Finding IT talent for your department or company can be overwhelming. Job postings, going through resumes, interviewing and making the ultimate decision to hire someone is a lot of work. And after that's all done, you have retention to worry about!
Many companies and organizations struggle with the task of finding the right employee to fill open positions. The hiring process is a delicate situation and one that takes time and consideration. It requires a thorough investigative function that not all companies and organizations have the time nor ability to complete.
Staffing firms are helpful to many established businesses for lots of reasons. But when is the right time to engage one? And for what reasons?
The process of hiring can be exhaustive and requires lots of resources from internal personnel. In addition, once employees are hired on, there is the additional stress of training and managing the employees. Some companies and organizations prefer to operate in a more streamlined manner. By securing the services of a staffing agency, the company in need is receiving support and management services from this staffing firm.
Before you engage a staffing firm, you should use all the resources at your disposal. Use the job boards, your internal databases, referrals, etc. It's only wise for your bottom line to do what you can to fill the position (and still get the right person, of course). However, when you feel like you've exhausted all your resources, perhaps it's time to start a conversation with a staffing agency.
Companies that partner with staffing firms have a higher level of success on average than those companies that choose to go it alone. The reason for greater success rates is most likely related to the following:
These days there are a lot of reasons to justify not bothering with reference checks. First of all, what candidate is going to give you the name of someone who isn’t going to sing their praises? Besides that, many companies have policies that only allows for verification of dates of employment and position held. On top of all that, who has the time to exchange multiple calls and emails? Let’s face it, it’s a hassle and doesn’t guarantee a successful hire.
While a reference check can’t guarantee success it can help you to avoid making the wrong decision…if you can get to the right person and ask the right questions. In my many years as a hiring manager I have hired a lot of people. All (okay, most) were really good people. I have to confess, though, that I have had my share of mismatches. And I have paid dearly for those mistakes. I know there are formula’s that calculate the cost of turnover, but, the numbers don’t really reflect my biggest losses: missed opportunities, my time and attention, the impact to others in my organization and even damaged customer relationships. And then there is the impact to the person I hired. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. That is important work.
Now I don’t want you to conclude that I didn’t check the references of the people who didn’t work out. I did. But, I didn’t always do it effectively. When I take the long view, it’s worth doing and doing it right.
So what is the right way? First of all, I don’t want personal references. I don’t want peer references. I already know the deck is stacked. I want someone who is most likely to be able to speak definitively and objectively. I want to speak to the candidate’s supervisor or maybe a customer. Those are the only references I care about.
I also want to make sure I ask about the right things and in a manner that is going to give me information. That is why I prefer that either I make the call or at least develop the questions for my recruiter. I have sincere appreciation for third party verification services and HR personnel that check references, but, I am the subject matter expert of the roles for which I am personally responsible. I start by creating a short list of the most critical experiences and behaviors for my opening. These are the competencies that reflect my expectations. I then create a few specific questions for each competency. I try to craft those questions so that I get more than a “yes/no” response or just a few words. I want to know if this person can do my job and fit into my company. For example, you could ask “How was this person’s customer service skills?” A better way for me is: “John is under consideration for a position that requires a great deal of customer interaction. John told us he had similar responsibilities while working for you. Can you recall a particularly difficult customer situation and what John did to handle it? What was the result?” For a Project Manager, I might say “John is being considered for a Project Management role. This role requires managing multiple IT projects that can last up to two years, tracking budgets of up to $2 million dollars and as many as 10 stakeholders participating. John tells us that was similar to his role with your company. Can you tell me about a particularly large and challenging IT project that John managed and how he did it? What was scope of work? Who were the stakeholders? What was the budget? How long was John involved? What was the result?”
Personally, I think the only thing worse than not checking a reference is to ask only the questions on the checklist you got in new manager or recruiter training for every opening. Each role and each candidate is different and warrants different questioning.
Are references a panacea? No. Are they time consuming? Yes. Are they worth it? Only if you do them right. And the stakes are too high to do them any other way.
Interviewing can be tough. You're always hearing about things you should do in an interview, but what shouldn't you do?
Last week, we gave you the first five things you should look for in a staffing agency (view them here). But what other things are important when looking for a quality staffing agency to work with?
With hundreds of IT staffing agencies to choose from, how can a manager ensure he’s engaging the best partner(s)? Let’s face it, with too many to qualify, new ones popping up regularly and existing ones changing direction, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.