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Competing For Top Temporary Talent In A Tight Marketplace


By Megan Graham, Staffing Manager

Companies that haven’t sought candidates in the temporary staffing or temp-to-hire arena in the last couple of years should be prepared to buckle up for what has become a speedy hiring process.

Today’s tight talent market is mirrored in the temporary staffing space where the window of opportunity for hiring is much shorter than ever before. What was once a week-and-half to two-week grace period for making an offer to a candidate is now around 72 hours.

As recruiting specialists, we are trying to educate hiring managers to move more quickly to fill temporary positions or risk the position being open two or three times as long because another round or two of interviews will be required.

For example, four years ago a traditional temp-to-hire administrative assistant position would have had 10 or 12 qualified candidates. Now, we can find two that have appropriate experience, and if we don’t act on them quickly, they’ll be gone. That means we start the process over again.

What can companies do to better compete for top temporary talent in today’s tight candidate market? Here are a few ideas:

Be prepared to move quickly.

Companies that have an open position, especially on the staffing level (temp-to-hire or temporary), should be ready to interview within three days of reaching out to a recruiting service.

Consider that in South Carolina, where unemployment presently stands at 3.3 percent, approximately only 1.5 percent of those not working are looking for jobs. That makes candidates in the temporary pool very hard to find unless they have recently relocated. Unemployment figures coupled with the recent 5.5 percent uptick in temporary staffing jobs is creating a marketplace where a newly relocated, mid-level administrative assistant with good computer skills could have four job offers in two weeks.

This is especially true in a variety of industries, including finance and accounting and IT, where we’re seeing the greatest competition for qualified candidates. Job offers are plentiful and swift in legal support roles (paralegals and legal assistants), as well.

Evaluate your interview process.

Most candidates at the staffing level need to be gainfully employed and don’t have the luxury of waiting two months to go through an interview process. Examining and altering your interview process to move things along more quickly will help your company not miss out on a desirable candidate.

The hiring process at many companies includes interviewing a single candidate more than once. As an example, a candidate has a first interview with your company and you absolutely love him or her. The candidate feels the same way, but you can’t get the person in front of the president for another week. By that time, the candidate has accepted another offer.

Consider having the candidate meet with all necessary parties in one visit, including potential future colleagues so that they can get a better understanding of what the day-to-day duties will be like. A candidate is continually assessing during the visit how they will be treated as an employee and the interview is a preview of that. Being transparent and giving candidates the chance to meet future co-workers is an important interview element to consider.

Also keep in mind that many temporary to hire positions have a built in “trial” period, which can allow for a quicker start and on the job interviewing. Take advantage of this, knowing that seeing a candidate in action will likely provide better insight into their fit for a permanent role with your company. You can catch a great candidate earlier on, and train them quicker to increase productivity for your company.

Be willing to negotiate.

Counter offers in the staffing marketplace have become more common. In one recent case, the pay was the same at Company A and Company B, and the candidate thought Company A would be the better fit. But Company B offered a flexible Friday benefit. The candidate made that benefit known to Company A, which offered to match it. At this point, you’re in counter-offer situation.

It’s important to determine during the interview process what is most important to candidates. More often, a culture fit heads the list, then personal time within reason and flexibility where appropriate.

Sell your brand.

In this talent-deficit marketplace, it’s more important than ever to attract candidates that match your company’s culture, then get them excited about the role they can play at your company.

During the interview, be prepared to talk through what your company stands for and how you see the candidate fitting into the role. This could be a bit of a change for a hiring manager who has been interviewing in a different kind of market, but is essential in today’s encounters.

Previously, this type of sales process didn’t need to occur. But in today’s environment, especially when hiring Millennials, make certain that you convey the overall mission and value statements of your organization. Millennials are very tied to corporate values and they want to get a true sense of what you stand for and how they can contribute to an organization.

The end goal is to have a quality and qualified person in the open seat producing results. These tips can help you accomplish that as quickly as possible.