office.
  1. Do you want to evaluate a candidate’s skills prior to offering direct employment? Again, companies are reluctant to hire, so when they have to, they only want the “perfect” candidate. You can let them bring the candidate in on a contract-to-direct basis so they can “try before they buy.” If they like what they see, they can extend a direct offer (and you can earn a conversion fee). If they don’t, they can end the contract and try someone else.

Getting contract job orders doesn’t have to be harder than getting direct hire orders. In fact, in today’s economy, it can even be easier.

Debbie Fledderjohann is president of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc., the recruiter's back-office solution. The company was founded in 1992 and places technical, professional and healthcare contractors in 49 states. Top Echelon Contracting helps recruiters make contract placements and handles all of the legal, financial, and administrative details. They also become the legal employer and take care of the employee paperwork, legal contracts, time sheet collection, payroll processing, payroll funding, tax withholding, benefits, workers compensation coverage, invoicing, collections, background checks, etc.

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