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Is A Staffing Agency Your Ideal Recruitment Partner?

Who uses a staffing agency? How does an organization benefit from engaging the services of a staffing agency?

Working in human resources, these are common questions I hear from employers. Despite the current epidemic, sourcing and retaining qualified talent is always on an employer’s mind. Over the years of my adventure in HR and consulting, I have worked with different staffing agencies. Jessica Culo and I go back more than ten years. When we first met, Jessica had just established her staffing agency and was strategically networking with employers in the local region. At that time, I was an HR representative for an organization that desperately wanted to resolve its talent turnover and attraction issues.

Fast forward 10+ years: both of us continue to grow in our fields and are now approaching the topic of human capital from a different angle. In our recent conversation, Jessica and I exchanged our thoughts about current recruitment trends. We had a particularly fun time discussing what has and has not changed in the recruitment industry over the years.

“A few things have stayed the same,” Jessica started, “For example, the recruitment agency’s fee structure remains the same in the bulk part. If we were recruiting a permanent staff member, the fee is typically a set percentage of the candidate’s first-year salary. For senior level roles, a retainer fee would be required upfront. We get paid after the new hire successfully passes probation or at a later time. For temporary staff recruitment, the agencies usually charge an hourly rate.”

I agreed. Further to that, one small change I have seen is that some recruiting firms offer fixed fee services to help employers simplify budget planning.

“Employers are cautious with budget and still bargain for the recruiter’s fee,” I added. “‘You get what you pay for’ applies to using a staffing agency’s service.” The first time I ever wanted to engage a recruitment firm for help, my boss at the time told me that keeping the cost low was her top priority. Therefore, when meeting with several potential staffing agencies, I bargained hard on their service fee. Unfortunately, choosing the lowest bidder did not give a good recruitment experience or result.

Three interviewers interview one person for a job
Job Interview

One challenge that I consistently hear about from some HR colleagues is justifying the use of a staffing agency to their upper management. I took the opportunity to pose a challenging question to Jessica, “If a company has HR staff, then how can a staffing agency add value?”

“Our work does not conflict with the company's own HR department. In many cases, HR professionals do not have much time or capacity to complete the projects at hand while completing high-volume recruits. Therefore, they can consider engaging an agency that is the subject-matter-expert in hiring people so that HR can focus their effort on other urgent matters. Another common situation is that when employers need to recruit many people in a short period, then the staffing service will save them time and sometimes even cost,” Jessica explained. “We can be the employer’s partner in solving their human capital problems. However, employers need to be transparent with us!”

“Be the employer’s partner in solving their human capital problems! I like that.” I emphasized. As we know, employers always ponder:

  • Why am I paying you for your service?

  • What problems do you help solve that I could not solve myself?

If a staffing firm has a great response to these questions, they are the employer’s ideal partner.

“A great recruiter spends a considerable amount of their time getting to know the (potential) employer, ensuring value alignment, and developing a good understanding of the employer’s goals and desired outcomes.” Jessica spoke with passion, “I still hear some employers say to us, ‘Don’t care how, but just get us the people we need tomorrow.’ A good recruiter is a teammate with an organization and looks for a long-term relationship with an employer. We spend the time up front, getting to know the employers, their challenges and successes. Only then should we discuss the budget, hiring timeline, process, and other logistical items.”

“This is no different than us working in human resources. We are business partners within organizations! Develop a thorough understanding of the situation and the business, and only then the most effective solution will be developed.” I echoed what Jessica said.

“Transparency is crucial!” Jessica repeated herself, “Nowadays, we focus more on helping employers with their issues. Placing someone is the easier part, but understanding why people leave is more critical. The causes of high turnover at an organization will never go away without conscious effort to change. A good agency partner should help the organization to realize its issues and offer solutions.”

Having discussed the past and the current recruitment situation, we started to envision the future: “The recruitment industry is a highly competitive one. To stay ahead of the curve, we offer a variety of value-added services.” Jessica concluded, “We constantly evaluate the needs of organizations and pivot to serve their needs best. I found that in recent years, I invest more time coaching our team and developing more tools to serve employers, such as offering training, engagement surveys, focus groups, compensation review, etc.”

As companies get workers back to work, recruitment season is here again. Staffing agencies are engaged in building and maintaining relationships with employers and contributing to an employer’s human capital success. In this period of uncertainty, professionals and business leaders are anticipating changes and practicing adaptability to adjust nimbly and act quickly.


Guest bio: Jessica Culo has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Alberta and has been a Specialized Recruiting Group (An Express Employment Professionals Co) franchise owner in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for 16 years. Now, she and her husband/partner (Branko Culo) alongside their incredible team of 18 employees are proud to be one of the largest franchise groups in Express' international network of 800 offices, where they alone provide over 3000 candidates a year with new employment opportunities, while assisting over 500 companies a year in the province to attract the talent they need to move their organizations forward. Jess dedicates most of her time to leading her team, and the organization's Sales, Marketing, PR and Community initiatives. She sits on the board of directors for Junior Achievement (Northern Alberta) and contributes her time to many other Edmonton based philanthropic committees including The Lois Hole Hospital Women's Society. She also is a member of business organizations such as Entrepreneurs Organization, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and TEC Canada.

Specialized Recruiting Group in Edmonton focuses on mid-to senior-level contract staffing, as well as search and consulting services in the accounting, finance, operations, sales, technical, distribution, logistics, manufacturing and engineering fields.

Having been in operation since 2005, SRG Edmonton is grateful for the opportunity to support and partner with over 500 companies per year in Edmonton, typically providing about 3000/year with new opportunities.


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