Job candidates are hard to find, shouldn’t we simplify the process?
Eliminate 5 common hiring obstacles.
The pandemic, three rounds of stimulus checks, remote work, and the gig economy continue to limit the number of job candidates walking in the doors of staffing agencies. It’s harder than ever to find good quality employees, and especially to find them quickly to fill your open roles.
Being in the staffing industry and staffing software business for 39 years, job candidates and job orders have always been an interesting mix. Often, you have either too many of one or not enough of the other. Over the course of the last several months, for many, there haven’t been enough job orders, however, for most staffing firms job candidates are most certainly even more difficult to find and attract. Especially now.
In March, the unemployment rate moved down to 6%, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. “These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Job growth was widespread in March, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and construction.”
It really can be hard to affect your staffing firm’s ability to find good talent. From experience, the easiest and most successful practice in attracting good people was to work with great clients. The job opening and company that we worked with that was hiring, was the strongest pull. But lately, that is not enough anymore.
What is actually in a staffing agency’s hands, that can be changed and improved upon to get people in the door? It’s critical that if you do attract a job candidate, that you ensure you eliminate as many obstacles to your hiring process as possible.
Here are 5 action items you can take to overcome obstacles in your staffing agency’s hiring process:
- Respond – It’s not ideal to your permanent staffers, but someone needs to be reachable and reply while the interest is hot. Provide cell phone numbers and reply to email inquiries while a job candidate is interested. If you don’t reply to a few questions a candidate may have to get started in the application process, or to see if they are even qualified or interested, you will miss out on even more candidates, fast.
There is definite room for improvement in response time throughout the application process in the staffing industry and actually in any industry. There is no standard response time for a candidate to have questions answered before they apply or after. Staffing agencies can control a large portion of this, you typically can’t control how quick a client responds (although see # 3 and 4 in this list), but you can positively affect answering all job candidate questions before and during their application and work experience with you.
Some recruiters are religious about checking their ATS (Applicant Tracking System—the software that holds your application) regularly while others rarely check it at all.
My staffing firm required our recruiters to review all job candidate online applications the day or within 24 hours of receipt. And, we didn’t really need to reinforce this when our Recruiters were constantly in need of new candidates to review. Our Recruiters would reach out to each candidate by phone or e-mail and ask them to come in to interview in person and complete their online application process, as soon as their online application appeared in our software system.
I know this is not always the case as sometimes applications may not be viewed at all if the employer already has “enough” applicants. And, some Recruiters may find it difficult to review too many candidates while others may have multiple unqualified applicants. But, again, in a limited job applicant market, communication is key.
- Simplify your Job Application process – make sure your job candidates can answer a few short questions and upload their CV quickly to apply to your openings. I’m assuming most staffing firms have an online application process by now. Applicants should be able to access your employment application from their phone, computer, tablet or workstation. If they can’t, you’re already behind in a market with limited applicants applying for work daily.
With online job posting and employment online application software, the hiring process is made easy. You will be able to screen and vet more applicants for every position. A flexible system offers a high degree of customization for your firm and shortens the time frame between your client’s need and the right person to fill that role.
Honestly, everybody wins when applicants can apply directly to your website. They get the convenience of applying online and uploading their resume, while you save time and energy when the data is downloaded directly into a staffing software package.
Ensure that the applicants you bring in are better informed and more qualified for the job at hand, which makes for a greatly simplified and optimal identification and hiring process. The staffer may also pull an online applicant report, by date range, to review when and if the applicants were contacted to come to the office for an interview. This report is the lifeblood of a staffing firm, as candidates can be scarce and following up with those that have applied online can be critical to ensuring your job orders are filled.
- Shorten your Interview process – how many interviews between your staffing firm and your client are you requiring your job applicants to go through and what is the waiting time between each step?
The best formula is a pre-screen phone interview, one in-person staffing agency interview and then a panel for positions requiring a client interview. Staffing firms are a 3rd party so they will need to interview in person before moving to a client interview but using a panel for a decision can make this a quick final step. That’s it. If the panel needs to be made up of your firm and the client’s staff together, do so, to alleviate a fourth or fifth interview. Make it happen, to fill the position.
Staffing agencies commonly use phone interviews to quickly narrow the pool of applicants with the right qualifications to invite for in-person interviews. This is an important step to quickly identify and recruit the right candidates for each role. The next step would be an interview by the staffing firm. Having two, three or more interviews after that is excessive and results in a much longer amount of time between receiving a job order and filling the role. If your staffing firm and client effectively collaborate and can compose a qualified panel to interview, the hiring process can be shortened dramatically.
According to Glassdoor, “by meeting with a variety of people, candidates get a comprehensive picture of the culture and the job itself, and team members get a strong sense of the contribution the job seeker will make as an employee. Make sure you prepare interviewers with the job description and the candidate’s resume. Also, don’t forget to identify a panel leader, and assign roles to each interviewer based on job function and/or expertise.”
- Collaborate with your Client Hiring Managers – a study by Bersin and Deloitte found that the single biggest factor contributing to recruiter performance is their relationships with their hiring managers. By having productive and honest conversations with your hiring managers, you will build stronger relationships and be able to hire more effectively and efficiently.
Nicholas Meyler, president of the executive search firm Wingate Dunross, finds that you need to have real conversations with Human Resource Managers within each client to review basic job requirements vs. simply receiving and advertising an optimal list of qualifications. You should also discuss clear expectations and explain how collaborative each search needs to be. “I think that the hardest problem recruiters face is dealing with clients who don’t understand that search is a collaborative process… Especially in very technical fields, some hiring managers tend to have the opinion that it isn’t worth their time to share information or feedback with recruiters (‘because they won’t understand’). This is a major problem, because without that feedback, results will necessarily be nil.”
- Start your job candidates – years ago, client interviews did not exist when using a staffing agency. A client would call a staffing firm with a job opening and start date and the staffing agency sourced and selected the best candidate to accept the assignment, and he/she reported to work. Trust your staffing firm and allow their interview and screening process to work.
We need to remember that staffing agencies provide employees on a temporary basis and should focus on the touted benefit of this being a “try before you hire” situation for BOTH the client and the employee. Don’t overthink it. Companies should rely on their staffing firm to interview rather than them, whenever able. Allow the staffing firm to start their selected employee, giving him/her the opportunity to prove themselves while determining if the company is a good fit for them as well. Both must agree to a potential permanent hire situation, if the role lends itself to long term employment.
So much of what I’ve read lately has discussed how difficult it’s been to find job candidates, noting even more so in the last three weeks. Not too long-ago firms could have 50 – 70 applicants per day, and are now lucky to have even 10. Competition with other staffing firms, permanent position openings, and the reduced amount of people available to work makes filling your open roles challenging in 2021. Finding efficiencies wherever possible is more than needed, it’s required.
Our all-in-one staffing software solution, provides a multitude of remote hiring tools to reach the 93% of job seekers who conduct their employment search online. Improve your job postings with our online job posting software with 70% of employees using job boards as their number one employment resource.
Lynn Connor, COATS Staffing Software, Business Development (800)888-58944