Employers across all sectors face challenges when it comes to recruiting for the workforce. That’s one of the reasons they turn to staffing firms in the first place. But even employment agencies that do nothing but source talent all day, every day, are not exempt from frustrations and obstacles. Here are the top 4 challenges facing staffing agencies.
Unrealistic Client Expectations
The folks at Haley Marketing conducted a substantial survey in 2016 that captured responses from 500 staffing agencies. Most admitted that finding talent with the required skills was the toughest nut to crack and one of the top 4 challenges facing staffing agencies. Unfortunately, employers can have impractical ideas when it comes to what they expect in terms of talent. It would be incredible to be able to find the perfect fit for every open position. However, there’s no way this is going to happen. It’s very frustrating to find a great candidate only to have the client turn them down because they didn’t tick off every single box on the list of requirements for skills and experience.
Smart staffing agencies arm themselves with data about the realities of the skills gap that can exist even when unemployment is high. It’s important to have a heart-to-heart about those requirements up front with a focus on what the client wants to achieve rather than just what’s on their wish list. Of course, sometimes employers have to experience the disappointment of letting “good enough” candidates get away a couple of times before they acknowledge that they need to revisit their expectations. Staffing agencies may want to situate themselves as strategic partners who can step in to assist by helping employers review their training programs. It might be possible to find areas where employers can add development to close the skills gap after hiring.
Applicants Who Are Less Than Honest
People lie. Desperate people lie more. People looking for work through a staffing agency are often desperate; so, dishonesty is one of the top 4 challenges facing staffing agencies today. You do the math. It should come as no surprise that candidates often stretch the truth or outright falsify their applications in order to land a job. One CBS Money Watch report revealed that as many as 35 percent of resumes contain deceptive information about past employment. The problem is that when candidates are less than honest, it hurts your reputation. The host employer is counting on your agency to fully vet candidates and relying on that due diligence to make hiring decisions. Confirming skills and experience requires more than an interview—because recruiters and people in general aren’t very good at telling when someone is lying to them.
Designing the full qualifying process to catch inconsistencies is important. This includes background checks, credit checks, reference checks, and other types of screening as is typical for any staffing firm. But skill specific and task-oriented tests also play an important role. This is an area where it’s possible to have some fun and get creative, developing ingenious ways to test whether an applicant who claims expertise is as much of a whiz as they claim. And of course, there’s always an online presence and social media search, the new best tools for staffing agencies that want to dig below the surface to understand the character and tendencies of candidates.
Staffing the Staffing Firm
Yes, finding people who are excellent recruiters is difficult. It’s even tougher to find the right people for the business development side of the agency, where personnel are responsible for building the base of host employers as clients. Finding someone who can get past the gatekeepers is tough. As an agency, having something to offer besides contingent labor may help differentiate your firm from competitors. This might mean developing a partnership with a training firm, recruiting for specialized skills like IT and Sales, or offering Recruitment Process Outsourcing to attract the mid-sized market.
Finding Business Development team members who are already expert networkers can also make a big difference for your revenue potential. Look for professionals who are well connected, who have a reputation for making good introductions for those in their network (the best way to ensure reciprocation), and who can interact with business decision makers outside of the workplace. For example, a smart networker may find a spot on a non-profit advisory board where CEOs and other executives also tend to volunteer.
Keeping Up with Candidate Sourcing
It might seem like the entire pool of unemployed and employed-but-seeking candidates are available. But the truth is that not every applicant is going to be interested in working with a staffing firm. And often, a high volume of the best talent is not necessarily going to be connected with you—unless you make a point of finding them. Referrals remain the top source of good quality candidates according to most agencies. But building the referral pipeline is a time and resource intensive process making it one of the top 4 challenges facing staffing agencies.
Interestingly, job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn recruiting tools, and inbound traffic to an agency’s website are also effective. But they come in very distant behind referrals. The challenge here is more of an opportunity. It highlights the fact that there is a chance for a recruiting agency to really pull ahead of the pack by becoming an expert at leveraging one of these other platforms or channels in ways that other firms haven’t figured out yet. As one example, with LinkedIn currently undergoing a complete transformation and limiting the functionality of its free services, professionals are looking for the next business networking site to come to the fore. The first recruiters to establish a strong presence in these emerging platforms may enjoy an edge.
For more information about the top 4 challenges facing staffing agencies and ways to make your staffing agency more effective and competitive, talk to our team about incorporating a fully virtual onboarding solution designed for the staffing industry.