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How to Choose the Right Staffing Partner for your Utilities, Energy, Infrastructure and Construction Talent Needs

It’s a competitive job market, with many firms fighting for top utilities, energy, infrastructure, and construction talent. Of all the staffing firms out there, how do you choose the best one for you?

You’ll get the best results from recruitment firms that intimately know your skillsets, industry, and what you’re looking for in an employee.

At its best, working with a staffing firm means having a strategic partner who understands your market so you can focus on your job / projects and not on figuring out exactly what combination of salary and benefits you must offer to recruit the talent you need.

The secret to getting this kind of leverage is using a staffing firm that specializes in your sector. Here’s why it’s critical to have the right partner and how to find the best one for you.

What to expect from a staffing partner specializing in the utilities, energy, infrastructure, or construction sector

A staffing firm should be more than just somewhere to get resumes. They should be a strategic partner.

While you’re doing what you’re good at, your recruitment partner is constantly keeping tabs on industry trends, expected salary ranges, and the real-time pulse of your market.

For example, if you need to fill a position for a Transmission Engineer, Construction Manager, Scheduler, Project Manager, or the like, you want a staffing partner who knows what the day-to-day operations of that position looks like. Are there transferrable backgrounds? What’s important to YOU as an employer? And, how is it best to screen candidates for that exact role? It is also helpful to be provided with the inside knowledge of what the candidate is likely to expect from you.

How to identify staffing firms in your industry

Even if you start your search on Google, look specifically for staffing firms that specialize in your sector. Search for “top staffing firms that support the utility, energy, infrastructure, or construction industry” rather than just “top staffing firms.”

Also, reach out to your contacts and ask for referrals. What companies have those referrals used in the past? What companies have they heard positive feedback on? Talk to employees who have worked on contract or with staffing firms, too. Research which agencies your competitors have partnered with. If a recruiter can find great people for your competitors, they can probably do the same for you.

Four questions to ask when evaluating a staffing firm

When evaluating staffing firms, what you really want to know is this: “What can you do for me and how can you do this better than anyone else?”

Here are four questions to ask:

1. What industry or sector do you specialize in?

Specialization is critical. When you work with a staffing firm specializing in your sector, you work with a real partner and someone who knows what you need and understands the talent market in your area.

For specialized firms, filling positions is about understanding what the position is and who is available, not just searching resumes for buzz words.

Remember, you want to partner with the best recruiter available for your industry, so don’t get hung up if they aren’t local to your headquarters, field office, or sites. Geography isn’t important at all. Existing and evolving technology allows staffing firms to recruit anyone, anywhere, anytime.

It’s also not about the size of the staffing firm, either. What’s important is how they track, identify, and represent talent — and these are things firms specializing in your sector can do differently and better than agencies that just look to scoop up everyone in a particular geographic radius.

2. What other companies or projects have you supported?

If a firm has obtained good results for other companies and projects in the same sector, they can probably do the same for you. What kind of positions / skillsets have they supported? If you’re in renewable / clean energy and they’ve placed five positions in your sector, but they’re not relatable to the skillsets you need, the agency needs to be honest about that!

They might still be able to get you a great placement, but they will likely need more clarification about exactly what you’re looking for. And, it may take them longer to source the right candidates for your role.

3. How do you go about vetting candidates?

You want a recruiter that gets candidates on the phone — that knows what to ask them and how to interpret their answers in the moment and not over long email chains.

If a firm only interacts with candidates by email, subpar candidates can be Googling their answers to questions as they reply. When your strategic staffing partner understands your sector and your job, they can also listen for the right kind of expertise and experience when they speak to candidates.

4. What is working with you going to be like?

Potential staffing partners should explain the process, expectations, and timeline, and walk you through the service agreement to be sure there aren’t any surprises. They should also be upfront about roles they won’t be able to help with. If you meet a staffing firm that is willing to take on any opening you have, make sure they either understand those jobs, or are honest that it would be a new skillset for them. Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean they can’t do it. But honesty is key.

You’re Ready!

These four questions will help you to determine if a staffing partner will be able to serve your needs and give you a solid idea of what working with them will be like. Honesty is key! Every quality staffing firm will be transparent with you about what they can and cannot do, and what to expect from your collaboration.

By taking the time to find the right staffing firm specializing in the utilities, energy, infrastructure, or construction sectors, you’ll be able to get better candidates while spending less time focused on hiring.

Photo credit: Canva

by Alex Sarcina, Director, Energy & Infrastructure, Planet Forward