Five Ways to Go Above and Beyond Your Competitors in Staffing

All staffing firms claim to have great service, the best people, and the most comprehensive screening practices. Actions speak louder than words, however, and simply declaring something doesn’t make it true.

If you want to stand out from the competition in your market, you must do more than make claims (which everyone does anyway). You must demonstrate to your clients that you actually uphold—and even transcend—your promises.

To position your firm as an active partner with a strong interest in seeing your clients succeed (and not just another vendor fulfilling the minimum requirements of a job), seize every opportunity you can to prove your worth and distinguish your work from your competitors’ efforts. The five suggestions below can get you started on this path.

1. Teach your clients something new every chance you get.

Believe it or not, you are a staffing consultant! Part of your job is to provide expert advice on hiring practices, employment law, and staffing-related issues. Many recruiters who are brought in to help with staffing needs focus only on filling the position. Consequently, they often miss out on great opportunities to assist their clients.

You have knowledge and experience that your clients lack, which is why they hire you to do a particular job. But if you take the time to share some of that knowledge and experience, you not only improve your client’s business but also raise your value to them. A client who can trust you to share your knowledge freely is a client who will come back to you in the future.

2. Don’t be afraid to tell a client that you’re unable to fill a position.

Likewise, don’t accept a job order that you don’t think you can fill. If you try to squeeze a square peg into a round hole, you’ll frustrate your client and lose credibility. By clearly indicating that you don’t want to waste a client’s time and money on a fruitless or failed search, you also demonstrate your professional integrity—a trait the client won’t forget the next time they need to fill a position.

3. Focus on quality over quantity.

Don’t fall into the trap of confusing volume for quality. Just because you can find someone to fill a position doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done your job. Your charge is to fill a position and to fill it well.

I learned this lesson the hard way, back in my early days in the staffing industry. Fortunately, one client called me on it—and gave me a chance to make amends. From that experience I learned the importance of prioritizing quality over quantity in staffing (and, to be honest, in all business practices!).

4. Don’t be afraid to suggest policy change.

I once had a client whose temporary workforce had high rates of absenteeism and tardiness. I suggested implementing policies to address this, and together with the client developed a point-based attendance system that was rolled out to the entire workforce (including temps from the three other staffing agencies they were using as well as permanent workers). As a result the client saw marked improvements in all employee attendance, which contributed to widespread gains for the organization.

Take off the blinders and take in the big picture: you’ll surely notice room for improvements in your client’s practices. If you have a good solution in mind, bring it up with the client. Whether or not they choose to follow up on your advice, you manage to demonstrate your ability to think beyond the boundaries of the job (i.e., filling a particular position) and show your consideration of the organization’s overall well-being.

5. Pay attention to the details.

As you and the client move through conversations and documents pertaining to the initial job order, contracts for the work, and ongoing feedback during the assignment, keep track of the many details and don’t let anything slip through the cracks. Although most clients understand that you’re constantly flooded with information, they are too—and so they’ll be especially grateful for your efforts to manage and organize the information you’re both working with. Take notes on each interaction and make it your goal to fill in their blanks! They’ll appreciate (and remember) your conscientiousness.

Looking Forward

If you look carefully at the five suggestions listed above, you’ll see that they have one characteristic in common: placing the client’s needs first. Keeping this your top priority in all jobs helps you establish a reputation for integrity and professionalism. Your current clients will be delighted with your work, future clients will seek you out, and you will stand apart from the rest of your field.


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