There is a lot of talk about how contract staffing can protect you from the ups and downs of the economy, and how it is counter cyclical to perm. As is typically the case, there is some truth to this statement, but you need to peel back the layers.
It is true that contract staffing can minimize the roller coaster nature of our business. One of the hardest things about being a perm recruiter is that you start every month at zero. This can be demoralizing. The great thing about contract staffing is that it smooths out the peaks and valleys inherent in perm. Think of how great it feels knowing that you have three, five or 25 contractors out and they are making you money every hour they are working, even when you aren't.
In addition to the obvious benefit of having a steady revenue stream, contract staffing can help your perm business, too. We all know the feeling of having a very shallow pipeline, not much to work on, and a "purple squirrel" perm requisition comes in from one of your clients. If you have nothing else going on, you are going to jump on it, even if the chance that you can fill its is very slim. On the other hand, if you have a steady revenue stream from your contractors, you can be more selective about the perm requisition you work on, thereby improving your ratios, metrics and job satisfaction.
Regarding the "counter-cyclical" statement, the fact is, contract staffing usage rates follow the US GDP line very closely. There is a very strong correlation between the two. Contract staffing does tend to be the canary in the coal mine for changes in the economy. We feel downturns and upticks first, because it is so much easier to engage or disengage with a contractor than it is with a perm employee.
Here are a few tips for taking a more successful approach to contact staffing:
Tip #1: Be Proactive
Smart recruiters will take a proactive approach with clients and candidates letting them know consulting/contracting is a viable option. Contract staffing is not something that should only be thought about when perm business is down. The best time to start gearing up for contractors is while the economy is good. Why? It's critical to proactively nurture candidates in the long-term, not just when clients have an immediate need. This will enable you to readily deploy consultants when there are hiring freezes or when clients simply need additional expertise to supplement their permanent staff.
Tip #2: Move from Partner to Advisor
Emphasize the main reasons companies use contractors, such as flexibility. By speaking with your clients about the advantages of using a contingent workforce, you can move from staffing partner to trusted advisor. While flexibility becomes even more important in times of uncertainty, it's important not to wait for an economic downturn, before introducing the advantages of contract staffing into all your conversations with clients and candidates.
Want to learn more about trends in contract staffing? MRIThrive, powered by MRI Contract Staffing Inc. has an entire team dedicated to helping staffing firms grow their businesses. Check out the new contract staffing section of our website here: http://mrinetwork.com/mrithrive/contract-staffing/
Sr. Director, Contract Staffing Sales
MRINETWORK • MRITHRIVE