Selecting the right staffing partner can make a big difference to the people side of your business!

Particularly for small to medium sized employers, the right staffing partner can make a big difference to your company’s operational performance.  It can impact the $$$ you need to spend to get work done, your ability to attract and retain the right people, your ability to compete in any marketplace based on the quality of your people .

The process you use to select the right staffing partner varies depending on your size, the amount of outside recruiting or staffing services you are likely to need, and the qualities of the staffing companies in your local market.  While a formal RFP process makes sense for a larger, enterprise level employer where your vendor choice has to be rationalized to a C suite, smaller companies can’t afford to be wooed by fancy written or verbal presentations – the selection process needs to be down and dirty.  You need to find a “partner” you can rely on not just to to deliver as promised but to above and beyond to make a difference to your company’s success.

Here are some TIPS for small to medium sized employers who know they need “outside” recruiting or staffing help,  but want to make sure they select the right vendor/partner.  

Make sure you meet the team who will be providing you with service – not just a member of the sales team.

The folks selling staffing services are hired because they look and sound good, but it’s the people doing the actual service delivery that will matter most to partnership success. Are they people you can communicate with? Trust? Rely on? Do they have the expertise that will help your company take your staffing operation to the next level? Do they have the same values around communication and results that you do?  What is the tenure of their service staff?  (Pay attention if you uncover high levels of service team turnover)

Get a good read on the company’s willingness (and ability) to customize their products and services to align with your needs.

What is their level of expertise in each of the areas your company has needs for staffing support?  Can they do direct hire, temp to hire, and more traditional temporary or contract staffing support?  In what job categories are they specialized?  In what industries do they have focus?

How able or willing is the company to adjust their services to compliment what your internal resources are already doing to staff or hire?  Are they able and willing to make changes to accommodate your needs? Will you have access to the company’s management/decision makers so that changes can be orchestrated quickly? How good are they at listening to your needs and bringing fresh new ideas to the table?

Find out how they organize their delivery of service – who does what?

How many service personnel will they assign to manage your account?  What roles will they make sure are covered on your team?

Even the smallest employer needs at least three places where they can go to for service:

The more complex your staffing needs, the more roles that need to be assigned to service your needs. Make sure your vendor has the service resources it takes to deliver the service and people you need.  

Understand their pricing philosophy.

A rate sheet is not enough. You need to know what factors are considered when setting bill rates or service fees. How comfortable are they talking about their costs and how those impact their bill rate? In our judgment, the more transparent your staffing partner is in terms of revealing their “costs of doing business” the more likely you are to have a partner that will pass the test of time, most able to work with you on making adjustments when budgets change.

Ask about their staffing metrics.

Staffing companies, who are good managers of performance, regularly measure their performance against industry benchmarks. They should have data on their:

Learn as much as you can about how they find, recruit and evaluate potential employees/job candidates.

Ask them to walk you through each step in their recruiting and evaluation processes. Make sure these processes are a good fit for your standards and that they are either currently doing or are capable of meeting your compliance requirements AND can provide you with audit ready records of their compliance administration. What testing do they administer? How do they evaluate the “soft” skills important to placement success?

Check out their technology – what they will be doing to both streamline and personalize your service relationship.

In today’s marketplace, there is an abundance of automated technologies that are used to manage many of the interactions between the staffing provider, you, and the employees being placed in your work environment.

Make sure you are working with a partner who regularly invests in state-of-the-art staffing technology but also knows how to deliver their services in a way that feels very up close and personal.  It will make a difference to your hiring managers.

Check their references.

Learn more about their current and past client relationships. Ask for the names of their “oldest client,” a relatively “new client,” a “former” client, and a dissatisfied client who they “turned around.” Talk to each about what they like best and least about their partnership.

Don’t expect perfection – staffing is too people-dependent for that, but do check out how they tend to respond when issues arise. How quickly and creatively do they solve problems? How have they adjusted to their client’s changes? Brought new service ideas to the table? Been a real partner when things got tough

Identify those things they consider their differentiators that will make a difference to you.

Although most staffing companies look and sound alike, there are actually fairly significant differences in how they approach their service delivery and develop their relationships with customers. Ask potential partners about how they differentiate themselves from others, use your reference conversations to verify that what they say is what they deliver, and select a staffing partner whose “sweet spot” best matches your needs.

Audition before you committ…..

….where staffing companies compete for your business by filling open orders, can be helpful IF used to reveal each unique approach to long term placement success. Filling orders is less important to the audition than is experiencing the vendor’s approach to profiling worker requirements and gathering information important to long term placement success. How does the vendor develop relationships with its clients? With HR? With your hiring managers?

Find out how they approach change – when things have to be adjusted to fit a new environment 

Expecting a new staffing provider to achieve performance perfection out of the gate, oftentimes without client involvement, is all too common and presents unique challenges to the staffing community. A vendor who promises to deliver immediate success should be suspect, as building a true staffing partnership requires a long term commitment from you and your vendor. Your vendor must do the homework, solve the problems, and work thoughtfully through issues to earn their partnership stripes.

The most important question – What processes do they use to continuously improve their staffing performance and your service results? What are their expectations of you as their staffing partner?

How Can We Help?

If you are looking for a new staffing partner or wondering if your current staffing partnership is still meeting your needs, we’d love to set up a time to chat about your needs or concerns.

Our Partner Services and Solutions team can be reached by calling 425-637-3312 or e mailing them at

For a full range of PACE services check us out on the web at


About PACE

PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years.

A  5 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees, contact us at 425-637-3312,  email our Partner Services and Solutions team at, or complete the form below and we’ll be in touch!

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