Remember these 4 things when hiring consultants to do real work

Brad Porter, President of Porter Consulting

4thingsWhen I became a marketing manager at a large technology company, I faced my first staffing challenge. I remember talking to my own manager, who gave me an assignment for my team to take on. I didn’t have the bandwidth to do the work myself, and giving it to one of my team would have meant another task getting dropped. I was stuck. A mentor of mine advised me to hire a short term consultant to take on the work. After I determined the budget, I proceeded to bring on that person. That process proved really challenging.

First, I had to write up a description of the tasks to be done, and then hand it off to HR who went to a large, nationally known contract staffing agency. After talking to the representative at the staffing agency, who was a very junior person, I began receiving resumes for potential candidates. None of the candidates were very qualified—none were even worth bringing in to interview.

In the meantime the short term project was limping along with one of my team working on it ‘over lunch’ – in other words not getting done. After a couple of months, I was able to find a marginal candidate to do the work. After repeatedly explaining the work to the contractor, they were finally able to finish the task. But, to tell you the truth, I could have probably done it faster myself in my spare time. Numerous times I had to explain all of the details and logic behind the project; I even had to re-do some of it. The entire experience was extremely frustrating. What I needed was someone who was experienced and could take the project and run with it. That was not what I got.

Although the concept of hiring short term, project-based staff seemed like a great idea, the reality of the process was not. That’s because most staffing agencies don’t really understand what you are looking for and/or they don’t have the network in place to find specialized candidates quickly. Years later, when I started my own company, staffing and team extension was one of the first areas I focused on.

If you are a technology firm and need to hire qualified staff for a project or you want to try out an experienced professional to fill an open position, keep these 4 key rules in mind.

1. Start early – Talk with an experienced staffing firm at the beginning of the project, when the need is still fresh in your mind. They may ask you to write everything down. Do as much as you can, but make sure you talk to someone and describe your need.

2. Seek someone who really gets it – Ideally, the person you are working with at the staffing firm should have walked a mile in your shoes. He or she feels like a peer; someone who understands your project needs and has probably felt the same pain at some point in their career.

3. Demand expertise – Make certain that the firm can provide you with quality people who have years of experience in the area they are being hired for. You don’t want to waste valuable time training someone who should be an expert. Of course, you will need to teach them some specifics of the project, so these experts should also be fast learners.

4. Ensure a broad network – Make sure the staffing firm you use has a large network of not only experienced people, but people who can step in and take on projects quickly and efficiently.

This approach has worked for our company for the past 16 years. Our team at Porter Consulting is efficient, knowledgeable, easy to work with, and ready to meet almost any need. If you have any staffing concerns, feel free to contact me at brad(at)portertest(dot)net.


Brad is a 30 year veteran of marketing who understands the value of content that helps close business.  You can find more blogs and content from Brad atwww.porterconsulting.net.

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