Recruiting is a profession built around relationships, and contract staffing is no exception. The key to generating quality contract staffing leads is enhancing existing relationships with clients and creating new ones.
Linda Blakemore, president and owner of the Atlantic Pacific Group in Laguna Beach, Calif., is an expert at building client relationships, which has allowed her to establish a successful contract staffing business in addition to her direct hire placements. During last year’s Top Echelon Network National Convention, she shared her technique for generating contract staffing job orders.
Become a Talent Acquisition Partner
Probably the most important thing that Blakemore shared was to listen to your clients. Find out what their specific staffing challenges are and recommend the best solution, whether it is a contract placement or direct hire. Sometimes it can even be a contract-to-direct hire based on their particular staffing challenge. This allows you to become what Blakemore calls a “Talent Acquisition Partner” rather than just a vendor.
Select a Strong Niche
If you are just expanding into contracting, select a strong niche. This is most likely the niche you are already in. This was the case for Blakemore, who works the human resources, accounting, and finance niches. She had a strong client base and she already had a stable of candidates. The pool of candidates was important because recruiters need to be able to present contract candidates quickly.
Start with Human Resources
Recruiters have traditionally gone to hiring managers or department heads for contract placement opportunities because they were the ones with the staffing need. However, as contractors play a more integral role in the workplace as part of the new blended workforce model, HR is becoming the front line for all talent acquisition in medium to large size companies. They tend to know where the open positions are throughout an entire organization, and they are often in charge of selecting approved vendors. If you want to get on that list, you need to go through them.
Even if you are working directly with the hiring manager, Blakemore says to keep HR in the loop, “If you try to go around HR, you are not going to win any brownie points.”
Introduce Contracting Early and Often
From your first conversation with a potential client, make it clear that you offer contract staffing services. “I typically introduce myself to clients from a search perspective, but during the first meeting, I also let them know that I provide contractors in that specific niche,” Blakemore said. Also be sure to tell your existing direct hire clients. Recruiters typically get 80% of their contract business from their direct hire clients. “Keep reminding them. They will forget you had that conversation three or six months later,” she added.
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Follow-up with Marketing Information
To keep contract staffing fresh in a client’s mind, Blakemore recommends following up initial conversations with a marketing piece. She uses a marketing document provided by her back-office provider, Top Echelon Contracting, Inc. The marketing information reminds them that in addition to direct hire, she offers contract staffing, payrolling, and contract-to-direct hire. The document also references a simple weekly process for contracting, along with some key information on insurance coverage.
Client and Candidate Referrals
If you position yourself as the source and expert in your niche, your clients will refer other companies to you. Additionally, candidates can be a great source of referrals for other candidates, especially if you pay your candidates well and offer them quality benefits.
“I’ve learned that professional contract candidates want a great benefit package,” Blakemore said. “My back-office offers them medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, plus a 401(k). The benefits not only attract quality candidates, they help you to retain them and place them on one contract assignment right after another. Your clients and candidates can be one of your best lead generators.”
Again, it all comes down to relationships, relationships, relationships. Get to know your clients. Get to know their culture. Find out what their pain points are. By doing so, you will become a true business partner who will be able to get ALL your clients job orders, contract and direct. Same thing goes with candidates…. Relationships!