Staffing and Recruiting Firms – Enemies or Allies?

More than 70% of current and prospective buyers see you as a necessary evil. Some, such as those in HR and procurement, use stronger language, calling recruiters “scum sucking pig dogs” or admitting they engage staffing firms only for “problematic use” (yes, these are real quotes from buyers).

How is it that an industry that impacts the most important asset of companies, their people, and one of the most important aspects of people’s lives, their jobs and careers, isn’t held in higher regard? Given this impact, why aren’t staffing and recruiting professionals viewed as the heroes they really, on par with other heroic professions like firefighters, astronauts, and police officers?

The why doesn’t matter.

While the problem always defines the solution, pondering the issue, in this case, only keeps the industry stuck where it is. Gaining or increasing respect requires action, not further analysis or pontification.

The problem is clear—the true value of staffing isn’t being fully understood, appreciated, and acknowledged by the entire public.

For those reading this who have been awarded industry honors, such as the Best of Staffing, you may think this doesn’t apply to you. While it’s possible that’s true in regards to your raving fans who give you high marks, what about those who aren’t buying at all or as often as they could? Why are so many of the Best of Staffing winners facing similar struggles as everyone else when it comes to opening doors, hearts, and minds? If the best of the best are that good at what they do, why is it that more than 95% of companies buy staffing at some point in time over a decade yet only 25% do so each year?

If you want something different, you must do something different. Even if you want what you’ve got you still must change and adapt in relation to how the market is evolving. One surefire way to go from great to good or good to fair is to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done.

To do something different and be seen by more people as the ally you are, here are four steps:

  1. Get not only what they need, but what you’ve been missing.
    I’ve yet to find the company whose sales team, recruiters, and leaders couldn’t do even better at understanding clients and candidates. Enhanced best practices that improve questions, create collaborative dialogues, and deepen comprehension oftheir needs and your value are winning over even the most jaded and doubtful of buyers. Prospects and customers who are engaged in collaborative dialogues report significantly higher levels of satisfaction with our industry.
  2. Gather what they need before they need it.
    Most buyers, when ready to buy, need people now. Yet, they often have to wait while we go find available talent. In this iTunes and “download it now” society of ours, continuing to make buyers wait will only perpetuate our necessary evil status. The companies I work with that are employing innovative practices to have more of who clients need the moment they need them are grabbing market share from competitors and creating market share by getting more of the 95% buying every year.
  3. Give escalating value for an escalating investment, without escalating labor and costs.
    Rather than giving away too much for too little, giving people choices differentiates your value while giving them more than one way to buy. This shifts the conversation from “do you want to buy” to “which choice will you buy.” This one innovation is transforming companies from great to greater. These firms have higher margins, lower labor intensity, and deeper diversification in the market.
  4. Glean the impact you’re having, then, deepen the impact.
    Do great work, then make the work greater is the mantra for anyone wanting to forever win the hearts and minds of more buyers. This requires continually adding value without increasing your burden, innovating without complicating, and evolving your offerings as your customers and the markets evolve. Ongoing dialogues and provocative questions, as in the first step, provide the inputs to improve your outputs. Case in point, one of the leading privately held national companies is experiencing its highest customer retention rates in their history. Their CEO, for whom I serve as an advisor, attributes this success to their focus of doing great work, then finding ways to make that work of even greater benefit to their clients and candidates.

Whether the staffing and recruiting industry remains a necessary evil or becomes more of a trusted ally is up to those of us in the industry. I hope you’ll join me in making this happen, whether that’s as a client, or on your own as a colleague on the same mission. Together, we can contribute to a dramatic shift in perception that is long overdue.

Views: 235

Comment by Anna Brekka on June 2, 2014 at 12:13pm

Great line " Do great work, then make the work greater" - thank you Scott. 

Comment by Keith Halperin on June 3, 2014 at 8:04pm

@Scott: IMHO, clients can be valuable allies and good "friends" when

Clients need work that can be done best or only by skilled, professional, experienced 3PRs who are worth paying 30% fees for, and when clients feel comfortable paying that. When these conditions AREN'T met (clients want quality on the cheap, or recruiters are trying to get 20% fees for selling board-scraped candidates presented by newbies to clients too ignorant to know there're'much more cost-effective alternatives) ,then they can't be "friends""

You didn't finish the phrase:

"More than 70% of current and prospective buyers see you as a necessary evil...and the remaining nearly 30% don't regard you as necessary, just evil."


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