Small businesses often lack a human resources department or HR professional to handle recruiting and hiring. This can make it difficult to compete with larger firms for top talent.

Making the decision to work with a staffing firm can be difficult, especially in light of the fees that are associated with using a third-party. However, the cost of a bad hire can be disastrous for a small company. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average cost for each bad hire can equal 30% of that person’s annual earnings. A survey by Career Builder found that hiring the wrong person for a position costs companies nearly $17,000 on average.

Working with a staffing expert to hire the right person for your small business can be more cost-efficient than engaging in a long, drawn-out hiring process or making a hurried choice. Whether you are looking for a temporary, part-time, or full-time employee, a professional staffing firm will take a proactive approach to helping you find the best candidates and serve as your long-term partner for recruiting and hiring.

Employing these five simple strategies will help you get the most out of working with a staffing firm:

1 – Look for relevant expertise.

One of the greatest advantages of partnering with a staffing firm is the access they have to a large network of candidates and connections. Professional staffing firms often have relationships with workers that are skilled, dependable, and available to fill a vacancy quickly. In addition, experienced passive candidates typically seek out successful recruiters, giving these firms access to skilled workers who may not be actively seeking new employment.

That said, it is essential that you choose a staffing firm that can fill your specific needs. There are agencies that specialize in fields ranging from accounting and bookkeeping to marketing and web design. Their depth of targeted industry knowledge helps ensure that candidates and employers are well-matched.

Before you start your search, determine if you need employees for a short- or long-term assignment, permanent job placement, or some combination. Then narrow your list of staffing firms to those that specialize in your industry, type of operation, and the types of employees you need. Keep in mind that a candidate from a specialized firm will often be more skilled than a lower-cost candidate from a general staffing firm.

2 – Clearly convey your requirements.

The clearer you are about the candidate you’re looking for, the better chance a recruiter has of finding a good fit between employee and employer. Communicate your exact requirements, including hard skills as well as soft skills like personality type and the ability to adapt to certain environments. Take the time to discuss your company culture or consider inviting your recruiter to visit your workplace. This will give them a good sense of your current staff, the work environment, and the type of person who is likely to do well in your organization.

An experienced staffing firm may also be able to advise you on whether temporary, part-time, or full-time employees will best suit your needs. Not every job requires a full-time worker, and engaging interim professionals will allow you to address workload peaks and access specialized expertise only for as long as you need it.

3 – Give one assignment to one agency.

Business owners often choose to work with multiple staffing firms, but it is important to avoid overlapping when filling a single position. Doing so can compromise your relationship with an agency if they find a prospect for a position that has been filled by another firm. It can also be confusing to job applicants, damaging the way job seekers view your small business and costing you qualified candidates.

4 – Keep in touch.

Your relationship with a staffing agency does not end when an employee accepts your job offer. Professional staffing firms that focus on building relationships with job seekers and business owners have a stake in the success of both parties. During the first few weeks a new employee is on the job, review his or her progress with your agency representative. Staying in touch and providing feedback helps the recruiter better understand how to serve you and help you make the right hires in the future.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, not every new hire works out. A reputable staffing agency will be more than willing to work with you to determine why the employee was not a good fit and find an alternative solution.

5 – Take advantage of agency resources.

Many staffing firms offer courses and training resources to registered candidates before and after they have been hired. Ask about these benefits, and encourage prospective candidates to take advantage of them. This will help ensure you get capable workers with appropriate skill sets and industry specialization. Professionals can typically augment their job skills for free, a perk that benefits all involved.

For a small business without a human resources department, engaging the services of a staffing firm can fill the void with the required hiring experience and knowledge. If you have HR staff, outsourcing the recruiting process to experienced professionals will allow your team to focus on interviewing only the most highly qualified candidates. By working with a staffing agency, you can achieve your business goals, build a team that is dedicated to helping your company grow, and save valuable time and money.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.