Evaluating SQL Server Staffing Companies
You’ve embarked upon a new job search to find your next opportunity and decided that it’d be beneficial to partner with a staffing company during your job search. However, with an industry of 10,000+ staffing companies, it can be challenging to identify a few firms who’ll be good organizations to work with, and once placed, work for. What are some tactics for identifying reputable staffing companies who’ll present you quality opportunities and who will offer value once you join their team?
We’ve broken down our top areas to evaluate when looking at staffing companies and specific questions you can ask to make a determination if it’s a company you’d like to work with.
Stability and Credibility: It’s a good practice to assess how long the organization has been in business, and also how long that individual office has been in existence. In addition, evaluate the credibility of the firm. For example, have they won any awards such as the ‘Best of Staffing’ or ‘Best Places to Work?’
Size: Is the firm local, regional, national or international? How strong is their presence in your local area? How many clients do they support? How many placements have they had in the last year overall and/or in your skill set?
Specialties/Concentrations: Keep in mind there are several different types of staffing firms. For example, firms have different focuses when it comes to the types of professionals they place. The ones which would be beneficial to identify are those who have a specific core staffing competency related to SQL Server. For example, our company is a Technology focused staffing firm, but we’re broken down into 13 Practice Areas, including a Database/BI Practice. We then have dedicated SQL Server Recruiters. So, when talking to a new staffing firm, it would be helpful to ask something like “Do you have a dedicated SQL Server Recruiter?” You want to build relationships with firms who support a variety of clients in your area that provide opportunities related to your skill set.
Relationship with Clients and Hiring Managers: Different firms have varying degrees of relationships with their clients. Some of this might also be beyond the control of the firm. For example, certain clients specify that you can’t communicate directly with Managers. Bottom line here is that it’s good to evaluate the firm’s overall stance on their “relationship management” practices with their Clients. Then, for individual positions, it’s a good best practice to ask the Recruiter “Do you have manager contact for this opportunity? If so, what’s your relationship like with this client and Manager? Have you placed anyone with my skill set at this company?”
Business Models: Staffing firms place professionals either on a contract, contract-to-hire or direct hire basis. Some firms will specialize on placing candidates using one, two or all of these models. Especially if you are interested in either purely contract work or finding a permanent work home, we’d advise you to determine early on in your conversations which business models that staffing firm supports.
Benefits and other Perks: The benefits coverage firms provide can vary drastically. Also, different firms provide various perks, such as training offerings, time off, corporate discounts, wellness programs, philanthropy activities, and more. Asking “What perks do you offer your Contractors/Employees?” can give you insight into any potential perks you might be able to take advantage of if you decided to work with that firm.
Replacement Help: A frustration we’ve heard throughout the years from technology professionals is that the staffing company they worked with didn’t do enough to help them find work once their project/contract finished. However, several firms offer programs or other offerings which help you find new employment.
Staff: It’s important that you’re comfortable with the recruiter(s) that you’re working with. How long has this recruiter been at the company? How long have they been in the staffing industry? For SQL Server professionals, how long have they been recruiting candidates for SQL-related positions? In addition to these questions, you want there to be a connection between you and your recruiter. We always recommend a face-to-face meeting with your recruiter if possible. That will help you decide whether or not they’re the right person to work with. You want to partner with a recruiter that is knowledgeable, positive, passionate, and loyal. Great recruiters care about their candidates and want to see them placed in a quality job that will be of interest to them. We’re going to do a follow-up tip next on how to effectively evaluate recruiters, so stay tuned for that!
It would be beneficial for you to assess staffing organizations that are contacting you, and ensure you’re working with firms who have a strong, stable and reputable presence in your market. If benefits and other perks are important to you, those are also things you want to address. Here are some specific questions you can ask firms going forward:
- How long has your firm been in business? How has your growth been the last couple years? How many markets do you support?
- Tell me about your local office. How large of a client base do you support? What industries do you serve? How many clients do you support who use SQL Server? How many SQL Server jobs do you typically see a month or quarter?
- What business models do you utilize? What is the breakdown of contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire positions you get in?
- What is your typical screening process?
- What benefits does your organization offer?
- Does your organization offer any other programs or services that support their Contractors/Employees?
- Do you offer any sort of training?
- If I’m on an assignment which is coming to an end, how does the company support me and help me find my next opportunity?
About the author
Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.
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Article Last Updated: 2014-10-20