Which Staffing Service is Right for You?


The role your staffing service can play in locating and placing the right employee is more important than ever before.

In today's rapidly changing business climate, efficiency and effectiveness are crucial to your organization's survival. This means you must have the right person for the job—any job—whether that job is temporary or permanent. America's staffing companies can help you find the best talent—for any job—when you need it.

Today's staffing employee might be a highly trained nurse at one of our nation's finest hospitals, or a lawyer researching a big case. He could be a skilled technician, engineer, project manager, or scientist. She could be a truck driver, administrative assistant, medical technician, accountant, or architect. And he or she could be an interim CEO or CFO for a company in transition.

Staffing firms nationwide collectively employ an average of 2.9 million workers daily across all industries, providing work force flexibility and access to talent to businesses like yours. They also offer competitive wages and benefits to attract the best talent, and provide free training to millions of temporary, contract, and permanent employees each year.

How do you, as a business owner or executive, stand to gain? According to a major survey conducted for the American Staffing Association, companies use staffing employees for two principal reasons: flexibility and access to talent.

You'll Profit From Work Force Flexibility

Nine out of 10 business customers rated flexibility as an important reason to use staffing companies, saying it keeps them fully staffed during busy times. Whether it's a temporary job lasting a few hours or several years—or a permanent job placement—America's staffing companies allow businesses to adjust their work forces to meet their ever-changing needs.

There are three main types of job placements in the staffing industry:

  • Temporary or contract, where you add a staffing employee on an interim basis
  • Temp-to-perm or temp-to-hire, where you add a staffing employee until you're sure a spike in business will sustain itself or you want to make sure you have the right candidate for the job—if so, he or she becomes your employee
  • Direct hire or permanent, where you tell the staffing firm what you're looking for, it selects candidates for interviews, and you hire the best one

You'll Enjoy Access to First-Class Talent

A staffing company not only offers you work force flexibility—it can provide you with specialized skills for a particular project. If you need a lawyer specializing in tax law, for example, a few calls to staffing firms in your area may fill your need. In addition, these firms can serve as deep recruitment pools for your permanent hiring. In fact, eight in 10 business customers say that staffing companies are a good way to find potential permanent employees—and industry research indicates that three out of four customers rank the quality of the employees they get from staffing firms as good as or better than their own employees.

You'll Save Time, Money, and Worry

Consider this scenario: You've just realized you need to comply with the Sarbanes–Oxley Act, a recently enacted law requiring businesses to adhere to strict accounting practices. What do you do? You can develop compliance solutions yourself and hope they work. But if not, what then? Hire consultants or contract the work out at a significant expense? Remember, this expense is in addition to the man-hours already invested in the project.

Why not reach out to a staffing firm and bring in senior accountants and auditing specialists specifically to manage compliance with this law? Since these accountants have already been working on Sarbanes–Oxley, they know the new law from top to bottom. Time and resources are not wasted on false starts or missteps. And you might gain some valuable new permanent employees.

Determine the Type of Staffing Help You Need

OK, you've decided to use a staffing company. First, you need to choose a staffing firm that specializes in your industry or type of operation. Figure out if you need staffing employees for a one-shot deal, a long-term assignment, or a permanent job placement. Also, if it's a permanent position—or likely to become one—find out if the company will let you submit interview questions for job applications and participate in the selection process.

Shop Around

There are thousands of staffing firms out there, from small operations to large multinational firms. Use the Internet to visit various Web sites. Check out several companies and ask for references. Ask about their fees; the turnover rate among account executives, office staff, and staffing employees. Make sure the firm will visit your premises to get a feel for your corporate culture, meet supervisors face to face, and learn details about the jobs that need filling. If you're staffing a major project or function, expect a thorough review and presentation.

How Was Your First Interaction With the Companies You Contacted?

Their Web sites should be informative, up-to-date, and easy to use. Telephone or e-mail the companies to get your first clue as to their business styles. Remember, staffing firms are employers. Their management practices greatly affect the quality of the employees who come into your offices—on a temporary or permanent basis. Staffing firms recruit, hire, and train their staff, so make sure you are dealing with a professional, capable organization.

How Well Run Is the Organization?

This will reflect the quality of help you receive. Ask how long the company has been in business in your area. Call references. Ask how satisfied they were with the employees at the staffing company as well as with the workers assigned to their organization, whether temporary or permanent.

How Does the Company Recruit and Retain its Qualified and Reliable Work Force?

Get details. See ads. To what extent are its techniques passive or active? What kind of a database does it maintain? For temporary and contract positions, consider whether the firm's compensation and benefits are competitive to attract the type of workers you need. A more complete benefits package often attracts a better-quality worker. Also, ask about the firm's turnover rates.

How Are Potential Staffing Company Employees Screened and Tested?

Many staffing companies give their employees initial "skills tests." Some provide specific skills training, such as software tutorials in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, and educate them on how to behave at businesses such as yours. This will help you greatly in determining the "quality" of worker you receive. In addition to skills testing, find out if the staffing firm conducts background checks and drug tests.

Does the Company Fully Understand Your Needs?

Get the most appropriate temporary or permanent person for the position. Make sure the company has an extensive database of available workers. This will help you get the right person for the job in a timely manner. If you need several jobs filled, ask the firm to help you determine the number of employees you should bring on board. Also, find out how to reach the company after regular business hours in case of an emergency.

    • Identify your goals. Follow the same process that you would when launching any important project. Determine your short- and long-term objectives and clearly define these priorities. If you know exactly what you want, you will be better able to communicate these requirements to the staffing firm.
    • Estimate the number of "person-hours" for each job function. For example, assume you have two projects. One requires 80 hours and the other will take 160 hours. Based on an eight-hour workday, the first project would require 10 business days to complete; the second, 20 days. This exercise will give you a more accurate assessment of your needs.

      If a particular project requires a significant number of work hours in a relatively short period of time, don't forget to factor in overtime. Also, be aware of other considerations, such as staff vacation time, that may affect the availability of internal resources.
    • Identify the types of skills required for each temporary assignment by asking yourself a few key questions. Does the assignment call for advanced technical expertise, management ability or a combination of both? Will the temporary professional need to have knowledge of specific software applications?
    • Create a list of staffing firms. Consult colleagues for recommendations. Trade journals, newspaper classifieds, the Internet, and the Yellow Pages are good sources, as are local chambers of commerce and accounting associations. To pare down your list, identify those firms that most closely match your needs, particularly if you need a specialist. For example, if you have a wide variety of accounting requirements, focus only on those firms that can provide you with accounting and finance professionals at all levels versus those that supply only entry level, or conversely, only executive talent.
    • Create a list of questions to ask each company. Your goal is to assess the firm's level of experience, area of specialization, screening process, internal staff capability, and quality control.

        The following are some suggested questions:
      • How long has the company been in business, and has it served organizations with needs similar to yours?
      • What are the firm's strengths, and how has it focused on these areas?
      • Does the company provide full-time and temporary staffing services? (Firms with a well-developed, full-time placement service, as well as a thriving temporary employment business, are great prospects. They're likely to attend to your company's temporary needs with the same high level of sophistication required to make successful full-time matches.)
      • How does the firm select, screen and evaluate temporary employees? Does it offer them professional development opportunities? How does it test the skills of its temporary professionals?
      • How much experience do staff members have in evaluating prospective candidates? * How does the firm measure performance to ensure its clients are happy with the quality of service? Is the company open to feedback regarding the temporary professionals that it places? Does it offer a satisfaction guarantee?


      Visit each "finalist." This step is critical to the selection process because it can tell you more about the firm than if you simply spoke to the company's employees by telephone or talked with the references provided.


      Meeting face-to-face with a staffing manager at the firm enables you to better judge whether he/she fully understands your needs and your business. You will also be able to observe the work environment to determine if the company's culture would complement your organization's way of doing business.


      Invite the staffing manager to visit your company. Once you've selected a firm, arrange an on-site meeting at your firm. Include a brief tour of your operations and introduce him/her to key employees with whom she will be working.


      At this time, explain any company policies or procedures that will help the staffing manager better understand your company. Conclude your meeting by providing a brief overview of what you expect from the partnership and emphasize your availability to make sure all goals are met.


      Keep tabs on the process. Early on, you'll want to be directly involved in every request your department makes to the staffing firm. As you grow more comfortable with the relationship, you can delegate this responsibility. You'll want to receive updates, just as you would with any other important project. Have your staff keep you apprised of the time it takes project professionals to become productive and whether they have the required expertise for each assignment. If you have any concerns, share them immediately with the staffing firm. A service-minded company will work with you to resolve the situation.


      The critical element in your relationship with a staffing firm is the quality of temporary employees and job candidates you receive. Reliance on a reputable and capable staffing company can be an important management tool for your business. A little investigation and observation beforehand can save you time and money and result in a long-lasting business relationship.