CEO Chat
Helen H., CEO of
Hire Standard Staffing

Posted July 2017
We are sitting down with Helen and chatting about the world of staffing agencies this time.

Q: What are the pros and cons of a small vs a large agency?

A: The “large vs. small” debate can be answered by asking the individual how they prefer to shop. Do you like going to a larger store with more merchandise (and maybe lower prices) but the tradeoff is you have very little service? Think of going to Macy’s or WalMart, for instance. Or, do you prefer a smaller, boutique experience where you have access to high-end merchandise with personalized service, and you’ll pay a bit more for the experience? Certain situations call for one type of firm over the other. But, in general, our clients and candidates prefer the personal touch, knowing we make decisions based on their best interests — not ours.

Q: What are some things potential candidates need to keep in mind when registering with a staffing agency?

A: Where to begin on this one! Our business is complex and driven by multiple factors simultaneously, all wrapped into a series of time-bound expectations. I think the biggest misconception held by candidates is that recruiting firms exist “to find the candidate a job”. This was true in the earliest iterations of the staffing business when candidates (job seekers) paid a fee to enlist the help of a recruiter in finding them a job. But this model got turned upside down when client-paid fees became the norm. If you are a job seeker, it’s helpful to remember that the recruiting firm has been engaged by companies (their clients) to identify a targeted mix of skills that will fit the company's culture. As the candidate, you may see or hear of opportunities and wonder why the recruiter has not contacted you about them. Understanding that there are hundreds of variables the recruiter takes into consideration can prevent you from taking rejection personally.

Q: Thousands of applications are received by recruiting agencies on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. When should candidates expect a call regarding their application or should they expect a call at all?

A: A good strategy for the candidate is to follow up several times with the recruiter or staffing firm after submitting a resume. A friendly email asking if your resume has been received and if there is an appropriate time to talk about opportunities would be a great next step. You may not be the “fit” the recruiter is seeking for a specific position, but your focus and motivation will set you apart from the majority of candidates and may get you noticed. If there is no reply to your email within a week, it would not be bad form to place a phone call to the recruiting firm. Most people email their resume and wait to be contacted…you could get lost in the sea of messages and data we all handle.

Q: What kind of clients should work with a staffing agency? Should some clients work with a smaller one and others with a larger agency?

A: Some hiring companies define success by the numbers: they want dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes to plow through before starting the interview process. For companies where volume is more important than incisive, targeted recruiting of a few individuals — we would recommend they engage a large recruiting firm where requisitions are shared with dozens of recruiters. Those companies will get flooded with resumes and their HR departments can claim victory with the numbers. When saving time and getting quality results are the determining factors, clients will usually have better results with a smaller staffing firm who can devote the time and focus needed to secure the right talent. Smaller staffing firms are not “resume houses”…we develop a curated group of candidates for specific client requests.

Q: Obviously, staffing agencies cannot make the perfect placement 100% of the time. What happens when a candidate does not do well after a permanent placement? What can you do for the client? The candidate?

A: You mean we are not perfect? That makes us human! Seriously, circumstances can change after a placement is made. Most often, these changes were not predictable during the referral and hiring process. Hire Standard is committed to the best possible outcome for both clients and candidates. In cases where the two must part company, we provide several options for the client; after all, they still have an open position to fill and that is our first priority. Depending on the situation, we may be able to continue working with the candidate. There are so many variables, we do a 360 degree review of each individual situation before deciding.

Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about staffing agencies from the clients and candidate perspectives?

A: Both clients and candidates think we represent them exclusively. I guess we have spoiled them!

Q: You have worked for a while now as a CEO of your own staffing firm. If you could do it again, what would you differently?

A: This is the “hindsight 20/20” question. I wish I had completed more research on how to predict human behavior. Once the validated research was in, I would have packaged and sold it…imagine the potential! But, really, the infinite possibilities of human behavior are what keeps our work interesting. I think every recruiter, staffing manager, and executive would agree that it’s never boring.

Posted April 2017

Q: How did you start in the industry?

A: The 80s rocked (literally!) with an open culture and opportunities. Technical and functional expertise mattered less than in today’s competitive business climate. My first career was as a performing musician where I represented myself in business dealings. The “talent agent” side of my job required listening skills, the ability to search for jobs, to negotiate the terns of employment, as well as do basic accounting and contract generation. When it was time to transition, I spent 6 months in a university adult “career change” class which helped me focus on my core abilities. Then, I cold called companies to do informational interviews. Before long, I had two offers to train in HR recruiting and job placement. If I can do it, anyone can!

Q: Pros/Cons of working in the recruiting industry?

A: The variety of situations we encounter in recruiting is constantly evolving and always challenging. There is nothing like the feeling of making a targeted match between our employer clients and our multi-talented candidates. Knowing the company’s culture and introducing that client to their next employee is both art and science; it creates an incredible feeling of success and accomplishment. The downsides? I can think of two: one is the frustration when a company rep won’t heed our advice (which is in their best interest). The other one is knowing there are many great candidates we are unable to help even though we want to.

Q: Do you think recruiting is harder or easier compared to when you first started?

A: Today’s recruiting presents greater challenges than in prior years. As we have grown, our practice has diversified and requires us to learn the specifics of many areas and interact with various experience levels. Clients provide confidential data to us. We obtain performance-related information from candidate supervisors who are sometimes limited in what they can say. We simultaneously evaluate multiple technical skills and learn sensitive information about personal issues. Finding the balance between privacy and information disclosure is sometimes difficult.

Q: How have client needs/requests changed? What are some things that have remained the same?

A: Today’s clients are more savvy, technical, and value-oriented. They want the best ROI so they are precise and highly motivated to hire the best for their recruiting dollar. They are well-educated, busy people who face a challenge (sometimes several of them at once) and turn to us for creative solutions. Recruiting has matured: it is more targeted so naturally more demanding now. Another difference is that clients rely on us to evaluate the talent market, and whether their salaries and benefits are competitive.

Q: How has dealing with HR changed over the years?

A: Human Resources has gone through various iterations over several decades. Hiring was previously handled by Office Managers who had little HR training and acted as the contact person for the company. With increased regulation and developments in employment law, organizations upgraded their HR function, requiring PHR certifications and continuing education. Whether a dedicated Recruiting Manager or an HR Generalist, client reps oversee more compliance and data reporting while representing the hiring manager/executive and protecting the interests of the company.

Q: What are some complaints that you have heard from candidates/clients regarding recruiting firms?

A: Candidates often mention that companies with posted openings do not acknowledge their resumes or update them on position status. They tell us that recruiting firms often consider a “cast of thousands” so they feel like a number. Clients ironically complain they get too many resumes — many of them unqualified for the job — and that people seem to blast their resumes to every posted job without understanding the criteria. We focus attention on every job seeker and every client. We are not the biggest, but candidates and clients tell us their experience with Hire Standard is individualized, time-intensive, detailed, and personal…which makes us different, and, we hope, better!

Q: What are some clients/candidates expectations that are unreasonable?

A: Managing expectations is one of our biggest challenges. Our experience in thousands of interactions enables us to provide a clear assessment of each client’s and candidate’s situation in order to be partners in a successful outcome. Detailed discussions about short and long term goals as well as current situations and prevailing market conditions help to sharpen the picture. Everyone wants perfection, but all the players are human. Recent grads without experience seeking a $100K job or a company who wants a manager with 10 years experience on a $40K budget are not going to get what they want. We’re not miracle workers!

Q: What makes a good client? What makes a good candidate?

A: The same characteristics define great clients and great candidates: realistic, reliable, responsible, and receptive.

Staffing Agency Want to learn more about which Staffing Solutions are best for your Business? Contact one of our experienced Staffing Experts today.

NAPS CPC CertifiedNAPS CertifiedMember of ASA - American Staffing Association Woman Owned Small Business WOSBSociety for Human Resource Management

CEO Chat
Helen H., CEO of
Hire Standard Staffing

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