If there’s one thing certain about the recruiting industry, it’s that uncertainty is rampant.
Many staffers are just trying to survive. Others are thriving. And everyone just trying to figure things out as the landscape changes:
- More competition for top talent
- New technology and automation transforming recruiters’ jobs
- Changing expectations from employees and job seekers
- Evolving role of the recruiter—from job handler to trusted advisor
One staffing firm that has thrived in these times is Stratice LLC, a women-owned IT staffing firm. Helmed by Jordan Franklin, Stratice has found great success in the midst of these rapidly changing times.
Franklin has a decade of experience as an instructor in the IT recruitment space, providing consulting, strategic growth, workforce development, business development, and more. She’s been named among the 15 most influential people in the staffing industry by World Staffing Association, 40 under 40 by the Arkansas Business Journal and Business Elite in 2022.
Here are some of the key takeaways from her recent conversation with our CXO Adam Conrad on how staffing agencies can not only survive, but thrive, in uncertain times.
Transformation over transaction
Contrary to many opinions, recessions and uncertain markets are rife with opportunity for staffing agencies. “There are a lot of statistics out there that demonstrate that the companies that stay calm during a recession come out the other side—often better than they were before,” said Franklin.
The key is to find ways to help companies continue their previous growth trajectories while mitigating risks. “The best thing about staffing companies is that they can offload that risk for you,” said Franklin. “It really helps those companies be more agile during a recession. This can help them thrive on the other end.”
Filling this need, however, requires staffing agencies to rethink their business models and find a way to be more agile and supportive of their clients. In other words: don’t be just another fixed overhead cost.
“Recruiting has often been viewed as a highly transactional industry,” said Franklin. “However, when times are tough, the companies that take a more consultative, transformational approach are going to be the ones that find success in trying times.”
Good staffing agencies aren’t just commodity lines. They’re not just throwing resumes over the fence. They’re vetting people to make sure they’re a good fit with the client’s culture. For companies struggling to find and retain talent, this is a major value-add.
“I want to drive the car, but I want you to hold the map.” Franklin said. “We’re the experts in hiring. But we should know what your strategic goals are so we can bring the right candidates that are going to stay there.”
Make client expectations clear
If you’re going to have a truly transformational relationship with your clients, it’s important to start with clear expectations.
Part of this is addressing the poor experiences clients have had in the past. “They’ve worked with agencies that have just thrown resumes at them. As a result, they may be skeptical about working with another staffing agency,” said Franklin.
When you set clear expectations with them, you can assure them that this won’t be like the experiences they’ve had in the past. You’re there to support them and deliver a particular business outcome.
In order to do that, you need some clear buy-in from them. “In our organization, I’ll straight up tell the client: if you can’t give me the time to be consultative and get you the right person, you won’t make our priority list. Because I know that I can’t do right by the consultant if I can’t have those meetings.”
Uncertain times call for creative and smart use of resources. “We can’t afford to waste time on things that aren’t going to have a positive outcome for all sides: the agency, the candidates, and the clients.” Clear expectations can help ensure these resources are all aligned in the right direction.
Be open and honest
No agency can be all things to all people. The ones that try end up being nothing to no one.
Most staffing agencies succeed because they have a particular niche they excel at. This can be a good thing, until you get the chance to work with someone outside your niche.
Stratice had a situation much like this. “We had a company come to us and ask us to staff automation engineers,” said Franklin. “And we were really clear with them: we’re an IT staffing firm. If we do this, your team is going to need to sit down with us and tell us their vision, their strategy, and their expectations.”
That level of intention from the beginning may have been abnormal, but it was necessary to ensure a positive outcome for all involved—which is exactly what Stratice delivered.
“Over the first four months, we staffed 42 different positions—more than what they had seen from their internal team,” said Franklin. “Truth be told, that opportunity turned into 25% of our business now. It would’ve been a huge opportunity to walk away from. But we had to be truthful, open, and honest. And that truthfulness made us extremely successful.”
Openness and honesty isn’t just important for client acquisition, but also retention. Whether a client sticks around is a key metric of the agency’s success. That’s why Franklin and her team are religious about creating great experiences.
“If I’m going to put a candidate in front of you, I want to make sure that the candidate is going to want to come and work for you. And if you don’t get to them for two weeks, they’re going to end up with a bitter taste in their mouths. So I’ve got to make sure they both align.”
Try new things
Uncertain times, by their very nature, are ever-changing. In order to thrive, you can’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting magic to happen.
Part of the reasons for Stratice’s success has been their willingness to innovate. “One of our core values is being innovative and growth-oriented,” said Franklin. “We’re always thinking outside the box.”
An example of this is Gumption from Stratice, a crowdsourcing platform that connects recruiters, clients, and job seekers. It gives recruiters an automated way to refer candidates. If they stay in a job for 90 days, they get paid.
“My thought with Gumption is that it makes a recruiter out of anyone. Recruiters can literally thrive from everywhere.”
Final thoughts on surviving and thriving in challenging times
As the recruiting space becomes more digital, staffing agencies that invest in trust and reputation are going to stand out. When times are tough, people will stick around with the people and companies they know and trust—and the rest will be tossed aside.
The question is: what are you doing to measure trust and transparency?
Great Recruiters can help you build the processes and platforms to help elevate your people’s reputation. By automating review capture and consolidating insights in a single dashboard, you’ll always know the quality of the experiences you create.