A trend that began with the Great Recession and continues to reshape the economy is the move by companies to use contract workers to meet staffing needs.  Employment forecasts by Career Builder point to a steadily increasing number of companies, 46 percent in 2015, with intentions to hire contractors. The IT sector is no exception, with CIO.com predicting employees will continue to shift their focus from full-time work to contracting and freelancing.

There is no shortage of companies eager to help IT professionals navigate this sea change in the job market. But there are some key points to consider in making a selection. Regardless of whether the individual is actively pursuing opportunities, or even if they are not looking at the moment, there is no substitute for quality.

“Ideally, we want to build a long lasting business relationship. It’s not just about what we can do for them now, but what can we do for their career trajectory,” said Bill Courtney, Director of Recruiting at TDK Technologies (TDK). “There is an established business approach among some IT staffing companies where the accepted candidate representation process is to just take resumes and sling them out the door and hope it turns into a placement. But our business is not just about making placements. It’s about developing a quality relationship between our consultants and our clients.”

“We have quality-driven processes to ensure we find the right position for our candidates. We don’t want to send them some place and find out it’s not a match skill-wise or culture-wise. We try to do everything we can to make sure it’s going to be a successful partnership on both sides,” said Kelly Gough, TDK IT Recruiter.

Quality Process is Key

Candidates who work with TDK Technologies go through a carefully crafted process designed to qualify them for positions.  At the heart of the process are in-person meetings and technical screenings for Software Developer (Java and .NET), Project Management, Business Analyst, and Quality Assurance positions. Members of the company’s Projects team also assist in the technical assessments.

“We look at the data points. If enough points align between the opportunity the candidate is looking for and the specific type of candidate our client is seeking, we have a good quality match. But it’s not just about the data, it’s also about relationships – a feeling, a bonding and a rapport -- that comes with getting to know the candidates,” Courtney said. “It’s a great process and one I firmly believe in.”

Recruiters at TDK receive ongoing technical training and education on emerging technologies. The training helps recruiters comprehend the complexity of a candidate’s technical background. It also contributes to determining whether a candidate is a quality match for positions where they have interest.  

“The people who actually are interested in our process, those who aren’t immediately put off by it, realize it’s a good thing. It helps us figure out the best place for that person,” Gough said. “When companies see a resume from TDK, they have come to expect it will be for a quality candidate who has been properly vetted.”

Resume Help and Interview Preparation

One of the areas where placement firms can have a big impact for the candidates they represent is when the resume is presented. TDK Technologies offers resume writing assistance, which enables this essential first impression to be as effective as possible.

“Even the best communicators - business analysts, project managers, people who write and communicate for a living - don’t necessarily write good resumes. We are going to give them advice on their resume. We will partner with them to produce the most effective representation of their work history that we can,” Courtney said. “That’s something they won’t get on their own.”

Another area where placement firms can help candidates is interview preparation. Before each interview, candidates prepare with their TDK Recruiter and the Business Development Manager.

“Our interview preps are in depth. We talk about interview best practices, questions to ask, questions to stay away from, how to dress, how to present yourself and how to effectively close the interview,” Courtney said. “When someone walks into an interview, we know they are 100 percent ready.”

Tapping into the Entire Job Market

Candidates who work with placement firms get access to more employment opportunities than they could find on their own. For a variety of reasons, many companies don’t post their openings on job sites. Such companies turn to placement firms to help fill positions.

“In some instances, companies have smaller HR departments that can’t put a lot of force behind their recruiting efforts, so they utilize placement companies. There will be opportunities we can get for our candidates that they are not going to be exposed to by looking on job sites,” Courtney said. “We have a wide and varied client list; from Fortune 500 companies to small-and-mid-sized companies. We can read the market pretty well based on those clients, especially in terms of who is hiring and for what skill sets.”

The IT industry average is 39 days from the time a resume is submitted for a position until a job offer is made to a candidate. Candidates often spend the interim wondering about the status of their application.

“We operate very transparently. We provide continuous feedback during the process. If we submit a candidate for a position, we will keep them informed about the status. A knock on a lot of recruiters is that once a resume is submitted, candidates never hear from the staffing company or recruiter that submitted them,” Courtney said.

Once a candidate is placed in a position, TDK handles the onboarding process as well. That includes orientation, pre-employment background checks and drug screenings. And for the duration of the assignment, consultants receive compensation and benefits through TDK.

“There are a lot of things that run through people’s minds. Benefits are a big one. We have a full suite of benefits that a lot of the other staffing companies don’t provide. Or if they do provide them, it’s at a much higher cost,” Gough said.

Follow up and continuing communication with candidates is also a priority.  If a contract is ending, TDK will begin marketing efforts for other opportunities for the candidate.

“We always try to be in contact. We won’t just send someone out without several touch points. That’s not who we are. It’s not how we work. We are establishing a relationship,” Gough reiterated. 

An IT pro who'll take the time to learn my business. Is that too much to ask?