Arnold Kahn August 18, 2003 -- The recent success of the National Do Not Call Registry and proposed SPAM legislation has the potential of funneling marketing dollars previously earmarked for telemarketing and email campaigns back into direct mail and advertising budgets. In addition, recent innovations in personalization software, coupled with variable data technology and versatility found in digital printing equipment, may have marketers looking at printing in a whole new light. While nobody can predict how these hotly-debated topics will affect the near-term future of the printing industry, but the fact remains that many companies in the graphic arts industry face challenges with filling key positions within their organizations. While these challenges vary, many hiring managers, executives, and human resource departments often turn to outside staffing agencies to fill important roles within their companies. There are many staffing firms available ranging in size, expertise, types of candidates, etc. Finding the right staffing partner is key to finding the right candidate. Whether you are in the early stages of your search, or about to sign a contract, there are a number of criteria for the hiring company to consider. What Not to Look For Avoid staffing firms or outside recruiters that do nothing more than collect resumes, provide them to you with a copy of their contract and use this as a strategy to get your business. More than likely, they have learned about the open position by some other means, have led the “candidates” into thinking that you are actually a trusted client of theirs and won’t reveal your company’s name until the candidate hands over a resume. Don’t fall victim to the “I have to protect my candidate’s current position by not revealing their name at this time.” You don’t want to spend time getting excited about a prospective candidate only to find out that you fired the person 5 years ago. What To Look For Know your potential staffing partner. Do a thorough check on their references or ask for a partial client list. In addition, try to get a sense of the staffing firm’s track record; i.e., successful placements and retention record. Find out what sectors of the industry they work well in, what management level of candidates they place, and the quality of candidates they bring to the table. Try to get a sense of how big is the staffing firm’s stable and how quickly they can put qualified candidates in front you or your hiring managers. Some firms will only begin a search once they have your business and do nothing more than scour Internet job boards for resumes. How knowledgeable is the staffing firm about your industry, market, or the positions you are looking to fill? Their expertise should be close to your own in order to pre-screen and interview potential candidates. Look for someone with hands-on experience in the graphic arts industry, someone who knows what skills are valuable for the positions you’re trying to fill. Will the staffing firm back the candidate with a money-back guarantee if the candidate moves on within a certain timeframe? Just offering to replace the candidate won’t always ensure the firm will find a suitable replacement on short order. Very few firms provide this guarantee, and it's quite reassuring when they do. Building a solid relationship with your staffing partner will provide you far greater returns than using job boards or newspaper advertising. These methods are not cost effective if you have to sort through hundreds of unwanted resumes and conduct a host of wasted phone interviews searching for the right candidate. A top notch staffing firm that is committed to working with you for the long run will provide you with a far more manageable number of qualified candidates. In addition, they take the task of prescreening the candidates well before you interview them. Plus, the staffing firm can also serve as an effective bridge between you and the candidate who is actively employed and must conduct his/her search with discretion so as not to compromise their present position.