Three Ways the Staffing Industry is About to Transform (Like It, or Not)

I spent my early career years in the staffing industry.

I still remember going to my first interview at a regional agency, Office Specialists (It was eventually acquired by Randstad, the second largest staffing company in the world). I had “temped” in college, and like many people in the 1990’s, had some bias towards the temporary workforce model. Back then, temps were seen as the, “unemployable” – people with no experience or lacking professional tenacity to hold down a real job. I’ll admit, I only agreed to the interview because I had been advised to never turn down an opportunity to practice. That way, you were ready when the job you really wanted came along.

The Future of Work Revealed…

My interview was not what I expected. I met a group of very smart professionals. In particular, there were a lot of talented females on the team and in leadership roles. Two hours later, I was kicking myself for not preparing more and praying I made a good enough impression to make it to the next round. Why? They painted a very different picture for me of the future of work. It was like light bulbs going off in my head – and I wanted to be a part of it. Luckily, I managed to get the job.

Because EVERY Job Is Temporary

Several years into my time at the company, I attended a management meeting that would change my career. Randstad had just bought the company and we were brought together to meet the CEO, Erik Vonk. In that meeting, he made a bold claim: Vonk predicted within the next twenty years, over half the U.S. workforce would be temporary workers. When we asked why, he said, “Because EVERY job is temporary,” and then went on to cite data that showed the rate of change in business would force companies to adapt and revamp roles in their companies so frequently, full-time, long-term jobs would no longer exist. I remember several of my colleagues chuckling at the idea. But in that moment, I knew he was right.

Fast forward a decade later and the tagline of the website I founded features Vonk’s visionary statement. CAREEREALISM: Because  EVERY Job Is Temporary. Today, it’s predicted we will reach the goal of having half the U.S. workforce as independent contractors by 2020 – a mere four years away.

3 Ways The Staffing Industry Is About To Transform

As the Baby Boomers retire at a rapid rate (70M), there aren’t enough Gen Xers (46M) to replace them. The result is an immediate need to attract, educate, and retain Millennial workers. By 2020, Millennials (77M), will make up 75% of the workforce, and their unique approach to their careers will drive the transformation of the staffing industry – whether the industry likes it, or not.

Here’s how:

1) Top talent will seek agent representation. Today, we’re all businesses-of-one. Especially Millennials, who embrace the idea that every job is temporary. They don’t want to stay with the same company for decades. This creates a huge opportunity for staffing firms.

Until now, the average person has always worked “for” a company. But, as independent contractors, they’ll need to learn how to partner “with” businesses. This is a fundamental shift in our society’s job search and career planning mindset. Suddenly, we must not only have skills that are in-demand, we must know how to market them to top employers, over and over again. Let’s face it: most professionals (especially, younger ones), aren’t good sales people. They cringe at the idea of selling themselves to employers. They’d rather focus on being the best at what they do. Keeping in mind, Millennials were raised on the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” this generation of workers will, like a top executive or pro athlete, actively seek out a staffing agent to represent them and help them get the best job opportunities. [Read this article on why being a staffing agent could be one of the hottest jobs by 2025.]

TAKEAWAY: Staffing companies will need to develop a strong Employer Brand that emphasizes their ability to remove the headache of job search and provide Millennial talent with better opportunities than they could get on their own. Which leads to the next point…

2) Staffing firms will need to master recruiter branding. Millennials are sophisticated consumers. They know how to quickly and effectively research online. When it comes to partnering with a staffing firm, studies by my company show they will not only research the company’s reputation, they’ll research the recruiter’s reputation too. 76% of our readers at CAREEREALISM say they want specific information about a recruiter’s success in the industry to determine if they want to respond to their calls or emails. In short, if your recruiters don’t know how to brand themselves, they won’t attract the top talent the staffing company needs for its clients. [This INC magazine article explains why recruiters will need rock-star status to be effective.]

TAKEAWAY: Only the best recruiters will earn the trust and respect of top talent. They’ll have to prove they’re as professionally successful (if not more so), than the talent they wish to represent. What skills will staffing industry professionals need to showcase to talent? That brings us to the final point of transformation…

3) Career coaching will be a required part of the service offering.

If every job is temporary, and workers really are businesses-of-one selling their services to employers, then who is responsible for their career management? In the past, employers would invest in training and developing their employees. But, why bother with it today if they know the investment won’t result in a long-term ROI? Besides, Millennials have been raised not to trust employers. Their helicopter parents counseled them to fight for work-life balance, which includes not becoming beholden to an employer’s agenda. Most importantly, Millennials have been coached their entire lives. Organized sports and group activities from a young age have trained them to not just seek coaching, but to expect it. Unlike generations before them who saw coaching as a sign of weakness, Millennials believe coaching is a path to greatness.

TAKEAWAY: Millennials will look to align themselves with recruiters who want to partner with them on their career journey. They’ll expect top-notch career coaching and opportunity management. In the same way we use financial planners to help us with our monetary goals, Millennials will use career experts to help them reach their professional goals. The staffing companies that embrace and invest it developing their recruiters as career coaches will help build loyalty that will enable them to retain and re-deploy Millennial talent over time.

The Next Decade, The Competitive Edge Lies With Talent

As they say, “It’s easier to keep an existing customer than to attract a new one.” When it comes to talent, especially Millennial talent, the competitive edge will lie in a staffing company’s ability to prove they are the ideal talent agent. As explained above, every Millennial worker will seek their own “Jerry Maguire,” as a way to succeed professionally.

Is your staffing company poised to deliver?

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