4 Ways to Meet Candidates Where They Are in 2022

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This blog summarizes key findings from our recent GRID Talent Survey. To see the complete report, click here.

Amidst the talent shortage and great resignation, the competition to attract and engage candidates has never been greater. What does it take to win candidates and provide an incredible experience in the current landscape? 

In conjunction with our research site, GRID—Global Recruitment Insights & Data—we surveyed 2,000+ perm, freelance, and temp workers in North America and the UK about their views on staffing firms, the current job market, and what they need from staffing agencies to ensure a positive experience. 

The talent survey findings reveal a workforce eager to work with staffing firms but increasingly impatient with an occasionally inefficient or shortchanged candidate experience.

We’ve summarized four key takeaways from our talent survey below to help your team meet candidates where they are.

Adapt to the Changing Talent Landscape

Staffing firms have cited candidate acquisition as their top priority for 2022, but they face a series of obstacles standing in the way of their talent goals. The labor participation rate has taken a sharp decline since the beginning of the pandemic, and the top three challenges cited by recruitment professionals for 2022 all reflect a candidate-short environment complicating talent acquisition plans.

Amidst the talent shortage, the number one recruitment challenge for 2022, qualified candidates are at a premium. Additionally, most staffing leaders believe that implications stemming from COVID-19 will continue to cause candidate acquisition and placement hurdles. Finally, firms cite increased competition from each other and from non-traditional labor models.

In 2020, when staffing revenue decreased 11 percent year-over-year, online talent platform revenue rose 25 percent. A growing number of workers have shifted to freelance work or taken a hiatus altogether; a record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September.

The stakes for attracting qualified candidates have never been higher, but what should firms do to attract and retain talent? Businesses must adapt to the changing landscape using technology to provide their recruiters with the best tools, their candidates with the best experience, and their clients with the best results. 

Step Up to Meet Candidate Needs

Although the general talent sentiment is positive towards staffing firms, there is still room for improvement. Candidates cited varying problems that have plagued their experiences with firms, covering the entire lifecycle of the talent journey from sourcing to redeployment.

While candidates with a positive experience cited recruiters as efficient and helpful, those with an unfavorable opinion view them as inefficient and uninvolved. The top reasons for unfavorable opinions were poor communication (43%) and inefficiency (34%).

Even those who reported positive experiences with staffing firms overwhelmingly view the process as more cumbersome than they’d like. A near-unanimous 92 percent of all respondents wish the process of finding jobs through staffing agencies was easier. Additionally, half of all talent reported abandoning a job or placement midway because the process took too long.

Poor experiences with recruiters are often driven by issues stemming from the candidate-recruiter relationship. When temp workers were asked to cite the reason for their last poor experience, they were more than twice as likely to cite relationship-dependent challenges like expectation-setting (23%) or poor communication (22%) than placement-related challenges like job quality or shift flexibility.

Don’t Forget About the Human Touch

While candidates increasingly use their phones and apps to apply for jobs, very few wanted their contact limited to an app. Additionally, only half of talent working with staffing firms have been walked through how to use the app to find jobs or placements.

Furthermore, talent still wants regular human interaction during the process of searching or selecting jobs with agencies, including freelance workers who use online talent platforms.

While the findings reveal a strong desire for a technology-driven experience, candidates are overwhelmingly clear that they don’t want this to come at the expense of the personal touch provided by staffing firms.

As mentioned, seventy percent of respondents want interactions with a human during the job placement process. In fact, the findings reveal that most candidates want more contact with recruiters.

When asked to cite the value that recruiters can add to their experience, respondents cited skills connect to recruiter expertise and experience. Notably, respondents cited providing advice ahead of landing a higher pay (21%).

The dual desire for an efficient process that is still relationship-driven is especially pronounced in the findings for freelance workers. A staggering 93 percent of freelance workers said that it is easier to work with online talent platforms than it is with staffing firms. However, 60 percent of those workers said they actually prefer working with staffing firms and would make the switch if it was easier to work with staffing agencies.

Leverage Digital Transformation

Staffing firms face a tremendous opportunity in 2022. After a challenging 2020, which saw two-fifths of staffing firms reporting year-over-year losses, the staffing industry witnessed a tremendous rebound performance in 2021. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, US staffing revenue will grow by 16% in 2021 to a record-high total of $157.4 billion. The industry is projected to grow an additional 4% year-over-year in 2022. 

How can businesses position themselves to take advantage of the growth in the years ahead? The ability to find and attract talent will be a tremendous differentiator for firms that want to compete in the years ahead.

Firms that leverage digital transformation to automate, digitize, and empower the candidate experience will be in the best position to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Staffing businesses with a digital transformation strategy in place are 44 percent more likely to anticipate significant revenue gains in 2022 and 30 percent more likely to report above-average candidate sourcing performance. 

The talent survey findings reveal that workers want to work with recruiters, but they will only work with firms that provide an efficient, effective process. Firms that leverage technology to streamline the stages of the candidate placement process that cause dissatisfaction and automate manual tasks to invest further in relationships will be well-suited to win candidates and meet their goals in 2022 and beyond.


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