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So, You Need a Temp – Pt 2: How to Evaluate a Temporary Staffing Agency

Are you planning to hire a temporary professional this year? For many hiring managers the answer is yes – they know well in advance of any scheduled special projects, popular vacation periods, and when their busy season occurs. If you’re in the latter group that’s unsure of their foreseeable staffing needs, it’s still a good idea to take provisional measures so that you are prepared when a hiring need arises.

With my clients, there are a plethora of reasons why they may require the services of a temp: their Payroll person goes on personal leave, it’s their busy season, or their Accountant just quit without notice and they need an interim resource who can start tomorrow while they search for a permanent replacement – the list goes on.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, the temporary staffing market operates by its own set of rules, so the recruitment process will differ from that of a full-time requisition. Before engaging an agency or signing a Master Service Agreement (MSA), it’s critical that you do your due diligence and vet any staffing providers you are considering. By asking the questions below, you’ll be able to gain a thorough understanding of their business practices and ensure that they are a good fit for your organization’s culture and business goals.

What to Ask During an Introductory Meeting with a Temporary Staffing Agency:

  • Do they specialize in placing temporary professionals? The temporary hiring space is very different from the general hiring market for permanent roles, so the recruitment process will vary significantly. Make sure you’re working with someone who knows the difference.
  • Are they specialists in their industry/function/vertical? If you’re hiring a Payroll Manager on contract, you’ll want to work with a temporary staffing firm that specializes in finance/accounting roles. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to use multiple temporary agencies for the various roles in different departments that they are responsible for.
  • Do they cover a spectrum of roles? Depending on how specialized a firm is, they may only work on roles of a certain seniority. If this is the case, they will usually have a working agreement with another firm that specializes in the more senior or junior roles within a specific industry vertical.
  • What is their service model? Some temporary staffing firms run “360” desks, meaning that individual recruiters represent both candidate and employer interests. In a commission-based environment, this type of model inherently leads to a conflict of interest, as these recruiters are more likely to send only the candidates they personally represent, versus sending all of the available candidates at their firm. On the other hand, some firms like Lannick’s Pro Count Staffing division operate using a bias-free Dedicated Service Model, meaning that sales associates focus only on serving clients and recruiters only work with candidates.
  • What are their guarantees? Guarantees will vary by provider, so it’s critical to have a thorough understanding of how the replacement process works and the duration of the guarantee period. Ideally, you should look for a guarantee that extends for the entirety of the temporary professional’s contract. As part of this guarantee, your staffing partner should be able to quickly replace the candidate with another candidate of your choice should things not go as planned.
  • What are their conversion fees? Let’s say your temporary professional turns out to be a phenomenal performer and fits in perfectly with your company’s culture. As a hiring manager, you have the option to hire them on a full-time basis, however you will have to pay your staffing partner a conversion fee. This is usually listed in the original Master Service Agreement.
  • How is payroll handled? This will vary from firm to firm. For example, more established firms like Pro Count Staffing will run the payroll for the temporary professionals working on-site at their client’s organizations, and invoice their clients accordingly. This service is usually provided at no additional cost to you. Conversely, other firms will require you to enroll the temporary professional on your organization’s payroll.
  • Are they a partner or a vendor? This is the most important question of all. Your staffing firm should act as an extension of your organization and be able to accurately convey your job opportunities and workplace culture to prospective candidates. To do this properly, they need to invest the time and effort to get to know you and familiarize themselves with your needs. Your Account Manager should come to your office to meet you in person, they should take the time to learn about your business, and they should leave with a thorough understanding of your company and industry. Anything less than this level of service is an indication that they are a vendor as opposed to a true partner.

Have any questions? Email me at lmastoras@procountstaffing.com and I’d be happy to discuss further!

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