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According to Monster, a well known job board, “82% of employers say they plan to hire in 2021, nearly 1/3 of employers agree that the skills gap has increased compared to a year ago and 70% of companies say their recruiting and onboarding is at least half virtual.”  These are all items to take into account when looking for effective ways to recruit candidates.

I reviewed several articles, was led to Pinterest, looked over reports by various associations and firms that cater to hiring and referred back to what worked best for Reliance Staffing to share some actual strategies recruiting companies can use to obtain applicants.

Staffing agencies, even after being in business for about 80 years, are still not clearly understood by many potential job candidates.  How they work and what they do still needs consistent repeating and clarification.

By the way, I looked up when the staffing industry began (for the 80 year reference) and was reminded it was in the 1940’s.  This was due to WWII when many employees’ positions were vacated causing an extreme lack of talent resulting in many job openings and thus the birth of the staffing industry.  Fascinating. 

So, how can staffing companies think outside the box when finding job candidates is at an all time, difficult high?  Staffing companies don’t have the luxury to establish large-scale recruiting campaigns and processes if they have a list of 50 open roles to fill.  You need candidates now.


Use Niche Networks

Job candidates have been getting more exact when looking for work and have been using job boards that are more fine tuned to their profession, interests or even preferred social media types such as Twitter or Reddit.

My 21 year old son moved to California for a job as an editor that he received from one video he created and posted on Reddit.  He has been creating videos for years, but that one post landed him a remote interview from a company who knows where to look for creatives.

Field specific job boards and organizations that support specific groups that cater to recent college graduates, graphic design and creatives, veterans, women reentering the workforce, formerly incarcerated and diverse candidates, for example.

Some affiliate groups that potential job candidates participate in that commonly pertain to a staffing agency’s open positions include the accounting and finance network, construction network, energy & engineering network, hospitality network, IT network, manufacturing and trade, sales & marketing and transportation and logistics network.  Learning these niche networks and many of the participants’ goals can lead you to perfect candidates.


Recruit Students

Colleges and universities can be an excellent resource for job candidates.  A simple way to start catering to students is to add a page to your website created exclusively for college students and recent graduates.  Use a landing page for all social media and blog posts regarding hiring students.

Liberty Staffing Services shared a blog post, noting that “finding summer work as a student doesn’t have to be a struggle. Sometimes, the key to improving the summer job search is to tackle the challenge from a different angle. Engaging recruitment agencies, for instance, is a particularly productive way to land opportunities that suit your work goals.” 


Partner with businesses who value their employees and have a great company culture

In owning and managing Reliance Staffing for more than 30 years, we found the easiest job openings to recruit for were with quality client companies that job candidates knew we served.  The applicants came to Reliance with a specific request to work for a specific client of ours.  Some applied only with Reliance in order to obtain an opportunity to get their foot in the door with this specific firm.  Those client companies that were well known as having a strong identity and culture dedicated to growth and employee appreciation, had access to candidates already interested in their firm.

They offered a good temporary pay rate and salary and benefit package upon permanent hire.  Many applicants applied for the health benefits alone, with particular clients they knew we partnered with.  Our employees had friends and family who found success in working for these valued clients and because of this we had a consistent stream of interested applicants.  There was no better way to get employees in the door than to work with clients they wanted to be assigned to.  If you’re lucky enough to service quality companies, make sure you promote that fact through your social media strategy, consistently.


Develop a pipeline for talent and passive candidates

Recruiting quality candidates has been difficult over the past several years and has been further heightened by the pandemic.  This will continue to be an issue. Seriously focusing on creating a pipeline to fill future job openings from clients, is critical.

When you are recruiting and speaking with candidates about open roles now, simply noting and tracking those we aren’t interested now but may be later, can fill this pipeline.

Quality candidates may be interested in hearing more about your staffing firm and your openings in the future and having an ATS to track candidates makes the process much easier. Being able to quickly search for an employee you spoke with months ago to determine their possible availability for the role you just got in that matches the job they want, is essential. 

Mobile-friendly recruitment strategy

Job seekers increasingly demand the ability to use their phone to find and apply for a job, especially millennials and Generation Y because both generations use their cell phone for everything.  To reach these candidates your firm needs to have the ability for them to apply in the manner they are used to, mobile first over laptop or desktop.


If 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes and time is critical in the staffing industry, mobile is not optional.  According to Brendan McConnell of Recruitee, “That means this medium is the most effective way to reach candidates quickly. This, combined with an email to mobile, push notifications, and chat apps, help to improve your overall responsiveness to candidates. This also dramatically works to improve the overall candidate experience.” Staffing firms should be able to access all types of data on each of their job candidates which automatically integrates with their applicant tracking system.



Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – Get one, if you don’t have one already

Speaking of mobile friendly staffing firm technology, if you don’t have an ATS, this should be high on your list in 2021.  Your Recruiters need to be able to access any data on any candidate or employee at any point of their recruiting process.


McConnell said, “Your ATS should act as the central platform that guides your wider recruitment strategy and talent management programs. By funneling all applicant data through an ATS, recruiters are able to not only quickly push candidates through the funnel, but also pull insights from previous recruitment campaigns to guide future ones.”


Update your interviewing procedure

If you haven’t reviewed how all of your Recruiters interview lately, now is a good time to do so.  Many don’t really update or look into the questions they ask every candidate when hiring for the same position openings for their clients.

You need a full, quick and better picture of the candidates you do get in the door.  With limited applicants, it makes sense to review where the candidate’s skills lie and what they are most interested in.  I understand many companies are desperate to fill roles, but long term success won’t be found in placing an employee into a position they don’t like.  Make sure you are asking the right questions to make not only your client happy, but your job candidate as well.


Recruiting Business Card

When you are at a retail store, restaurant, getting your taxes done or buying groceries, sometimes you receive exemplary service.  This is when it’s great to have a business card designed specifically to recruit quality employees you meet who service you well. Reliance utilized this one, it was a great conversation starter.  Is the employee you are impressed by at Target happy with their career or possibly looking for something else?  I loved sharing these cards with high performers.  It was a compliment for them to be noticed and a way for us to potentially gain a new applicant.


Highlight employee experiences in video

Isn’t video the number one most effective post for social media right now?  Finding a way to highlight your own temporary employees and review their client company experiences, assignments completed and temp to hire success stories in industries of all types would be a great method to not only recruit potential candidates but to explain the staffing industry.


I have more than one story with members of our family working for Reliance Staffing when we opened after 1983 in Chesapeake.  My husband got his start in the electric motor and apparatus market as an outside sales Key Account Manager with his first temporary work assignment with Brownell Electro as a warehouse clerk in Norfolk, VA.  He has been in the industry ever since.  My cousin held a temporary assignment with the City of Suffolk as a GIS Analyst after graduating from JMU and remains in the same field today, several layers up.  Can you imagine how effective a quick video from one of them would be?


A 30-60 second hand made video of real results from real employees is a more effective recruiting tool than any ad or job post could possibly be.  I also believe in the social media world of perfectionism seen through Facebook and Instagram, people want real.   Have employees record videos and send them to you for imperfect video, unrehearsed experiences and natural human conversation.

COATS Staffing Software began in the industry from our sister companies’ need for software to run their staffing agency.  We’ve been in the industry for years and understand your business.  Give us a call if you need a front to back end, all inclusive software package.

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