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  4. Staffing Industry Challenges: An Interview with Jay Rogers

Staffing Industry Challenges: An Interview with Jay Rogers

Back in 2008, the Great Recession took a big hit on the staffing industry, decreasing the demand for talent across many, if not most, industries. While the current economic recovery has improved that situation, it's generated new challenges for staffing. 

To better understand the current and future challenges in the staffing industry, we spoke with Jay Rogers. Jay is Vice President of recruiting at Randstad, the second largest staffing company in the world, and works with Randstad Engineering

In our conversation, Jay spoke about some of the most difficult recruitment issues that Randstad has recently faced, including the extended amount of time that it often takes to fill a job, which then impacts the candidate's availability.

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Jay Rogers, Vice President of Recruiting at Randstad Engineering

Rogers: Twelve months ago, here at Randstad Engineering we saw, it was 63 days from the time we would get a job order until the time a candidate would start. We were losing a lot of good candidates. That's just too long, so we worked very closely with our clients. 

We've got that down in the last 3 months to 43 days. But in my opinion, that's still too long. People, when they get ready to go, they're ready to go, and we have to let our human resources partners and our hiring manager partners know that they have to know what they want and they have to move quicker.

The two biggest reasons that candidates aren't starting, what we see, is they took another job. So they accepted a job with one company but they were in the process with other companies, and before the client company of ours could get them started, they got another offer for more money many times, or closer to home, or what not. Then the second biggest reason we're seeing is counteroffers. So their current employer finds out that they're going somewhere else and they offer them more money. 

Are these trends likely to continue in 2016? Yes, absolutely. The demand for professionals in engineering, IT, accounting, finance, healthcare is going to continue to rise. The supply is going to be relatively constant. A lot of people retiring, but not enough people coming into the workforce out of school. 

And I would encourage everybody to look at Randstad's website, RandstadUSA.com. It has a lot of really good information for clients, candidates, recruiters, under the section of Workforce 360. There's just a lot of information that they can see trending in the staffing industry.

Monster: This is an intense situation on many levels. It's kind of astounding, really. Would we define this, then, this current recruiting market, as a candidate's market? It kind of goes back and forth. Is this a time when it clearly is in the candidate's court?

Rogers: Yes, and if you were to ask any one of my recruiters, they would absolutely tell you that it is a candidate's market. 

The folks that are actively looking, that go up on the job boards, are just getting lots and lots of phone calls. A controls engineer, for example, could put their resume up on Monday. By Wednesday, you have two or three phone interviews, and by Friday you have a couple face to face interviews scheduled. 

In particular skill sets, not every skill set, but in the high demand skill sets, those people are very much sought after. They have several different options, so yes, it is a candidate's market.

Monster: What is the responsibility, or onus, for employers to somehow rethink the way that they're managing their current workforce, or current job skills? I'm wondering, what are some of the solutions here to build out that talent pipeline that's going to address this dearth of skills that is going to go on, I would think, for years to come?

Rogers: They're going to have to get more creative, and loosen up the constraints on some of the positions. I know our clients would prefer to have a 100% match, you know -- someone that can come in and get productive right away, but that's going to be increasingly harder to do. 

We've got to look at the current workforce and see what skills are transferable, engage with those people, and get those going. Then, we also have to engage with students. Randstad has a partnership with Nepris right now. Nepris is a web -based solution for teachers and industry professionals to connect, and then give relevant topics. So you might have an engineer giving a topic for a math class on, "Here's what you're learning, and this is how you're going to apply it in the real world." 

The goal there is to help educators give students the pathway for these STEM jobs, which is a good pathway. The demand's going to be good, and they are higher-paying jobs. So we're real proud of that. So we've got to engage the students of today. We've got to engage the current workforce that we have, but then be more flexible in doing that. 

And then, at some point in time, if we can't get our own supply up, then companies are probably going to have to look to bring in more people from out of country with those skill sets.

Monster:  A lot of recruiting now, and the process, seems to require a lot of consciousness, whereas maybe at one time it seemed more -- a little more formulaic. Is that an incorrect assumption that I'm making?

Rogers: Recruiting has definitely evolved. We talked earlier about it being a candidate's market right now versus a client's market. That pendulum does swing back and forth. 

The successful recruiters that I've seen are excellent communicators. When I say excellent communicators, they not only can talk, but they listen, and then they find out what those true desires for employment are from a candidate. 

Today, it is a little tougher to dig that out sometimes, because I think recruiters are, you know -- they're tasked with all these different KPI's, and these number of calls they have to make and all, but recruiters need to slow down a little bit. 

We talk about fall off rates, someone that said they're going to start and then they ended up not starting. We might've missed something because we rushed the conversation with the candidate. 

We have to understand, this is a huge decision for an individual. This is where they're going to spend 40, 50 hours a week of their life, 50 weeks a year. 

So we really need to put our listening skills on better, and up front, versus in the end. I just really think too many recruiters just go too transactional, if that makes sense.

Monster: You mentioned social media before, how it's become a big player in this whole recruiting process. Do you see that continuing in 2016?

Rogers: I do, especially for the passive candidates. The active candidates are, like we said earlier, getting lots and lots of calls, but people go through active states of looking and then passive states. 

In those passive states, client companies and recruiting companies need to be putting those little hints out there. Wherever someone's at, whether they're on LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever medium, where the candidate is starting to see that because, you know, people get in a window of opportunity. They might be thinking about a job, and then they stop thinking about changing jobs. And then, one reason or another, the interest will peak. 

We see a lot of that happen in the December/January time frame. I guess people are at home, and they're really evaluating their current situation, and they're wanting to know, "Is there something better out there? Is there a better job for me?"

We have to be constantly messaging in there, and we have to teach our recruiters. DeAnna Jacobsen with Randstad is doing a really great job for us, helping us train our recruiters on the different ways to search some of these social platforms. So we can be building a pipeline of candidates that aren't ready to go today, but in the next 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 months, will be ready to go then.

Monster: So social media is allowing this creation of the talent pipeline that we mentioned earlier, and having a queue.  It's the same thing as with salespeople. They have a funnel. You have to have a funnel that's stocked, otherwise you don't have a business.

Rogers:  Mm-hmm, absolutely. It's really helpful. I mean, here at Randstad, we have so many folks to help us with that funnel, and with all that content, and these landing pages, and then video creations, all these different things that when those passive people do click on an ad or a hint, and then they go over to a landing page, your messaging has to be there, and it has to be spot on and timely.

Monster:  We talked a lot about the challenges that are facing the staffing industry and recruiters. What are some of the opportunities that you see ahead in 2016?

Rogers: Yes, it's going to be harder to find candidates, but we look at that as not only a challenge, but an opportunity. 

We have to think about the speed, and the quality, and the quantity of our delivery. We have to engage with our clients more closely in the beginning of the process, to help them identify what it is that they actually want. Not what they think they want, but what it is they actually want, so that when we cue these things up, all these different marketing campaigns, email campaigns, calls, and different things, we want to be able to get the right candidates in quickly, have them interview quickly, and then get them placed quickly. 

The companies that can do that are going to be very successful. I know that I spend a lot of my waking hours thinking about just those things. 
Also, the other opportunities I see are just getting those right channels set up, and the whole marketing mix. We all have limited budgets to work with. We want to be sure that we're maximizing those resources to get those right channels, to get those right channels. 

And those vary by skill set and industry. Our IT division has different channels than our finance and accounting, and our engineering. It's studying where those candidates go to look, so we have to use that big data to look at where these folks are, to set up these social channels to get in, but then also, when we've got them in the workforce, we need all those different things to keep people engaged and going forward.

Monster: You've been really generous with your time, and so much great expertise. One last thought, or question, to end this. I want to make clear, we're not the Make A Wish foundation here, but I do want to give you the opportunity, if you were granted one wish for 2016 in terms of the staffing industry, what would it be?

Rogers: Just one? Okay. [laughter] Part of my job as the VP of recruiting is to make it as efficient and easy as possible for my recruiters to find candidates to fill positions. I just wish I could wave a magic wand, and there was one tool that was there that  -- we talk about big data, right -- where my recruiters could go in and perform a search, and it would search not only my database, but all the other databases, and all the social areas, and then would bring in, to one screen, all the candidates based on all these wonderful things, that there were that job title, they're in this location, they're in this salary range, they're active, they're passive, and we just stack rank them up there. Then we could email them, text them, call them, and just get that speed of delivery quicker. That's my one wish, a tool like that.

Monster: And I think the other part of that is to have the employer make the decision to hire the person more quickly.

Rogers: Oh, yes, [laughter] absolutely. Make those decisions quicker, and that will help.

Monster: Jay Rogers, thank you so much for speaking with us.

Rogers: Connie, thank you. I appreciate you having me on today.

Monster: Jay Rogers is Vice President of Engineering Recruitment at Randstad. 

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