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3 Must-Ask Questions for Choosing a Staffing Agency


In my previous blog post, I talked about why medical staffing is dominating the recruiting industry and how this sector is projected to grow immensely in the years to come. Some other sectors are on the upswing, as well. For instance, technical staffing was a close second to medical, representing 33 percent of the Staffing Industry Analysts’ list of top firms, while 35 percent were medical staffing firms.


With more firms popping up in these burgeoning sectors, businesses in need of talent will have the luxury to shop around for the best firms to use. You have to be careful in choosing though. Even the big names in staffing don’t work for every company. There are several factors to consider in your selection. Otherwise, you may waste your time and money only to receive a disappointing selection of candidates.


Regardless of your industry, every business owner needs to ask themselves a few questions before seeking out a staffing firm. These three must-ask questions will guide you in making your selection.


How many employees do you need?


This one’s easy. When allocating your budget, you should know exactly how much your staff can stand to grow and where. The number of employees you need will affect which staffing firm you choose. If you need to fill numerous positions, especially if theses are entry level positions, you may want to go with a large firm with a huge database of candidates.


The catch with big firms, however, is that as big as their candidate selection may be, you’ll have to compete with the firm’s many other clients to get the top talent. If skill level isn’t necessarily a concern and you just need sheer numbers, the big firm is your best bet. If you need a handful of highly qualified employees, a smaller boutique firm will give you exactly what you need. It all boils down to a matter of quality or quantity.


How much time do you have to fill these positions?


A severe time crunch can wreck your chances of employing top talent if you don’t find the right firm. In my industry, it’s not uncommon for a client to need a specialty medical provider onsite within 60 to 90 days. Otherwise, the understaffed facility may not be able to provide the quality care its patients need. If we fill the position on time but with a less than stellar candidate, that too would be a disaster. The stakes are high in healthcare but in many other industries, as well.


Of course, it’s no easy feat finding candidates on a strict time constraint. You could go with a large firm who can dump a huge number of candidates for you to choose. But that means you’ll have to spend more of your own time sifting through stacks of resumes to find the right people.


Something else to consider is the cost of turnover in your industry. Even if you need a lot of employees, it may be more advantageous to take your time and find the best candidate who will contribute to your business long term. Healthcare facilities, in particular, need to be careful about turnover. Replacing a single physician costs over one million dollars on average. It also doesn’t help that the healthcare industry has the second highest turnover rate at almost 20 percent, behind hospitality at 28.6 percent.


Balancing the time constraint with the need for manpower is tricky, but even if you pay more for a firm who can deliver top talent on time, you’ll probably end up saving big in the long run. Always remember, your employees are your best investment.


How many staffing firms are you willing to use at a time?


This one depends on how many specialized staffing firms serve your industry. Some staffing firms are highly niche, while others may cover multiple industry sectors and even multiple industries. What works for you depends entirely on the nature of your business and how much you’re willing to spend.


If you have a huge company or your industry has a severe shortage of talent, you may consider using more than one staffing firm. For example, 30 percent of medical facilities use four or more staffing companies to find locum tenens physicians.


That being said, it may also be worthwhile to find a single firm who can satisfy all of your needs. This strategy can lead to a stronger working relationship between you and your firm. The firm can get a better sense of your company’s big picture, as well as the nuances of your workplace culture. That way, the firm will be better equipped to find candidates who not only meet your qualifications but also have a great personality fit with your organization.


As recruiters, we’re in the business of people, and something every good recruiter knows is how much a person’s performance can vary with the environment. A candidate may look perfect on paper, but the placement won’t work if the person’s personality, values, work style, etc. doesn’t jibe with the organization.




There’s no shortage of good staffing firms. But, then again, “good” is such an arbitrary word. What you need is the right firm for you. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Every firm has its strengths and weaknesses. Some can deliver candidates quickly, but the selection might be mediocre. Some might have a small candidate pool, but those candidates may be phenomenal. It all depends on what you need.


Choose wisely, though. Your employees are your most valuable asset, so you want the people responsible for supplying them to have your best interests in mind.