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Why Go With a Temp Agency?

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: We seem to be using more temporary agencies to help us fill positions. How can we be sure that we’re being smart about it?

A: Temporary agencies can be a great asset to your organization if you use them effectively. But as with any vendor, it’s important to select your recruiting partners carefully.

To begin the process, start with determining what your staffing needs are: What positions do you need help with? How many positions do you need to fill? How often will you need to use an agency? Then review the position descriptions and get clarity on the required skills — just as you would do if you were hiring an employee directly.

One of the many benefits of working with a temp agency is that you get to “try out” a candidate without making the person an employee.

If you’re not already working with an agency, use your professional network to get referrals. You want an agency that has experience in your particular field, or something closely related to your field, because it will most likely already have a pool of qualified candidates. I highly recommend you meet representatives of the agency and clearly articulate what you’re looking for. Most important, tell them about your culture so that they can find qualified applicants who will be a good fit. The final step before contracting with an agency is to carefully check its references and negotiate fees and guarantees.

One of the many benefits of working with a temp agency is that you get to “try out” a candidate without making the person an employee. Another benefit is the ability to bring people in for short-term projects, which can be a great cost advantage. And although you are paying a premium for the applicant to cover the agency fee, you save money on payroll taxes and benefits.

Using an agency can also save time. Once you put your job specifications out to the agency, they do the work of interviewing and reference checking, freeing you up to do other tasks.

Choose your agency carefully and treat it like a valued partner. Allow the recruiters to present you with people who can help you in the short term — and, after you see how they perform and fit your culture, potentially for the long term.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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