Imagine you're looking for a job.
And I have one to offer. Great pay. Strong benefits. Challenging work. Would you apply?

What if you never heard about the job?

Or even worse...
What if our recruiters didn't treat people very well?
Or our company had a reputation for being a lousy place to work?
Or your friends thought our industry was for losers?

Would you apply?

When it comes to the jobs you're trying to fill, these are the kinds of recruiting challenges you must address. As an industry, staffing and recruiting firms have a tarnished brand. It doesn't matter if you're the most reliable, ethical, hardest-working team in the business, you still suffer from the damage the weakest players have done to our industry's reputation.

The good news is that you're not facing an insurmountable obstacle; however, you have to be ready to tackle this challenge head-on. You also have to be prepared to address other issues, such as:

  • The misperception that temps are less qualified workers.
  • The social bashing that comes from disgruntled candidates.
  • The simple fact that 80% of job seekers never even consider a staffing firm in their job search.

The solution?
Build a world-class employment brand.

What is an employment b--rand? It's what you want to be known for--to job seekers. It's the value proposition you offer, the perception you create about your company as an employer, and also the core values you live by.

An employer brand is part marketing and an even bigger part candidate experience. When I ask staffing executives about the experience candidates have when working with their firms, most are fairly confident that their people deliver a great experience. But when you survey candidates, the data tells a different story.

  • Candidates think we are unresponsive.
  • They tell us that we rarely follow up.
  • They believe we only care about making a placement...not helping them find a job.
  • Some believe that we misrepresent jobs--or misrepresent their skills to employers.
  • And in the worst cases, they think we are unethical.

Step 1: Consciously design a "WOW" candidate experience.

  • Make it easier to apply for jobs.
    • Shorten your application process.
    • Make your application and onboarding mobile friendly.
    • Streamline your interviews and testing.
  • Offer great jobs.
    • Do what it takes to represent top local employers. Then let people know you recruit for these firms.
    • Educate your clients about wage and benefits trends. Use data to try and boost pay rates.
    • Consult with your clients to help them make their jobs more desirable (improve work environments, offer non-cash benefits, etc.).
  • Communicate more directly--and often.
    • If you can't place someone, tell them the truth.
    • Offer ideas and resources to help these people find work.
    • Set clear expectations in regard to next steps.
    • Nurture relationships with your candidates.
  • Provide more resources to help people find the right jobs.
    • Consider free training, assessment tools and career advice.
    • Allow candidates to opt-in for job alerts.
    • Schedule dedicated time for candidate follow-up.
    • Consider marketing automation tools to automate ongoing contact with your talent.
  • Put someone in charge of the candidate experience.
    • Make service excellence a measurable goal.
    • Collect feedback from your candidates.
    • Hire a mystery shopper to secretly apply with your firm and report their findings.
    • Benchmark your service against other staffing firms and other local employers.
    • Survey your candidates to determine how you can improve.

Step 2: Proactively market your employment brand.

  • On your website.
    • Don't just post jobs, tell your story to candidates.
    • Give people a reason to choose your firm over the competition.
    • Use video to illustrate your values and share testimonials.
    • Offer value through blogs, eBooks, white papers, links to training, etc.
    • Make your site design inviting on any device.
  • In social media.
    • Be vocal in the social communities where your candidates hang out.
    • Share ideas. Add value. Do something every day, but don't always be recruiting.
    • Monitor what's being said about your firm (use Google Alerts, Social Mention or other tools).
    • Publicly address critics to show that you're listening and that you care.
    • Proactively encourage endorsements on social review sites.
    • Encourage reviews on Indeed and Glassdoor.
  • In your recruitment advertising.
    • Sell your company (and your client) before you list the job requirements.
    • Provide links to company videos and reviews.
    • Write your posts with flair; have a voice that matches your target audience.
    • Differentiate by using unique or at least more descriptive job titles.
    • Test Pay-Per-Click campaigns on Google, Facebook and Twitter to put your ads in front of the right people.
    • Test sponsoring jobs on Indeed, Simply Hired and Glassdoor.
    • Take advantage of free distribution to job aggregators and social media sites.
  • In your local community.
    • Be more visible than your competition.
    • Champion local causes and events.
    • Consider outdoor, TV, radio or local print advertising.
    • Build a network of referral sources...and nurture them every month.
    • Partner with people and organizations who can boost your visibility.
    • Nurture your candidates through regular communication (email, web and in-person events).
    • Highlight employees of the month.

Better branding = More placements.

It's really that simple. If you're known to be a great company, a great place to work, and a firm that really cares about its people, you're going to attract more candidates. And you're going to spend a lot less on recruiting!

Companies like Southwest Airlines and Zappos have legendary employment brands, and those brands were created by a fanatical commitment to culture, process and communication. You can do it. The staffing industry can do it. And if we all do it, we'll change the perception of how job seekers view the staffing industry, we'll reach those 80 percent of people who don't currently work with us, and we'll fill more jobs with better talent!