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Tips for Hiring Managers: Effectively Partnering with Staffing Firms to Acquire Top Tech Talent

August 2017- Lance Schiola, Account Executive, Denver

Every company using a staffing partner hopes to consistently receive quality talent and have seamless hiring processes. Unfortunately, for most hiring managers, this isn’t the case. If you have a great staffing firm who meets all of your needs, it’s not because of luck. It’s likely the staffing firm, and more specifically, the account manager, built a solid relationship with you and worked hard to understand your needs and then deliver on them. Hiring success materializes from the partnership built between the hiring manager and account manager.

Can you conceive construction workers building a skyscraper from an engineer’s simple drawing or diagram? It’s not probable. Much more detail and communication is required in order to complete such an undertaking. Working with staffing firms to identify talent is no different; a more involved partnership is necessary. Hiring managers have tremendous skills in leading teams and projects, and staffing firms are excellent at finding the talent for their clients’ teams.

Let’s look at ways we can work together to succeed. Here are 7 tips for hiring managers on how they can effectively partner with staffing firms:

1. Build Great Relationships
Many view working with a staffing firm as a necessary evil rather than viewing them as a trusted business partner who can help you build your business. This is likely because a great relationship has not been built and credibility has not been established. By focusing on creating a great relationship first, coordinated diligence between account managers and hiring managers can create an optimal environment for successful talent acquisition.

It’s critical for hiring managers to help account managers gain as much knowledge as possible about the company, team, projects, technologies, challenges, culture, etc. It’s a great idea for the account manager to be able to meet with team members, see the physical work setting, get a feel for the vibe and personalities on the team, and gain a greater sense of what working for your company and team is like. Have our Apex Practice Directors, along with the account manager, interview you and other team members on the pertinent technologies and skill sets required for your group.

Enhancing the connection between the hiring manager and account manager allows both parties to align their goals of ultimately identifying the talent that will support your organization in surpassing its competitors.

Great relationships lead to effective communication.

2. Communicate with Your Account Managers
A great relationship will help establish an environment for valuable and honest communication. Hiring talent is a team effort and open lines of communication are critical.

Define the best methods for the account manager to communicate with you—phone, email, text, in-person meetings, etc. Set periodic follow-ups, even when you don’t have a specific position open for hire, so account managers can be apprised of upcoming needs, new projects and initiatives and can aide you in a more strategic approach to the hiring practice. By maintaining routine communication with your account managers, staffing partners can continue to proactively recruit talent allowing for swift responses when staffing needs change.

Hiring managers should lean on account managers for market knowledge. We have access to market data including heat maps/trend tools and speak with thousands of candidates a day across our 65+ offices, providing us with a plethora of market data: hot technologies in the market, compensation trends, types of projects/companies candidates are seeking, methods for retaining talent, and insight on competition.

3. Have Your ‘Ducks in a Row’ Prior to Starting the Hiring Process
Being fully prepared to hire ensures that both the hiring manager and candidate have a solid experience throughout the hiring process.

Confirming budgets and headcount are approved before requesting talent is key. Work with your account manager to establish market rates to assure your expectations align with what is realistic in the marketplace. If the position is contract-to-hire, find out the conversion salary range and benefits offered on the front end.

Communicate precise and straightforward goals and priorities for the new hire, any other information on what you’re hoping they’ll contribute to your group, and how staffing firms can effectively relay those to potential candidates. Account Managers are prepared to assist hiring managers’ fine tune the hiring strategy from the start to allow for a greater likelihood of identifying highly competent talent and then engaging that much sought after technology talent.

4. Establish a Defined Process with Your Account Manager
Create clear expectations regarding the necessary information you need the account manager to provide in order for you to preliminarily evaluate the talent options (includes resume format, pertinent skills, rates, etc.).

Also be sure to determine a precise interview process. I see clients lose more candidates because of elongated or inefficient interviewing processes than anything else. Pay attention to, and work to continuously improve, the “interview experience” of every candidate you interview.

Outline the following from the start:

  • Number of interviews and parties involved
  • Interview methods: phone, in-person, and/or video conference
  • Scheduled feedback times with your account manager throughout the process
  • Onboarding process: what needs to take place once a candidate has been selected for hire?

Block off times on you and your teams’ calendars in advance for interviews. This helps prevent last minute scrambling to try and determine who is available and when to interview. Provide the contact information of all parties involved in the interviewing process to your account manager so there are clear communication channels between everyone, thus providing for more efficiency.

Even if a candidate does not work out for your open position, an impression will be made on them throughout the process and it’s important it be a good one. Your HR and Marketing teams will thank you if you minimize any negative interview experiences that could later lead to poor feedback shared via channels like Glassdoor that could have a damaging impact on your online brand/image.

5. Set Timelines
Timelines. Timlines. Timelines.

The harsh reality in the staffing world is that the adage “Time Kills All Deals” couldn’t be truer. Nothing causes our clients to lose more candidates than extended timelines and inefficient planning.

Good talent does NOT wait around and is highly coveted. They’re also put off by companies who take too long and/or seem wishy washy about making a decision.

Discuss detailed timelines from the beginning so the candidates, account manager, and hiring manager all know what to expect:

  • Resumes of candidates submitted to hiring manager (typically within 2-5 days of initial requisition/hiring need qualification)
  • Feedback from hiring manager on candidates (24-48 hours)
  • Interviews
  • Feedback from hiring manager on interviews / Post-interview feedback from account manager
  • Hiring decision
  • On-boarding process
  • Start date

6. Help Create Great Requirements
In order to find the best talent, in the least amount of time, it is of paramount importance to work with your account manager to thoroughly qualify each requisition. This goes beyond simply sending a job description and requires important dialogue.

To create fillable requisitions, the following are key pieces of information your account manager needs to be successful in identifying the best talent:

  • Written, detailed job description—don’t have one? Your account manager can assist you in developing one. Read our blog on ‘Writing a Great Job Description’ for more insights here.
  • Project background and details (What will this role accomplish for the business?)
  • Reason for opening (What provoked the need? Is it a backfill? Why did the original placement not work out or quit?)
  • Duration (Contract-to-hire?)
  • Day to day responsibilities (Also, how will this resource be measured?)
  • Required skills and technologies (Your account manager may bring in a one of our Technical Practice Leads to assist when necessary. This will also enable account managers to build custom screening questions for your specific needs)
  • Required soft skills/company culture details
  • Any pluses/attributes or skills that will set candidates apart
  • Other details that might be attractive to this type of candidate (i.e. methodologies used, culture, facility perks, flexibility offered, training programs/opportunities)
  • Specific target companies that have a similar technical environment and will increase your interest
  • Qualifying questions you would like to use when recruiters are screening candidates
  • Bill rates and conversion salaries

7. Feedback
Timely and candid feedback on submittals and interviews helps staffing firms provide you with better candidates in the future and ultimately saves you time, money, and frustration. Great candidates have MANY choices in the job market; if prompt feedback is not provided to candidates, they are likely to move on to another opportunity.

Schedule feedback discussions with your account manager 24-48 hours after receiving resumes and 24-48 hours after interviewing—this eliminates repetitive follow-up conversations and speeds up the process. Help us help you to fill the position by being forthright and specific in your feedback. Even though providing honest feedback can be awkward, the more direct and explicit the feedback, the better. Avoid feedback such as “too junior” or “not enough (insert skill-set here)” and be as specific as possible.

Candidates covet feedback, but many staffing firms don’t get the feedback to offer to candidates. Many staffing firms will just tell candidates “the client went in a different direction” or “they closed the position” because they don’t have any feedback to provide. This creates negative impressions for the client and staffing firms. Despite what you might believe, providing constructive feedback and suggestions to candidates that can help them improve their interviewing skills can positively impact you; one LinkedIn study found that candidates were four times as likely to interview at a company in the future if they received specific feedback on why they weren’t selected and/or what they could’ve done better.

On the flip side, it’s important for account managers to relay candidate feedback on the interviews to the client. How does the candidate rank the opportunity? Does the candidate have any concerns? Does the candidate need any more information to make a decision? Since communication is a two-way street, we’ll also do our best to share both positive feedback on the candidate’s interview experience and any suggestions for improving so you can win over more of those candidates you want!

Looking for a partner in securing your talent? Contact your local Apex branch here.
Seeking your next technical opportunity? Give our openings a look.