Staffing Industry
January 9, 2024

Strategic Staffing: Your Competitive Edge in 2024’s Optimistic Job Market

Despite the economic uncertainty that defined much of last year, a powerful counterpoint is rising: optimism. Recent surveys, like Robert Half's “State of U.S. Hiring for 2024,” paint a much brighter picture, revealing that companies across diverse industries plan to expand their workforce in the new year. This presents a welcome change for employers scouting skilled talent and job seekers eager to secure their dream positions. But in this still fluctuating landscape, where the right fit is crucial for success, a lot of companies are focusing on bringing hiring in house. Unfortunately, that strategy comes with a substantial amount of challenges. To capture the optimism and opportunity of 2024, staffing agencies remain the ultimate bridge builders.

Optimism Tempered by Realism

For 2024, corporate recruiters and HR leaders may still have a rough go of trying to leverage internal recruiting or even direct hiring solutions on their own. Unfilled job openings continue to impact employers, complicated by a scarcity of needed skills. Candidates command more power in choosing their next employers, and they’ve become more selective. The insecurity left in the wake of the 2023’s economic downturns has made established employees more reluctant to search for new work. Retention is also an issue. 

With the fallout from the pandemic, the great resignation, and the great reshuffle, the topic of employee turnover and retention continues to haunt the mind of every leader. According to Gallagher’s “Organizational Wellbeing Report 2023,” the number one operational priority for organizations is retaining their talent. This resonates for many reasons.

  • The current cost of employee turnover is, on average, 1-2 times the employee’s salary (Integrated Benefits Institute Study 2023).
  • About 61% of employers are having difficulty retaining employees, based on the “Integrated Benefits Institute Study 2023.”
  • Today, half of all organizations have a turnover rate that exceeds 15%, and one in five  has a rate greater than 30%, from data in Gallagher’s report.
  • EY’s “2023 Work Reimagined Survey” reveals that the Gen Z and Millennials in the United States are most likely to leave their jobs this year (53%); and 20% of those working in the technology/hardware industry are planning on leaving their current job within the next three to six months.

The transactional tactics of matching skills, work experience, and compensation to job descriptions no longer bear the same fruits, especially among the younger generations of talent dominating the labor market. Finding exceptional workers requires a commitment to launching targeted, marketing-centric recruitment efforts: today’s job seekers aren’t poring over want ads or searching traditional job boards. And because these next-generation workers have placed a greater emphasis on an employer’s culture and vision, branding becomes an integral part of those campaigns. So as new complications sprout to dot the employment landscape, increasing complexities in the recruiting process further contribute to the challenges facing hiring managers. 

Internal recruiters often struggle to support multiple managers and departments, with limited resources, sourcing tools, talent pools, networks, and even experience. Some businesses still cling to the idea that staffing agencies exist solely to place temp workers. The reality is that with their resources, experience, and reach, they have evolved into talent curators who have spent their time innovating ideal hiring solutions for all classes of workers. In short, they still represent greater hope for beleaguered employers. Outsourcing in this century is no longer a simple matter of convenience and cost containment; it’s tapping into the expertise, tools, and resources of dedicated labor aficionados. 

Dedicated Staffing Professionals Produce Higher Quality Talent Faster

Total Commitment

Let’s face it, a company’s internal hiring team is unlikely to rival that of a dedicated workforce solutions provider, because that’s all the latter does. Inhouse recruiters represent more overhead in a business. For all the cost cutting that defined 2023, labor took the biggest hit. Executives are hesitant to add more mouths to feed. On the other hand, a staffing firm’s professionals are entirely committed to sourcing and recruiting. They generally have fewer assignments to focus on than internal recruiters, and their compensation is predicated on performance, not activity. This intrinsic motivation drives them to provide superior candidates and customer service. They’re also unencumbered by the demands placed on corporate recruiters who may be pressed to make hasty hiring decisions to meet deadlines. Staffing professionals have the time corporate recruiters don’t to invest in canvassing and marketing to the best candidates.  

On average, staffing curators spend 80% to 90% percent of their efforts developing networks and courting passive talent. Corporate recruiters, conversely, often have time enough only to source active candidates.

Discovery and Planning

Staffing providers are adept at creating performance profiles that define and sell the job – its rewards, opportunities and challenges. They partner with hiring managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role: how it relates to the work, how it fits the client’s culture, how it can shape sourcing initiatives and how it will encourage the right candidates to apply.

Interaction and Engagement

Skilled professionals are, according to industry figures, being considered by at least three competing organizations. They may no longer have employers on the ropes, but they still have their choice of companies. They have the latitude to reject non-competitive offers, lackluster employment brands, incompatible values and environments that don’t convey a sense of commitment to workers. Staffing curators talk to prospective candidates, both active and passive, to identify talent who will be suitable for current and future positions with a variety of clients. 

  • They determine the business objectives of their clients and the career goals of their talent, developing communities of meshing values that support both needs.
  • They make the candidate experience the foundation on which everything in the community is built. 
  • They target communications to their audience, using emails, social media, newsletters, career sites and other resources that are the most accessible, meaningful and preferred among their community members.
  • Recruiting professionals share information on career advancement strategies, personal branding tips, upcoming opportunities, client business cultures, employees, perks, compensation, innovations and more. They develop and curate these messages through a variety of media, including blogs, podcasts and videos.

Strategic Partners and Advisors to Clients, MSPs and Talent

Staffing providers know how to navigate the needs of multiple stakeholders in the hiring process: hiring managers, procurement leaders and the compliance-driven members of HR. When candidates run the gauntlet of HR, they often feel no sense of personal rapport, connection to the organization’s vision or principles, or active communication. Instead, professionals frequently lament, they take away only the basic requirements for employment, rules of compliance, codes of conduct and an overview of the compensation structure.

Staffing professionals don’t just say that hiring is one of the most important activities for successful companies, they embody that attitude. They speak directly with talent, treat them as priorities, keep in touch with them at regular intervals, follow through when they promise to, and treat every candidate as though they’re being recruited aggressively by competitors. 

More Robust Networks

Staffing curators understand that talent don’t simply congregate on job boards; potential talent can be found and enticed anywhere, even when they’re not actively seeking new ventures.

Staffing professionals tap into alumni networks, professional recommendations from related associations, and solicit referrals from niche associations where particular talent are likely to gather. They also join relevant industry groups and subscribe to targeted lists, directories and community organizations.

Recruiters at staffing agencies concentrate on networking-based strategies. Their online and offline sources are as diverse as the talent pools they develop, built from a combination of job boards, social media, online marketplaces, associations, professional directories, special interest groups, and more. 

Everlasting and Ever-evolving Benefits of Staffing Providers

For clients seeking to capitalize on this hiring wave, staffing agencies offer a wealth of expertise and resources that internal teams struggle to match.

  • Targeted Talent Acquisition: Gone are the days of generic job postings and hoping for the best. Staffing agencies possess a deep understanding of specific industries and skill sets. They leverage this knowledge to build targeted talent pools, utilizing specialized sourcing techniques and candidate databases to identify individuals who perfectly align with your company's unique needs and culture. You gain access to a team of skilled recruiters who work tirelessly to unearth the hidden gems within your desired talent pool, presenting you with a shortlist of pre-vetted candidates who possess the technical skills, the soft skills, and the cultural fit to thrive in your organization. This hyper-focused approach saves time and resources, allowing you to focus on interviewing and onboarding the perfect candidates, with confidence that you’re making the best possible hiring decisions.
  • Streamlined Hiring Process: The traditional hiring process can unfurl into a stream of resumes, interviews, and reference checks. Staffing providers handle the initial screening and interview rounds, freeing up your time for in-depth discussions with the most promising candidates. Their experience in crafting compelling job descriptions, conducting effective interviews, and navigating salary negotiations ensures a smooth and seamless hiring experience, minimizing disruptions to your workflow and maximizing your chances of landing the ideal talent.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Scalability: Building and maintaining an in-house recruitment team can be a significant financial investment. Staffing agencies offer a cost-effective alternative, providing access to a vast network of talent without the need for additional overhead costs. This flexibility allows you to scale your recruitment efforts up or down based on your specific needs, ensuring you're always equipped to adapt to the ever-evolving job market.
  • Risk Mitigation and Compliance: Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake, both financially and reputationally. Staffing agencies act as your risk mitigation partners, ensuring compliance with all relevant labor laws and regulations. Their pre-employment screenings and background checks help identify potential red flags early on, protecting your company from legal liabilities and ensuring a safe and productive work environment.
  • Access to Specialized Talent: The modern job market demands specialized skill sets in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Finding these niche competencies can be a daunting task for in-house recruiters. Staffing agencies, however, have built strong relationships with professionals in these specialized domains, giving you access to a pool of talent you might otherwise miss. This ensures you stay ahead of the curve and attract the cutting-edge talent necessary to drive innovation and success in your organization.

Talent Advocates and Mentors

The benefits of partnering with a staffing provider extend beyond the needs of employers. For job seekers, these agencies can be valuable allies in their quest for the perfect career opportunity.

  • Career Guidance and Coaching: The job search can be a confusing and overwhelming process. Staffing agencies provide personalized career guidance and coaching, helping to identify a worker’s strengths, refine their resumes and cover letters, and prepare them for interviews with confidence. They act as personal career advocates, ensuring that candidates present themselves in the best possible light and land the job that aligns with their aspirations and skills.
  • Access to Hidden Job Opportunities: Not all promising positions are publicly advertised. Workforce solutions agencies have access to a network of hidden job openings, giving candidates a leg up on the competition. They actively connect talent with potential employers who might not be actively seeking candidates through traditional channels, expanding their job search horizons and increasing their chances of landing a dream job.
  • Salary Negotiation Support: Negotiating a salary can be a nerve-wracking experience. Staffing agencies, with their in-depth knowledge of industry salary trends and compensation packages, can provide instrumental guidance and support during this crucial stage. They help candidates understand their worth, negotiate confidently, and secure a compensation package that reflects their skills and experience.
  • Networking Opportunities: Staffing providers often host networking events and workshops that connect job seekers with potential employers and industry professionals. These events provide opportunities to build professional networks, learn about new career paths, and gain insights.

A New Hope for Holistic Hiring

Recruiting isn’t just time-consuming and challenging, it requires a different approach. Today’s candidates are different, and so are their philosophies, goals, motivations and job-seeking processes. Attracting top talent to an organization demands new hiring models and sourcing techniques that will match high-performing assets to crucial business needs — in shorter times and with less overhead costs. 

Staffing providers offer businesses so much more than temporary talent. They excel at direct hire placements, executive search, Statement of Work (SOW) contracting and all other categories of labor — both permanent and contingent. And their time to fill rates are significantly less than those for traditional workers being courted by a company’s internal hiring teams. This year will mark a critical labor point for businesses across the country. And to seize the opportunities that optimistic forecasts illustrate, it may be time to consider handing over the reins of your hiring to professionals who’ve committed themselves to it with superior results.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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