There’s an inherent difficulty in the relationship between staffing professionals and their clients. Employers come to you because you are an expert at finding the best employees. You’re better equipped to effectively attract and asses talent. But because clients don’t have the knowledge of how staffing works, they don’t always share your perspective on the process.
They ask questions. They push back against your suggestions. They urge you to speed up the process. This can be frustrating. But as a staffing professional, it’s equally important for you to understand where they are coming from.
By making the effort to get on the same page as your clients, you both see and appreciate one another’s motives and priorities. Not only does this make the staffing process easier, but also it helps develop more trusting relationships that enable you to retain clients.
Here are four steps to help you and your clients see eye-to-eye on the staffing process:
Walk them through step by step
While most employers are well-versed in the hiring process, few have experienced the staffing process firsthand. Many assume the approach is the same as their own internal talent acquisition process. The differences are small, but they can lead to misunderstandings with your clients.
For instance, clients aren’t introduced to candidates until you present your top picks. They simply don’t know all the time and effort you spend evaluating talent to bring them the best options. When you provide them with only a list, they naturally wonder how you made these decisions.
Meeting with clients and clearly outlining your process ensures they understand your diligence and attention to detail. It is extremely helpful to use real-life examples of ways you discovered exceptional and even unexpected top candidates in the past.
Begin by explaining where you search. If you use less-conventional sources, like social media, show your client what you look at in potential candidates’ profiles. Be clear about when and how you reach out to candidates. Demonstrate how you verify their information after reviewing resumes. Seeing each step in action shows how dedicated you are and gives clients more confidence in the quality of candidates you pass along. And remember, if your process ever changes, update your clients accordingly.
Address their business concerns
One thing many staffing professionals forget is employers turn to them because there’s a problem at the organization. Maybe they need a marketing professional because the company needs better brand recognition. Or they could need customer service employees because support calls are taking too long. You’re looking for more than a person to fill a role. You’re looking for a solution.
Understanding your clients’ business concerns enables you to refine job descriptions and evaluation criteria. It also helps you both establish priorities.
For instance, there are thousands of qualities and experiences that make a great salesperson. But if you know your client is looking to specifically improve B2B sales with enterprise-sized companies in the southern part of the country, you get a much clearer picture of what type of candidate will help them reach that goal.
Qualify and quantify descriptions
It’s easy to acquire a list of desired traits and skills from your clients. Issues tend to arise when agreeing on what qualifies as “enough.” For example, your client might want candidates to have impeccable communication skills. But what exactly does that mean? Do you focus on how they express themselves in a one-way video interview? If the candidate uses flowery language and multi-syllable words are they a better communicator than someone who is clear and concise?
When descriptions aren’t quantified, it leads to clients rejecting all your candidates.
Have a conversation about ways you and your client can objectively evaluate candidates. One way to get on the same page is learning details about employees who have been successful in the role. Find out what their educational and professional background was. Get examples of how they exhibited their skills daily. This information will help you develop a rubric both you and your client agree on.
Clients often assume — some even insist — the perfect candidate exists. Furthermore, they presume that candidate is currently looking for a job. Staffing professionals know this is rarely the case. You can certainly find candidates who check off most of your client’s boxes, but every individual is likely to have some flaws.
Given the current competition for talent, staffing is even more difficult. From the beginning, you need to discuss how the current state of the market impacts the staffing process. While you would never present sub-par candidates, your clients need to understand that it might take longer than they thought to find the perfect placement.
Providing data about current talent pools helps. Show clients what the average time-to-fill is right now. Create a list of the most in-demand skills so they realize why competition for talent is so high. By having this conversation early, clients understand what obstacles you could face and are less likely to have unrealistic expectations.