Organizations large and small often rely on staffing companies to fill their open positions. Even if the organization has a recruiting team, staffing companies can fill in the gap and often have a wider reach into the talent pool. The type of staffing firm you hire, however, depends on what you want out of the deal.
Staffing companies can serve as a vendor, much like the company you may hire to service your office printer or a cloud software provider from whom you purchase a software subscription or license. These vendors fill a specific need, typically the same product or service, on a regular basis.
These one-off solutions are needed for business operations, but there isn’t much depth to what they do. It’s generally easy to switch vendors if they go out of business or provide lousy service/products because there are plenty of other vendors to take their place. Neither you nor they have invested too much into the arrangement, so you won’t miss much if you have to move on.
A staffing company can serve in this capacity: you submit a request for a product (in this case, a new hire) and they bring viable candidates to your door. Pretty simple stuff that any staffing vendor can do. As long as you are specific in your job requirements, they can typically find you a bevy of potential suitors you can interview for the job.
But what if you want more? What if you want to better understand industry trends, such as where technology is heading, so you can hire ahead of the curve? What if you want to offer a competitive salary and benefits package but aren’t sure what the competitors are doing?
That’s when you need a staffing partner. Yes, there is a difference.
The difference between a staffing vendor and a staffing partner is similar to getting married via a drive-thru window in Vegas or having a full-blown wedding officiated by the pastor who’s been like family since you were born. At the end of the day, you’ll say your “I dos” but only one option will make your guests cry with all of the stories about your youth that led you to this moment. Who doesn’t love a sentimental wedding?
Similarly, a vendor gets the job done, but a partner knows your business, your culture, your company’s initiatives, and what current and future positions it needs to grow. They know you so well, in fact, they become a valued member of the team – a strategic partner who has earned a seat at the table (who may or may not make your staff cry).
The key to a strong strategic partnership is the same with any relationship: it takes ongoing engagement. Even a staffing partner can fail to keep tabs on your business. Only the best staffing partners will take their role seriously enough to immerse themselves into the fabric of your company. This is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is by doing so, they can more rapidly execute tasks with the same shared vision as the company. Without lengthy explanation or a learning curve, they can deliver the ideal candidate who’s ready to go on day one.
Value Beyond One-Off Initiatives
A strategic partner brings something more valuable than a pool of candidates. They bring industry knowledge and best practices. They keep their clients abreast of industry trends in technology, hiring and market salaries. They know what competitors are offering and what motivates candidates to make a move. No vendor provides this level of insight because vendors aren’t in the business of deep relationships with their clients.
When a staffing company becomes a strategic partner, they ultimately deliver something that may not be measurable but is the foundation of every relationship – trust and peace of mind. When clients trust their strategic staffing partner to do more than toss a few resumes their way but to continually bring the company closer to its vision, they can breathe easy. They can focus on key initiatives with full confidence their partner will execute when needed and provide context upon which good decisions can be made.
The biggest difference between vendors and partners comes down to these deep relationships. Getting to know a client is more than looking at a website or having a quick conversation on the phone. It’s more than reviewing a job requirement and cross-checking its elements against a resume.
Questions. Time. Know what these have to do with staffing? Everything.
A strategic staffing partner with any credit will know exactly what it takes to build a relationship with its client, and it doesn’t differ from any personal relationship you want to nurture: asking the right questions and investing quality time. Idle chit-chat (a.k.a. B.S.) is not what builds relationships. Strategic partners understand this and take the time to ask the questions that get to the heart of an issue, and have regular conversations about things that really matter.
Have you ever had your printer vendor ask you what motivates you to come to work each day? Ever had them ask you to go to lunch or play a round of golf simply because they want to spend some Q.T. with you? Have they spent any time in your office just to get the “vibe” so they can deliver more precise products?
A strategic staffing vendor is part of the team. They want to know what makes you tick. What your company values and how your team interacts. They want to discover what’s working and what doesn’t when it comes to improving employee satisfaction. They spend time with the hiring managers, HR and business leaders to get to know them on a personal level. They sit in on resource planning meetings and know when to speak up.
Why? Because they understand the better they know their client, the better they can provide value. They aren’t in the business of asking a couple of rote questions to which you say, “I do,” but instead, want to earn your trust and confidence by becoming an integral part of your team. They are in it for the long haul, growing with you, through the ups and downs of business. After all, isn’t that what you’re really paying for?