Back to blog

How Top Staffing Companies are Navigating the Downturn

Posted by
Nupura Ughade
November 9, 2022

The economic downturn brings up unique hiring challenges as businesses cut budgets and candidates turn to alternative sources of income in the gig economy.

With unpredictable economic changes, staffing agencies are struggling to find the right talent. At the same time, we're noticing a paradigm shift to a candidate-centric world. And that's why, as staffing agencies aim to meet ambitious hiring goals, they must do so without compromising on candidate experience.

In an insightful conversation, James Osborne (Chairman of The Recruitment Network) and Pankaj Jindal (Co-Founder at Sense) took a deep dive into how the downturn impacts staffing companies, what they can do to prepare for the uncertain future, and how they can keep delivering exceptional candidate experiences.

If you want to listen to the webinar, you can find it here. For the key takeaways from the discussion (and more), read on.

The hiring landscape is constantly evolving

The past couple of years have been anything but easy for talent acquisition teams. The talent pool is diminishing due to a severe labor shortage and standing out in a highly competitive talent market and crafting a winning hiring strategy has been a real challenge.

Additionally, hiring and onboarding talent in a remote setting has forced companies to rethink their recruitment workflows. Candidates have the upper hand in today’s recruitment world and they expect consistent communication from recruiters. To match these demands and boost the candidate pipeline, staffing companies are turning to automation. There’s a significant uptick in the adoption of technology to solve these problems creatively.

Creative ways of sourcing and engaging candidates during a downturn

Candidate sourcing and consistent communication is demanding and time-consuming work, especially for TA teams that are busy and typically stretched thin.

Fortunately, there’s a growing array of robust yet easy-to-use recruiting technologies helping TA teams manage these challenges more effectively. These technologies aid in reaching both active and passive job seekers at virtually every stage of the candidate experience.

Here are some creative ways TA teams are leveraging technology to source and engage candidates:

1. Deploy multi-channel candidate engagement

It is a tough feat for recruiters to manage 1:1 texts, broadcasts, and follow-up emails for hundreds of candidates. Instead, staffing companies are relying on talent engagement platforms to create personalized automated workflows at strategic intervals throughout the talent lifecycle. This helps recruiters establish rapport with candidates and keep them interested, without adding additional workload for the already busy TA teams. 

Continuous engagement has also resulted in reduced candidate drop rates and increased candidate response rates for top staffing companies.

2. Drive more applications with text-to-apply and QR codes

Think about it: we are almost always on our phones. Browsing open roles, reading hiring emails, checking Glassdoor reviews, all of it happens right there. So why not let candidates complete their applications easily and quickly from their phones? This goes one step beyond making your application portal mobile-friendly. Text-to-apply is a game-changing way to let candidates apply to open roles at your company via texting. Another simple way to attract more applications is through a simple QR code. Busy candidates can scan and apply to open jobs at your company on the go.

3. Engage and screen candidates instantly with a chatbot

The labor shortage has resulted in burnt-out employees in industries like healthcare and retail (to name a few). Let’s take nurses for example - they work long shifts and often finish their shifts late in the night. Recruiters cannot be available 24/7 and to engage and convert such candidates, staffing companies are relying on AI chatbots. An AI chatbot is essentially a 24/7 recruiting assistant that can engage with candidates instantly, answer their questions, screen them, and schedule interviews all in a matter of minutes. This helps eliminate a lot of repetitive tasks for recruiters and deliver a delightful candidate experience. Staffing companies have seen 3X more hires with chatbots.

How staffing companies can prepare for economic uncertainty

Staffing revenue fell by 29% during the recession in 2008-09. The staffing industry was also relatively quick to bounce back in 2011-12 as compared to other industries, owing to skill gaps and a severe labor shortage.

If we’re heading into another recession, you must prepare your staffing companies to survive the downturn and come back stronger. Here are some tips:

Enhance the capacity, efficiency, productivity, and profitability

James Osborne shared that capacity, efficiency, productivity, and profitability are four pillars of running a staffing company and keeping it afloat in challenging times. James advised that technology is increasing profitability day to day per recruiter and plays a big role in helping you do more with less.

Build the capability to serve diverse industries

Not all industries are affected the same way by a downturn. For example, government sectors, IT companies, and healthcare organizations continue to hire during an economic downturn while organizations usually cut down on temporary staffing. Expanding your offering can help cushion the blow during uncertainty.

Offer additional services

If hiring slows down, find other opportunities to generate revenue, such as offering advice to businesses on hiring strategy or offering assistance with outplacement. These alternative streams of revenue may not be your top-performing ones, but they can ensure you have some cash on hand in emergencies.

Unlock what it takes to unlock hiring success during a downturn

As the hiring landscape continues to be competitive and as fears of recession loom over the staffing industry, top staffing companies are relying on AI and automation to quickly progress through the hiring process while putting the candidate experience front and center. Check out our recent webinar where we shared some strategies to unlock hiring success in today’s competitive talent market with AI and automation.

Read more