IT staffing firms are often harshly criticized. Some of it is deserved, but much of it is not. staffing firms provide a very valuable service to their customers (see my post: Why Staffing Firms are Critical, back from September 2015) with the consultants and resources they provide. Many of our customers would not be as efficient in what they do in IT without these valuable firms. So why the bad rap I mention above? I strongly believe that it has to do with the how these firms are perceived by their customers. Many customers see these firms as exactly for what they are: a firm to provide only resources versus a strategic partner to help achieve goals and objectives. This is where I am going with my post today, where I unequivocally believe that staffing is much more than just staffing – if you are working with the right staffing firm.
Any staffing firm has the ability to provide resources that organizations need. Like any industry, some do it well, some do not. Some are considered just "body shops" to their customers. A place to get resumes and people and nothing more. Yet some become invaluable partners to their customer. Why the difference? If you've read any of my past posts, you'll know that I will certainly have a definitive opinion about that, as I do all things. It's all about value and doing well above and beyond just the minimum. And yes, I do have a strong opinion on this, filtered through experience.
When someone is looking for a resource and chooses to use a staffing firm to find said resource, there is so much that a good staffing firm does before you have candidates in front of you to consider. staffing firms search their database or go and recruit (hence the need for recruiters) for people. This can be very laborious and time consuming to find the right people, with the right skills, with the right experience and all of the other items that a customer requires. But good recruiters know how to get it done. The customer doesn't need to see all of this back-end work, nor would they probably want to. A lot goes into it. A good staffing firm masks all of this from the customer but yet keeps them informed every step of the way, so they are not left wondering what is happening.
A good staffing firm will take care of all the expected things that accompany staffing: qualifying a candidate, doing background checks, negotiating between the client and the resource, helping to make sure that this resource is truly a good fit for the position being considered, and then on-boarding this resource for the client. That's pretty much what is expected. But what great staffing firms will do to go above and beyond that is do deep background and technical checks to truly qualify and vet the candidate and will have specialties for which they are known to be very strong. We, for example, are well known within the IT infrastructure word, that's our specialty, and we then dive down into specialties within IT infrastructure such are networking, storage, virtualization, security, operations management (ITSSM), and service management. A strong firm will also keep the customer abreast of what is going on with candidates within their industry.
Customers want to know if they invest in a particular technology that there are people out there to help support them, though perm hires or consultants, and that the pool of candidates is not so finite and niche that they won't have to pay unreasonable salaries or hourly rates. This is really important. Customers also want to know what's going on, be kept informed, and feel valued even when there is no immediate opportunity on the table. I've seen this time and time again throughout the years. Where partners are only talking to their customers when there is opportunity. This is a huge mistake.
As an IT services partner or staffing firm, your customers are your lifeblood and you should be fostering and talking to them all time, not just when there is opportunity. That's how you differentiate yourself out in the market place and to your customer. Sounds so simple, and it is, but you'd be surprised how many firms do not do this and, by doing so, take their customers for granted.
This is where a staffing firm can be so much more than just a staffing firm. They can guide you by letting you know what is going within their industry, how the candidate pool looks for a particular skill at a given point in time, how salary ranges fluctuate for particular resources in the market; we even have customers ask us for guidance about the salaries they should be paying their own internal people based upon what's going on in the market. That customers ask us this shows that they see us as more than just a staffing firm; they see value and partnership. And that's the ultimate goal. A mutual partnership, not just a transaction.
We also guide our customers on what our other customers are doing in terms of how they staff their IT departments so that they can understand if they are being efficient in how they staff. These are some of the examples of the value that a good firm staffing firm will provide above and beyond (or in conjunction with) only staffing. And we as an organization are happy to provide this additional value, that's how we believe we different ourselves. This makes us more much comfortable in the eyes of our customers and we are seen as much more than just staffing firm, we are seen as a partner.
So when you are evaluating your staffing firms, consider if they are bringing value above and beyond just staffing. In this very competitive market today, value is a big differentiator and your trusted staffing partners will stand up and provide it. A staffing firm can provide so much more than just staffing.