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The Staffing Industry - Getting Paid for Our Work

Every now and then I write an industry specific blog entry related to the staffing industry. The topic for today’s blog entry came from an industry colleague yesterday who has been struggling with this issue.

The Staffing Industry sometimes suffers from misconceptions and differing opinions about the value that we bring. I have written several entries about the value proposition offered by companies like Eagle. The last time I wrote about this general subject was called Staffing Companies and Their Value of Canada. Within that blog entry I referenced some other relevant blog entries … such as the IT Staffing Company Value Proposition, there was also a blog entry with some interesting statistics and facts about our industry.

Today’s blog is about a particular issue we face with some clients, who maintain their own databases of resources … and how they use those databases. The issue is that they ask staffing companies to find them candidates, but when we find that great candidate for them we are told that because the candidate already exists in their internal database they are not prepared to pay us for our work.

At first blush you might consider that to be a reasonable stance, why would you pay someone to find a candidate that you already had? There are many answers to that question, but the probably the best way to answer is with another question. If the client had the candidate in their database AND the client had the job description then why didn’t they find the person themselves?

My suggestion to the client is this … I understand that you want to get the best value you can and if you want to have an internal recruiting capability that is your business decision. So … exhaust your internal searching capability first, and only then after failing to find a suitable candidate should you engage the staffing industry, at which point every submission is considered fresh.

The reality is that staffing companies earn their living by finding (A) the right resource, (B) at the right time and (C) at the right price … and (D) by doing it quickly! This is our core competence and it is not as simple as a list of names in a database, it requires an investment of resources in keeping that database current, in maintaining relationships and in tracking great candidates. It requires disciplined processes and a commitment to staying current, all of which forms part of the cost of doing business as a staffing company.

Candidate profiles change quickly, they get more experience, learn new skills get promoted and their resumes from a couple of years (months?) ago may look very different. If you are out of date you won’t find them for your job. People use different resumes for different roles … there are a million reasons why a corporate database might not “cough up” the right candidate, and if that’s all it took to find the right people then everyone would sign onto Monster and the staffing industry would be redundant.

Staffing companies invest a lot of time and effort into process, tools and staff to provide this service. My view is that if we do the work and we are successful then we should be paid. Most clients recognize the value (which goes far beyond a mere searching capability) but there are a few who don’t get it. Over time we have developed a short list of companies that we choose not to work with, because of their policies on this issue. Perhaps they will change as the workforce continues to shrink!