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Staffing Industry Recruiting: What Works – and What Are the Biggest Challenges?

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Anyone who works in the staffing industry understands that, in today’s economy and employment market, finding talent is hard. Selling staffing services is hard, too. And the range of available tools and techniques is dizzying!

So, when it comes to recruiting, sales and marketing, what works best?

In July and August, we conducted a nationwide survey of nearly 500 staffing professionals to answer this simple question. And today, I’m beginning a series of posts to answer it. In each post, I’ll present survey findings and identify the things that make recruiting, sales and marketing easier (and deliver the highest ROI), so you can drive better results on both sides of the employment equation.

The Data: Biggest Recruiting Challenges

Q: “How big is each of the following recruiting challenges?”

If you look at the table below, you’ll see that skills gaps and inbound sourcing are top recruiting challenges:

  • The ability to find candidates with the skills and experience employers require is, not surprisingly, the biggest recruiting challenge cited. Nearly 30% of respondents rate “skill gap” as “extremely challenging.“
  • Candidate sourcing (inbound and direct) is listed as the second- and third-largest recruiting challenge. Combined, over 31% of respondents listed sourcing as “extremely challenging.“
  • Thankfully, getting candidates to show up for interviews and assignments ranks lowest on respondents’ list of recruiting challenges. Over 60% of respondents ranked candidate reliability as an average or lower challenge.


Q: “How effective is each of the following recruiting tools?”

Responses to this question indicate that good people know good people – and so does LinkedIn Recruiter:

  • Referrals are the most effective recruiting tool, with over 43% of respondents rating them as “extremely effective.” This is no surprise, as recent research by Glassdoor and SilkRoad supports this data.
  • Although it’s a relatively new tool, LinkedIn Recruiter is already becoming a valuable resource for staffing and recruiting professionals – beating out major job boards (Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, Simply Hired, Dice) and company websites as sources for talent.
  • Notable “other” effective recruiting tools are: continuing education venues, hosted open houses, and LinkedIn Inmail.


Recruiting Takeaways

What did we learn from the responses to these questions? First, recruiting and retaining exceptional talent – people with the skills, experience and work ethic employers need – is likely to remain an ongoing challenge. To find and keep the best:

  1. Offer more training resources to close skills gaps.
  2. Get creative! For critical skill gaps, consider the feasibility of partnering with outside training centers to up-skill field associates, or having more experienced associates provide training to other employees.
  3. Gather data to forecast talent supply and demand in the markets you serve – so you can anticipate where your clients will likely need the most assistance, and focus your efforts there.
  4. Periodically review compensation to ensure you are paying at or above market rate.
  5. Educate your clients about talent supply and market pay rate, so you can encourage them to pay enough to attract the best.
  6. Train your sales and recruiting team to educate clients about the value of adequate lead-time, especially in specialties experiencing the biggest shortages. Connect the dots for them between proactive recruitment process management and staffing/hiring success.

If you want to improve your recruiting results:

  1. Improve your website. Optimize Job Seeker, About and Contact pages to get more candidates to convert. Add videos featuring hot jobs to your site to increase engagement. Politely, but directly, ask for referrals throughout your site.
  2. Improve your job search and apply features.
  3. Make sure every job is on your website – and is optimized for search engines.
  4. Simplify your apply process – every field over three reduces response!
  5. Build your employment brand. In everything you do, make it clear that your staffing or recruiting firm values its most important asset – its people!
  6. Strive to become a best place to work in your local market or an Inavero Best of Staffing Talent award winner.
  7. Proactively manage your social reviews.
  8. Collect and display more testimonials on your website.
  9. Be more active on social media and in your local community.
  10. Create a killer referral program.
  11. Invest in technology to streamline/formalize your process and ensure that good referrals don’t “fall through the cracks.”
  12. Get creative with the incentives you offer, considering non-traditional options (e.g., charitable donations, tickets to hot local events) or tiered bonuses for hard-to-fill roles.
  13. To maximize results, ask for referrals often and make participation as easy as possible.
  14. If you regularly recruit for professional or high-level technical roles, investigate the value of LinkedIn Recruiter. With powerful search tools and advanced recruiting filters, the benefit will likely outweigh the cost of being able to pinpoint qualified resources.

Up Next: Bridging the Technical Skills Gap

Our next post will explore ways to overcome the talent shortages and skills gaps prevalent in the staffing industry. And if you don’t want to wait, you can access complete survey results and insights here:


About our 2016 industry survey:

In July and August 2016, we conducted an online survey of staffing industry professionals to find out what works best when it comes to their firms’ sales, marketing and recruiting efforts. The survey was completed by nearly 500 individuals located throughout the U.S. representing a wide range of staffing specialties and company sizes.


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