How To Choose The Right Staffing Partner For Higher Education

Jun 23, 2017 9:26:15 AM


Finding the right staffing provider for your institution is no easy task. Programs start and end as grant funding comes and goes. Students want greater attention as they pay increasing tuition each year. The higher education administrator must keep the trains running on time despite these pressures. The ability to rapidly hire qualified people is crucial to keeping up.

The Problem With Higher Education Staffing

College hiring practices work efficiently to hire faculty and professionals. Hiring temporary and short term staff, however, is another challenge entirely. This challenge is compounded by the fact that some staffing parners and firms do not devote much time or care to temporary staffing because they regard it as a sideline to their main business of hiring full-time professionals. To avoid these pitfalls, higher education institutions must conduct additional research on firms that specialize in contingent labor for higher education.

Tips To Evaluate A Staffing Partner

Engaging a staffing partner is an important part of your institution’s talent procurement strategy. It is a way to manage your blind spots, find staff quickly and make the most of your limited hiring time and budget.

Keep the following tips in mind when choosing the right staffing provider for your college or university.

1. Specializing in higher education

Imagine you receive a letter from the IRS informing you that you will face an audit. How would you feel? Most likely, you'll experience a combination of panic, anger, and fear. What would your next step be? Ideally, you would begin to seek out an accountant specializing in the management of IRS disputes. Working with a seasoned professional ensures peace of mind that you're receiving quality, specialized service.

This same peace of mind can be achieved when choosing a staffing agency with vast experience in higher education staffing. A specialized recruiter can find candidates efficiently and understands the specific needs of your institution. If you have limited time to hire, working with a specialist is a must.

Assessment Question: What evidence demonstrates that the firm specializes in higher education? (A sample answer: the firm has long-term relationships with more than a dozen institutions).

2. Ask about past placement success

Every industry has a mix of stars, middle of the road and “bargain” players – the staffing industry is no different. Once you begin a conversation with a staffing firm, make sure to ask about their placement success. For example – in the past year, what percentage of their placements completed their contract? What is their average requisition fill time? If the firm's placements are constantly falling through or positions are taking too long to fill, that may be a sign of the firm's inexperience or incompetence.

Assessment Question: In the past 12 months, what percentage of staff completed their placements?

3. Ask about their recruiting process

Why do we trust professionals?

Education, experience, and credentials are just a few answers. However, there’s something more important. Ultimately, a professional is disciplined about creating and repeating processes that reliably create results. For example – a lawyer will use a certain series of steps to question witnesses or analyze documents. Without a process in place, how will you know what to expect to next?

A higher education recruiter’s process may include asking questions about your institution’s timelines and goals. For example, if you have a summer project that must be completed by August 31, then you may want to hire “immediately.” However, a professional recruiter will caution against skipping their process because has proven to generate better results than hiring immediately to meet a looming deadline.

Assessment Question: What steps do you use to ensure a successful recruitment for my needs?

4. How will candidates be presented to me for an interview?

Presenting candidates to a hiring manager requires a combination of art and science. The science side of the equation involves a detailed report on objective criteria such as a background check, qualifications, and availability. However, that is not enough insight to move ahead with the process. After all, the recruited individual will end up working with you and your department every day for weeks or even months. You need a recruiter who knows how to practice the art of presenting candidates.

A skilled recruiter knows how to spot a “diamond in the rough” candidate and present him or her to you. Such candidates are often hungry for a professional opportunity and have the capacity to work well with the team. Likewise, it is just as important for a recruiter to detect and describe potential “red flags” in a candidate’s behavior before you bring him or her in for an interview.

Assessment Question: What types of reports do you provide to help me in interviewing job candidates?

5. Ask about the recruiting firm’s turnover rate and employee turnover

It is difficult to build a successful long-term relationship with a recruiting firm when there is high, constant turnover. That is why you should ask about the firm’s turnover for key roles such as senior management and account executives. Long-tenured recruiters are more likely to have extensive networks and a deeper understanding of the college recruitment environment.

Assessment Question: Ask about the turnover rate of account executives at the firm as these professionals will be your key point of contact.

6. Ask for clarity on recruiting fees and billing

As a college administrator, you must use your hiring budget wisely. That is why you need to understand the fees and expenses associated with recruitment. Generally speaking, recruiters use a few different billing methods. For hourly rate placements, a markup to the candidate’s fee is common (e.g. the candidate bills at $100 per hour and the recruiter receives $20 per hour). Alternately, the recruiter may charge a flat fee as a percentage of the candidate’s first-year salary. In any case, you need to clearly understand your costs before you sign on the dotted line.

Assessment Question: How does your firm bill clients for recruiting services?

7. Ask to speak with past clients

If hiring needs are substantial, taking the time to speak with a past client of the recruiter is worthwhile. Expect that the recruiter will likely put you in touch with one of their highly satisfied past clients. Use the following questions as a starting point to help guide the conversation with the recruiter's client:

  • How many placements have you arranged with this firm?
  • On a scale of 0 to 10 where ten is best, how would you rate the quality of candidates the firm presented to you?
  • On a scale of 0 to 10 where ten is best, how would you rate the quality of recruiter in operational matters such as accurate invoicing, due diligence and so forth?
  • How did the recruiter support you in onboarding temporary labor?
  • What steps did the recruiter take to determine and meet your talent needs?

The Proactive Step To Better Hiring

Waiting for a hiring crisis to emerge is stressful for everyone. Avoid these hiring pitfalls by taking proactive steps in building relationships with recruiters and hiring firms. Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more key tips on how to choose the right staffing provider.

Topics: Employers, Higher Education

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