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0206 HR Magazine: Using Temps in HR

By Lisa Daniel   2/1/2006

HR Magazine, February 2006


Vol. 51, No. 2

Using Contingent Staff for Recruiting

Until recently, Manpower Inc.-known for providing staffing services to businesses-used outside recruiters. But the company brought the function in-house, says Allan McKisson, vice president of HR, North America, for the Milwaukee-based firm.

"Our strategic competencies are in talent development and effectiveness," he says. "We don't want a generic approach; we want it aligned with our Manpower brand."

Manpower's decision to keep recruiting as a staff-only function runs counter to the trend of employers contracting with contingent recruiters. In fact, 28 percent of all recruitment specialists are now temporary workers, according to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jeremy Eskenazi, SPHR, managing principal of Riviera Advisors, a Long Beach, Calif., firm that specializes in internal recruiting, says companies may use outside recruiters when they don't have the recruiting skills in-house or when they don't need to employ full-time recruiters.

"For recruitment, [using contingent workers] is a no-brainer, if they are skilled and qualified. I've used one for years," says Lyn Langmade, PHR, director of human resources for McQuay International, a manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in Plymouth, Minn.

"By far, recruiting is where contingent workers are most successful," Eskenazi says. That may be because they are so motivated. Contract recruiters tend to be much more entrepreneurial than typical HR workers, he says. "They make a very good living-$50 to $100 an hour in major metro areas-and they like that they can move from one company to another. They're not cheap, and their reputation is solid. If they mess up, they're dead in the water."

Andy Steinem, CEO of Dahl-Morrow International, an executive search firm in Leesburg, Va., agrees. Steinem's clients contract with recruiters to help fill low- and mid-level positions. "They're good workers," she says of contingent recruiters. "They're driven. They're salespeople."

Using contingent workers for recruitment does present potential drawbacks. But there are ways to alleviate these concerns. For example, some managers worry that outside recruiters will treat recruitment like high-pressure sales. But Steinem points out that managers can structure the contract either with or without commissions for successful recruitment, or can request that the contractor work in the client's office for more oversight.

Langmade, who uses contingent recruiters, also has found ways to address the inherent limitations of the position. She requires that recruiters immediately divulge their contingent status to job candidates. That way, the company's own managers can field candidates' questions about culture and working environment-issues about which a contingent recruiter may have little or no knowledge.

And Cindy Burns, PHR, has found that helping contracted recruiters gain a strong understanding of the company is key. Burns, HR director at AAF International, a manufacturer of air filtration products and systems in Louisville, Ky., turned to an independent contractor when her HR staff couldn't keep up with an urgent need for more sales professionals. Ultimately, the recruiters didn't go after the right kinds of candidates.

"I don't think [the recruiters] really, truly understood our business and how it operates," says Burns. Her company's salespeople "do everything from making formal presentations to hospital engineers to climbing on rooftops and getting inside a filtration unit. We need people who are that flexible. Too often, recruiters only [recruit] purchasing guys, and that's not how we do business."

Burns, like many HR professionals, had a specific need. Those needs are leading to temp agencies and contractors who specialize not only in HR, but also in industries. Burns recently contracted with recruiters who specialize in HR for the filtration industry. "So far, so good," she says.

-Lisa Daniel

Lisa Daniel is a freelance business writer in Burke, Va. 
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