What Sets a Staffing Agency Apart: Thoughts from the ISSA Annual Holiday Meeting


Team members of echogravity recently got into the holiday spirit to attend Illinois Search and Staffing Association’s (ISSA) Annual Meeting Holiday Party on December 4, 2014. ISSA Vice President Curtis Linder kicked off the evening by moderating a constructive “Meet the Client” Panel, with key buyers of staffing services providing their input on trends and practices in the staffing industry as well as their perspective on what sets a staffing agency apart from the rest.

ISSA EVENTThe panel commenced with a disquieting statistic from QPS Employment Group’s recent survey of Midwest employers: 60% of respondents claim that the biggest challenge facing businesses is the lack of qualified employees.

“It’s clearly a candidate’s market,” commented Panel speaker Bonnie Shapiro, Senior Manager of the Contingent Workforce Program at Sapient Corporation. Bonnie emphasized that the only way staffing partners can overcome the challenge of a tightening labor market is to be agile and patient.

Matt Stupica, Director of Indirect Procurement at Tyson Foods, further commented that in this kind of market, staffing agencies need a clear differentiator that sets them apart when establishing and maintaining partnerships with hiring managers.

DSC_6187-1So what sets a staffing agency apart? It goes beyond the metrics, beyond costs per hire and reduced margins; true differentiators often reach into the realm of intangibles. Matt Stupica went on to say that thorough communication, honesty, accountability, and problem solving are key factors to a successful staffing partnership.

Stephanie Storkel, COO for Talent Acquisition Development at Pedersen & Houpt, admitted that for her, the differentiator is often the “wild card.” This wild card is the candidate you present in anticipation of a client’s needs. The company may not want that candidate today but when tomorrow comes, they may be in dire need, and it is this future need that staffing partners must learn to anticipate.

DSC_6191Another key factor to establishing a differentiator as a staffing agency is the simple yet often overlooked art of building a solid relationship. Joe Christophe, Senior Corporate Recruiter at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, appreciates true collaboration. He likes a staffing partner to have done their homework, to really “get” him, and who loves making matches. Get face-to-face; even, he says humorously, if it’s to get up and “go for a run with me!”

The panel speakers were in general agreement that the staffing explosion of this last year will likely continue in 2015. The evening was dedicated to giving the leaders of Illinois staffing firms an inside look at hiring from their clients’ perspectives. The evening culminated with relaxed networking in a festive environment, and attendees went home with a host of new connections as well as a new perspective on what staffing might look like in the New Year.

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