The Challenge

Unemployment and stimulus payment gave Americans a financial cushion and, in some cases, incentives not to work. With health insurance subsidies, continued safety questions, childcare concerns and a total of:

  • $1,400 per person stimulus payment
  • $300 / week extended unemployment benefits
  • $10,200 in unemployment benefits not taxed

Employers saw a 61% increase in cost per apply for commercial staffing and many jobs going unfilled. There are 71% more production/manufacturing jobs now than in February of 2020.

The Implication

Factor in transportation, childcare, lunch and other expenses, and the effective minimum wage is over $16 an hour (and even as high as $20 an hour in some cities)! Many people are not yet ready or able to return to normal life, and right now, the supply of jobs is much greater than candidate demand for work.

The Bottom Line

Recruiting costs are going up…it's unavoidable. There are more jobs to fill, less talent in the market, and no way to increase the candidate pool quickly enough to keep up with demand. To fill open job orders, you need to do more to incentivize talent and create compelling reasons to work.

Incentives to Work (ideas to try)

  • Pay rate: Must be at or above effective minimum wage in your market.
  • Bonuses: Sign-on, assignment completion, quality/productivity, longevity, referral.
  • Benefits: Healthcare/HSA, 401(k), training programs/compensation.

Compelling Reasons to Work
(messages to test in your recruiting)

  • Mental need to get back to work. Gain a sense of pride and well-being that comes from having a job.
  • Right now you have an unprecedented opportunity to get the most desirable temp-to-hire or direct-hire jobs with the best employers.
  • Employers are offering the best pay rates now.
  • You can avoid gaps on your resume.
  • Get your spouse off the couch!

Strategies for Recruiting in 2021

Active Job Seekers

Your challenge: building an IRRESISTIBLE EMPLOYMENT BRAND!

  • Advertise your best jobs, best clients, highest pay rates. Lead with the jobs most likely to get a response!
  • Build your employment brand. This should be done at three levels: the value of working with a staffing company, the unique value you company offers, and the specific jobs you offer.
  • Strengthen social proof. Generate more reviews, testimonials, and employment awards.
  • Increase visibility. Online and in the real world!

Current Temporary Employees


  • Use candidate automation to increase engagement and boost redeployment.
  • Increase touchpoints to show employees you care.
  • Create compensation programs that offer incentives for completing assignments/redeployment. 
  • Work with employers to extend assignments/clearly define end dates.
  • Proactively skill market to redeploy talent.

Referral Programs

Your challenge: turning employees into ADVOCATES!

Give employees (and others) better incentives to submit a referral and make it easier. Ask more often and ask everywhere, including:

  • Social media
  • Email
  • Texts

Competitors' Temporary Workers

Your challenge: Developing a stronger employee value proposition to WIN THEM AWAY!

Direct market to them wherever possible, using:

  • Online engagement (e.g., job fairs, printed collateral, branded apparel for temporary workers)
  • In-person advertising
  • Geofencing campaigns around their key clients and office locations

Maximize the Value of Your ATS

Your challenge: learn all the features and benefits of your software to LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED!

  • Re-engage and reactivate talent in your database.
  • Verify that contact information, job skills and availability are up to date.
  • Find ways to nurture relationships with candidates:
    • Don't just text job posts blindly.
    • Personalize communication to each individual.
    • Use a mix of electronic outreach (email/text), physical mail, and phone calls.
  • Ask for referrals as well when you reconnect.
  • Implement automation programs to improve the candidate experience, increase redeployments, ask for more referrals, and keep your associates happier.

What does your company need to do?

Define Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Clearly define your "Why?" – all the reasons why someone would want to work for you now.

  • Why should someone work with a staffing company?
  • Why would talent choose your company over anyone else?
  • Include people working as temps as well as potential candidates outside the staffing industry.

Collect Data

Determine the pay rates and types of jobs at which applications start flowing for your industry and market. Here's a sample from a Haley Marketing client:

Summer 2020

  • $12-$14/hour jobs: 45% decrease in conversion and application costs increased by 62%
  • $15-$16/hour jobs: 27% decrease in conversion and application costs increased by 20%
  • $17/hour jobs: 25% increase in conversion and application costs decreased by 33%

March 2021

  • March 5-15: 26 applies, $4.32 CPA, 13% conversion
  • March 16-24: 9 applies, $10.26 CPA, 6.5% conversion
  • March 25-31: 12 applies, $11.08 CPA, 9% conversion

Wage Analysis/Comparison

$12-$17/hour jobs

  • March 1-10: 102 apps, $6.38 CPA, 8.8% conversion (102 postings)
  • March 11-31: 105 apps, $13.99 CPA, 4.9% conversion (109 postings)

$18+/hour jobs

  • March 1-10: 29 apps, $9.09 CPA, 6.7% conversion (12 postings)
  • March 11-31: 57 apps, $11.00 CPA, 6.1% conversion (19 postings)

Sales Strategies

When recruiting is hard, you actually need more clients! Available talent doesn't stay available for long, so you want to have a great job opportunity for every qualified candidate. It's time to get more creative to make yourself valuable to employers to gain more clients, get more job orders from existing clients, and fill open positions faster.

  • Go after desirable employers more aggressively – offer incentives to win over these clients.
  • Get permission to use clients' names in job advertising.
  • Use market data to show clients the need to increase pay rates and show the implication of low pay rates.
  • Consider working with clients to increase pay rates but reduce the markup.

Reach out to competitors:

  • Find opportunities for partnering.
  • Band together to promote staffing as a job option.

Work with every client to make jobs more desirable:

  • Compensation and benefits
  • Schedule flexibility
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Temp-to-hire opportunities
  • Incentive pay (sign-on bonus, assignment completion, quality of work bonus)
  • Paid training

Train Recruiters

The more effective your recruiters are, the better for your business, your clients, and your recruiters' compensation. Teach them how to:

  • Write better job postings.
  • Maximize social media.
    • Build personal networks.
    • Share content.
    • Create a personal brand that supports the company and their careers.
  • Regularly ask for referrals.
  • Work with clients to expand the talent pool.
    • Push harder to identify desired versus truly required skills.
    • Discuss placing people with transferrable skills.
    • Creative work options (split shifts, off-hours work, remote work).

Get Found

It doesn't matter how exceptional your service is, or how compelling your EVP is, if you can't garner employers' and job seekers' attention. Get in front of prospects with:

  • Job advertisements
    • Increase volume (advertise more jobs).
    • Increase distribution to more job sites (free and paid) and social media.
  • Referrals
    • Get more current and former employees to become referral sources.
    • Build networks of other referrals sources (trade schools, churches).
  • Digital marketing
    • SEO (continually improve website and inbound links).
    • PPC (Google, Bing and social advertisements).
    • Social media (better content, more sharing).
    • Online reviews.
  • In the real world
    • Print, media and out-of-home advertising.
    • Job fairs.
    • Remote recruiting locations.
    • Community service.
    • Branded apparel for temporary workers.
    • Business cards for temporary workers.

Be More Engaging

The best way to get candidates working with you is to demonstrate that your staffing firm is great to work with. Humanize your company and your recruiters by being authentic and showing yourself as a resource for job seekers.

  • Create and curate great content.
    • Jobs (promote best clients and top-paying jobs).
    • Stories (convey your culture).
    • Provide good education (articles, blogs, video, social graphics).
    • Humor / entertainment (convey personality with content shared).
  • Leverage hashtags and user tagging to get more people involved with content shared.
  • Use more channels of distribution (email, mail, text, social).

Improve Conversion

Getting people to your website is great, but you've got to get them to take action once they get there. The goal is to get people into jobs, not just get them to enjoy your delightful website.

  • Optimize conversion paths on the website.
  • Review exit pages and test changes to increase response.
  • Add more Calls to Action to website (on every page!).
  • Provide different CTAs (buttons, text, images, fly-ins, pop-ups).
  • Simplify forms.
  • Give people a reason to act now (incentives, create urgency).
  • Re-engage site visitors (retargeting ads, marketing automation).

Re-Engage Talent

Your best source of candidates may be right in your database. Connecting is often just a matter of timing. If you weren't able to place someone previously, they might have found a job on their own or taken themselves off the market. If you reach out now, you may find them coming off another assignment, unhappy in their job, or ready to get back to work. Tools to consider:

  • Candidate automation (SENSE and Herefish).
  • Other marketing automation (ActiveCampaign, HubSpot).
  • Email and texting.
  • Picking up the phone and calling.

What You Can Do on Your Own

There is much your staffing firm can do to recruit better at little to no cost over what you're doing currently, although it will take an investment of time.

  • Improve selling (better clients, better jobs, higher-level jobs).
  • Train recruiters (improve job postings, provide amazing service, social sharing, working with clients).
  • Define the company EVP.
  • Build social proof.
  • Grassroots brand building.
    • Community involvement.
    • Low-cost advertising.

How can Haley Marketing help?

Haley Marketing can help you build a comprehensive marketing stack geared toward recruiting. One of our marketing educators can work with you to assess your current program and make recommendations based on its strengths and weaknesses.

We can offer a comprehensive range of solutions to help you gain visibility, recruit more effectively and control costs, including:

  • Website development / improvement
  • Programmatic job advertising management
  • EVP consulting
  • Ongoing SEO
  • Blogging and/or HaleyMail (content creation)
  • PPC (visibility, build followers, retargeting, job promotion)
  • Social Pro (social strategy, content creation and sharing)
  • NetSocial (automated team-based social sharing)
  • Video NOW (creating testimonial and story videos)
  • Outdoor ad development

30 Recruiting Ideas
(our brainstorming notes)

To prepare this article on recruiting strategies for 2021, we asked our team at Haley Marketing to brainstorm ideas. The following are a collection of strategies and tactics our team suggested. We hope you find these helpful!

  1. Partner with local daycare centers to see if you can get special rates for your workers (maybe a 1-to-3-month introductory rate).
  2. Provide transportation services (promote a guaranteed ride to work).
  3. Align messaging in job ads, social media and any grassroots job advertising to the issues most important to candidates right now (higher pay, opportunities with the area's best employers, safety, greater chances at going full-time, healthcare).
  4. Promote that the best jobs of 2021 are available right now – get them before they get filled.
  5. Co-promote your clients in your ads (their brands may attract people your ads do not attract on their own).
  6. Review how your website works on mobile. Make it easy to search and apply quickly.
  7. Add the Haley Marketing Talent Showcase to your website to skill market candidates coming off assignments and keep people working.
  8. Proactively call every supervisor to ask about assignment extensions and confirm assignment end dates.
  9. Offer bonuses such as sign-on, longevity, assignment completion and referral.
  10. Leverage Haley Marketing tools such as:
    • Category mailings in the job board.
    • Job alert feature of the job board.
    • HaleyMail candidate content (Candidate Resource Center, monthly "Hired" enewsletter, hot jobs and seasonal eCards) to keep top-of-mind, bring people back to the website, strengthen candidate relationships, and ask for referrals.
  11. Change how pay rates are presented – rather than $15 an hour, promote $30,000 annually.
  12. Automate follow-up after someone applies (text, email) – use a tool like SENSE, Herefish, or any marketing automation platform to keep lines of communication open and get people to show up at the interview.
  13. Provide an incentive to show up for the interview and day one on the job. For example:
    • $5 Starbucks gift card after your interview
    • $50 bonus with first paycheck (or maybe a non-cash bonus like a gift card to Amazon)
  14. Update and repost jobs regularly in your ATS. This refreshes the post, so it jumps back up to the top of the job boards.
  15. Use PPC for talent re-engagement (on Google, Facebook and possibly Instagram).
  16. Create a pre-interview packet/communication stream (video-based) to get people excited about working for your company.
  17. Write more long-form blog posts (2,000+ words) on your website to boost SEO.
  18. Review job descriptions to answer these questions:
    • Do you have a clear title (that will also stand out on Indeed)?
    • Does the post open with the WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for the candidate?
    • Are the pay and benefits clearly outlined?
    • Do you sell your company in the post?
    • Do you have a well-written recruiter bio including a recent photo?
  19. Create videos to promote specific jobs and add them to the job posts.
  20. Be transparent about safety and all you are doing to protect your workers.
  21. Find ways to target active and passive job seekers who would not have childcare issues, such as high-school-age applicants, older candidates or recent retirees.
  22. Geofence advertising around companies that employ people you want (have ads like "Have a bad day? We have better jobs!) – note as an employer, you may be limited in this type of geographic targeting with some social media.
  23. Engage on TikTok or Twitch to make the company appear more relevant to younger workers.
  24. Create job posts and employment branding to appeal to each type of temp employee:
    • Career temps.
    • Temps who are looking to get a foot in the door at companies.
    • Entry-level workers just entering the labor market and having a hard time getting their first jobs.
  25. On social media promote "I got my job at (your company)" – show how many people you are putting to work.
  26. Write blog posts to tell the stories of people you are putting to work and how you are positively changing their lives.
  27. On job postings, outline potential career path if hired.
  28. Record short videos of workers on assignment – wearing their PPE and talking about the benefits of working right now (it's safe, I feel good about working instead of sitting at home, I have no gap on my resume, I'm proving my value as a reliable, committed worker).
  29. Review the imagery on your website – update it to match what is going on in the market right now.
  30. Create a FAQ on your website that proactively addresses the questions, concerns and objections people have about working in this economy/during the pandemic. Link that page to Apply Now and Search jobs.

Recruiting is tough right now – the toughest time in recent memory – but sitting helplessly on the sidelines doesn't make it any easier. Take control of your recruitment marketing and you'll be a step ahead of the competition to get the first shot at the best talent and maybe coax some reluctant candidates back into the workforce!

Need more big ideas to keep your recruiting funnel full?

  1. Watch: SPECIAL EDITION: Recruiting Strategies 2021. This webinar shares modern strategies to attract talent, reduce no-shows and improve fill rates.
  2. Download: Smart Recruiting Checklist. Get more than 190 ideas to improve your recruiting.
  3. Contact: The social recruiting experts at Haley Marketing! Call 888.696.2900 or visit our recruitment marketing team at