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Do All Staffing Providers Walk the Walk?

Most buyers and temporary consultants believe all staffing providers do and say the same things. They appeal to customer desires for speed, quality, and fair prices, and claim to offer temporary consultants great career opportunity and consistent employment. However, alleging value and executing the behaviors necessary to add value are two very different things. Without identifying the connection between inputs and outcomes, staffing buyers and temporary consultants risk inappropriately disregarding value-added vendor behaviors as either unnecessary or status quo.

And the Customer Survey Says

While staffing buyers say they want quality resources and consultative account management, they do not always say they value the inputs required to achieve those goals.

Take reference checks for instance. Ninety percent of customers rate the ability of a staffing firm to provide high-quality resources as “very important.” One of the best methods to ensure a candidate is high-quality is to perform two, detailed reference checks with each candidate’s previous supervisors. Despite this fact, however, over one third of customers say that seeing two references for each candidate is “not valuable.”

The customer’s desire for account manager communication lends another insight. Seventy-five percent of customers say that an account manager’s expertise and ability to consult with them is of high value. However, over 40 percent also say they prefer email communications – a very non-consultative form of communication. Email communication is rated as the most preferred medium for communicating vendor capabilities, labor market trends and candidate qualifications.

Further analysis found that even though customers may not say they value certain provider behaviors that are required to achieve desired outcomes, they actually do. For example, the survey revealed that customers rated account managers who showed them two references for each candidate 22 percent higher than account managers who did not show two references.

And the Consultant Survey Says

Unlike buyers, consultants directly acknowledge the value of the specific behaviors that staffing companies conduct to drive their success. The survey findings reveal that consultants value the measures high-performing providers take to thoroughly understand their previous experience and career aspirations, share performance feedback when on assignment, and proactively initiate consecutive job placements.

Why might these behaviors increase favorability?

Present candidates in person or over the phone

Increases customer favorability 29 percent

The status quo: Many recruiting firms respond to requisitions by emailing the customer a multitude of resumes and hoping that at least one resume “sticks.” However, email submissions not only clog the customer’s inbox, they also fail to explain exactly why the candidate is truly right for the job.

Explaining the difference: A lot of candidate information is not included on the resume. When providers present candidates to customers in person or over the phone, they can share reference checks and other screening results to offer specific evidence of their candidate’s qualifications. In other words, they can be held accountable for sharing the due-diligence they performed with the candidate prior to submission. Meanwhile, the customer is given the opportunity to ask questions or clarify any areas of concern he may not be able to discern by reading the resume alone.

Present references upon submittal

Increases customer favorability 22 percent

The status quo: While most staffing firms say they check references, research suggests otherwise. Many companies make speed the top priority and sacrifice quality screening in the process. As a result, the hiring managers will likely pay more for a wrong hire when performance and attrition become problems.

Explaining the difference: Without at least two detailed and supervisory references, it is nearly impossible to know how qualified a candidate is for a position. Resumes can lie. Technical assessments may reveal potential, but not behavior and actual performance. By ensuring staffing firms share references upon submittal — complete with reference names and contact information — the customer is far better assured of the candidate’s true qualifications before making a hiring decision.

Conduct in-depth discussions with consultants

Increases customer favorability 47 percent

The status quo: Many recruiting calls are all about the recruiter’s needs. The recruiter wants to fill a requisition and is less concerned about how the open job fits in with the consultant’s career goals.

Explaining the difference: Consultants are not commodities, they are people. When recruiters take the time to understand a consultant’s skills, goals, and interests, they are building the right foundation for a relationship together. The consultant feels understood and the recruiter is in a far better position to act as a career resource rather than a job broker.

Discuss project performance with consultant

Increases customer favorability 49 percent and consultant favorability 60 percent

The status quo: Hiring managers have little time to provide performance feedback to each temporary worker. Moreover, co-employment concerns often restrict the hiring manager’s ability to share performance feedback directly with consultants. Because of these obstacles, most recruiting firms do not pursue feedback from hiring managers and their service largely drops off post-placement. From the consultant’s perspective, they are “placed and forgotten.”

Explaining the difference: Both the customer and the consultant benefit when a staffing company regularly executes two-way performance discussions. By speaking directly with each party about the status of the project and any possible issues, a staffing company can proactively manage any concerns, better drive consultant retention through the end of an engagement, and stay abreast of the customer’s evolving workforce needs.

Contact consultants about their next job

Increases favorability 28 percent

The status quo: Given the limited communication most consultants receive from their staffing providers post-placement, many consultants do not believe that their staffing providers care about securing another position for them once their current contract ends. Consequently, consultants feel insecure about their ability to remain consistently employed. Research shows most consultants begin looking for their next assignment halfway into a new assignment. Moreover, over 70 percent of consultants begin looking for their next assignment with at least a month left on their current one.

Explaining the difference: Consultants’ number one desire from a staffing company is “consistent employment.” Thus, consultants whose providers contact them about future opportunities are more likely to stay focused on their current job duties, simply because they are more confident about their future employment possibilities.


Talk is cheap, but aligning with the wrong staffing provider is not. Buyers and consultants alike can benefit from investigating their staffing providers’ internal processes. Without the necessary behavioral inputs, the outcomes customers seek will not be realized.

TEKsystems' Research Survey

TEKsystems, the leading provider of IT staffing and services, surveys its customer and consultant populations annually to better understand drivers of satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. The extensive surveys were developed by TEKsystems and conducted by an independent research firm through a web survey. More than 1,600 buyers and nearly 6,000 consultants from across the United States and Canada responded.