How to Choose the Right Recruiting Agency

Two hands shaking

For a small to midsize business (SMB), recruitment can be tough. It’s hard to compete with the larger companies out there when it comes to recruiting because:

  • Fewer people know who you are and what your company stands for;
  • Bigger companies can put together larger recruitment teams to attract job candidates; and
  • There’s an assumption that bigger companies will pay more or provide more job stability.

Despite these challenges, SMBs need to find the right people to fill out their organization if they want to succeed and grow.

In a Harvard Business Review survey, only 32% of global leaders said their organization has the leadership talent and skills necessary to achieve their strategic goals. Read that stat again—fewer than a third of leaders believe they have the right people in place to succeed. How can you confidently execute any business strategy without feeling assured that your staff is up for the challenge? It’s a recipe for failure. 

This is why many businesses decide to engage the services of a recruiting agency—to hire more confidently and win the talent needed to meet and exceed the organization’s goals. However, not just any staffing agency will do when it’s time to fill your hiring needs.

If you truly want to build a team that will not only meet your needs now, but grow with your organization into the future, choosing the right recruiting company is key. Follow these best practices to select a recruitment agency that can not only get the job done, but that’s the right fit for your particular company and hiring goals.   

Consider What Recruitment And Staffing Services You Need

Before you try to hunt down the best recruiting or headhunting agency to fulfill your needs, it’s important to assess what your needs are first. It’s helpful to think through the following questions or discuss them among stakeholders: 

Do you hire primarily on a seasonal or permanent basis?

When you’re adding staff to your company, are you adding them to cover temporary peaks in demand for a specific season/event/holiday, or are you looking to add more long-term employees? The time you expect to keep a new hire influences what kind of recruitment company you will want to work with. 

For example, if you’re looking to fill seats just for the busy season, a temporary staffing agency might be the best option. However, if you want long-term employees, a recruiting company with direct hire expertise and focus would be a better choice. 

How quickly do you need to hire more people?

Do you have time to thoroughly vet new job candidates via a rigorous hiring process that may take weeks or even months to complete? If this is the case, you may be in the market for what’s known as an executive headhunter.

Or, do you need someone to cover shifts as soon as possible? Temporary hiring and contract staffing agencies may help reduce your hiring cycle to help you get people on your team sooner than direct hire companies could—largely because they are used to delivering qualified candidates on-demand to fill urgent needs.

What slots are you trying to fill?

There are some roles in a company that you just aren’t going to fill with a temporary hire, no matter how badly you need someone in the role. If you’re hiring for executive-level or senior-level positions in your company, you’ll want to use a specialized team of executive search or direct-hire recruiters who can thoroughly verify a job candidate’s qualifications. 

If you’re hiring for 50 entry-level positions, on the other hand, then a staffing agency that provides temporary or even contract-to-hire employment services might be for the best. Additionally, it’s important to verify that the agency offers experience with the skills and positions that you need.

By taking the time to assess whether you want temporary or permanent employees, how fast you need them, and what slots you’ll most likely need to fill (both now and in the future), you’ll be better equipped to settle on a staffing agency that will meet your needs.

What kind of partner are you looking for?

What’s the difference between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts? Well, their coffee, for one thing, but they’re also two distinct companies. From their color schemes (neutral and subdued versus colorful and bold) to their value propositions (high-quality coffee served in an inviting setting versus a quick and affordable pick-me-up), these are two very different places to get your morning cup of Joe, and you’ll have a different experience with each one. 

It’s the same way with staffing agencies. Whereas one might provide a more formal, highly structured partnership, another might be a more laid-back partner that’s open to trying new things. Either way, you should view it as a relationship, and choosing the right one depends as much on you as it does the agency. 

Consider what you value most in a staffing partner and the type of relationship you’re hoping to have and bear this in mind when interviewing different agencies. 

What level of involvement do you want in the hiring process?

Another important question to consider is how involved you want to be in the hiring process. Are you looking for a full-service firm that handles the marketing, sourcing, screening, and interviewing, getting you involved only when it’s time to make a final decision? Or, are you looking to have a hand in some or all of these recruiting processes? 

Either scenario may or may not be viable depending on the staffing firm you choose to work with, so you’ll want to be sure to discuss your expectations in this area with any staffing agency you’re considering to be sure you’re on the same page. 

Additionally, consider the expert guidance you’re hoping to receive from your staffing partner. Are you looking for someone who can help you write winning job descriptions? Do you need a hand in the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process? Be sure these services are offered by the staffing firm you choose.  

Ask the staffing agency about how they bill for their services

When you’re talking to a prospective recruitment and staffing services company, it’s important to establish early on how they bill their customers for their services. Are their services billed on retainer? Do they bill hourly? Or, do they charge on a per-hire basis?

Recruiting and headhunting firms handle their billing in a variety of ways. For example, a contract staffing company or temp agency typically pays workers by the hour, so you can expect to pay a set rate for each hour their contract employees work for you. When hiring directly, a recruiting firm will typically charge a fee based on each employee you hire.

Verify how the recruiting agency qualifies their candidates

What criteria does the staffing agency’s recruiting team use to sort and qualify candidates before presenting them for your consideration? Ideally, a recruitment and staffing services provider will use custom criteria for each job role you need to fill based on your specific needs. For example, 4 Corner Resources utilizes a proprietary process that captures specific details about each position—including:

  • Main job responsibilities;
  • Why the position is open;
  • Key hiring criteria;
  • Desired soft skills;
  • Ideal candidate characteristics; and
  • Disqualifiers.

Using these details helps a recruiting agency refine their choices for candidates so they don’t waste your time with the wrong ones. If a recruitment agency doesn’t ask for these kinds of details, they may end up sending you job candidates who won’t mesh well with your company or were simply picked randomly from a stack of resumes. 

Check the recruitment agency’s track record

Does the recruitment company have a good track record of helping other organizations in your industry meet their staffing needs? It can’t hurt to check. Ask about things like time to fill, interview to hire ratio, candidate retention rate and client retention rate. These metrics will help you understand how quickly they can place candidates, how successful their placements are in their new roles, and how many of their clients become repeat customers.  

Staffing agencies that work hard to provide top-notch recruitment services tend to earn praise from their customers and/or earn recognition and awards from independent organizations—such as Inc. 5000 or Fast 50, so be sure to seek out third-party recognitions in your research.

Partner with the Staffing Team You Can Trust 

Don’t leave your staffing to chance. After all, your people are your most important business asset. The quality of your hires has a direct bearing on your team morale, performance in the market, and company longevity. The wrong hires, on the other hand, can eat into your profits and derail your productivity. 

Hire to meet your current business needs and keep pace with future growth by tapping the team of experts at 4 Corner Resources. We’re recognized by Forbes as one of the Most Respected Recruiting Firms in America and we’re proud of our 92% client retention rate. Book your free 4CR consultation today and learn more about how we can help set your company up for staffing success.

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.