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Evaluating the Right Staffing Firm for You

There are many reasons to work with a staffing firm when looking for a new job. Recruiters can help you find that perfect role, and offer you great advice for applying and interviewing. It’s their job to understand the market, and in many cases they’re in a position to move the hiring process along faster than candidates. And perhaps most importantly, staffing firms often have access to a hidden job market in which companies conducting confidential searches turn exclusively to the firm to fill open positions. Recruiters work directly with companies who often use them as their internal recruiting departments, so they can help you find jobs that you otherwise wouldn’t see.

Choosing the right staffing firm is essential for ensuring that you find a good fit in your next position. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate firms.

Are their job postings in line with what you need?

Check out the firm’s website to see if they work with the kinds of companies you’d be interested in working for and list the types of jobs that are relevant to you. Different firms will have access to various jobs, so it’s vital to find a good match from this perspective. For example, if you’re looking for a medical research position, you wouldn’t want to waste your time with a staffing firm whose open positions are primarily in the tech industry.

Are the recruiters responsive?

How communicative the recruiters are initially tells you a lot about what it will be like to work with the firm. How long does it take for them to get back to you? Are their communications clear and concise? An easy indicator of responsiveness is whether the recruiter wants to get on the phone immediately; a good recruiter will want to talk with you as soon as possible to get a sense of what you’re looking for instead of blindly sending you jobs that don’t make sense for you. 

Do they connect you with a real person?

When you reach out to the recruiter, does their response seem personal and genuine or canned? It’s common to post your resume and then get dozens of recruiters reaching out with a response that’s obviously copied and pasted. One way to separate the wheat from the chaff is to reply to that initial email with something along the lines of “thanks for reaching out, here’s what I’m looking for, can you help?”. A good recruiter will respond to your specific needs and questions, indicating that they read and considered your email.

Are they transparent with their process?

Precisely what the staffing firm’s process IS is less important than a) that they have one, and b) that they’ll tell you about it. A recruiter that’s dodgy about what you can expect when working with them and their clients will not serve you well. Make sure that the recruiter can articulate their process and that it makes sense to you.

Can they give you good advice about your applications?

A good recruiter will be able to advise you on your resume, interviews, cover letters, and your career trajectory as a whole. They should tell you what information to include and what to highlight, helping you tailor the details of your resume for the positions in question. They’ll have good ideas on when and whether to follow up on submitted applications and give you pointers on crafting that message.

Are they upfront about how they can – and can’t – help you?

A recruiter should not be your sole resource for your job search. While they will undoubtedly advocate for you with their clients, they can’t work magic; if you’re not a good fit for a position, they can’t get it for you. A good recruiter will be upfront about what they can do for you and what they can’t. For instance, recruiters usually cannot facilitate a career change; companies won’t pay a fee to find someone who has to be trained from the ground up. On the flip side, recruiters are more experienced than the average person at navigating the hiring process. While they are still subject to many of the same barriers as job seekers, they are able to push in a way someone who wants to work at the company can’t.

Can they give you advice on the job market?

A good recruiter will surely know more than you do about the current state of the job market as a whole and your industry in particular. Do they have a pulse on what companies are looking for – especially now, coming out of a pandemic? Can they tell you the market rate for your skillset and prepare you with current trends for hiring and interviewing? All of this is important to know, and a recruiting firm should be able to tell you.

Are they able to help you negotiate a job offer?

As stated above, one benefit of working with a recruiter is that they’re able to be a lot pushier than you. This is particularly helpful when it comes to negotiating salaries and other compensation. They’ve done this before, know the clients, and know market rates for your experience and the position in question. A recruiter should be able to speak confidently about their ability to negotiate on your behalf.

How experienced is the recruiter?

Understanding the recruiter’s experience is an essential component of choosing who to work with. There are pros and cons of both new and experienced recruiters. A seasoned veteran will know the market, know how to sell you, and be able to envision your career progression to help you find strategic roles. However, a newer recruiter won’t have a vast network – so they’ll have the bandwidth to pay extra attention to you – and they work closely with their managers, who will have the most experience and best advice. You can find a good fit with both new and experienced recruiters – but take the time to find out what to expect.

When you post your resume online, it really does seem that there’s an endless number of recruiters and firms reaching out to help you. It can be overwhelming to wade through them all. We hope these questions can help you determine who is a good fit for you. Happy job hunting.

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