There’s a Staffing Firm-Buyer Disconnect. And It’s in the Marketing.

Are staffing firms marketing what customers are buying? The short answer is no. In a recent Staffing Industry Analysts’ Buyer Survey, we asked buyers of staffing services, when you think of recruiting a staffing firm, what criteria do you use?

We asked this is two ways. The first question: What’s your top criteria?

The second: What’s your top three criteria?

By both these measures, worker quality dominated. More than half of the buyers surveyed said worker quality is the top criteria by which they pick a staffing firm. And when answering the second question, 78 percent said worker quality in the top 3 criteria.

Looking at this, you would think that staffing firms are emphasizing worker quality in their marketing. Right?

Wrong. In a different survey of staffing firms, we asked what staffing firms are focusing on.

Staffing firm managers were asked to identify what qualities of their service offering they most emphasize in their sales and marketing efforts. Answers varied broadly; 12 different characteristics of service were selected, and no single characteristic of service scored more than 27%.  Only 18% of staffing firms emphasize worker quality.

Buyers, if you want the worker quality you seek, then ask for it. Staffing firms are taking it for granted. They think quality is part of the deal, but they are not marketing it, even if they have it.  And for the staffing firms, if you have quality, sell it. Marketing 101 is selling what people want to buy. Don’t be shy about it.

Subadhra Sriram

Subadhra Sriram
Subadhra Sriram is Staffing Industry Analysts' editor and publisher, media products. She can be reached at SSriram (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Subadhra Sriram

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2 Responses to “There’s a Staffing Firm-Buyer Disconnect. And It’s in the Marketing.”

  1. PittisIt says:

    Further, certain staffing segments have successfully fought off VMS (Locum Tenens in healthcare for example), and I believe this results in better vendor/supplier and buyer satisfaction! Coincidence? I don’t think so!

    We proactively steer away from VMS/MSP business and actually turn down clients that don’t provide concrete feedback. How can we be expected to deliver quality if the client can’t articulate their needs or perception of what quality means to them? We’re many things, but not mind readers.

  2. PittisIt says:

    This might be true, but when buyers insert a platform that rewards speed or volume over quality, firms are not given the opportunity to articulate quality. This drives many firms to incent their recruiters to throw resumes at the req until they get an interview request. 

    If buyers want quality, they need to engage their suppliers on a more individualized basis and hold them accountable on the metrics that “really matter.” Filled reqs are not an indication of quality, nor is submittals per open req.

    Further, quality is so subjective and hard to quantify. Many times the submittal fits the req 100%, but the culture fit is missing. Can SIA help us get more metrics on what buyers mean when they say “quality?”

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