Get Behind These Six Trends or Get Left Behind

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To kick off the New Year, Simply Hired invited influential leaders and executives from across the staffing industry to explain the critical trends shaping their 2014 strategies. We spoke to executives whose companies focus on key talent sectors like technology, engineering and healthcare. We interviewed leaders of big and small organizations alike and invited input from national staffing association authorities.

From this chorus of expert staffing voices, we identified six pivotal trends shaping the industry today. From big data to online staffing, transformation is afoot. Is your staffing firm keeping pace with today’s pioneers and pacesetters? Here’s your chance to find out.

1. Talent cultivation gets aggressive. Without exception, every staffing leader we spoke to agreed that aggressive talent sourcing and cultivation will define the tone and focus of the staffing industry in 2014 and beyond. “Talent. Talent. Talent is the key. Finding a sufficient number of consultants in high-demand skill sets to meet client demand represents one of the professional staffing industry’s greatest challenges,” says Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of the IT & Engineering staffing and solutions industry.

Predicting “modest” growth in staffing demand and concerned by both skill gaps and H-1B limitations, staffing leaders agreed that businesses with the fastest, most effective recruitment teams and processes will run circles around their competition in 2014. “The companies with the most effective recruiting engines today are best positioned to succeed,” Roberts says.

2. Big data analytics join the staffing toolkit. What will fuel today’s recruitment engines if visas and highly skilled talent are sparse? David Findley, senior vice president of sales for Randstad Engineering, believes big data can do the job.

“Big data is reshaping every industry — and staffing is no exception. By leveraging the massive amounts of data and analytics available, we can use predictive indicators to improve our business in numerous areas,” Findley says. “We can tap into big data to take the sourcing process out of the hands of recruiters, allowing them to spend more time screening and submitting candidates. We can provide account managers with market intelligence so that they can focus on relationship building and development.”

As staffing firms learn to leverage vast amounts of data flowing in from talent databases, recruitment tools, ERP platforms, social media and more, they will find new ways to streamline processes, reduce administrative burdens and deliver better recruitment outcomes.

CEO of Harvey Nash Inc., Bob Miano, agrees that the clever use of big data analytics in the staffing industry will accelerate staffing firm capabilities and competitiveness. “Big data and the smart use of tech-driven recruiting tools, like mobile, are crucial to the staffing industry’s evolution where speed is becoming more essential. Big data and analytics can help identify the right talent better and faster, which is key.”

3. Healthcare’s importance skyrockets. Charlie Ferro, president of Diversified Medical Staffing and DMS at Home, predicts that healthcare reform will increase outsourced hiring demand for two reasons. First, more businesses will seek to avoid employment tax, cost and regulatory issues through contingent staffing. Second, the willingness of job seekers to pursue contract work is likely to increase as access to affordable healthcare becomes a reality for more people.

To win the attention of these employers and job seekers, staffing firms will need to advance the speed, flexibility and capabilities of their own platforms.“The quicker we can recruit and on-board quality employees in the face of healthcare reform, the better,” Ferro says. “The continued advancement of remote hiring tools, such as Skype, and similar platforms that accelerate recruitment, will be critical to embrace.”

4. Online staffing offers opportunity. Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) estimates that the online staffing industry — in which companies like oDesk and Freelance connect freelance workers with talent-hungry businesses in a bid-based, project-driven manner — could grow to a high of $46 billion by 2020. This budding, low-cost niche focused on work that can be done online/remotely is one that experts agree the professional staffing industry must address.

According to Findley of Randstad, “Many attribute this growth to a rising contingent workforce and employers seeing the benefits of breaking projects into pieces and assigning them to true “niche” specialists. Others within the industry say it is simply a supply and demand solution.”

As more workers increase their comfort with bidding for jobs and contingent work, conventional staffing firms need to consider making online staffing part of their competence. Kelly Services Inc.’s announcement of its alliance with oDesk this past December marks the beginning of what industry experts say is a trend in which established firms will begin to strategically incorporate online staffing capabilities into their evolving portfolios.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Online Staffing Forecast through 2020

5. Mobile now required. As staffing experts agree and Simply Hired studies have shown, mobile recruitment is rapidly evolving from an industry trend to an industry must. “Mobile recruitment is a technology trend staffing companies cannot ignore,” says Roberts of the TechServe Alliance. “Staffing companies need to ensure they have a strategy in place to address the accelerating migration of users from desktop to mobile.”

With many staffing firms still holding back on mobile, this is one trend where the difference between the ground breakers and the foot draggers is very clear.

6. Staff training becomes vital. The skills of contract/contingent candidates have always been a top concern of the staffing industry. Now industry leaders are keen to turn that focus inside and concentrate on equipping their internal teams to more successfully source, recruit, screen and compete in a rapidly changing marketplace.

“Today’s staffing professionals need training—complex training—in order to compete effectively today,” said Jamie Delsing, managing partner, Consultis. “Staffing firms must challenge and motivate their internal staff.”

Every staffing industry leader who shared 2014 strategies and insights with Simply Hired underscored this sixth and final point: training internal staff is essential to building and retaining a strong, skilled team. The rapid evolution and acceleration of the recruitment cycle means that staffing professionals need to know how to use a number of complex technologies and resources to rapidly identify, engage and attract talent. Ensuring staff members are fluent in today’s recruiting tools while also being able to effectively communicate with clients and candidates is a decisive competitive advantage at a time when talent demand forecasts remain modest and in certain industries, supply is at an all-time low.

“Turnover of staff is extremely damaging in our industry. We must invest in training and mentoring staff so that they can be our advantage in the tough, competitive marketplace,” Miano said. “The strength and skills of a staffing firm’s team — its people — will determine how effectively the business can compete and win.

Trends Today, Leadership Tomorrow Simply Hired’s research and hiring data confirms that these trends will drive the staffing industry forward, setting the stage for a highly competitive, intelligence-driven employment market in the years ahead. Staffing firms that execute big data, online staffing and mobile recruitment strategies will win in the war for talent. Those that invest in recruitment technologies and staff training will secure their spots as the staffing leaders of tomorrow.

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