Are Candidates Now Calling the Shots? Take Back Control with Better Talent Management


The good news? Unemployment levels are declining. The bad news? Well, unfortunately, that’s manifold:

  • Baby boomers are retiring at an unprecedented rate.
  • A smaller population of replacement worker, coupled with declining U.S. graduation rates for many high-skill areas, is creating a growing talent gap.
  • The job search cycle is shortening (from 25 weeks to 18). The best candidates are on the market for a briefer period, and your window for meeting clients’ talent demands is getting smaller.

Make no mistake – the recruiting pendulum has swung. The best and the brightest are now often calling the shots when it comes to selecting choice assignments, contracts and full-time jobs.

PREMIUM RESEARCH: Temporary IT Workers’ Preferences, Satisfaction and Agency Selection

To thrive in this new normal, your staffing or recruiting firm needs a proactive approach to talent management. Use these ideas from PrideStaff for developing and retaining top performers, while making your company a true talent magnet:

Know where you stand. What do your temporary staff, contractors and candidates think about your firm? Do they feel like a valued part of your company’s success, or a cog in a client’s work machine? It’s time to find out and make adjustments where necessary:

  • Survey employees and job seekers to see how they perceive your intake, screening, matching career development functions. This process will help you identify opportunities for increasing retention and attracting higher level candidates.
  • If you’re not already, create a program for measuring key metrics, like Inavero’s Net Promoter Scores, on the talent side. Make sure your service for field employees is as good as (or even better than) your service for clients.As an added benefit, high employee satisfaction ratings serve as a powerful tool for recruiting more high performers.

Leverage your company website. Make your employee section work for you.

  • Turn your job seekers page into a true career portal. Beyond the standard FAQ and employee documents, add job search and career management resources that show how much you value your most important asset – your people.
  • Optimize your site’s job postings for search engines, including keywords high performers use when searching.
  • Skip the subtlety. Politely, but directly, ask for referrals on your website. Provide a simple, online way for superstars to refer other superstars.

Prevent poaching. More than ever, it’s critical for your coordinators to protect your best workers from employee raiding.

  • Make sure temporaries and contractors are aware of this unethical recruiting practice. Explain that if another employer engages in underhanded behavior to acquire talent, they’re likely to engage in other unprincipled business behavior as well.
  • Head-off work gaps. Don’t wait for assignments to end before discussing future opportunities with your best employees. Train your staff to discuss next steps with workers and line-up assignments well before current ones are completed.
  • Sell the advantages of future opportunities. High paying jobs are great, but money often isn’t enough to keep top employees working through you. When presenting a new assignment or job, clearly explain how it matches the employee’s needs and goals. Position each new opportunity as the next logical step for that person – how it fits into his individual career development plan. Demonstrate your commitment to his long-term success, and you’ll be more likely to keep predatory recruiters at bay.

Attract passive candidates. Turn your company into a talent magnet for passive job seekers, by moving beyond skills.

  • Know each job and why it’s exceptional. Create a “performance profile” for each job, describing the major challenges which must be met to succeed. Presenting an opportunity this way helps you create “opportunity gaps” (significant differences between a prospect’s current job and the new job) that will get a passive candidate thinking.
  • Position each opportunity as a career move. Show passive job seekers the “WIIFM.” Present each job’s importance and key tasks in a creative way that appeals directly to a prospect’s career needs. If you can convince a candidate that he would be passing on a major opportunity, you have a much better chance of winning him over.
  • Proactively cultivate online relationships. Invite passive candidates to follow your company on social media, and use these outlets to show the benefits of working with your firm. Beyond job listings, post timely career management and industry-related information that position you as a thought leader committed to career success. Take the time to respond to potential candidates’ non-job-related inquiries about your company. Bottom line, do whatever you can to be respective, responsive and professional. When the time comes to look for a new job, top talent will turn to you first.

Develop and retain the employees you have. Of course, the best way to win the war for talent is by keeping your best and brightest working for you. Throughout this prolonged recovery, career development will be a critical tool for retaining top temporaries and contractors.

  • Don’t merely offer training – promote it. It’s one thing to say you offer skills training; it’s quite another to run a real skills enhancement program. Provide the education and guidance candidates need to take full advantage of your training resources. Beyond explaining the basics, show candidates exactly what they need to do to make themselves more employable – and land better opportunities through your firm. When candidates believe you’re committed to their career success, they’re more likely to stay working through you.
  • Make career development a priority. Train coordinators to periodically check-in with your best workers – not just to see how their current assignments are going, but to discuss career “big picture” issues. Contingent workers may not follow typical career development paths, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in growth and learning opportunities. Make sure your staff provides the ongoing career counseling top performers need, and offers assignments with the level of challenge and growth potential that matches their aspirations.
  • Consider long-term employment incentives. Brainstorm ways your firm can reward employees who continually complete assignments, thrill your clients and stay working for you. Opportunities for recognition and other long-term performance incentives send a clear message to field employees that they play a valuable role in your company’s success.
  • Be a best place to work. Become the kind staffing firm that top candidates want to be represented by – and that top employees want to stay working for. Since your field employees don’t work on-site, however, you need to work even harder to create the right culture for retention.The easiest way to accomplish this is by always keeping your talent’s best interests at heart – and that’s exactly what we do at PrideStaff. We focus not merely on job placement, but helping job seekers succeed. Every day, we provide the guidance, development opportunities and rewards employees need to achieve their career goals. That’s what has placed us in the top 1% of our industry, as an Inavero 2013 Best of Staffing Award winner for the best permanent and temporary talent experience.

Final Thoughts

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your proactive talent management strategy. But even if you’re not feeling the talent crunch just yet, now is the time to prepare.

Start implementing sourcing, retention and development initiatives that will help you thrive during what’s likely to be a heated – and prolonged – battle for talent.

 MORE: Making Social Media Connections to Break Out of the Recruitment Clutter


Tammi Heaton

Tammi Heaton
Tammi Heaton is COO of PrideStaff. She can be reached at theaton (at) pridestaff (dot) com.

Tammi Heaton

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