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If you are new to contract staffing, your first question may be “Where do I go for contract job orders?”  This brings up the old hiring manager vs HR debate. In the past, many recruiters would have advised you to go to the  hiring manager rather than human resources (HR). It was common for the direct hire and contract hiring processes to be completely separate, so much so that HR may not have been aware of open contract positions within organizations.  Many recruiters still believe strongly in going straight to the hiring manager.  But as companies increasingly turn to a blended workforce models that incorporate BOTH direct hires and contractors, some recruiters are finding that HR is directing ALL hiring efforts.  Therefore, you may find that bypassing human resources could cause you to miss out on some prime contract staffing opportunities.
Veteran contract staffing recruiter Linda Blakemore is a big proponent of starting with HR.  At the 2014 FoxHire National Convention, she gave a presentation on contract staffing in which she told recruiters that HR departments typically have the best feel for hiring, both direct and contract, throughout an entire organization.

“Recruiters are often surprised when I tell them I work with HR. They ask me, ‘Don’t they get in the way,'” said Blakemore, who is the owner of the Atlantic Pacific Group.  “I say, ‘No, I need them.’ Even if HR is not your niche, don’t be afraid to talk to them. They often know what needs to be filled.”

Here are a few reasons why Blakemore likes to start with HR:

  1. They can get you on the approved vendor list.  Many HR departments specifically tell hiring managers NOT to go to vendors. HR is often given the authority to choose the vendors, so if you want to get on the approved vendor list, you need to start with HR.
  2. They know what is going on in the organization. Because they deal with a wide range of employee issues, they can quietly give you a heads up when a future opening is likely, like when employees are on performance plans or someone is about to take a leave of absence.
  3. Get your foot in the door. HR is Blakemore’s main niche, but she has found by starting there, she often gets introduced to other areas of the organization, which leads to more job orders.
  4. Going around them could ruin your chances at future placements. “They hold onto the contracting piece very, very tightly,” Blakemore said. “If you try to back-door it, you aren’t going to win any brownie points.”

With smaller companies that don’t have an HR department, the hiring person may likely still be your go-to person. But when there is an HR department, you should try to keep them in the loop even if you already have an established relationship with a hiring manager or HR has given you the okay to work directly with the hiring managers. By doing so, Blakemore has not only received the appreciation and respect of the HR department, she has also received additional job orders because, again, HR knows which positions need to be filled throughout the entire organization.

“They appreciate the heads up on things so they don’t get blindsided,” Blakemore said.

So what do you think? Have you been more successful going to hiring managers or HR for contract job orders?

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