An ongoing Review of Guns, HIred Guns and Warm Bodies
Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies provides a lot of information on the what of the staffing agency. Barley and Kunda do a great job providing objective descriptions of the players in employment, but the "why" can't really be described in a study.
They do however, provide information for us to analyze:
"I get literally, two or three calls a day from these contracting shops. 'This is Joe at Pyramid Consulting and we're just calling to see if you have needs.' Some of these guys call me once a week. It's the same person every week. No matter how many times I say no, no matter how many times I don't return calls, they jut call over and over and over. It's brute force. I get hundreds of these little companies calling me." Most managers found cold calls from agents to be disruptive, unpleasant and time consuming. Shirely Daner was clear on this point. " I hate them," she told us. "They're like use car salespeople, except they're selling people instead of cars."
The chapter then goes on to explain that this process, as distasteful as a hiring manager may say they find it, is often the way they hired. It worked for the agencies, the contractors and the companies. It worked, and thus is continues. .
This the essential dilemma in staffing relationships. Agencies are reacting to the employment needs of the hiring manager in the only manner that works. If their internal departments, or some other kind of consulting salesmanship worked to place contractors and help these businesses, it would be used.
For the vast majority of hiring managers, taking calls is part of the job. And when they are in a rush - when they actually need that talent quickly - they're grateful that there was someone there who calls every week at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday to ask if he or she has needs.
This brutal pace is also what leads to such high turnover. Most people don't take rejection well - and account managers in staffing are no exception. Managers often tell you that they want personal relationships and that they will call you when they have needs. They do call, but only after you've established a relationship. Without cold-calling, how are you going to form that relationship?
The summary of the chapter describes the problem hiring managers faced. They (and the contractors) believed the best source of hiring was their personal network, but the quality of the network never matched the quantity of the need. The staffing firms understood the sales and marketing aspects, but their quality was often suspect overall (not for a specific job order or candidate).
Staffing agencies fill an information void on available contractors, which is why they exist, and why they get paid. A pretty simple explanation, but one we forget when that phone rings.