2020 Changed Everything: 4 Keys to Growth for Staffing Firms in 2021

Jay CutlerGrowth, Press, Staffing and Recruiting, Tech Stack

This post originally appeared on StaffingHub by Jay Cutler, Co-founder and VP of Partnerships at Staffing Engine.


Whether we like it or not, 2020 pushed the staffing industry into the 21st century. Firms that prioritized digital transformation before the pandemic were able to migrate far more successfully to the new remote-work world we’re now living in. 

However, if your agency didn’t, don’t feel badly… yet. Those tech leaders account for about 5% of the market, so if you make it a priority in 2021 you can still have a leg up on a majority of your competitors. 

Let me take you through four areas of focus you should be considering in 2021 to stand out among your competition: 

  1. Embrace the cloud – Moving to a cloud-based staffing tech stack 
  2. Don’t wait, automate – Don’t be afraid of automation 
  3. Accelerate conversations – Your website needs a makeover
  4. Your story matters – Finding a better way to tell your story

#1. Embrace the cloud – Moving to a cloud-based staffing tech stack

I hope this goes without saying, but if you’re running your business with an on-prem solution, your days are numbered. Without a cloud-based solution, digital transformation is impossible.

Building a state of the art tech stack around an outdated system is like putting a lawnmower engine in a Ferrari. It might look nice, but your business will hit its top speed before you are out of the driveway.

Cloud-based solutions, like Bullhorn, can scale as your business grows, and their powerful APIs and technology ecosystem allow you to build and configure a tech-stack that is best suited to your business.

WARNING: Some core platforms claim to be cloud-based, but will only have one part of their system in the cloud and the rest of the components or modules are still on-prem.

You might be enticed by the price point but you’ll be kicking yourself in a year when you’re trying to build a state-of-the-art tech stack and it’s not possible. 

#2. Don’t wait, automate – Don’t be afraid of automation, be concerned that your competition is using it

I ran a desk for almost 7 years so I know how much of a time suck it is to enter data in the ATS when you could be having valuable conversations with job seekers or clients. Luckily, machines can do most of that work now.

Process automation is nothing new and has been embraced outside of staffing for years, so it’s time for our industry to join in and reap the benefits. Take a look at the different steps in your recruiting lifecycle to see where automation might be able to help.

It could be something as simple as automatically pulling up candidate and contact profiles on an outbound or inbound call to ensure your recruiters or account managers are adding notes (check out CloudCall for more information), automatically capturing and adding notes of sms conversations through business text messaging providers like TextUs, or automating your referral process through platforms like Staffing Referrals.

Small automations add up, but if you’re ready to truly transform your staffing business and allow your revenue generating teams to focus on the things they love doing, then Herefish is your next stop.

Whether it’s automatically moving candidates through your Bullhorn workflows, updating old information like location, job availability, or job titles, or sending out tailored job recommendations to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of qualified candidates, Herefish can automate your firm and allow your recruiters and account managers to focus on the best part of their job: connecting with their candidates and customers.

Tech stack optimization can be a daunting task, but there are plenty of staffing industry experts available to help you plan, implement, and even negotiate with vendors throughout the whole process.

Check out companies like KyloeNewburyTonicHQSixcel, or the tech stack queen, Lauren Jones from Leap Consulting Solutions

#3. Accelerate conversations – Your website needs a makeover

“But I just updated it 2 years ago!” That might be the case, but 2020 made everyone realize they may never have to visit an office again. Because of that, businesses need to adopt the mindset that their website is their newest brick and mortar location, and it needs to work on both desktop and mobile.

Think about a scenario where a customer, candidate, or prospect walks into your office and no one is there to greet them and the coffee table is filled with collateral that is just a bunch of buzzwords and stock images of people looking busy in an office (please stop doing this! It was cool in 2005).

They might sit around and wait for a short time, but ultimately they’ll leave more frustrated and confused than before and walk across the street to your competitor where they’ll have a much different experience.

Someone will greet them, ask how they can help, give them a tour of the office, provide relevant information about how they can solve the prospect’s pain points, and then send them a follow up email or text thanking them for their time with an invite to a follow-up call with a sales rep or recruiter.

Oh, and did I mention your competitors are able to do this 24/7? This might seem too good to be true, but they’re able to do this through a combination of live web chat and multi-channel bot communication.

Using conversational AI bots will help accelerate your recruiting cycle significantly. Bots can respond 24/7, qualify, book meetings, and route conversations to connect candidates with recruiters in real time. You’ll be able to scale the number of conversations recruiters can manage and become available on-demand to make sure they never ghost an opportunity. That’s what we do over at Staffing Engine!

In addition to better customer or candidate service, staffing firms also need to think about what your website looks like. Even if you’ve updated it recently but it looks like it’s from 2005, customers are going to be less excited to work with you, especially if you’re selling them tech solutions.

Think about your own experience when visiting a bad website of something you were looking to buy and then put yourselves in your prospect’s shoes. Luckily there are companies that can help with this.

Staffing FutureHaley MarketingShazamme, and Volcanic are the industry leaders focused specifically on staffing and can upgrade your website to reflect your commitment to technology and customer service. 

#4. Your story matters – Finding a better way to tell your story

A website makeover is only one part of the equation. You also need to take a look at your brand, your story, and your differentiators. If customers and candidates check out your website and have no idea what you do or sell, or what differentiates you from your competitors, then you have a problem.

If your answer to prospects and candidates about what differentiates you from your competitors is that “we pay our candidates on time, check in with them throughout their contract, and prioritize our customer relationships,” then you have the same answer that 99% of your competitors do.

I know 2020 was a tough year for a lot of verticals within staffing, but companies that are prioritizing marketing are going to see the returns when the hiring surge inevitability hits in 2021.

For companies that don’t have someone thinking about these kinds of priorities full time, it can be hard to undertake a project that takes your time and focus away from your other responsibilities, but people like Ryan Kovach and his team are here to help.

Check out his outsourced CMO services where he and his team of experts can tailor a marketing strategy specific to your company.

P.S. We’re here to help!

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I can also help you learn more about Staffing Engine and schedule a demo.