8 Ways to Optimize Recruiting at Your Staffing Firm

By Roy Maurer Nov 3, 2015
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NASHVILLE—A staffing firm’s recruiting effectiveness depends on the team it builds, choosing the right technology and the training it offers to staff, according to Leigh Ann Pagnard, vice president of operations at YourEncore, an advisory services company based in Indianapolis.

Investment in recruitment must be protected because “recruitment is where the money happens,” Pagnard told attendees Oct. 28 at the American Staffing Association’s Staffing World 2015 Convention & Expo. Sales provide the opportunity to make money, but “we don’t get any money until we find and place that person. Recruitment is the heart of the staffing business and if you don’t do it right, the business will hurt.”

She outlined the following eight rules to strengthen recruiting at staffing companies.

Ensure team member fit is right. “You must first know how your team works best to make sure the mix is right,” Pagnard said. “It is so painful and so expensive to have the wrong team members working for you.” She stressed that companies should practice due diligence and conduct background and reference checks and drug tests. If you don’t do what is right for your customers for yourself, “then you’re not doing yourself any good service.”

Stress consistency and accountability. Pagnard recommended weekly team meetings as a way to hold recruiters accountable for their assigned tasks. “Once people get used to doing something, they can do it more frequently. You have to get the basics right before you add the more complex drivers the next level down.” Companies need to practice this even “when it’s hard, or when your team is small, to set up best practices for when your business grows,” she said.

Give your team time to breathe. Part of a recruiter’s job description is working with clients and candidates, which means recruiters are frequently pulled in different directions. You must give your team time to rest and focus, Pagnard said. “Look at your employees’ schedules. How many meetings are they on? With the ability to rest, you have the ability to strategically position yourself for that next step.”

Keep up with technology. Be mobile-friendly, she said. “Count the number of buttons that you have to push to apply for a job on your company’s mobile careers site. You’ll be shocked at how much needs to be improved in this area.” Effective use of social media is also important, she said. And she advised that firms build technology upgrades into the annual budget. “If your site doesn’t look good, why would a highly qualified person want to come work for you?” she asked.

Understand your metrics. You need to measure the right things and then have the right data in front of the right people, Pagnard said. “This is all about maximizing the value of your recruiting investment.” Your applicant tracking systems and candidate management systems should deliver metrics to you “on a silver platter,” she added. “It’s important because your people will respond based on how you measure and on how you incent them. Metrics need to be predictive, influenceable, and should be easily read and understandable by the whole team.”

Keep skills sharp. If you don’t focus your training on the right things, wrong practices may become permanent, she said. Be sure to focus on senior employees who may have been “doing the wrong things now for a long time. What’s the longest a person in your organization has gone without getting any supplemental training?” she asked. It’s common to see people go 15 years without any training, she said. “These are great employees, but they must keep their skills sharp. Job board refresher training is free through your vendor. Allow folks to go out and attend seminars and conferences and come back and train their team members on what they’ve learned.”

Repeat key messaging. The most painful thing to learn about training is that it must be repeated, Pagnard said. She explained that adults can only retain 20-30 percent of the information they take in at any one time, and so for training to be wholly effective it must typically be delivered three times—and preferably in different ways. Training can be distributed through written materials, delivered in person or provided online.

Think ahead. How will you get to the next level? If you’re a $5 million company, think like a $20 million company, Pagnard advised. “Where will you be five years from now? If you think like that, you will make very different decisions. Every decision you make has to be scalable, for when you expand from three locations to 30. Because that’s where we all want to go.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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