6 Points to Consider When Choosing an IT Staffing Firm (from an HR Perspective)

by EdgeLink on June 3, 2013 in IT Staffing


In today’s market, IT staffing firms are abundant and ubiquitous – from the large, one-stop shops, to the small niche talent providers, there is an abundance to choose from. Many aspects of the IT staffing firm come into play when deciding which to work with, but from the human resources (HR) perspective, how do you decipher amongst the masses?

Here are a few things to consider when deciding which IT staffing firm to work with:

  1. The Firm’s Vetting Process. How does the IT staffing firm determine that their candidates are the best candidates for submittal? Does the firm have dedicated recruiters and other strong IT staff to interview and properly evaluate the candidate’s technical capabilities? Ensure that the company you choose to work with has a dedicated recruiting engine that thoroughly interviews and selects appropriate candidates for submittal. Many firms bypass the thorough recruiting processes and just pass through resumes that likely won’t be a fit, wasting time and resources.
  2. The Firm’s Recruiting Strategies. Once you are comfortable that the firm has a recruiting team, find out specifically how they recruit. Do they use job boards? Are they utilizing social media as a way to attract candidates? Are they involved in networking groups and networking sites such as LinkedIn? Check out their web sites to see what kind of thought leadership their team is producing – is there strong knowledge management and subject matter expertise amongst the recruiting teams? These are all very essential qualities of an effective recruiting engine, and if lacking, could result in poor sourcing and poor hiring.
  3. Background Checking. An essential part of the recruiting process, from a HR perspective, is thoroughly checking the company’s references. If the firm is unwilling to produce at least three clients who they have worked for and will speak as strong references for them, that is a red flag. An IT firm should be open and very willing to provide client references who can give a detailed overview of their abilities. Find out what their customer retention rates are – do most of their clients terminate after a short period of time? Why? It’s as important to check references for the IT firm you may be working with as it is for an employee you plan on hiring.
  4. Time to Source. Consider how long it takes an IT firm to source appropriate candidates for the open positions. Check with their sales team and recruiting teams to determine an average timeframe. If the time from receipt of a requirement to candidate submittal is overly long or all over the board, this may be a red flag. The firm should have an adequate talent management database and knowledgeable recruiting team that knows where to quickly source specific technologies. If they don’t, you may want to look elsewhere.
  5. Hit Rate. Along with sourcing, what is the ‘hit rate’ of the firm? Of the candidates they do submit to their clients, on average, how many end up getting hired? This is an extremely important metric, as it is the end result of the company’s sales and recruiting strategies. If the sales team is proficient and they know their clients’ needs well, and the recruiting is solid, the hit rate should be very high. If you find hit rates below 50%, again, it’s a red flag.
  6. Price. Price is the penultimate factor for many companies when choosing the right IT staffing firm, however it should be amongst the last things considered. Obviously if the rates are significantly higher than the market average, there’s reason to be skeptical. The rate the company charges is ultimately a reflection of the company’s efforts in producing the best match for the position, but shouldn’t be overly inflated. Most firms are open with their rate structures, and are willing to share their pricing with their clients, allowing a certain level of disclosure. If a company is unwilling or unable to share their pricing philosophy, it could be yet another reason to move on.

Hiring the right IT staffing firm isn’t as easy as you might think and definitely isn’t a decision that should be based solely on pricing. Sifting through the masses of IT staffing firms and landing on one that will have your best interests in mind takes time and effort. Keeping these points in mind, however, will increase the likelihood that the firm you choose will partner with you to reduce sourcing, recruiting and hiring time.