Back to BlogWhat Candidates Wish Their Staffing Firms Would Do by Katie Tierney on October 28th, 2016 Every staffing firm offers their candidates a unique experience. Some firms pride themselves on a personal touch; others might be more focused on serving clients with bulk hires. But as competition for top talent heats up, the candidate experience becomes an important metric that can separate good firms from great ones.There’s plenty of opportunity: According to a Talent Trends report by LinkedIn, only 18 percent of talent thinks of a staffing firm when looking for new job opportunities. Candidates are more likely to turn first to job boards and their own networks. And while staffing firms actually have a pretty good reputation — LinkedIn found that almost three-quarters of candidates said they’ve had a good experience with a staffing firm — there are clearly ways to improve the candidate experience.Wondering what your candidates wish you would do? Start with these steps to improve their experience with you.Get to the PointWhen you first reach out to potential hires with prospective jobs for them, how do you do it? That initial contact must be brief but informative to keep candidates interested. According to LinkedIn’s research, candidates who are contacted by a staffing firm are most interested in answers to these questions:What does the role entail?Why are you reaching out to them specifically?What is the estimated salary range?To keep the candidate experience positive from the start, take a look at the initial messages you’re sending to potential candidates and determine whether you’re sharing the information they want. Do your messages talk about the role and its responsibilities, or do they meander around in an effort to get the candidate to express interest? A candidate can’t make a decision on whether the position is a good fit unless they have all the information, so make sure you’re sharing it.Provide Job OpportunitiesIt seems obvious, but it’s worth restating: Candidates want jobs. They come to staffing firms because they want help in getting hired. A survey by the TechServe Alliance says jobs top the list of things candidates want when working with staffing companies.Hopefully this isn’t a surprise to you or your recruiters. What it does mean is that you’ll need to examine your client base and ensure you have the kinds of employers on your list that can provide opportunities and development for the talent you’re trying to place. Candidates want high-quality opportunities as well, so you’ll need to invest more effort in identifying those hard-to-find but perfect fits for candidates. Develop a rich variety of opportunities, with an eye toward the particular market or niche you specialize in.Show StabilityCandidates, like clients, appreciate consistency. But it can be too easy for staffing firms to “set it and forget it” when it comes to candidates who are hired. For example, according to the TechServe Alliance survey, IT and engineering professionals see staffing as less stable than traditional employment, even though they reported getting more opportunities and more high-quality job possibilities through staffing firms.Building long-term relationships is key to improving the candidate experience. Candidates don’t want to have to start from square one every time they interact with you, and they don’t want to be the ones reaching out when an assignment is wrapping up. Ensure that your process identifies job candidates who are close to being finished with one job, and that it minimizes their downtime between assignments.Communicate More EffectivelyCommunication is a huge opportunity for staffing firms in all industries. According to a survey by CareerBuilder and Inavero, almost half of candidates reported feeling like they were in a “black hole” when working with a staffing firm. They didn’t know how the hiring process was going or what the next step was, and more than 40 percent said they weren’t contacted when they didn’t get the job after their interview.Human contact is important throughout the hiring process — especially if you’re the one who reached out first to the job candidate. Leaving people in the dark isn’t just rude, it’s bad for business. Examine your people processes to ensure candidates get the follow-up they deserve after they’ve made contact with a hiring manager and started the interview process. That high-touch level of service will boost candidates’ experience with you and burnish your reputation among staffing firms.Offer CoachingCandidates these days expect their staffing firms to do more than simply find them jobs and set them up with interviews. They’re looking for advocates and teachers who can make them stronger candidates in the long run, or even provide career counseling.According to the CareerBuilder/Inavero survey, only 10 percent of candidates said they got any kind of career coaching from staffing firms, and less than 30 percent were coached on how to be more effective in interviews.As part of your candidate process, identify how you can provide feedback on resumes and interviewing techniques. Webinars and classes can give candidates the interview coaching they crave as they look for jobs. Work with consultants or train your own employees to provide better career services and guidance through the career cycle. There’s a large opportunity here to add value to the candidate experience — how can you help them be stronger candidates?Look for Consulting PlacementsIn addition to coaching opportunities, the TechServe Alliance survey found that IT and engineering professionals are concerned about staying relevant in today’s fast-moving job market. While all industries are changing rapidly, technology in particular is full of disruption, and some IT/engineering professionals may be feeling uncertain about their prospects.Staffing firms can enhance tech candidates’ experience by looking for more opportunities for them to work across different industries and projects in consulting capacities, the TechServe Alliance says. Working as consultants rather than employees can add variety to their experiences, enhance their skills and make them more attractive to more hiring organizations in the long run. Examine your client base and candidate pool and determine whether there are options for consulting relationships on both sides.Keep It InterestingIn addition to wanting a wider array of opportunities, tech candidates in particular are hoping to get exciting work. No one wants a boring job, and it’s important to provide a good fit for candidates that can give them more opportunities. Your recruiters may get hung up on bulk placements or simply getting people into positions without putting deeper thought into what the position will do for the candidate’s long-term prospects.Keep in mind that candidates want challenging projects that keep their skills relevant and offer them a chance to shine. While there are times when bulk placements for routine work are necessary, look for ways to expand your client base to provide dynamic opportunities your candidates will want.Get MobileHave you checked your company’s website on your phone lately to see how it looks on a mobile device? According to a survey by CareerBuilder and Inavero, more than 70 percent of candidates have looked for a job using a smartphone and almost 90 percent have done so from a tablet. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, candidates are going to lose interest quickly.Mobile optimization is a must for any business website — but if you want to provide an outstanding customer experience, your mobile website has to be easy to use and provide the information your candidates are looking for. If you haven’t done so lately, give your website a design overhaul to ensure you’re holding onto those potential candidates who are looking for jobs on mobile devices.What Comes Next?As we noted earlier, staffing firms generally make a good impression on those who use them to find jobs. A good reputation is hard to build, but once you’ve got it, you can rely on your satisfied job hunters to pass along word of their outstanding experiences. Keeping the perspective of your job seekers in mind at all times and learning more about what they want from working with a staffing firm will help you provide a top level of service that keeps everyone satisfied.Focusing on the details of the candidate experience is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, find top talent with the skills your hiring clients need, and become a staffing leader in your specialty or area.Learn more about how improving candidate experience can boost your business. Get 6 Strategies from Staffing Pros on Creating a Standout Candidate Experience.