How Do IT Placement Agencies Work?

by HSG on Apr 21, 2014 in Articles from Software Fans

There are normally two sides to the story when it comes to employment. On one hand, employers hold the view that the right candidate is a hard find; while on the other, job hunters think that it’s a tasking affair to land a decent job out there.

Regardless of which side of the divide you lay, landing good work or workers is a tedious endeavor. For those looking to hire, a single job opening could attract hundreds or thousands of applicants. Sifting through the lot in hope of finding the right fit is no doubt time consuming. Conversely, a job seeker may hold the opinion that he or she is submitting resumes into the big black hole of the Internet, never really anticipating a response, but nevertheless sending them out rather than sit back doing nothing.

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A recruitment agency normally keeps an internal database of applicants and resumes for current and future opportunities. They first do a database search to try and identify qualified and screened candidates from their existing crop of talent. Most often the case, they’ll also post open positions online through industry websites and job boards so as to net other possible applicants.

When it comes to IT staffing needs, HR managers even find a more challenging process in their hands. This is because the IT department is one of the most sensitive in any given organization where a single slip-up could be disastrous for the company (think data security, think finances when the IT guys are working in tandem with accounts). You get the picture, right?

Enter placement agencies. Placement agencies, or recruitment/staffing agencies are companies hired by firms looking for help with their staffing needs. They find job seekers of all kinds of jobs, be it temporary or full-time, across a wide range of career fields. Whatever kind of employee a company needs, a placement agency can find the right employee. True this may be, but some people do have their reservations regarding staffing agencies as you can find out from this article.

The marketplace today is flooded with IT placement agencies: from the large one-stop shops to the small niche talent providers, they’re everywhere. It is when deciding which to go with that many aspects of an IT staffing firm come to the fore. Assuming you’re looking at it from an HR perspective though, how do you separate the chaff from the grain?

What to Consider when Choosing an IT Placement Agency

The Vetting Process

Majority of firms overlook the thorough recruiting processes and simply brush through resumes that aren’t likely to be a fit, thereby wasting time and resources. Ensure that the company you decide to work with has a keen recruiting engine that meticulously interviews and chooses appropriate candidates for submittal.

 The Recruiting Strategies

Once you ascertain that the placement agency has a recruiting team, it’s good to find out how they go about the recruitment process. Is it social media they are using to attract candidates? Are they members of networking groups and sites such as LinkedIn? This is one way recruiting agencies can be attractive in this digital age, according to one source.

Visit their website to have a glimpse of the kind of thought leadership their team has: are the recruiting teams cut out for their work in terms of subject matter expertise and strong knowledge management? These are qualities that cannot be underestimated for a recruiting engine that prides itself in being effective, which if found lacking, could lead to poor sourcing and subsequent poor hiring.

Background Checking

Checking the company’s references is something that cannot be ignored from a human resource perspective. Consider it a red flag if the firm is reluctant to produce at least three clients who they have worked for and could serve as their strong references.

An IT firm should be above board and very willing to show its client references: the more experienced, the better, according to this source. Know about their customer retention rates: do most of their clients bail out after a short stint with them? If so, why? Checking references of the IT agency you plan on hiring is as crucial as for an employee you plan on bringing on board.

Time to Source

Another thing to factor in is how long it takes an IT placement agency to source appropriate candidates for the positions that need to be filled. You could determine an average timeframe by checking with their sales and recruiting teams. Consider it a red flag if the time from receipt of a requirement to a candidate submittal is unusually long, or all over the board.

The firm needs to have an ample talent management database and well-versed recruiting team that knows where to swiftly source particular technologies. Consider looking elsewhere if they don’t.

Hit Rate

The hit rate in this case is the number of candidates they submit to their clients that end up getting hired. This is a metric you cannot underestimate since it serves as the final product of the agency’s sales and recruiting strategies. The hit rate will be high if the sales team is cut out for its work and understands the needs of its clients well, as well as capable of conducting a solid recruitment drive. Below 50 per cent and again, it’s time you considered going with another company.


We cannot exhaust this list without the mention of price. This is one of the determining factors for many a company when choosing the appropriate IT staffing firm. It should be, however, one of the last deciding factors. Of course, if the rates beat the market average by a substantial margin, you could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow.

The rate charged by an agency is a reflection of its efforts in producing the most suitable match for a given position. This does not justify inflating the prices above the roof though. Majority of the companies out there are willing to share their charges with their clients, allowing some level of disclosure. If they are unable to, then it might be another reason to keep looking.

Last Word

Hiring the right IT placement agency is not as simple as it sounds and should definitely not be centred around price alone. It takes time and effort to sift through the sea of firms available and landing the best one.

If you bear these tips in mind though, it will raise your likelihood of choosing a firm that will work with you in slashing the sourcing, recruiting and hiring time.



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