What if Facebook Acted Like a Staffing Firm?

What if you had to call Facebook to open an account? What if you had to email Google search terms?

The answer is that Facebook wouldn’t have 1.6 billion users and Google wouldn’t be the world’s most valuable company. If consumer tech companies treated people the way some staffing firms do, they would fail.

All that matters are business-to-people (B2P) interactions. The sum of these interactions is an “experience.” Customer experience is the “marketing leaders’ next battlefield, “as one Gartner report put it.The recruiting and staffing industry will follow this trend. Candidate and client experience will be the ‘battlefield’ on which firms compete.

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The Value of a Recruiter  

In 1998, Elance — a platform that connected companies with freelance contractors — was founded. Essentially, they invented online staffing, and as they grew, the staffing world grew nervous. If companies and candidates can connect directly, why would they use recruiters?

While Elance found a niche in international talent arbitrage, it turns out out that recruiters have two advantages:

  1. They can connect with people live to earn their trust.
  2. Recruiters can understand the needs of clients and candidates. Great recruiters learn who people are and what they really want.

The Erosion of Loyalty

Plainly put, the web gives people the ability to be uncommitted. With one Google search, a client or candidate can find your competitors and within seconds move their business.

In the consumer world, this is what Accenture Strategy calls “an erosion in customer loyalty.” Their report found that 64% of consumers had switched providers in at least one industry due to poor customer service.

The question is, what makes a better service experience?


Thanks to the rise of on-demand technology, good service is self-service. A survey commissioned by Aspect Software found that nearly three out of four consumers prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own.

In staffing, we need to make a clearer distinction between our service and customer service. Our service is matchmaking. Customer service includes all the tasks after the match is made: onboarding, scheduling, timesheets and invoices, to name a few.

Let’s use onboarding as an example. Imagine that one staffing firm mails paper onboarding documents to candidates. A second firm requires candidates to visit their office to complete the paperwork. A third firm completes onboarding entirely online where candidates fill out and sign the document via an online community.

If all three firms offer comparable job opportunities, why wouldn’t candidates flock to the third firm? Firms that offer on-demand, self-service options will gain an edge in customer experience.

Time and Data

Besides providing a better experience, online communities offer two additional advantages: time and data.

  1. Recruiters are burdened with many administrative emails: Can you complete your onboarding documents? Can you approve this timesheet? Online communities eliminate messages with automated reminders. Leaving more time for calls and meetings.
  2. In addition, the more that clients and candidates interact with your firm via an online community, the more data you can collect and use. It’s easy to track their likes and dislikes, allowing recruiters to better anticipate their needs.

A Mobile Environment

As Facebook and Google attest, customer experiences increasingly happen in mobile environments. Mobile will be a key experience battleground, especially on the candidate side. As a Glassdoor study found, 45% of all job seekers say they use their mobile device to search for jobs. However, 50% of respondents often find it difficult to apply for jobs on mobile device. So, to provide the best service, staffing firms must adapt. If the job hunt is mobile, the whole experience should be mobile too.

From B2B to B2P

There is no such thing as “business-to-business” anymore. You must look at the business-to-person experience; it’s the “B2P” interactions that determine how clients and candidates perceive your firm. No one ever has to call Facebook for account setup or email Google for searches. It’s time that staffing and recruitment firms compare themselves to the world’s top customer experience organizations. Your competitors may not set a high bar for experience, but you certainly should.

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Brandon Metcalf

Brandon Metcalf
Brandon Metcalf is COO and co-founder of Talent Rover.

Brandon Metcalf

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