Since the dawn of business, there have been countless stories of industry disruptors wiping out the former incumbent. Netflix disrupted Blockbuster. Amazon disrupted retail. Uber disrupted taxis.
I keep hearing the next incumbent on the chopping block is the staffing industry. And while I understand the sentiment, the value that staffing industries provide is less about a placing a candidate in a role and more about the finding the right candidate to fit the role. In other words, it’s about relationships.
The most common complaint that candidates make about recruiters is: “They’re just looking to fill a role. They don’t care about me.”
The most common complaint clients make about staffing agencies is: “They don’t understand my company or my needs.”
Given those two insights alone, I see an opportunity – not a threat.
True talent agents do more than match a candidate to a job description.
Talent agents build relationships with their candidates, evaluating their employment history, exploring their soft skills, and then weighing those insights against their candidate’s career ambitions and long-term goals. And since one candidate may place a high value on company culture while another prioritizes job security, talent agents are crucial in finding the best fit for both the client and the candidate.
Moreover, the traditional “employee archetype” is rapidly shifting. Contract work is expanding. The freelance economy is on the rise. Passive candidates are a hot commodity to hiring managers. If anything, this represents an opportunity for the staffing industry to capitalize on.
Technology cannot replace human interaction.
Algorithms and software can be handy tools in streamlining the hiring process and may even play a part in exterminating a fraction of the estimated 20,000 US staffing companies in the coming years. But for those of us who have maintained collaborative relationships with our candidates and customers, we have nothing to fear. This is natural selection at its best. Those staffing agencies that embody the two complaints most often cited by candidates and clients will be the first to go.
Jerry Brenholz gets it right in an article he wrote for Staffing Talk: “Recruiting, at heart, is a people-centric endeavor, and while technology can enhance efficiencies and even replace manual functions, you can’t take the human factor out of it entirely.”
I believe technology will transform the staffing industry, not kill it. With Facebook and Google now exploring job postings, and new recruiting platforms emerging every day, there’s no question that we need to keep our eyes and ears open. Undoubtedly, there WILL be new software and tools available… But I would argue that these tools will help the staffing industry – not hurt it.
To those who continue to say that the staffing business is dead/dying/on its way out, my response is simple: I’m not in the “staffing business.” I’m in the business of providing value to my customers. If you’re worried about this industry, stop talking about what you do and start asking what your customers want.
Related: Why I chose a Career in Staffing