Imagine you’re a business that needs to utilize a staffing firm. You take pitches over the phone and in person. Here’s what you might hear, from one company after another:

  1. “We’re different.”
  2. “We have a proprietary database.”
  3. “We have a cultural fit with our clientele.”

To which you as a business owner or hiring manager might say:

  1. “If every agency says they’re different, what is your differentiator?”
  2. “If that’s true, why am I getting the same résumés from your competitors?”
  3. “Give me an example of a cultural fit.”

Underperforming staffing firms don’t understand their clientele, their competitors, the business landscape they are operating in or the loyalty of their candidates. And this doesn’t even take into account the feeling a hiring manager must have when they get a résumé from a staffing firm that they’ve already found via their own Monster account.

But take heart. This provides an excellent opportunity to truly differentiate your business. Let’s examine the ways:

Find a niche. Finding a niche is a great way to specialize and differentiate your company.

With a niche, you can target specific customers and specific candidates, you can screen more effectively, and you can research the particular business challenges in your area, whether they are geographic or skills-based.

If you’re a startup, this is an easy call. If you’re an existing firm, it’s more difficult to transition. Look for compatible niches in your field of expertise (for example, if you are a healthcare staffing firm, you may want to look into a locum tenens specialization).

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Research your (potential) customer. This is so much easier these days with online tools at your disposal, from researching the customer on its own website to Glassdoor and Yelp. See who they are trying to hire, and what employees say about them. In short, try to understand their culture before you call or meet. Network with colleagues here as well.

Emphasize your recruiting process. This is a key differentiator. If you’re finding good people in interesting or original ways, this is guaranteed to make a customer sit up and take notice.

Do you have special outreach programs? Do you have unique training models? Specialized recruiters? Candidate assessments?

Maybe you do extra background screening? How about an on-boarding process (which, as an added bonus, makes you more of a partner)? All of these are valid differentiators in your process, and help you stand out.

Brand yourself to candidates. At the end of the day, your reputation depends upon the candidates you place. Remember that today’s job seekers are more interconnected and tech-savvy than ever before. They talk with one another, and they’ll be talking about you if you do a good job (or a not-so-good job).

So, treat candidates with the respect they deserve, and differentiate yourself here as well.

For example, you can develop blogs and think pieces devoted to candidates as well as clients.

Speed to placement. This can be tough to do without sacrificing quality somewhere in the mix. But a great way to ensure it is to automate as many steps in the process as you can. For example, use an ATS/CRM to manage appointments, harness mobile technology, and stay in touch with both customers and candidates 24/7.

In fact, automation is a solution that can help with every aspect of customer service and differentiating your business.

The next time you make that phone call to a business that needs to utilize a staffing firm you can gain their trust by telling them exactly how you are different from every other call they have received.  You have a niche that specifically fills a need for them, you can ask insightful questions because you have done your research, you have a solid recruiting process and you have outstanding testimonials from happy candidates.

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