At the start of 2015, buzz was growing around employment branding, consultant engagement and major investments in technology (see the full Q1 Seen & Heard: Talent Management Rundown).
Q2 is now complete and these topics have jumped even higher on the priority list for most staffing firms. Anything that can help fuel recruiting (both for internal positions and consultants) and re-hire (to retain top consultants and contract employees) is at the core of many initiatives. Here are more trends that we’re seeing and hearing about right now.
Everyone’s adding salespeople and recruiters.
As Industry Consultant Tom Nunn shared with me recently: It’s all about ABR at the moment (and in his opinion, should always be). ABR = always be recruiting. Just about everyone I talk to wants to hire great talent for revenue-producing roles. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t having much luck. A few common themes have emerged from these conversations:
- Professionals are unaware of potential careers within the staffing industry, or have a negative perception of the industry overall. It’s exciting to see this stigma lessen as Lisa Maxwell, founder and managing partner of Gerard Stewart, outlined in this blog. Industry associations like the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance are always working to highlight and advance the industry as well with programs like this new one from ASA, aiming to promote careers within the staffing industry, or certification programs from TechServe to validate the skills and professionalism of the field.
- Great salespeople and recruiters have more offers than ever right now – why would they choose you? Employment branding is getting serious consideration right now because of these offers. I’ve heard from many growing firms lately, and they just can’t attract critical up and comers with 5 to 8 years of experience. I encourage you to do some research immediately and see how these coveted top performers see you. Then, come up with a plan to enhance your image and tell your authentic story. Search for your company on Google via your mobile device and grade yourself on your own candidate experience. After Google, look at reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed and check out your presence on social media. Now, pair this with what people find on your website. This is primarily the path that salespeople are taking when they look at new opportunities. As CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior study reveals, 71% of salespeople are using Google in the first phase of their search, and 76% are looking at social media. What are they finding?
With so many options, candidates aren’t wasting time on companies that feel antiquated because of their online presence. The best salespeople and recruiters want to be proud of what they’re selling and become an extension of a brand they believe in and want to represent.
Almost everyone is trying to accelerate the efforts of the existing team.
Since finding new people is a challenge, many sales managers are hanging on to B players right now and trying to ramp them up. Many are investing in improving the talk tracks, sales tools and marketing efforts surrounding salespeople and recruiters to give them better chances to get more meetings, and accelerate deals and placements in the pipeline. Here are a few ideas to see if there are opportunities to increase conversions in your pipelines:
- Review a few sales outreach emails and LinkedIn messages to evaluate what your teams are sending. Survey the team to see what’s getting the best response and share the most effective messages with the group. Next, look at your sales pitch deck and ask three people on your team to share a recent deck they have used. Look to see 1) if it’s the same and 2) if it truly tells your company’s story in a way that differentiates. The pitch deck might not be used in the meeting, but when you provide the prospect with it as a follow up that may be circulated internally, you should be confident it will make you look good when you’re not there to explain it. We’ve recently worked on several projects to update a sales pitch deck with both new content and design. Across every project, the goals have been the same: make it shorter, make it more visual and add more depth via proof points and stories.
- Some firms are at a point where they’re not using sales pitch decks at all, since they’re having deeper conversations to understand their customers’ challenges and how talent can help solve those challenges. Chances are, you or your sales teams have read the Challenger Sale, which focuses on going beyond building relationships to understanding and solving problems. If you’re not looking at your current team to evaluate and upgrade, I encourage you to start now – as your competitors have done it already.
The most innovative companies are still evaluating technology and systems to help fuel growth.
If you want to keep growing and scaling, your current technologies should be working optimally. Further, you need to keep a pulse on the technology that will impact your ability to perform at higher levels.
- Some staffing firms are even investing in the next talent technology to ensure they are at the forefront of leveraging technology for their clients. For example, Gene Holtzman, CEO of New York City-based Mitchell Martin, Inc., is a driving force behind Talent Tech Labs, an accelerator and incubator for talent acquisition technology companies. They are tracking the entire ecosystem of technology in this space, helping to categorize and make sense of the countless companies emerging every month. I recommend downloading the latest release of their Talent Tech Trends report, which includes the most recent version of the ecosystem.
- iLabor is another technology solution gaining traction right now, especially with large IT staffing firms. As recruiting becomes increasingly competitive, more firms are working to optimize their supplier networks to increase fill rates. With nearly 30% of revenue often coming through third-party staffing suppliers for some large firms, monetizing this channel is a huge opportunity. When evaluating solutions like this, consider integration with your ATS, performance metrics available and overall transparency so you can start basing decisions on this data and improving your own program.
- In my Q1 “Seen & Heard” post, I referenced Inavero data related to missed opportunities to stay close to contractors on assignment. Fast forward six months and Inavero has launched a beta product that some top tech staffing firms are trying to impact their re-hire rate. This real-time engagement of their consultants is intended to increase loyalty and ensure their coveted talent is satisfied and connected. Using a query from the ATS that provides data to Inavero via a file transfer, the Inavero system sends surveys to consultants at three critical times: during onboarding, after 90 days and when someone has just completed an assignment. These ongoing surveys are providing recruiting managers an unprecedented glimpse into what’s happening with their consultants when they are on assignment so they can adjust and respond accordingly.
Overall, this quarter was rich with firms focusing more attention on what’s lacking internally and how their leadership teams can quickly and effectively course correct. Right now there are many things going “right” for many firms. But the most proactive firms today are self-imposing these reality checks to determine where they currently stand in the big picture, and how they can improve to move forward in the future.