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Venezuelan refugees and their receiving communities need funding, not sympathy

February 2021 update

The number of Venezuelan refugees in the world has continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace, potentially because of the restrictions on human mobility imposed by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Since the end of 2019, about 700,000 more Venezuelans have fled the country, reaching a total of 5.3 million people by the end of 2020. If we consider 2015 as the first year of the Venezuelan mass exodus, the magnitude is remarkably similar to the number of Syrian refugees by 2016 (5.5 million), five years after the beginning of the Syrian crisis (see Figure 1).

Refugee population stock from start of conflict

Yet, despite the remarkable similarity in terms of both magnitude and evolution between these two groups of refugees (Syrians and Venezuelans), there continues to be a massive gap when it comes to funding from the international community to assist the receiving countries.

In the case of Syria, as Figure 2 shows, with updated figures as of year-end 2020, there has been over $20.8 billion of funding (in total) since the beginning of the exodus. In the case of Venezuela, by 2020, the number was only $1.4 billion—a much smaller number despite the similarity in the number of refugees. As another point of comparison, we find that international assistance to the 2.3 million refugees from South Sudan totals $3.2 billion.

Cumulative funding since start of conflict

These numbers show that the trends we highlighted earlier continue. Based on the figures for 2020, total funding per refugee amounts to $3,150 per Syrian, $1,390 per South Sudanese, and just $265 per Venezuelan. In other words, funding for the Syrian refugees has been over 10 times larger than for Venezuelans, in per capita terms. Even if we generously assume that the U.N. appeal for 2021 is fully met, the total amount of funding for the Venezuelan refugee crisis would reach $3 billion, which translates into less than $600 per person. Even in the best-case scenario, the Venezuelan refugee crisis will remain severely underfunded.

The lack of funding for the Venezuelan refugees and the countries that are hosting them has received quite a bit of attention, but it has not received what it needs: resources with few or no strings attached. Out of the $2.79 billion in assistance pledged in May of 2020, only about $650 million to $700 million were actually grants (see Figure 2). The rest of the funds are in the form of loans from either the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank. Yet, despite the lack of funding, many receiving countries in the region have continued to teach a lesson to the world by maintaining their broadly welcoming stance toward Venezuelans. Peru, despite having put some entrance hurdles in place at border crossings, has essentially granted a two-year temporary visa and regular migratory status to Venezuelans living there and is planning to roll out a second phase that will probably reach the entirety of the undocumented Venezuelan immigrants in the country. Brazil and Mexico, albeit hosting a much smaller number of Venezuelans than other countries, have essentially given them refugee status—implicitly implementing the Declaration of Cartagena of 1984 that recognizes refugees as those fleeing because of massive violations of human rights.

While the Venezuelan refugees and their hosting countries could use a bit more of our sympathy, what they really need is for the world to step up and invest in them, in the hosting communities, and in their inseparable future.

Colombia—which hosts the largest Venezuelan diaspora of nearly 2 million people—stands out among all regional hosts. In February 2021, the Colombian government announced a plan to provide a 10-year renewable regular migratory status to 1.7 million Venezuelans, most of them undocumented, living in the country. This is perhaps the most generous amnesty program to undocumented immigrants in modern history. This was no surprise to those who follow Colombia closely. In the past, it had taken several generous steps to facilitate the integration of Venezuelan immigrants. In 2018, it announced a massive amnesty program to provide a two-year regular migratory status to about half a million undocumented Venezuelans present in the country at the time. In 2019, it provided Colombian citizenship to nearly 30,000 children of Venezuelan refugees who had been born in Colombia without a nationality (unlike the U.S., in many countries just being born within their jurisdictions doesn’t confer citizenship automatically). Colombia has also rolled out several types of short-term visas to Venezuelans that entered the country “legally,” giving them the right to stay and work and access social services. It is unprecedented.

But some other countries have not lived up to these standards. Chile, for instance, despite having created an exclusive humanitarian visa for Venezuelans early on, has recently doubled down on deportations of undocumented immigrants looking for refuge in that country. Trinidad and Tobago denied entry to Venezuelans at the expense of endangering their lives: This resulted in a tragedy where a dozen immigrants, included children, died on the journey back.

While we are yet to see a unified framework in the region to deal with Venezuelan refugees along the lines of what was suggested by the Organization of American States (OAS), we hope that more countries will follow Colombia’s example. It is not only a matter of humanity but of smart policymaking. Colombia understands that integrating immigrants and refugees into local communities and the labor force will bring tremendous benefits to its economy, as we have argued before.

To achieve this, however, the countries of the region need a massive influx of funding from the international community. This funding is not only required for humanitarian needs, of which there are many, but also for investment in local communities and businesses that require infrastructure upgrades and access to credit to absorb and integrate the immigrants and refugees into the formal labor force. We acknowledge this might be even more difficult to achieve during a global recession, but that doesn’t change the reality. The numbers speak for themselves. And while the Venezuelan refugees and their hosting countries could use a bit more of our sympathy, what they really need is for the world to step up and invest in them, in the hosting communities, and in their inseparable future.

Steps for Starting Your Recruitment Agency

Recruitment agencies don’t just identify and contact candidates for their clients. They aim to provide better career choices for the candidates as well. This win-win spirit is what motivates a recruiter to do their best every day.

Especially with the whole COVID-19 pandemic going on, it’s even more vital to help people and companies fill positions to continue operations and ensure survival and success.

If you are keen on starting your own recruitment business to help more dreams come true for both businesses and candidates, you should know these 8 key steps.

Step 1. Determine Your Niche

To start with, you need to determine which type of recruitment agency you want to establish. You could be an IT-focused agency or a retail business-oriented staffing team. Just examine the network you have and the knowledge you excel at, and choose a market to provide your service. Also, consider which candidates you have the strongest connection with. Are they fresh graduates or are they seniors? Asking yourself these questions will help you better position your business.

Here’s a list of the 4 different types of recruitment agencies to give you a better idea:

How to Become a Software Engineer in 2021 [Top Skills, Roles and  Responsibilities]
  1. 1. Traditional Recruitment Agency

This type of agency is also called an “employment agency” and the most common one of all. How they work is fairly straightforward. They only scout for candidates whenever their client needs a certain position filled.

They usually place individuals for long-term positions, which usually range from entry to high-level roles. Once a candidate is successfully onboarded, they charge a flat fee or a percentage of the candidate’s salary.

However, it’s important to note that when someone drops out within an agreed amount of time (usually 3 months), the recruitment agency has to find a replacement or waive the fee paid.

If you’re planning to put up your recruitment agency, be sure to screen candidates properly by offering a lot of support throughout their application journey.

  1. 2. Headhunting Agency

A headhunting agency is also called “executive search firms”. These companies only source high-level executives for companies like Chief Technology Officer (CTO), General Manager (GM), Director of Marketing, and so forth.

They will usually work on a retainer basis or with a percentage of the candidate’s salary or a mix of both. The retainment fee is to, as the name suggests, “retain” a recruiter to continuously headhunt the needed position and is non-refundable.

This type of recruitment is very time-consuming but undeniably effective. A lot of people rely on headhunting agencies to find high-level executives because they have professionally-trained recruiters who will relentlessly find the best fit for your organization.

If you’re planning on starting one, a team of experienced recruiters is a must.

  1. 3. Staffing Agency

A staffing agency is also called a “manpower agency”. This type of agency matches the ideal candidate with the right position, similar to traditional recruitment agencies. However, the main differences are the positions they fill and the recruitment process.

First, a staffing agency only fills temporary or contractual positions. These are often from select industries (i.e. hospitality) where they only do contracts and not long-term positions.

Second, the staffing agency hires the people themselves and not the client. This means that they have to do all the interviewing, screening, and training.

It’s an all-around company that gives convenience to clients who don’t have the time to source short-term employees and deal with the employment terms.

It offers a wide range of opportunities including temporary, temp-to-hire, contract, and direct hire. Staffing agencies charge a mark-up depending on the hired employee’s wage.

  1. 4. Niche Recruiting Agency

This one is also called a “specialist recruitment agency”. They understand the talent gaps in the market and help fill positions faster by providing candidates best suited for specialty roles.

What do we mean by this? They only work with a chosen industry. Let’s say, IT. The focus on IT positions and throughout the years develop accrued knowledge and experience to deal with individuals of such caliber.

This enables them to know what skills a good IT worker should have, what kind of packages and compensations they want, and many more. This gives them the advantage to find highly qualified applicants who are true experts in their fields.

Starting a niche recruitment agency might limit your clients, but once you find your momentum, you’ll be revered in the field you’ve chosen.

Step 2. Assess Your Competitors

Once you decide on a market and the type of recruitment agency you want to have, you should assess who you are competing with. Use simple SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and 4 Ps (product, place, price, promotion) analysis to find out how you stand out and where you need to improve your game. As one ancient Chinese saying states, “know the enemy, know yourself, and in every battle, you’ll never be in peril.”

Step 3. Assess Your Finances

Starting a recruitment agency doesn’t require as much money as most other startups. However, you should still consider costs like office equipment, digital tools, staff, insurance, etc. Create a budget spreadsheet and get proper financial advice if needed.

Don’t hesitate to seek help or even partnerships with other people. Having someone to back you up can lead to a more efficient and productive workforce, especially when you’re just starting.

Step 4. Research Laws and Regulations

Most companies depend on lawyers and counsel to take care of legal business. Yet, as the founder of your agency, you ought to spend time researching relevant laws and regulations to prevent any further legal problems. The latest regulation recruitment agencies need to follow is GDPR, which focuses on data protection.

This is important so you can protect and prevent your company and your candidates from any legal issues that may arise.

Step 5. Build Marketing Plans

First, create a logo and image that meet your agency’s style. First impressions matter much more than you notice. Once you set up the look, draft a marketing structure and match each process with tools and skills you can use. For instance, there are various graphic design tools for creating images. As for reaching out to clients and candidates, LinkedIn is a must. Pick the right channels to connect and you’ll have won half the battle.

While you’re on this, ensure that you take into consideration company diversity, equity, and inclusion, showcasing your website, career pages, and more can highly improve your employer branding and perpetuate a company culture that people would want to work in. You’ll be surprised at the number of quality candidates that will attract!

Step 6. Set Up Business Goals

Want to go big? Objectivity is the key. A successful staffing agency counts on not only experiences and a massive amount of candidates but also clear business goals. Adopt a comprehensive yet flexible business model for your agency. Set up short and long-term goals to inspire your recruiters. For example, you could aim to increase stable clients by 10% in 2 months. Maybe you’d like to expand your service area during the next half year.

Creating such metrics or KPIs can help you track progress and let you pinpoint bottlenecks to achieve more. After all, numbers and figures are essential to businesses!

Step 7. Invest in Tech Tools

Recruitment agencies nowadays are enormously affected by technological tools. Invest in the right tool, you will end up saving a great deal of time and money. One of the most popular and reliable digital software used by recruiters is Applicant Tracking System. Use one that can automatically collect candidates’ LinkedIn profiles,  score out the best candidate, and easily track candidates’ status. You’ll see how much faster and simpler it is to manage your talented applicants and keep your work organized.

Furthermore, some advanced ATS also have dual functionalities which encompass a reliable recruitment CRM. This way, you’ll also get to touch base with clients so you can have more sales for overall company success.

Step 8. Invest in People
How to Become a Software Engineer, 2019's Best Job

Last but not least, you need to hire good recruiters and invest in them. Knowing tips on recruiting a recruiter definitely allows you to meet and hire recruiters with rich experience. However, don’t give up on junior recruiters. Spot each recruiter’s strength and help them thrive, you are doing a huge favor to yourself too.

With the right people on board, it will tie together your entire recruitment system and you’ll reap rewards faster than you know it.

Should You Use an Employment Agency to Find a Job?
7 advantages of using a recruitment agency | Energy Resourcing

Picture this. You get called in for a job interview after applying for a position through one of those huge job boards like CareerBuilder. You show up to your interview dressed to impress with your resume in your hand and your go-to interview answers memorized. Then you find out that you’ve actually had an interview at an employment agency, which means that you’d have to pay them a percentage of your salary if you land a job as a result of working with them. But the very thought makes you cringe! This happened to me a couple of times right after I graduated from college, and I too had the same reaction. Then, by some sort of strange twist of fate, I ended up working at one of those employment agencies, and I was able to see how they work from the inside. Now that I know what is involved in agency work and given the current economic climate, I think a lot of people might actually be better off using one.

The first thing on everyone’s mind

Before I list the benefits of using an employment agency, I’m going to address the issue that makes everyone uncomfortable: the commission fee. Look, in placing you in a job, coaching you and essentially acting like your agent, employment agencies have offered you a very valuable service. Agency employees have to make a living too, so  you can’t expect them not to charge some sort of fee. Acceptable fees and practices vary by state. For instance, employment agencies in New York have fee restrictions based on percentages of the first year’s salary. The regulations in Arizona are different. If you have any doubts or questions, make sure to check what kind of provisions have been set forth by your state’s Department of Labor for both public and private employment agencies. Here’s something else you need to know: there are instances when the company with the open position will cover the agency cost. You see, employment agencies aren’t just for individuals, they have whole companies as clients who will pay for their services. So there is a chance you won’t have to pay anything at all. If that doesn’t work out, there is also the chance that the employer will at least pay part of the fee. The bottom line is that you are entitled to explore your options. If you want the employer to pay the fee, tell the recruiter. Agencies will often partake in negotiations to make all parties involved happy. Now that the controversial stuff is out of the way, here are some of the benefits of using an employment agency:

Companies actually use them

9 Recruitment Best Practices for Staffing Agencies - Harver

Ever wonder why you can’t find those great jobs you hear about on huge job boards? It’s probably because they are using the services of an employment agency. Nowadays, more and more companies are turning to employment agencies to do initial screenings and interviews, that way they don’t have to sift through countless resumes and interview hundreds of people before they find the right fit. In fact, an April 2011 Staffing Industry Report finds that industry revenue went up 12 percent in 2010. It forecasts that professional staffing revenue will hit $50.6 billion by 2012. What does this mean for you? It means that these agencies actually have clients that could be your next employer.

They have a stake in your success

It’s in an employment agency’s best interest to coach you well for a potential job. Basically, if you look bad, then they look bad. As a result, employment agencies prep you for interviews so that you impress your potential employer. In other words, you’ll never go into an interview blind. These agencies also rework your resumes to fit the jobs you are applying for, a much-appreciated service since many people still don’t know how to write a good resume.

Negotiation assistance

What is Staffing Agency & Its Roles and Responsibilities

Employment agencies essentially take on the role of your agent. If you have a problem with your placement, need to negotiate benefits, salary, or commissions, or just have general questions, employment agencies will work with you and for you. Again, it’s in their best interest to make sure that both the employee and the employer are satisfied. While employment agencies may not be for everyone, they are a viable option for finding anything from temporary work to permanent employment. 

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