A New Take on Driving Candidate Remarketing

134195454When a contract worker employed by a staffing company comes to the end of a client’s engagement (off-billing), that worker typically wants/expects the staffing company to redeploy them. If that worker has had a good placement experience and was paid fairly and on time, why wouldn’t they want to continue on with that same staffing company? The truth is, they do.

But here’s the problem staffing companies have when they try to fulfill that expectation:

The practice of “candidate remarketing,” or quickly shopping an existing contractor to other open roles that are “in house,” is not typically done with a lot of commitment. That’s generally because it takes longer to proactively look for a suitable, open role for an off-billing candidate vs. working an open job order through the normal recruiting/submittal process in the hopes of closing a placement. Sometimes, an off-billing candidate’s skills or preferred working locations don’t mesh with open job orders available.  For the recruiter, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

This frustrates that off-billing contractor, who’s performed well and made the staffing company money.  So they submit their resumes elsewhere. They might even feel a little bitter, which is never good, as manifested bitterness can be toxic to the reputation of the staffing firm. So, if a staffing company’s product is talent, and it is, why wouldn’t they work to aggressively solve this problem?

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Here’s my theory. It’s hard to change recruiter behavior. They, like salespeople, are driven by commissions and commission checks are harder to come by through remarketing vs. traditional recruiting/ submittals to open job orders.

That said, if a staffing company specializes in certain skills and certain industries or verticals, remarketing should be easier. The more specialized the staffing company, the easier it should be, especially if that staffing company has some scale. For example, a staffing firm specializing in certain types of IT skills and in certain types of vertical markets should be better at candidate remarketing than a generalized firm given the likelihood that similar types of positions will become available at other similar type clients – clients who may commonly use certain, specific types of technology.

If that premise is correct, we must still address a problem.  If we assume that recruiters will be held accountable for actively remarketing off-billing contractors, the potentially poisonous problem of candidate ownership must be solved.

Some staffing companies have very rigorous policies that govern recruiters’ “ownership” of candidates – in effect, how long a recruiter can have dibs on a candidate if they’ve done the work of initially sourcing and placing that candidate. Recruiters often feel they deserve future commissions if/when the candidate they originally found gets placed a second time or even a third time – even if that candidate’s submittal was made by another recruiter within the organization. And we all know that double commissions don’t work.

One way to incentivize the practice of recruiter-led remarketing, while mitigating candidate ownership battles, is to compensate the whole recruiting team “as a team” based on targeted remarket-type placements. Let’s be clear that I’m not suggesting the rest of recruiters’ comp plans be based on team goals – I’m not. Just this one, given it would drive the practice of the full recruiting team not caring who made the remarketed placement. Did I mention that each recruiter would need to opt into the team commission pool by making a remarket placement? That should be part of it too.

This practice benefits staffing companies in a few different ways:

  • It’s another means to maintain overall on billing headcount
  • It builds collegial vs. conflict-ridden relationships among recruiter teams
  • It drives better contractor relationships, helping the staffing company’s brand through contractor word of mouth
  • It serves to retain great contractor talent vs. forcing them out the door to find another job with another staffing firm

For staffing companies that specialize in selected verticals and industries, putting a focus on candidate remarketing can be a very powerful differentiator.

MORE: My lunch with HR Change-Makers

Margaret Gernert
Margaret Gernert is a research and sales support manager with CDI Corporation.

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