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Is the Staffing and Recruiting Industry Ready for Takeoff Again?

Unemployment is down, job orders are up, and marketing conversations are happening all the time.

Are we finally out of the weeds after a chaotic six months of uncertainty?

Based on the sheer volume of job orders our sister executive search company Versique has had in the month of September, and the nonstop inquiries for marketing help, we are cautiously optimistic. 

With kids going back to school and rumors of a vaccine around the corner, what can staffing and recruiting firms expect over the next few months? This blog will dive into several promising indicators of growth.

Unemployment Rate Dropping

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that at the end of August, the unemployment rate fell to 8.40 percent! At first glance, this isn’t a brag-worthy unemployment rate by any means but compared to the 14.70 percent it was at in April, this is worth celebrating. The biggest question now is whether that number will continue to decrease to the record lows we experienced before COVID. While impossible to accurately predict, (knocks on woods), the unemployment rate is on track to continue dropping.

Marketing Investments

Are you wondering, “why would investing in marketing be a leading indicator of economic growth in the staffing industry?” Well, as a staffing marketing agency that lost a decent chunk of business during the economic downturn, we experienced firsthand that marketing and sales teams are typically the first divisions to be cut in most recruiting agencies. Once these departments are revived or resumed, it’s generally a good sign of recovery.

The good news is that we’re seeing a massive influx of interest in firms willing to invest in marketing initiatives again. Whether that’s hiring staff back or outsourcing marketing to an agency, this is a fantastic growth indicator. 

At Parqa alone, we’ve partnered with more clients than we ever did pre-pandemic which has been amazing to have so many meaningful marketing growth conversations again. Over and over, we’re seeing that many staffing and recruiting agencies are using this time to invest in their brands, redesign their websites, and unleash digital marketing campaigns.

Payroll On The Rise

Another key indicator of national growth is the payroll rate. In August, the total payroll employment rose by 1.4 million, which follows a pattern of large increases over the last three months. A few of the notable job gains include retail trade, professional & business services, leisure & hospitality, and education & health services. 

In addition, our sister search company Versique is also experiencing a record month in terms of closing new clients and undertaking new projects. In fact, Versique is even ahead of where they were last year at this time.

In closing, 

The pandemic is still out there and anything can happen. Despite that, we are indeed seeing some sturdy signs of growth, especially in the staffing and recruiting industry that has me cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the year.

My sincere hope is that this blog took a little of the “panic” out of pandemic and that your firm is on track to come out ahead.  Are you ready for this next phase of growth?

4 Ways for Staffing & Recruiting Firms to Come Out of COVID-19 Stronger

4 Ways for Staffing & Recruiting Firms to Come Out of COVID-19 Stronger

At Parqa, we sit in an extremely unique position in our industry. Not only have we had the opportunity to speak with our current clients, past clients and prospective clients over the past couple weeks about what’s happening in their businesses, but we’ve also been at the heart of many leadership calls of our sister company, Versique, a Minneapolis-based Staffing & Recruiting firm. Versique has been spending many long hours on calls with top 50 search firm owners across the country, as well as many other forward-thinking staffing groups.  Parqa also belongs to several marketing best practice groups and has been able to gain deep insight into what other marketing companies are seeing, hearing, and learning from their clients in all different industries and verticals. As the shock of everything is starting to calm, I feel it is my responsibility to share some of the commonalities we are hearing across all industries, spaces and platforms in an effort to lend helping hand and a few basic principles. It is our goal that we all come out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than we were going into it. Here are the 4 greatest insights I feel are worth sharing.

1. Prioritize your health & wellbeing to lead well

On a webinar I attended this week, the moderator talked about this process unfolding in 3 waves:

  1. Survival – doing what we need to do as business leaders to help our business survive and protect the greatest amount of employees as possible. (i.e., The last 3-4 weeks)
  2. Regroup – Experts see the next 2-3 weeks as a time when businesses can’t make many more moves, so owners and leaders should take this time to get a little sleep, connect with employees, take an afternoon to clean the house or get out and go for a jog. This is by no means rocket science, but I think we can all agree it is all too often overlooked.
  3. Rebound – We are already getting reports out of China saying that as restrictions are eased, people are going stir crazy. Tourist sites, restaurants and other attractions are being flooded with people. How do we, as business leaders in America, intentionally take the coming weeks and months to plan to capitalize on the resurgence? It is imperative to start planning now

As we enter the regroup phase, what are you doing to protect your health & wellbeing so that you have the energy to not only survive, but to thrive as the world bounces back?  What you do in the coming months will be more important to the future of your company than ever before.

My advice:

  • Embrace and cherish time with your kids.
  • Eat healthy!
  • Start a workout routine or continue a workout routine.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Stay intentionally and authentically connected to your employees.
  • Call old friends and family that you maybe let fall off the radar.

2. Prepare for the rebound NOW by building a brand that shines

Our very own Sr. Social Media Manager, Chanel Schmidt, and LinkedIn’s Jake Ruby just did a webinar on the importance of maintaining your brand on social media during these times.  The numbers don’t lie; with the record unemployment numbers and the lull in daily work for a lot of remaining employees, social media engagement and activity has skyrocketed.  While most people aren’t in a buying stage at this very moment, they are researching and learning like never before. Don’t misunderstand—the point isn’t to hard sell. The point is to remain visible and top-of-mind with your network and community.  Are you being seen?

Just yesterday, I spoke with a firm that had a new business line develop “unintentionally” prior to COVID-19 that they want to take advantage of on the other side to grow substantially in the future.  My recommendation to them was to take this time to update their website, “launch” this division on social media and use it in their talk track when they are reaching out to existing clients so that it is top of mind when hiring starts again.

My advice:

  • Take a look at all of your branding platforms—digital, social, print, you name it—and make sure the messaging is CONSISTENT and clearly communicates who you are, what you do, and how you solve your clients’ pain points and alleviate their challenges.
  • Start or continue to post regularly on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
  • Make the website content updates you have been meaning to make for the last year that clarify your message and communicate your true capabilities and competitive advantages.
  • Update fact sheets, capabilities documents and 1-sheeters that you leave behind with clients.
  • Look at your sales scripts you have used for 10 years and critically think about how to improve them.

3. Create and post content regularly to stay top-of-mind and build your community

Value, value, value.  In a world of noise, it is more important than ever to bring value to your community.  As business owners and leaders, everyone is looking to us – clients, candidates, other business owners and people that don’t even know us yet.  We are all in this together, and as business leaders, people want to hear what we have to say. Let your voice be heard. Lead through this time of adversity well.

Like all of us, I get hundreds of emails every week with updates on COVID-19. I am not saying we as leaders have to be health experts or pandemic experts, but the reality is that these people are filling my inbox everyday and are staying top-of-mind.  What happens if instead of COVID-19 updates we take the time as thought leaders to assist our community and let people know what we are doing, what our industries are doing, what our best practice groups are saying?

My advice:

  • Build your community and offer value through thought leadership content creation.
  • Take this time to educate, train and teach rather than hard sell.
  • Post great content and engage with your audience on social media.
  • Take time to read, comment and share your network’s content to support them.

4. Be Forward-Thinking with Technology

It is being plastered all over the news: “The world is never going to be the same.” While some people take that from the standpoint of fear, others are taking it from the standpoint of great opportunity.  There is no doubt that the buzzword of 2019 and 2020 was already “digital transformation,” but I believe the events we are living through right now are only going to expedite this process. Companies that transform are going to come out stronger, while companies that resist change are going to be left behind.

At Parqa, we were already using Microsoft Teams, so when we all had to pack up and work from home we didn’t even miss a beat.  Our sister company Versique was slightly behind in the transition, but in just four short weeks, they have almost completely migrated to the cloud.  We have had Town Hall meetings via Teams, documents are being migrated from our antiquated server, and remote VPN logins and file accessing is dying literally in days, not months.

This is just one example, but I have spoken to numerous technology companies that sell into the staffing and recruiting industry, and there are so many technologies out there that make work faster, more efficient, produce a better ROI, allow for reduced internal headcount, and provide a better client and candidate experience.

My advice:

  • Audit your tech stack and take time to research and implement new technologies.
  • Focus on how you can make your team more efficient.
  • Focus on how you could improve the experience you offer to clients and candidates.
  • Look for ways to automate and standardize processes to scale.
  • Take this time to clean your CRM/ATS database – technology relies on clean data!

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