Savvy organizations these days are turning to strategic staffing partners in order to secure highly in-demand talent — and gaining a competitive edge as a result. But before you join them, begin evaluating vendors or make adjustments to your talent acquisition strategy, it's crucial to first understand the four different types of staffing firms.

the four types of staffing firms 

temp firms

Temp firms, as the name suggests, have one area of focus: They place candidates on a temporary basis, often in response to short-term needs such as seasonal spikes in work volume or the emergence of new talent needs for projects or initiatives.  

full-service staffing firms

Full-service staffing firms offer broad-based services and have some of the most extensive capabilities for solving end-to-end business problems for their clients. While these are large companies like Randstad, they often have specialty business lines that can leverage domain expertise for clients in a wide range of talent markets — from life sciences to engineering, nursing and human resources. They’ll often bring proprietary technology solutions, with a focus on cost reduction, increased efficiency and growth.

retained search and executive search firms

While retained search and executive search firms share many common features, there are important differences. Whereas retained search is primarily used to source candidates for senior-level roles, executive search is used exclusively for executive-level candidates. Typically, executive search firms also focus on nurturing relationships with "passive candidates" — executive-level leaders who aren’t actively seeking new employment opportunities but are open to learning about an enticing offer.

boutique, niche and specialist firms

Boutique, niche and specialist firms make up the fastest-growing segment of the staffing ecosystem. These providers focus on building candidate pipelines within a specific skill area or geography, so they have limited capability to scale or deliver on diversified talent needs.

what kind of staffing partner should you work with?

temp firms

place candidates on a temporary basis

full-service firms

offer a comprehensive suite of HR services

retained and executive search firms

find candidates at either the senior or executive level

boutique, niche or specialist firms

focus on talent within specific skill sets and geographies

what to look for in a staffing partner

There are pros and cons that come with working with each of these types of staffing firms, ultimately depending on your business needs. But no matter what those are, your staffing partner should be able to deliver in the following four areas. 

a strong grasp on your talent acquisition needs 

Staffing firms that combine the latest tech with a human touch — and dedicated local experts who will get to know your business needs — are far more likely to deliver solid value over the long haul. Considering that your talent acquisition needs will likely change given today’s highly disruptive economic climate, your staffing partner should be able to deliver on-demand talent for virtually any skill area across industries. 

a best-in-class approach to employee engagement 

When employees aren’t engaged, your business suffers. And according to a Gallup poll, only slightly more than one third of U.S. workers are actively engaged at work. So it’s important to seek out a true partner and advocate — a human-oriented company that will not only source for the right skill set, but send you qualified candidates who are primed for growth and will fit in with your company. 

demonstrated expertise with employee retention 

Employee churn is a pervasive issue at too many companies today. And if employees are leaving your company only to join a competitor, that’s a double hit. So your prospective strategic partner should come prepared with solutions to help you not only hire, but also retain, high-value employees.

the latest and greatest workforce management tools

Technology investments can yield serious productivity and performance improvements, but that kind of change always comes with a price tag. The right strategic partner for your business will be able to provide access to sophisticated tools and proprietary solutions — that way, you can reap the benefits of the latest tech while minimizing risks and financial outlays.

a good staffing partner should have a:

  • strong grasp on your TA needs
  • best-in-class approach to employee engagement
  • demonstrated expertise with employee retention
  • the latest workforce management tools

Focus on these four areas and you should have no trouble finding the right staffing partner for your business. And if you still aren't sure what to look for when vetting vendors, check out these essential questions to ask when deciding on potential strategic partners, and be sure to review some of the other ways that staffing firms can power the growth of your business, too.  

Of course, it might seem easier in the short term to use existing talent to take on additional tasks. And it might seem daunting to recruit the skilled talent you really need. But burdening your existing team with extra work creates additional stress and often leads to burnout and employee turnover — costly outcomes.

Luckily, bringing on great new team members isn’t nearly as difficult as you think. By partnering with a staffing firm that can deliver deep insights into labor market conditions, innovative technology solutions and connections to thousands of qualified candidates, you’ll be on the path to building a best-in-class workforce soon.

Click here to get the complete guide to talent acquisition.