Does your business need short-term help during a busy period? Are you short-staffed and in need of a permanent employee? Are you looking for people to work in your office or to work from home?

Talent solutions come in all sizes: contract, seasonal, permanent, contract-to-permanent, project-based, remote, on-site, one employee, an entire team — the best hiring strategy can be as unique as each individual business’s needs. A top-notch employment agency prioritizes for those needs.

They also give you quick access to highly skilled professionals you might not find on your own. And they do the heavy lifting with hiring, easing your workload — and stress load — and providing the peace of mind that no details regarding the new hire will slip through the cracks and none of your important projects will be delayed while you sift through resumes.

So how do employment agencies work — and how can you work most effectively with them? Here are five tips for optimizing your experience:

1. Engage a specialized employment agency

When you turn the hiring process over to recruitment professionals, make sure the agency specializes in the type of personnel you need, be it for roles in accounting, marketing or other areas of your business. Nonspecialized or generalist firms work with a broad variety of candidates, so finding someone with the exact skills and qualifications you need is more difficult and takes longer than if you work with a firm that’s focused on your field — and likely already knows at least a couple candidates who could succeed in your open position.

In addition, specialized talent solutions firms have a better sense of the candidate marketplace in your industry and can effectively evaluate candidates’ experience and skills. Getting a great match on the first try saves you time and money.

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2. Communication is key

Try to speak with a recruitment manager directly rather than communicating only via email. They’ll ask you about your hiring requirements and the length of time you need extra help, be it for a week or for a permanent role.

Make sure you create a job description that completely describes the position’s responsibilities so your agency knows the skills the candidate must have. Your recruiter can help with this, and we’ve come up with a blueprint for creating a job description that can simplify the process.

Also mention any policies your business follows, such as dress code, remote work, work hours — including how you handle overtime — and breaks. These details help your representative get a sense of your corporate culture and what type of professional is likely to succeed at your company. When you feel you’ve clearly defined your needs, the recruiter will start the search immediately.

From there, the employment agency will post your job opening, review resumes, conduct initial applicant evaluations via phone, negotiate salary and benefits based on your parameters, perform background checks, and more. All you need to do is conduct in-person or video interviews and pick your top candidate.

3. Get ready, get set …

A good recruiter doesn’t stop once a hire is made. Agencies like Robert Half can help you with your onboarding checklist so your office and teams are prepared to accommodate your newcomer, whether they’re permanent or contract. Simple tips include making sure space, equipment, email and other basics are ready before the employee’s first day. But there’s more you can do to help new people feel like part of the team from the start:

  • Ensure a smooth beginning by providing an orientation, even for contract workers. Make all appropriate team introductions and designate a point person for any questions that may arise.
  • Be inclusive and encourage team bonding by inviting the new worker to staff functions such as lunches, team meetings and other group discussions. This is especially important for remote employees, who can participate via videoconference.
  • Check in with your new staff members, as well as those they interact with, to evaluate how they mesh with the team. Even if contract workers have the necessary skills for the job, it’s important to achieve a good fit with your corporate culture as well.

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4. Follow up with the employment agency

Providing feedback about the new worker to your talent solutions representative helps both you and the recruiter with any future talent searches. Notify the agency at once if there are any problems, and let the recruiter know what specific aspects of the individual’s performance have stood out, positively or otherwise.

5. Weigh fees vs. costs

For you, the client, there are fees associated with using an employment agency, but the overall cost is typically a net savings for you if you choose the right firm, especially in the long run. Finding qualified, skilled employees can be complicated and time-consuming, so you save time, money and potential frustration by turning over this process to recruiting experts.

Plus, the most reputable employment agencies are likely to offer a satisfaction guarantee. So if you aren’t happy with the worker, the firm will find a replacement. And if you build a relationship with the agency, not only do your savings add up over time, you also have an easy go-to you know you can trust when it’s time to hire.

Now that you can answer the question of how employment agencies work, be sure to communicate your goals and needs to the recruiters every step of the way. That will put you in the best position to maximize your working relationship with them.