Subadhra Sriram's Blog

What's in a name?

In the course of my job, I sometimes have to call staffing firms to interview them.During the conversation, I refer to them as a staffing firm and a very common response is; oh, we are not a staffing firm! When I then ask, but don't you lease your employees on a project or contract basis to clients, they reply: That's right. That's exactly what we do. But we are not a staffing firm. We are a high-end consulting firm.

Does it make a difference whether you are a staffing firm or a consulting business? Shakespeare's retort would have been that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But this is not 1595. Today there is a pecking order in people's minds which has affected how staffing firms are viewed. There is an unsavory connotation to the name. People (those in staffing firms included) think of staffing as a low-value add function that doesn't interact with senior management, charges low margins and basically body shops, not paying its employees any benefits. Here are list of names that I have come across that 'staffing firms' are using: IT consulting, human capital supply company, manpower specialists, a network that connects experts to people who need them, talent providers, aptitude agency etc. We live in a time where talent shortage is the primary cause of concern for most corporations. From that perspective, staffing firms (or call them what you will) provide a valuable service without whom many companies would be unable to deliver their product or service. If you come across/use other terms, please let us know by replying in the comments below.

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