The staffing industry has a really big problem and I'm not going to pull any punches: Our image sucks.

Hopefully I didn't offend you by saying that, and more than likely you're not part of the problem (at least I hope you're not!). The simple truth, however, is that the staffing industry has been battling a perception problem for decades.

Candidates think we don't do our jobs well, and our communication is lacking. Clients aren't really happy with our service, and see us as a necessary evil.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "not our firm, we provide amazing value." And you probably do. But while you're out there selling your "amazing service," so is everyone else. Nearly every staffing firm we talk to tells us they provide exceptional service--but not every firm delivers.

You can see this by looking at your local competitors. Some do offer good service, but it's the ones that don't which are giving our industry a bad reputation. As a hiring manager, if you see 10 staffing firms talking about "amazing service" and eight don't deliver "amazing," then what's your perception about all staffing firms? That's right--service stinks.

It's time to wake up and smell the roses read the reviews...

If you're not convinced that the staffing industry has a reputation problem, just take a look at some online reviews. Go to Yelp and search for "Staffing" in your city and you'll find a whole lot of bad experiences.

Here's a sampling:

"I joined yelp just to leave this review...They don't care. They'll send you the worst work that is available."

"Like most staffing agencies they are useless."

"I don't see these guys to be any different than leaches sucking off your paycheck every month...They negotiate part of your salary AWAY from YOU and into their pocket."

It's not all candidate complaints. Clients are less satisfied with our service, too.

The recent CareerBuilder & Inavero 2014 Opportunities in Staffing report shows that client satisfaction (measured using the Net Promoter Score) has drastically declined since 2010:

Net Promoter Score (Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are trademarks of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems and Fred Reichheld) is a loyalty metric based on a question that asks how likely a person is to recommend a company to a friend or colleague using a numeric scale of 0-10, 10 being extremely likely and zero being not at all likely. A company's clients can be separated into three groups based on their answers to the Net Promoter question. People who give a score of nine or 10 are Promoters, those who give a score of seven or eight are Passives, and Detractors give a score of 0-6. The NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

A closer look at this data reveals another HUGE problem. Our detractors are hovering around 25%. Remember, detractors are not just people that wouldn't endorse you, these are people who will tell others NOT to use your service. Over the past two years, a quarter of clients would end up telling others not to use staffing services! That's not a great way to grow the industry and your individual business.

Hopefully, this chart more closely represents your competitors than your firm! But hope is not a plan, you must measure client and candidate satisfaction internally to be sure.

72% of candidates and 79% of clients

will discourage someone else from using your firm if they had a bad experience.

Fixing Your Company's Two Easy Steps

Step 1: Realize the staffing industry has an image problem.
Step 2: Make your company's image's how.

Hopefully, we can all agree that the staffing industry has an image problem. But don't get discouraged. In fact, this presents a great opportunity for firms that really do provide great service. So how can you fix this problem? Here are a few tips:

1. Listen.
This might sound pretty basic, but if you don't know your NPS scores, you're not listening effectively. You need a plan in place to actively survey your candidates and clients to determine how your service is actually performing. Perception really is reality. Soliciting this feedback directly from the source is the best way to determine how your staff, processes and overall business are perceived.

2. Monitor social channels.
Humans love to complain. In fact, it's much more likely that people will talk about a bad experience than a good one. Thanks to social media and social review sites, the one-to-one complaining that used to happen has ballooned into one person shouting from a megaphone about how bad their service experience was.

In order to protect your online reputation, you need to monitor what's being said about your company. Here are the review sites we have found to be most influential and popular in the staffing and recruiting space:

  • Google Business/Places--Claim your page, update your information and monitor reviews.
  • Facebook--If you have a business page, monitor your reviews, posts, and comments. Here are instructions for turning on reviews if you don't see that feature on your page.
  • Glassdoor--Create a Glassdoor business account, claim your page, update your information and pay attention to your overall review trends.
  • Indeed--Promote your employer brand by claiming your company page. Update your information, link to your website and monitor reviews.

3. Don't run and hide.
You're in a pickle. You have picky clients, and if you're like most staffing firms, you see 200 job applicants for every one candidate you place. That means for every person you actually put to work, there are 199 who think you stink at your job. Some of these people might turn to social review sites to air their grievances. While many of these complaints are unfounded, you can't hide and ignore them.

Here's how to deal with the complainers:

  • Don't be defensive. Others reading these reviews will see that and side with the person complaining.
  • Say "thank you." I know this can sometimes be hard to do, but thanking the person for a negative review shows everyone that you care and are open to improving.
  • Address problems head on. This shows others you are accountable.
  • Outline how you have changed. This diffuses any future concerns and shows that you have grown and improved.
  • Be sincere and honest. If you truly made an error, own up to it. People will appreciate the honesty.
  • Take conversations offline. Make sure not to get into a back-and-forth discussion online. Address the situation once, and then ask the person to speak directly to you so that you can solve their problem.

4. Go on the offensive.
I get asked all the time, "How can I remove a bad review from Yelp or Google?" Here's the answer--YOU CAN'T! Once you've addressed that bad review (see number three above), move on. Your best defense against bad reviews is to dramatically outnumber them with good reviews.

90 percent of people report that reviews help them determine the quality of a local business, and 72 percent report that positive reviews inspire trust. If you bury five bad reviews with 25 good reviews, people will see your value. But if all you have online are five bad reviews, your business will suffer.

Here's the six-step approach we use to help staffing firms build more positive reviews and protect against negatives:

  • Step 1: Email Survey
    We survey candidates on assignment, clients, and even applicants who weren't placed on assignment but did talk with a recruiter.
  • Step 2: NPS Survey / Rating
    Using a rating scale of 1-10, we collect an NPS score and ask for a comment/testimonial about their experience.
  • Step 3: Encourage Reviews
    If the person is a promoter (someone who rated you a 9 or 10), they are encouraged to leave an online review at Google, Yelp, Glassdoor or other important review sites--helping build more positive reviews.
  • Step 4: Limit Negative Reviews
    People who rated your service lower are taken to a private feedback form and encouraged to leave more detail about how you can improve. This helps ensure a "detractor" feels heard and will be less likely to leave a negative review on a public forum.
  • Step 5: Collect Immediate Feedback
    As surveys are completed, immediate feedback is shared with your management team. This helps you identify areas in which you excel (and can help craft a stronger value proposition) and also identify areas in which you need to improve.
  • Step 6: Review Notification
    We set up alerts so that when someone does leave a review on Google, Yelp or Facebook, you are notified immediately and can respond accordingly.

Are you ready to solve the staffing industry's lingering image problem?

On an individual level, there is a lot you can do to ensure your staffing firm is seen in the best possible light. Be sure to survey your audience and listen. Respond to the accolades and the complaints. Proactively build and share more success stories.

As an industry, if we all focused more on providing great experiences and celebrating our successes, we would all prosper. As client and candidate satisfaction scores increase, our market penetration--and markups--will climb as well.

If you have questions or want to learn more about proactively building reviews, please contact us today at 888-696-2900. And if you would like a free demo of the platform we've built to help staffing companies build more positive reviews and collect more success stories,

Just let us know!

Reprinted with permission courtesy of
Haley Marketing Group