Why the Staffing Industry Needs to Shake up How it Views “Candidate Engagement”: Part One

Candidate engagement has moved up the priority list for staffing firms in the last three years. More time was put into thinking about candidate engagement strategy and how to create better candidate experiences, and in the subsequent hiring boom post-Covid, staffing firms were creating better experiences for talent than ever before. 

But the needle is already moving. “Candidate engagement” has evolved into “talent engagement,” and staffing firms that are slow to evolve with it will be left behind. Our data shows that people are applying to 12 jobs at a time. It’s not “Are you getting back to them” anymore. It’s “Are you getting back to them in seconds?” It’s not about sending interview reminders but about engaging talent forever.

The Difference Between Candidate Engagement and Talent Engagement

Candidate engagement is traditionally thought of as keeping in contact with candidates from first interaction through placement. This includes things like interview reminders, process updates and check-ins throughout the hiring process. 

For most, engagement ends once candidates are either placed or it’s decided not to move forward. In other words, it is a linear process with a beginning and an end. 

Talent engagement entails a more holistic approach to talent, looking beyond the traditional candidate funnel to a 360-degree flywheel approach. Think of it like engaging from hire to retire because talent engagement doesn’t have a set ending. 

For staffing firms, this includes touchpoints beyond the interaction of an application/interview process and includes on-placement check-ins, follow-ups, check-ins to update candidate records, marking milestones like anniversaries or birthdays and more. 

Talent engagement today goes even further, and this is where staffing firms are especially positioned to shine. Talent today wants recruiters to serve as career counselors and to help them not only find a job but the best job within your client ops. They are looking for career plans and someone to not only help them draw up those plans but to make them a reality. 

PREMIUM CONTENT: January 2023 US Jobs Report

What’s Driving the Latest Evolution in Candidate Engagement 

There is no longer a “power dynamic” between employers and candidates. Whether you have 100 openings or 10, candidate expectations and demands of recruiters and staffing firms will remain consistent for the foreseeable future. And NPS scores and Glassdoor reviews are a real factor for talent today. Candidates are looking at these scores and reviews to determine whether you’re worth their time.

The latest shift in candidate expectations and demands for candidate engagement began pre-Covid but was exacerbated and, you could say, cemented during the pandemic. An astounding 85% of candidates never hear back from companies after applying— even with candidate engagement rising up priority lists for staffing firms across the country.

They walk away from recruiters who don’t treat them well, and they leap at chances to work for companies that do, much like how they choose services or products they buy. This is the consumerization of staffing, and it’s not going anywhere. 

People expect the same behavior from staffing as they do from Amazon. If I ask you to reach out via email, reach out via email. If I’m only available after hours, don’t contact me during my 9 to 5. About 30% of candidates apply after hours, which means staffing firms without an engagement solution aren’t delivering that hyper-personal experience candidates expect. 

This is the type of experience candidates want today, but where there is a hangup is in delivery. How can you do that with millions of people at scale? Technology plays a critical role here, and it’s something I’ll examine in part two of this series. 

The Potential Impact on Staffing Firms 

Regardless of the economy, staffing firms are always going to need strong relationships with exceptional talent. And as we look ahead, staffing teams are going to need to build and leverage those relationships with leaner teams and budgets. 

There are processes and technologies that can help you best position yourself to meet the evolved needs of talent while also operating efficiently and effectively. In my next piece for this series, I’ll walk through some actual steps your staffing firm should take to successfully embrace talent engagement to meet today’s candidate expectations.

Pankaj Jindal

Pankaj Jindal
Pankaj Jindal is co-founder of Sense, a talent engagement platform designed specifically for the staffing industry.

Pankaj Jindal

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