Your Clients and Candidates: Closer than You May Realize
It might seem strange to those in the staffing industry to directly compare their candidates to their clients, as many staffing firms view the recruiting and business development functions areas as two distinct entities that don’t impact one another. Your candidates, however, are much more linked to your clients than you may realize. They are even, in many situations, one and the same: New research released in CareerBuilder and Inavero’s 2010 Opportunities in Staffing Guide reveals that 46 percent of staffing firm clients have also worked with a staffing firm as a job candidate.
If you have worked in the staffing industry for a long time, you’ve probably had the following experience: You have a great candidate (we’ll call him Joe), who is an IT professional focusing on Java. A few years ago, you placed Joe in a contract position with your client. You’ve kept in contact with Joe periodically over the years as he has accepted different positions across the country (like you do with all your great candidates).
One day, Joe e-mails you and says he’s now in the position to hire people himself and is looking for IT staffing help. I hear this story all the time, especially within the IT sector. It’s no surprise that 54 percent of IT clients surveyed in CareerBuilder and Inavero’s study said they once worked with a staffing firm as a job candidate.
What is the key factor in creating an environment that makes clients and candidates want to keep coming back to you? My suggestion is to first focus on delivering an exceptional candidate experience. If you get this right, the referrals — from both candidates and clients — will come.
The Top Five Drivers for Job Seeker Loyalty and Referrals
The 2010 Opportunities in Staffing Guide identified the top five drivers for job seeker loyalty and referrals. Excel in the following areas and you will be well on your way to creating a unique experience for your candidates that will keep your company and personal brand top of mind:
1.Deliver great service. As you can see by the chart to the left, service was the number one driver for satisfaction with job candidates when working with a staffing firm. What processes do you have in place to ensure that you are providing the best experience and differentiating your firm from your competitors? How quickly does it take you to get back to people when they contact you? What “surprises” do you build into the process to go above and beyond? Think about ways you can make working with you more memorable.
2. Connect people with the best-fit jobs. There is a misconception that job seekers are not satisfied with staffing firms unless they receive a job. Although attaining a position does drive satisfaction, it is not necessarily the first thing job seekers care about. Stay focused on the interactions candidates have with your staffing firm along the way to that placement. Candidates may very well alter their opinion of you (for better or for worse) as you work to make connections between them and your clients.
3. Be professional at all times. Not many people would argue the point that staffing professionals have a tough job. The stress of the position and volume of communication you receive can sometimes test your patience. Remaining professional at all times, however, is essential to creating a long-term referral network. You might speak to 25 people a day about their job search, but the job seeker on the other end may have only have spoken to you. Make that call memorable — in a good way.
4. Always be responsive in communication. There aren’t many things worse than never hearing back from someone. When someone is in a job search or unemployed, the stress of unresponsive communication is compounded. Job seekers are looking for progress, or at least a realistic view of their chances. Focus on setting proper expectations with your candidates and just say no when you cannot place them. Hearing “no” is better than silence.
5. Promote your strong reputation. A strong reputation is based on the compiled experiences and interactions a person has had with you or your firm. Technology makes it easier than ever to share these experiences. Encourage candidates to share their experience through your referral network, Facebook page, or within review sites — these testimonials will help spread the word about you and your business successes.
Your candidate and client experiences are definitively linked. With the progress of social media and real-time communication, it is easier than ever for people to share both their good and bad experiences. Focus on providing the best experiences possible for the job seekers you serve. Not only will this create more opportunities for candidate referrals in the short-term, but it will also position you as the “go-to” person when it comes to staffing when that candidate becomes a client.
Access a complimentary copy of CareerBuilder and Inavero’s 2010 Opportunities in Staffing Guide here.
Eric Gilpin is president of CareerBuilder’s Staffing & Recruiting Group. He has more than 10 years of experience in the staffing industry, and is responsible for developing sales teams and strategies to help clients meet their goals and promote the staffing industry overall. With people development and industry awareness as priorities, Gilpin is focused on technology, social media, and product design as key growth drivers for the staffing and recruiting industry.