By: Edward Muzio
Economic indicators show increased hiring demand as the staffing industry continues to rebound from the recession. While this is welcome news, it also poses new challenges for your staffing firm. The goal is no longer simply to scale back and stay viable. The new goal is growth.
That makes it imperative to differentiate your company from competitors -- and fast. Many firms are relying on that rebound to fund their own recovery and are ready to compete hard for it. Much like the time leading into the recession, the coming months and quarters will still be about survival.
Mind the Basics
Of course, your firm must continue to flawlessly deliver the basics when it comes to staffing services. That package, labeled value, includes candidates, resumes, and good hires. It requires that you retain your own high-quality staff, analyze and respond to market trends, and continue to network with customer and candidate pools. Of course, this standard applies in any economy, in any industry. The next post-recession question that your staffing firm should be asking is, “What else can we deliver?”
First, consider tangible add-ins. Could your staffing services include background screening, the onboarding process or candidate assessments? As your customers’ needs grow, they may be willing to hand over more of their hiring process -- and correspondingly larger amounts of revenue -- to your firm.
Then, consider intangible additions. Could you do more to promote your employer’s brand, or offer more structured advice regarding job descriptions or onboarding? Adding a client logo to candidate e-mails, for example, or designing a short, customizable “onboarding best practices whitepaper” for hiring managers are relatively simple and inexpensive additions. And yet, that extra effort-turned-value may make all the difference.
You know what your customers want: the perfect hire, in the door and on board, right now. While that may be an unrealistic expectation, it often drives much of their decision-making process, like it or not. Your choice? You can either label it as unreasonable or consider it a call to action.
It can be tempting to characterize your customers’ expectations as excessively “type A,” but doing so is not the path to customer satisfaction. Instead, focus on time to deliver.
Map your processes to calculate the minimum possible time to deliver if everything were to go perfectly. Then, get your most senior staff in the room and tell them you intend to reduce this timeline by 25%, without sacrificing candidate quality. See what ideas they generate, remaining as open as you can to any that pass the “no quality reduction” test.
You may find that, in response to the recession, you became more careful about money spent but less so about time spent. Those trade-offs are worth revisiting, even if you don’t achieve a 25% reduction.
Build Your Brand... with Candidates
There’s nothing better than having a positive reputation with customers before they meet you. Unfortunately, many staffing firms exclude candidates from their branding efforts, focusing on only one side of the equation. “Once the client hires you to find candidates,” the logic goes, “the candidates will come.”
As the economy and unemployment rate improve, that assumption will grow even less realistic. Remember too that today’s young workers are more interconnected, idealistic and selective about their careers. Your staffing firm needs to market itself, not just to HR and hiring managers, but to potential candidates.
Cold calls and job postings are no longer enough. You must find your largest pools of candidates and learn to swim with them. Whether that means spending time on campus, joining professional organizations, or a becoming a trusted source of recruiting strategy tips and recommendations, make it a habit.
Let it be known that you’re a connected, effective, ethical recruiter who may have opportunities for them, now or later. Your goal is the same as in any branding effort: when a potential candidate sees your name or logo on a job opportunity, they should recognize it as something worthy of serious consideration.
Ride Up the Curve
Just as the recession presented an opportunity to streamline budgets and processes, the recovery offers a corresponding opportunity for improving the value you deliver. Remember, your staffing firms’ strategic advantages go far beyond who you know. They include the staffing services you provide, how quickly you deliver and how well you are perceived by both clients and candidates. Time spent improving those areas is likely to pay dividends, now and in the future.
Edward G. Muzio, CEO of Group Harmonics, is the author of the award-winning books Make Work Great: Supercharge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture and Gain Influence One Person at a Time and Four Secrets to Liking Your Work: You May Not Need to Quit to Get the Job You Want. An expert in workplace improvement and its relationship to individual enjoyment, Muzio has been featured on Fox Business Network, CBS, and other national media. For more information visit Make Work Great and follow the author on Facebook.