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staffing agency intake calls

Working with a staffing agency? Get the merits of intake calls for recruitment 

Hiring managers often avoid intake calls with their organizations’ staffing agency, in part because intake calls can feel like added time when time is of the essence. 

But successful intake calls aren’t painful or time-consuming. They’re brief, informal and focused on subtleties beyond the hiring timeline and the information contained in job descriptions. And, as a recent Society for Human Resource Management commentary observes, they set the stage for ongoing communications that contribute to efficient talent acquisition and workforce management processes. 

Intake calls help organizations’ talent sourcing partners better understand each client’s needs and goals to ultimately identify and present candidates who are optimal fits.  

The following is a closer look at how intake calls benefit organizations and sourcing agencies and how hiring managers can prepare for intake calls with their recruiting partners. 

Intake calls: unlocking the intangibles 

Intake calls help talent acquisition agencies gain a deeper understanding of precisely what skills, knowledge bases, and personal traits an organization seeks in candidates. Consider how the information that may arise during an intake call contrasts with the details in a job description

A job description contains the essentials about a given role but lacks the nuances that emerge from a personal connection. These nuances may be related to skill sets, project particulars associated with a certain position, or desired characteristics that apply to a specific role (such as “collaborative” or “self-motivated”). 

Intake calls allow your direct sourcing partner to ask questions that help them identify whether specialized skills not mentioned in a job description may be beneficial. Or whether the talent will be assigned to a specific project for which advanced experience would be advantageous. Or whether a candidate who thrives working independently would be better suited for a role than a candidate accustomed to cooperative work. 

A job description defines a role’s necessary skills and inherent responsibilities. An intake call offers an opportunity for sourcing partners to read between the lines and learn what organizations can and can’t live without in their talent. 

Intake calls and rate clarification 

Intake calls also present the chance to clarify and revise the bill rate, which includes the talent pay rate. This discussion can be especially productive when organizations seek contingent workers or contractors instead of regular, full-time employees. 

When working with a talent acquisition partner, many organizations consider the overall maximum bill rate but not what the talent is actually paid from that amount. If the pay rate for a defined position doesn’t align with the fair market value for the skills and experience the job demands, the intake call is a good time to make appropriate refinements. 

In today’s fast-paced, talent-centric labor market, where speed-to-hire is a driving factor in engaging top talent, many hiring managers are working with outdated rate cards or lack rate cards for new and emerging roles. Some compensate for this by agreeing to overspend on talent; others lose out on qualified candidates because their target rates and pay caps are too low. 

A knowledgeable sourcing partner can help ensure organizations pay their talent fairly and within their maximum bill rates. The intake call is an occasion to review a breakdown of the bill rate and make any tweaks to bring pay rates in line with fair market value and the wages of current employees. 

Intake calls foster enhanced value 

Intake calls aren’t just about asking and answering questions that strengthen your sourcing partner’s understanding of your organization, applicable job roles and ideal talent qualifications. They’re about sharing information and building a relationship that augments your recruiting partner’s long-term worth to your organization. 

An intake call permits your talent acquisition partner to gain perspective into your operations and culture that they can utilize in identifying and connecting with the appropriate talent. This perspective yields additional consultative value. 

Circle back, for example, to pay rates. While discussing pay rates for current and future resource needs, a sourcing provider may have recently updated information about the going rates for particular jobs and skill sets that aren’t reflected in an organization’s rate cards or payroll budget. A talent acquisition firm may be able to negotiate lower rates on your behalf or help you find ways to increase pay rates while staying within your maximum bill rate and budget. 

Speaking of future needs, an intake call can also prompt direct sourcing partners to keep an eye out for talent who may be good fits for forthcoming roles. An experienced partner further knows when talent for certain roles or with specific skills is scarce and can help its clients plan accordingly. 

Preparing for an intake call 

Hiring leaders shouldn’t dread intake calls. An effective intake call is concise and conversational. 

Intake calls require minimal preparation from hiring managers, though there are a few key factors that can promote a profitable discussion: 

      • Know your budget: Even if your organization hasn’t established firm pay rates for roles, know your maximum bill caps and the overall budget for the positions that need to be filled. 

      • Know the duration for the positions in question: Do contingent worker or contractor roles have definitive concluding dates or are they open-ended? 

      • Know the work model: If not indicated in the job description, be ready to verify whether a position’s work model is in-office, remote, or hybrid. Likewise, it’s crucial to establish if new hires will be provided with any equipment necessary for their jobs or if they are expected to supply their own. 

    Finally, hiring leaders should make a list of any questions they have about the sourcing process, candidates or resource availability. Working with a talent acquisition provider shouldn’t be a transactional process but a human affair that benefits all involved parties. 

    The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook

    We have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagements by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a step-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.


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    Working with a staffing agency? Get the merits of intake calls for recruitment 

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