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10 Common Staffing Agency Challenges and How to Solve Them

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Hiring trends and challenges evolve alongside quickly changing economic and social conditions. It’s a lot to keep up with, especially for staffing agency professionals tasked with knowing the minutiae of many different industries.

Since HiringThing is committed to bringing our trademarked Hiring Happiness® to all hiring professionals, we’re leveraging our expertise to bring you the top ten staffing agency challenges, along with their solutions. Here we go!

Challenge #1: Technological Advances

There’s no way around it: technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds. Keeping up with changing technology is an evergreen issue for every industry. Still, finding that balance between “technologically forward” and “personalized” remains a challenge for an industry built around creating and nurturing relationships. 

Solution:

Our suggestion? Don’t think of technology as a challenge. Think of it as the best support you have. Technology has allowed you to reach a wider pool of job candidates, do quicker candidate research, and get job postings in front of the right people. Technology can also help solve many of the most common challenges the staffing industry faces, including streamlining the hiring process, customizing workflows, ensuring timely communication, and strengthening the candidate experience. Embrace it!

HiringThing Pro Tip: Just as the right technology can help your staffing agency, the wrong technology can hinder you. Not having the right staffing recruiting software for your firm can hinder your effectiveness. You and your clients have unique workflows. If you don’t get it right, you can lose efficiency and miss essential connections.

An infographic that reads "Don't think of technology as a challenge. Think of it as the best support you have."

Challenge #2: It’s a Job Candidate’s Market

The pendulum has swung wildly from jobs being too scarce to a talent shortage during the pandemic. It’s a job candidate’s market right now, which means while more clients may be turning to staffing agencies to help with their hiring needs, job candidates have been able to be pickier than we’ve seen anytime in recent history. 

Solution:

The solution is twofold: 

  1. Work with the clients you’re serving to ensure they’re offering competitive jobs. Things are changing, and that may mean industries have to change too. Staffing agencies may have less control when it comes to industry changes but can have conversations with clients about how offering better pay, benefits, or even just a stronger company mission can go a long way in increasing applicant traffic for companies struggling to find and/or retain talent. 
  2. Give candidates the absolute best candidate experience you can. Staffing agencies have more control here. Candidate experience has never been more critical. If a candidate doesn’t like how you’re conducting business during the interview process, they’re liable not to accept a job or walk away before an offer comes through. Communicate clearly. Communicate often. Show candidates you care. 

New to candidate experience? Unsure how to advise clients on ways to increase applicant traffic on their end? We created The HiringThing Guide to Increasing Your Applicant Traffic to answer all your questions. 

Challenge #3: Slow Hiring Process

The recommended timeframe for a hiring process is between two and four weeks. If the process takes longer than four weeks, the risk of losing candidates to other roles increases dramatically. Since staffing agencies are hiring for so many roles at once, there’s always the chance the hiring process can drag out. 

Solution:

The most straightforward answer here is to tell you to stay organized, but successful staffing professionals already know that. Keeping organized helps you prioritize and ensure you aren’t letting candidates or roles sit for too long. 

This is also where it’s essential to keep things transparent. If the process will take longer than the recommended two to four weeks, communicate that to your job candidates, and then make sure to keep in regular contact with them during that time, so they don’t feel like you forgot about them. Hirers need to let candidates know what to expect from the process to avoid them losing interest or moving on.

Private label staffing software like HiringThing allows you to easily manage multiple clients with advanced features, including user permissions and a real-time activity feed.

Challenge #4: Candidates Fielding Multiple Offers

Because so many organizations need employees, the likelihood of candidates fielding multiple offers grows. Research by Glassdoor shows that 17.3% of job offers—or 1 in 6—are rejected. Offer rejection rates have been steadily climbing, and it’s safe to forecast that they’ll only go up with our current climate.

Solution:

Candidates use interviews to determine whether or not they’ll like a potential employer, so ensure that the process is smooth, engaging, and insightful. 

You also want to make the offer process smooth. Reach out with a thoughtful, timely offer while the candidates are still excited and buzzing from the excellent interview process. Once they accept the offer, it’s essential the background check and signed offer process don’t leave room for candidates to give other offers another thought.

Strong employer branding strengthens the candidate experience. HiringThing allows you to customize the applicant experience with a branded careers page to host your client’s open positions.

Challenge #5: Lack of Candidates for Customer-Facing Positions

Pandemic safety concerns, as well as a history of treating many customer-facing job applicants and employees more like warm bodies rather than valued employees, means there’s a real lack of applicants for many customer-facing positions, especially in the hospitality industry. 

Solution:

When it comes down to it, using the pandemic as an excuse for unfilled positions is just that, an excuse. The candidate experience is just as crucial for hourly fast-food employees or hotel workers as C-Suite executives. Treat all your job candidates like valued potential employees, and you’ll see them naturally become more engaged and excited about the prospects of working in these industries.

Staffing firms that support these industries may need to coach their clients to provide a different work environment and benefits than they’ve provided in the past.

HiringThing has additional resources to increase customer-facing applicant tracking: Four Hospitality Recruiting Challenges and How to Overcome Them and Increase Your Franchise’s Applicant Traffic.

Challenge #6: Making Sure Candidates Are a Good Fit

A cardinal staffing agency mistake is caring more about the number of positions filled and applicants placed versus the quality of those placements. We’re not here to judge. We get it! It’s an easy trap to fall into since your professional reputation and bottom line revolve around placed jobs.

Solution: 

Ensure interviews with job seekers are conversational, not just interrogational. What are the candidates’ professional goals? Fears? Wants and needs out of a future position? What do they value? Just because someone’s resume or skill sets match up to a posting doesn’t mean someone will be a good addition to the team. We know this sounds like common sense, but that doesn’t mean a reminder isn’t helpful.

Challenge #7: Ghosting

A recent Indeed survey found that since the pandemic began, 76% of employers have been ghosted by candidates, and 57% believe that trend is only growing. 28% of job seekers admitted to ghosting would-be employers, up ten percentage points from a ghosting survey Indeed did in 2019.

Solution:

Communicate often. Be personable. Be transparent—make it as hard as possible for a candidate to simply walk away. HiringThing has an entire blog dedicated to how to avoid getting ghosted by job candidates.

Challenge #8: The Rise of Remote Work

While employees are gradually returning to in-person work, many are continuing to work remotely. Two of five employees will still be working remotely at the end of 2021. Remote work certainly isn’t new. Many staffing agencies were already working remotely, and it’s safe to say that many who weren’t were working with remote job candidates. Still, this is a significant change to the world of work, and we’d be remiss not to include it in this post. 

Solution:

Communicating clearly with both candidates and clients is more critical than ever in a remote environment. If you’re new to remote work, err on the side of over-communicating rather than under-communicating so that no one feels ignored. 

HiringThing has been fully remote since our 2012 inception. Check out the HiringThing Remote Work Hub for a plethora of remote work resources. 

Challenge #9: Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives 

Nearly 40% of companies don’t have a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy, yet 76% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is an essential factor when evaluating career opportunities (an older ZipRecruiter study found 86% of job seekers want to work at a company that prioritizes DEI). Millennial and Gen Z job seekers will actively not pursue roles at companies they believe don’t put enough time into or have negative diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Solution: 

The first piece of advice we have is that if you don’t have a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy at your staffing agency, it’s time to build a meaningful one—the Society for Human Research Management (SHRM) has a great guide for developing a DEI plan. Other actionable steps staffing firms can take include: 

  • Guiding your clients to make their workplaces more inclusive.
  • Removing bias from the questions you ask.
  • Ensure the hiring process is accessible
  • Ensure you’re using inclusive language. 

Check out how Titan ATS eliminates bias from recruiting. 

Challenge #10: Not Enough Time in the Day

Reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, and negotiating salaries is time-consuming and why many businesses turn to staffing agencies. The staffing industry provides career opportunities to 16 million employees a year, and staffing industry professionals are responsible for landing those 16 million jobs—you’ll never hear a staffing agency professional complain about having too much time!

Solution:

Streamlining and organizing your job candidates is the best and most concise advice we could give, and coincidentally, you know what can help you do that? Staffing agency software like an applicant tracking system (ATS). An applicant tracking system helps companies find, organize, and communicate with job candidates.

HiringThing is a private label applicant tracking system for staffing agencies. What does that entail? Here’s a primer. 

About HiringThing

HiringThing is the private label applicant tracking system staffing firms use to manage multiple searches or clients, keep everyone on the same page during the hiring process, and leverage robust reporting to optimize your efforts. 

Want to learn more? Schedule a demo to see why staffing agencies trust HiringThing with their private label ATS needs.

Author: Pat Brothwell

Pat Brothwell is a content marketer at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.


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