Winning the Battle for Talent: How Top Staffing Firms Attract and Retain Quality Candidates

Last week, Eric Gregg (CEO and Founder of ClearlyRated) hosted a panel webinar that featured three winners of the 2018 Best of Staffing® award for talent satisfaction.

Andrea Pion (Vice President of National Client Programs for The DAVIS Companies), Ashley Brickman (Engagement Manager for IDR) and Jenifer Lambert (Vice President of Sales & Marketing at TERRA Staffing Group) are leaders of organizations with a proven track record of consistent, remarkable candidate service.

These powerhouse panelists took time out of their busy weeks to offer eye-opening advice on their approach to building a quality talent pipeline and engaging candidates throughout their employment journey. Below are 4 key takeaways to breathe life into your firm’s talent engagement initiative(s).

Takeaway #1: Light the talent engagement fire with your internal team

Internal recognition and motivation are essential to cultivating company-wide candidate service  standards – and our panelists demonstrate this in a variety of ways:

    • IDR’s locations made a shift to an open-environment office – they eliminated tall cubicles and moved branch directors out of their closed-door offices so that everyone was sitting next to each other. This transition created more chatter within the office – people were sharing their triumphs and their tribulations, and it created a friendly competition around NPS and talent feedback. 
    • TERRA Staffing holds a quarterly all hands meeting where leadership recognizes individual branches and employees whose talent report exceptional levels of satisfaction. They also forward shout-outs and feedback to recruiters and branch teams to celebrate service wins and highlight all-stars.

It makes sense that your internal talent (i.e. your staff) will be fully engaged with delivering remarkable service to your external talent (candidates you’re helping to place) when they trust that their efforts will be recognized and rewarded.

If you’re just getting started with an internal team initiative, consider taking baby steps to test what will be best-received and most motivating to your staff. Once you understand your team’s key drivers (public recognition? financial compensation?) – the sky’s the limit! Just know that if you’re not taking action, you’re limiting your chances of success.

Takeaway #2: Fill in the talent experience gaps

How do your candidates experience working with your firm? Do you know what their journey is like even after placement? What opportunities do you have to continuously engage talent throughout their employment journey? If you can answer the questions above, then you’re well on your way to building a sustainable pipeline of quality talent. But, as our industry research shows, many firms fall short at supporting their candidates throughout the lifecycle of their employment journey. (The 2017 Staffing Advantage Report shows that 1 in 3 staffing firms make no attempt to engage with candidates in the time between accepting a position and their start date.)

Our panelists, however fill in the talent experience gaps exceptionally well.

Take IDR, for example. Ashley’s organization has taken measures to establish dedicated account managers for their talent audience – this team focuses exclusively on engaging and supporting candidates through onboarding, time on assignment, and offboarding. Unsurprisingly, they’ve seen an increase in referrals from their candidate pool, as well as re-engagement from previous placements, and a boost in revenue from their efforts.

Take a step back and re-evaluate your talent engagement practices. What blind spots can you identify? What small changes can you implement to begin to fill in the talent experience gaps and create a meaningful service experience for your candidates?

Takeaway #3: Leverage automation to maximize the candidate experience

76% of both staffing clients and candidates say that staffing firms can differentiate from the competition by employing the most up-to-date technology.  But where you invest, and how those investments empower your team, can make the difference between talent engagement and talent indifference.

TERRA Staffing created an online survey dashboard to pinpoint where the critical conversations need to be happening with candidates. Managers can see real-time information on who has not responded to recruiter messages and how long it’s been since their last response. They use this information to decide where follow up is needed and build strategies for creating more engagement with at-risk candidates.

Similarly, Andrea Pion discussed how The DAVIS Companies utilizes marketing automation to follow up with applicants who may have slipped through the cracks in the first few days. Recruiters engage with those applicants through blog posts, best practices, message from the President, resume best practices, etc.

Ask yourself: are you giving your recruiters and your candidates the best chance of success? Are you automating areas that don’t bring high value so that your team has more time to engage with candidates and build those high-value relationships?

Takeaway #4: Make candidates a priority

The unifying theme from Eric’s discussion with our panelists was simple: they made candidates a priority. And by focusing their efforts on engaging and helping their talent be successful, they’ve seen immense gains across their firms.

In today’s tight labor market, your company has a real opportunity to differentiate and add value with strategic talent engagement. But don’t wait, use these lessons from the 2018 Best of StaffingⓇ winners to inspire action at your firm, and motivate your team to reach new levels of candidate service.

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