Don’t Sell Yourself Short – Market Your Intangibles!

Good staffing firms provide the services that customers want. This translates to recruiting, hiring, and placing the right people to meet a client’s workforce needs. Known as “tangibles,” these services are part of any staffer’s job description. (In other words, if you don’t have these core skills, you’re in the wrong field.)

Excellent staffing firms, on the other hand, provide their clients with much more than simple recruitment and placement. Companies that excel in this industry provide added value by offering services beyond the central ones that define staffing. These “intangible” skills are what often distinguish staffing firms from each other. Most staffers possess some (even many!) intangibles, but few realize the importance of pitching them to their clients.

A recruiter’s knowledge of the job market falls in the intangibles category, for example. After all, any staffer can search a resume for keywords and give candidates tests and other assessments to measure their skills in certain areas, but not everyone has a deep knowledge of the job market (and how to work effectively in its current condition). Similarly, not all staffers understand employment law beyond having hires fill out basic employment paperwork, and not all firms have the ability to put multiple recruiters to work on one job order.

I’m amazed how often staffers who have these sorts of skills fail to highlight them when communicating when clients and prospects. Those staffers are missing a golden opportunity to demonstrate their uniqueness in the field—and to stand out from their competition.

Think about it: if a client is reviewing proposals from three different staffing firms with comparable recruitment and placement credentials, which one do you think she will hire?

Let’s put it another way: say you want to remodel your master bathroom, and you’re soliciting estimates from a few different contractors. They’ve all been recommended by friends, so you’ve seen the work they do and you know it’s good. So how do you decide which one to hire?

Easy—you hire the one who says, “Sure, I can do the job you want. I’ll gut the room, put up new drywall, tile the floor, and install new fixtures, just as you specify. But have you considered switching the positions of the shower and the sink, and then pushing the wall behind the shower back into the space over your stairs by about, oh, eight inches? That would make a much better traffic flow in this room and get you an even larger shower space.”

In other words, you hire the contractor who brought added value to the table. In addition to expertise with a hammer, he has some intangibles that are unique to him—in this case, experience and creativity that allow him to imagine innovative solutions that do more than meet your stated needs.

Take a good look at the skills and knowledge you have that lies outside the usual well-defined categories in your field. Do you have some expertise not shared by most other staffing firms? In-depth knowledge of some aspect of employment law, perhaps? Resources that enable you to offer unique services beyond the usual core offerings?

If you possess these or any other intangibles, sell them to your clients. Demonstrating this added value can help you close deals with your prospects and strengthen relationships with current customers. The staffing industry is a highly competitive field, so if you want to come out on top you need to provide the best services and promote them effectively.


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