The staffing industry needs to change

Anyone who has been in staffing/recruiting for awhile knows the feeling when a prospective client asks to see your pricing structure. They not only want to know your profit margins, they want to influence them. You feel invaded and disrespected. What other industry allows the customer to dictate pricing? Clearly there is a gap between the value proposition of staffing firms and client perceptions. It’s time for change.

The industry’s obsession with quotas and making numbers has bred an atmosphere that rightfully draws skepticism from the talent we hope to represent, and the clients we aim to service. We’ve taken on the reputation of used-car salespeople, and are asked to wear badges at networking events like some recruiter scarlet letter. The industry has lost respect, but we have only ourselves to blame.

Circling companies that are hiring and aggressively recruiting talent like sharks with blood in the water communicates an air of desperation. We’ve been pursuing whatever business is available in the market so aggressively that it’s weakened our value, and given way to poor business practices like not vetting the talent we represent (not meeting people face to face? Really?!), pitting competitors against each other in price wars, sending resumes to companies without candidate knowledge or approval, and just generally acting desperate. Now staffing companies are resorting to tactics like sign twirling to attract talent and using roller skating biblical characters to promote themselves. We’ve become the fast food of the employment industry.

I’ve been in and out of the staffing industry since 1993, but my exposure goes even further, having worked through staffing agencies in administrative, light industrial and creative capacities. My first job in staffing was as an outside sales representative for a large national brand. Later I worked inside running a full desk. I’ve worked for four staffing companies and have owned two. With a few exceptions, I’ve seen every company make decisions motivated purely by sales and profits. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Over the years, I’ve met so many great people working in the staffing industry. If there is a common thread of discontent with these people, it usually revolves around their desire to provide relationship-based solutions to their clients, and frustrations with their organization’s resistance to any activity that does not lead directly to sales and profits. We have to strike a balance.

Some might read this and think it’s written by someone who’s out of touch with the realities of business. A history of incredible revenue growth, happy clients, rising talent, strong relationships and motivated employees says otherwise. There is another way.

Gimme Some Closure

John Lennon once sang…. All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

What I hear from most job seekers is gimme some closure.

The number one complaint candidates for jobs relate to me is that they never hear back from the companies where they interviewed. Had interviews, never heard anything. Sent my resume, never heard anything.

For employers, here is why you should acknowledge people who send resumes and call back people who have interviewed but you did not hire: people talk.

And they are talking in new ways. According to Fast Company, not only are they talking, they are taking it to social media.

But, the reasons to reply to people are not to only protect your brand and your reputation. For one, it’s the right thing to do. Second, while the candidate may not be right for your current opening, they may be right in the future for something else with your organization. And, this is not only your brand; this is your recruitment brand. People talk and their network has heard that you, as an employer, do not treat job candidates with respect.

That network may include people you may want to hire. The candidate you did not call back may be a friend to the candidate you do want to hire. Think of the message you are giving both.

Your brand is damaged. Your ability to hire is damaged.

Do they right thing.

Give some closure.