Candidate experience and engagement in staffing agencies is how candidates perceive their experience in applying for a contract job and their experience working for a staffing agency. It is one of the most critical, most misunderstood and most under-appreciated metric in the staffing industry. While candidate engagement could mean many things to different people it can be categorized in the following ways in the staffing industry.
Candidate Awareness- Often the first time a candidate experiences a staffing agency is when they first hear about it- either through a job posting, another contractor mentioning the agency, its website or through reviews of the company online. It is critical for staffing agencies to covr these table stakes as they build a candidate experience and engagement platform. Many staffing agencies just copy paste their job postings without taking into account that most contractors have never heard of the company and have no idea about who they are and what they do. Staffing firms should introduce themselves properly in such cases and explain what they do, their credentials and why the candidate might be interested in what they have to offer. This is possible in job postings and online profiles at sites like Glassdoor or OnContracting.
Candidate ReachOut- When your recruiter first reaches out. The first touch of the candidate sets the ball rolling in candidate experience. Staffing agency's recruiters should be careful in drafting emails, follow etiquette and respect the candidate's request if they ask to unsubscribe. Many staffing companies have no way of tracking this and often multiple recruiters keep spamming the same candidates even after they have been rejected or ask to be removed from the mailing list.
Candidate Shortlisting/Interview - This occurs when recruiters are interacting with the candidate to decide if they are a fit. Again it is important for recruiters to keep the candidate informed about the status, the next steps and the result of being considered for the role. A lot of these initial steps can be automated through recruitment automation technologies that may be classified as RPA (Recruitment Process Automation) and AI and machine learning via bots. For example, if a staffing agency receives too many applications for a open job they can use AI to review resumes and atomatically send out rejection emails to non qualified applicants. Many staffing agencies now use AI software to automate setting up of interviews or do first round screenings.
Candidate Client Submission and Feedback- Engagement during submission to client, getting feedback and through the interview and offer. Often recruiters gather the details, submit candidates and then 'ghost' them. This leaves a bad taste in the candidate's mouth about their experience and the main reason candidates complain about staffing agencies and recruiters. Other times the client may not schedule the interview on time or delay making a decision. This again reflects poorly on the temp agencies even though it may not be their fault. A good staffing firm should have an 'auto updater' that would shoot out an email to all candidates in the pipeline informing them about them about the status including if the position has gone on hold.
Candidate Onboarding at Client- Once the candidate becomes a contractor and joins the client. Most staffing agencies are very engaged once the candidate is shortlisted for the interview by the client and especially if the candidate gets the offer. However, once the candidate joins the project, the recruiter moves on to the next open position. The job of keeping engaged with the candidate then depends on the account manager whose primary job is actually increasing sales with the client manager, so its not a priority. A common complaint from contractors is that staffing agencies place them and forget about them until it is time to renew.
Candidate on Project- During the candidate's tenure in the project. This is one of the biggest challenges of candidate experience and engagement at staffing agencies, as it is a lost opportunity to develop a long term relationship with a billable resource while they are working for the firm. Because the impact is not direct and the benefit is not immediate it tends to fall off the radar for most staffing agencies. Many staffing companies are offshore based and may not have onsite relationship managers or the equivalent of an HR person for their contractors. The better staffing agencies realize that there is value to building a long term relationship with the contractor as that can help with good word of mouth which is the most influential marketing a firm can get and that too for free. They also help with referrals of other good candidates and even new clients or additional projects within the company.
Candidate Reassignment- When the candidate's project is coming to an end. Most staffing agencies do a cursory lookup in their ATS to see if a project exists for a candidate that might be rolling off. If not, they don't spend a lot of time on it giving up a lucrative opportunity to place a known cadidate into a new project possibly at a new client even. This is often the case because the candidate may not be elgible to work for the same client and for many staffing agencies it means the team managing the account has not position for that candidate. If thea gency has no similar client they may not have anything, but it would make sense to start building out a clinet pipeline for people with similar skills that they know are going to roll off at a certain time. This would significantly reduce their hiring cost and increase their profitability and client base.
Candidate Offboarding- When the project ends and the candidate is leaving the project, many companies may than the candidate and say goodbye. A staffing agency that wants to offer a good canidate experience and enggement would instead do a significant deep dive into the candidate. They may want to debrief the candidate about the work, the pluses and negatives, the skills they picked up, update their record of the candidate, and where the candidate might be going. Better yet, they would be able to reassing him or her into a new client as msot contractors would rather prefer to work for the same agency than have to keep looking for new jobs proving their skills over and over again to a new set of people.