In today’s tight talent market, it’s imperative that companies focus on retention efforts to minimize attrition as well as actively pursue all talent sources, like passive candidates, in order to build readily available pools of qualified talent. In a recent episode of “Off The Cuff,” Christina Vinson, SSi People Director of Marketing hosted three industry leaders, fluent in staffing and MSP solutions and who have experience on both the provider and client sides of the business – giving them a 360 view of workforce solutions.
Jody Mohammed – GRI, VP Partnerships and Solutions
Nick DiZoglio – PerkinElmer, Inc. – Global Contingent Workforce Program Manager
Christopher Stone – VP Client Engagement at SSI
What did we learn?
What is today’s way of sourcing and filling talent pools?
We are starting to fill talent pools as organizations are recognizing that their brands are powerful. Historically, clients did not necessarily want staffing suppliers to utilize their brand as a tool to attract candidates. But there is now a huge shift in allowing suppliers to utilize the brand tenets within the guideposts provided to communicate to candidates. It opens up a different market – as long as the brand is used and represented in the way a client deems to attract talent to the pool. You have to excite the community to join. The upfront selling points attract people to jump into the pool and swim around a little bit.
As a staffing firm, we have to be an extension of our clients to understand their culture, to understand their goals. We nurture relationships with the client to understand how they want to grow and who they are really looking for to fill roles. On the other end, when we engage with candidates, we are taking the same approach and asking them the same things – what are you really looking for? What are your goals? How can we put you in the best position to be successful and to be happy? Then the connections can be made.
Our global side adds another level of talent cross-over, allowing qualified candidates to fulfill roles in many geographies. We are also driven by pressing needs according to industry and economic trends. For instance, we were heavy on light industrial needs and we had to focus on building that talent pool since those roles are hard to fill. At one point, our science need was great, for let’s say lab techs, but that is now starting to level off, especially as COVID-19 protocols eased. We are on seasonal cycles and quarterly demand cycles based on economic influences and have to be able to ramp up or ramp down accordingly. The key to being able to do that is preparation and using our data to manage those ebbs and flows at the right time.
That notion is supported by the brand as a helpful tool to attract people to the pool, and then also define what those individuals are interested in. Are they looking for contractual work or FTE? It’s so important to know and to curate prospective candidates so you can fill that need according to the ebbs and flows. While certain jobs may not be available today, historical data shows there might be an opportunity at some point because of past hiring trends, so if the talent is opting in to the pool at some point there is opportunity for dialogue. Curation of the talent pool is a critical component of a successful direct sourcing strategy.
What are companies doing to keep candidates in the talent pools engaged and excited after they are curated?
It’s the Candidate-care program approaches that differentiate suppliers. If the same approaches are applied to the pool, you will have engaged candidates. For candidates in the pool, we must continue to give them consumable industry intel to keep them engaged. It’s a combination of engaging through a tech platform with a human touch.
We must work with the candidate and mentor them through the full lifecycle focusing on their growth or progression. For example, we are currently looking at the retiree population and are anticipating a fall-off of legacy workers. But we are remaining engaged. We’ve communicated with them and surveyed them about their plans for the future: would you be open to coming back as a consultant? As a mentor? We then look to consultants to back-fill the roles for the people who were promoted to FTE because of retirements, to be able to fill with the talent to train.
A consultant does not want to feel like a nameless face. We want consultants to understand that they have a future. We actively partner with clients to engage in upskilling practices to give consultants a pathway to growth through:
- Stellar service. Yes, delivery is part of it, but the service comes first.
- Customer Care Management – every candidate has a dedicated contact to help them work through the process
- World-class benefits which is so important right now offered to consultants
- Ensuring that contractors feel like they have a home both with their staffing side as well as the client they are working for in terms of growth
How do we find passive candidates? Why would they even consider making a change – is there anything beyond money as the motivator?
With attracting talent, we have all the latest technologies through AI, bots, etc. but passive recruiting is truly a grassroots effort. Reaching out on LinkedIn, having solid referral programs with other consultants. It’s about not necessarily being a sourcer, but more a recruiter. Reaching out to find out what someone really wants from their career and matching them up with a like-minded client so that they can engage and make a connection. We can marry old-school recruiting engines for passive candidates, with new tech strategies, incorporating AI and bots to stay in touch periodically, just to say how’s it going and can we help.
It’s about finding them, being a good friend to them and staying in touch. Hard-to-fill positions become easy to fill today when you have that network of candidates on your bench right now because of the on-going relationships built.
What topics engage passive candidates better? Any platforms work better than others?
Candidates want to find an environment that matches what they value. We help the passive candidate to gain a little courage to pursue the new opportunity. But that is where they will rely on an agency with a strong candidate-care profile to give them advice and to help guide them on the best approach to making a change. We can share with them how to update their skills, interview ideas, industry data, etc., but when it’s more naturally personalized, that draws them into the pool. And when there is a consistent “feeding” of information, they will stay in the pool until they are ready. We have to give them the tools to be confident and to get excited about trying something new.
The next generation wants more than money. They want to understand CSR, mentorship programs, how to further their education. It’s a different mindset.
Another avenue for talent is internships, they provide a great feeder to talent pools, bringing students in to learn the business. And they gravitate towards the programs we are involved in because we work on businesses that are appealing. We work with medical testing companies for prenatal health, water testing companies – much of the type of work that incoming working generations are interested in and want to learn more about because it’s important to them.
We attract interns first through recommendations from managers from their Alma Maters. We will then venture into creating apps and tools to tap into the universities and colleges and perhaps in the future working with government contract clients to engage students.
We’ve discussed identifying candidates, engaging them, curating them, bringing the pool which would seem like the hard part is done.
The hard work is not done. It’s hard to keep that great talent.
What is helping companies to retain that talent and minimize attrition?
You have to win them first. They might be taking multiple offers and will take the best and final or go to whoever was able to get the background check faster or offer that extra dollar. So, it’s critical that MSPs and TA partners engage in constant communication to stay as the front-runner. Lock up the paperwork, let them know they are part of the organization, get the dates set – let them know they are valued already. Because even if the other recruiter who hasn’t called them with an update yet then comes around and offers them a dollar more, that engagement makes the difference. Pay attention in the onboarding and hold their hand until they are in their seat on day 1, and then continue to engage beyond.
It is about finding those ways to make the process quicker, smoother and seamless. The right background checker could shave off days in the turnaround time. And it makes the whole process trackable when the screening company offers a dedicated contact to the recruiter in order to give them line of sight into the checks and if there have been any stalls or issues to be addressed. Because the faster we can move talent into their role, the less likely they will move on to another assignment. After roles have been established, historically, contractors have noted that they feel forgotten about from the provider who placed them. But an agency with a proactive approach who is in touch with updates, and knows contract end-times and contacts them to talk about next steps on new assignments will keep them in their talent pool.
It’s true – no matter how much technology we use, the human touch is still the most important.