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Cultivate Candidate and Client Loyalty in the Downturn

Cultivate Candidate and Client Loyalty in the Downturn

By: Client Training Corner

Recruiting is a balance of relationships and time. During a downturn, it’s more important than ever to focus on the fundamentals of business and prepare for the future. Use the extra time you have now to cultivate your client relationships so you’ll be top of mind when hiring picks up.  

The reality is that temporary staffing is often the hardest hit during a recession but is likely to quickly rebound as the economy improves. Be prepared by gathering quality clients and candidates now.

Doing so requires preparation, knowledge-gathering and initiative. The good news: there are plenty of free or low-cost resources available to help you create a lasting impact with clients and candidates. Use the suggestions below to create an action plan.

Strengthen Client Relationships

The reality is that you might have more time on your hands than you would like right now. Use that time wisely. Become the expert that you’ve always wanted to be. Get a firm grip on trends in key industries. It might just help you uncover a hidden pocket of need that can turn into business.

Wikipedia is a great resource for doing account research. In addition to the primary article, be sure to look at the “See Also” section, as well as other referenced articles. Another way to stay on top of industry and client trends is by setting up Google alerts and RSS feeds. 

Also consider signing up for newsletters within your client’s industries to stay on top of trends. Visit associations such as Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) and the American Staffing Association (ASA) for additional industry information and trends.

Once you become an industry expert, share that knowledge with your clients. If you see something interesting that’s relevant to their business, forward it to them. This will show you’re a true industry partner. It’s also a better context for picking up the phone to ask if they have any business. (You’ll have to do that eventually, but you can’t do it every week.) 

When times are good, hiring managers have recruiting firms galore at their doorstep. The opposite is true as soon as hiring slows. Be a resource for your clients in both good and bad times. When business picks up, you’ll be their go-to person. 

Organize Your Candidates

Take the time to organize your candidates. Our candidates are our best resource, but not every candidate is the best resource. Rank them, organize them, and have them ready to utilize at a moment’s notice. It sounds simple enough, but it’s a giant task that will allow you to win in the long run. The abundance of available candidates during a downturn makes this imperative. 

These times also give you access to candidates who might otherwise have been out of reach. With layoffs now commonplace, even employed candidates may become available. 

Think about having a ranking system that works for your organization and recruiting style. An easy way to do so is with Monster’s folder functionality and rating system.

Build a Candidate Pipeline

During a downturn, job seekers tend to hold tight to their current jobs. What can you do as a professional recruiter to get their attention? Start by building meaningful candidate relationships that will support your hiring goals.

Suggest interesting (and free) initiatives to candidates, including local lectures and similar events, or forward them useful articles (Monster’s Career Advice area is a great source of job seeker information.)

Another interesting option is to utilize social networking. Organize online groups around a particular industry or candidate need or consider putting together a fan page for your company. Use this time to collect as many candidates and as much information as possible. Social networking is a great way to build your brand.

Pay Attention to Layoffs

At the end of World War II, government labs were shutting down and many engineers came on the job market. Hewlett-Packard founders’ Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard took the opportunity to hire as many of those engineers as possible. Acting on this recruitment opportunity was fundamental to Hewlett-Packard later becoming an industry giant.   

Take a cue from HP’s initiative. Reach out directly to companies who are downsizing to see if you can help with the transitioning of laid-off workers. Set up hiring resources such as resume writing and interviewing classes to increase your interaction with these folks. In the process, you’ll get exposure to potential new candidates.

You may be surprised by what you uncover while partnering with your client companies. For instance, during the period that Hewlett-Packard monopolized the hiring of engineers, it was actually downsizing other areas of the company.  

To stay on top of downsizing trends, check WARN notices published by state and city government. Also check websites such as ClickZ and Layoffblog.com. 

Build Your Company Brand

In a candidate-saturated hiring market, consider using new methods such as online media to attract job seekers. A brief video or podcast can significantly enrich your job posting, and is an investment that won’t break the bank.

As well, remember to clearly delineate your brand’s unique positioning in your job postings. To find out more, search on “company brand” in Monster’s Resource Center for helpful resources.

Become a Credible Industry Resource

A downturn will often provide public speaking opportunities, as groups and associations look for speakers outside of the paid speaking circuit. Offering your speaking skills or those of someone within your organization is a great way for a little free publicity and great for company branding. 

Also, consider leading or hosting an online webinar. Market it to your clients and/or your candidates as a means of staying in front of them and building your brand as a knowledge partner.

Acting on just a few of the above steps will help insure the future growth and success of your staffing company. Remember to focus on business fundamentals that strengthen client relationships, build candidate pipelines and raise brand awareness. Doing so will help see you through these challenging times to a brighter tomorrow.