Top 10 Traits of an Effective Staffing Partner, Part 1

While there is certainly no shortage of staffing and recruiting firms available to IT hiring managers, not all will necessarily stand out as a long-term partner. In order to achieve this status, there are 10 traits and skills a staffing provider must possess. Today, we focus on five areas that separate a run of the mill vendor from a true strategic partner.

 

Expert in Employment Models and Options

When partnering with a business to fulfill its recruiting needs, an effective staffing professional should not only know the difference between the employment models, but also be comfortable advising which is to the hiring manager’s benefit. While contract-to-hire, direct-hire, contract, temporary and outsourced are all viable options for a number of IT departments, each can have legal and financial ramifications.

For instance, it may make the most sense for the hiring company to bring in a contract-to-hire employee to avoid the risk of a bad hire; however, if this person will be a crucial member or even a leader of a team,  know that contract workers come with an unfortunate stigma that they aren’t a full team player yet. In this case, one option would be a permanent position with a signing bonus stipulating that if they don’t meet the goals or leave before a designated date, the bonus is rescinded. This allows the new hire to come on board fully integrated with encouragement to do their best work possible. An expert staffer deals with these types of restrictions and circumstances on a daily basis, and can easily recommend the best type of position for your unique needs.

 

Industry Expertise

While someone who staffs a cross-section of industries may do an adequate job of identifying quality applicants, the greater value comes from a staffing provider with a focused area of industry expertise. The knowledge of negotiation tactics prevalent in IT careers can help with all aspects of the recruiting process, starting with assisting in the creation of an effective job description.

By working with someone who has considerable experience within the industry, it’s possible to eliminate much of the back and forth that occurs over compensation expectations. An effective staffing partner will already know the salary and benefit ranges across a number of technical specialties, as well as the salary differentials for various regions of the country and different levels of seniority. This knowledge can be invaluable for setting the appropriate expectations with candidates before they reach the hiring the manager.

Perhaps more importantly, this knowledge can also help IT hiring managers when it’s time to put together an offer for a highly-qualified candidate. Leveraging the staffing partner’s experience can help set reasonable salary expectations with the IT hiring manager without risk of insulting top-tier talent with a low offer.

 

Expertise in Company Positioning

Perhaps the most important function of an effective staffing partner is to marry together what jobseekers want with what a hiring manager has to offer. Since an IT hiring manager may not be as familiar with what’s most important to candidates, it’s the staffing partner who’s able to advise a company on what makes them unique and a better option for the top talent available. In many cases, these are things people within the company itself know and enjoy, yet take for granted.

While it’s absolutely critical for a staffing partner to take the time to understand the nuances of their client’s products, services and corporate culture, they should also take this a step further by striving to understand their end user or customer as well. Not only will this provide a full-circle understanding of how the client company fits within the marketplace, but it also allows them to better articulate the true nature of the job to potential candidates.

An ideal staffing partner will also be able to draw upon their knowledge of why IT professionals leave their existing employers to help their clients better understand what drives employee retention beyond salaries and total compensation packages. After all, a true partner to the company wants nothing more than to fill the current open position and prevent other positions from coming open.

 

Knowledgeable about Technology

A common issue with many staffing professionals is that they don’t always understand the complexity of the positions they’re recruiting for, and are unable to answer the candidate’s questions or effectively communicate the nuances of the position. In addition to leaving a poor impression with the interviewee, it can lead to only marginally-qualified candidates being passed on to the hiring manager. This makes it critical for an effective staffing partner to have a working familiarity and some experience with the nature of the most common and emerging technologies.

But it’s more than simply staying current on the technologies, programming languages and versions that companies are utilizing.

To be truly effective in the role, it’s critical for a staffing professional to understand the context into which the applicant’s skill fit. Without this technical experience, it’s easy to put too much emphasis on technical jargon and abbreviations, rather than truly understanding the candidate’s previous contributions and how they apply to your job opening.

 

Adept at Varied and Advanced Tools

The ability to effectively leverage software programs focused industry recruiting can make a substantial difference in identifying qualified candidates. Since IT staffing requires recruiters to look for highly specialized skill sets, they must have the ability to direct their focus away from the general public and zero in instead on the top professionals within the industry. The more adept they are at manipulating databases and leveraging tools, the more time they can spend actually screening the applicants they uncover.

Now that people increasingly conduct their job searches via various social media platforms, an effective staffing partner should not only know which social media sites to utilize, but also should be comfortable enough to use the platform effectively. This includes their ability to filter a robust database filled with jobseeker information in order to identify those candidates that possess the experience, soft skills and software proficiencies necessary to do the job. They should also be comfortable enough to conduct themselves on the site in a way that demonstrates the appropriate image for the companies they work with.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the five key areas of expertise staffing partners need, we can turn our attention in Part 2 to the five inherent qualities that can transform a staffing form into a strategic partner.

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