Why staffing agencies face unique challenges
The set of challenges you face as a staffing agency is unique. In addition to being really good at recruitment, you also need to be excellent at client management. This is hardly a revelation to a seasoned recruiter. However, in the last few years the recruitment landscape has changed dramatically, largely due to the adoption of technology.
Not only are you competing against other staffing firms, you’re now also competing against their software solutions. So you’re competing against humans and technology. Staffing agency software has given early-adopting recruiters an unfair competitive advantage. They are able to recommend better candidates, deliver them faster and do it all almost effortlessly.
Since I joined Vervoe mid-2018, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best staffing agencies in the world. This has given me a lot of insight into the challenges they face and, perhaps more importantly, made me think differently about how to solve them.
When companies are hiring for themselves, it’s all about positioning that company as well as possible in front of its candidates, and giving the company as much insight as possible. Conversely, with staffing agencies we need to position the agency in front of both the candidates and the client, and the insight needs to be shared. The trick is to get the balance right. In other words, how can we put you, the agency, in the most competitive position possible with all your stakeholders? This requires a different mindset because our entire business is built around the principle of helping clients be successful at one thing, choosing the best people for themselves. Whereas here, we need to help our clients help their clients make that choice.
One of the key challenges staffing agencies face is differentiation. Rather than just receiving a candidate’s résumé with a few notes, hiring managers prefer to review candidates whose skills have already been validated. This gives hiring managers more confidence and saves them a lot of time. But hiring managers don’t just want to know that a candidate’s skills have been tested, they want some insight – just the right amount – into what those skills are.
We needed to find a way for agencies to test candidates and then easily convey the results to their clients. So we made our candidate cards shareable without needing to log into the app. This gave agencies the ability to share an overview of the top candidates in a really concise way. Importantly, we’re talking about sharing an overview of their now-validated skills, not the skills they claim to have on their résumés.
A second challenge faced by staffing agencies is time. And the problem is threefold. First, and most obviously, there is the time spent on each role, which is a productivity issue. Second, there is the time candidates are asked to spend throughout the process. The longer it takes, the more likely they are to drop out or accept a competing offer, especially the good ones. Finally, there is the response time to your client. If you take too long, your competitors will offer someone and your candidates will miss out.
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Most staffing agencies tend to conduct a multi-stage interview process before putting candidates forward to a hiring manager. This is no longer necessary and, in some cases, it can be a deal breaker. We understand that agencies need to reduce the time it takes to gather the information they need before submitting a candidate. We make this possible by consolidating multiple evaluation stages into one online stage. What used to be a résumé screen, a phone screen and an interview has now become one simple, auto-graded online test.
By speeding things up, you can submit candidates faster, which means your candidates are considered before others. This increases the chances your candidates will be selected. Game, set, match.
Every strong relationship is based on trust, and this is a challenge staffing agencies face the world over. If your client trusts you, everything else becomes a little less important. If they don’t it’s game over.
One of things the very best agencies do really well is developed a strong understanding of what hiring managers want and make them feel a sense of ownership. Knowing what a hiring manager cares about in a candidate is table stakes. The really good recruiters also know how their clients think about hiring and involve them in the process in exactly the right way.
One of the ways to do this is to work with hiring managers to create customized assessments based on their unique requirements. This early engagement breeds confidence because hiring managers know the exact process that is being used, and they learn to trust it. It dramatically increases the chances your candidates will stand out.