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Staffing companies are in the business of relationships. In order to be successful, clients and candidates alike need to trust them. They need to connect personally to the team, know that they’re working to find their best match, and feel like they’re a partner to their own success. And while it may seem contradictory at first, a staffing firm’s use of technology is a big enabler of driving these relationships.

Understanding the labor climate. The value of relationships is especially important given our current labor market. One could argue that filling roles today is more difficult than at the height of the talent shortage pre-pandemic. The unemployment rate dropped to 6% last month, while Goldman Sachs estimates that the US economy will grow by 8% in 2021, the largest rate in generations.

What this all means is that by later this year, we very well may not have enough talent to go around once again. In the meantime, the current trifecta of unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and tax returns means that some unemployed workers are making more money by staying home, at least for the next six months.

With a complicated labor environment like ours, having strong relationships with businesses and talent is important. In fact, it’s the currency of the staffing business today. So what’s technology’s role? Giving recruiters the gift of time to build the connections they need to be successful.

Optimizing staffing firm operations with automation technology. A lot has been said about the dangers of automating the recruiting process. When used too much or applied to certain steps, it can increase bias and negatively impact the candidate experience. But when implemented strategically, the potential ROI and impact on a staffing firm’s ability to deliver is worth the effort. Here’s just two examples.

Onboarding delays. A company’s priorities are shifting more often and more quickly than ever before. More often than not, companies are in reactive mode when it comes to talent. In our Covidera of business, companies are either looking to recover as quickly as possible or take advantage of unforeseen opportunities in the market. Either way, by the time they reach out to staffing firms, the talent gap already exists and the need is immediate — or severe.

For new clients and candidates, automating the onboarding process can help staffing firms speed up time to revenue AND deliver a better customer experience. Think of all the administrative tasks and steps that go into onboarding: collecting, scanning and verifying documents, entering data, provisioning systems, scheduling meetings and more.

By automating these processes, staffing firms can optimize efficiency and ensure all data is complete and accurate, getting new clients and candidates up and running faster.

Process inefficiencies. The way staffing firms source and recruit candidates for opportunities is how they differentiate themselves in a highly commoditized industry. Clients need an easy way to do business in order to minimize disruptions to their own operations, while top candidates expect a seamless, red-carpet-like experience.

Let’s take a look at the biggest reasons why staffing firms fail to place candidates. According to a 2019 Talent Board report, 51% withdrew from an opportunity because they felt like their time wasn’t respected. The second-highest response (26%) was that the process took too long. These are missed opportunities solely related to inefficiencies in the recruiting process.

Process-related challenges are ripe for automation, and there’s a high volume of administrative work that goes into recruiting: resume ranking, interview scheduling, follow up communications, offer letters, contract creation and more.

Automation technology’s biggest impact? Time. Companies expect staffing firms to be able to find workers that they can’t, relying heavily on a firm’s expertise to tap into new talent pools and find the best match for their open opportunities. To do this, sourcing and recruiting teams need to build a strong foundation, and they need time.

It takes time to develop the right client and candidate relationships. Client-facing teams must position themselves as strategic advisors to hiring managers, helping them align their business needs with the right talent strategy. This is only possible by establishing their trust. Likewise, recruiters need to understand what each individual candidate is looking for in a role and where they will be successful. By automating tactical or repetitive tasks like pulling weekly client reports or scheduling interviews, staffing employees have more time for relationship- and trust-building activities.