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Connecting to Job Seekers: Bridging the Language Gap, Part 2

In part one of this two-part series, we discussed a disconnect between the staffing industry’s struggle to explain its value and the job seeker’s primary need of finding a job. In this article, we’ll review solutions and recommendations for connecting to job seekers.

Bridging the gap

The biggest opportunity for staffing companies to connect with the job seeker’s struggle is by focusing on the job search process itself.

Job seekers feel like no humans ever see their resumes. Staffing companies have individuals who view resumes.

Job seekers feel like they can’t get in front of the right people. Staffing companies can get candidates in front of the right people.

Job seekers feel like they don’t have access to all of the jobs that are out there. Staffing companies have access to jobs that aren’t visible to the average job seeker.

Shift the focus

Most of the language staffing companies use with candidates focuses on what happens once the job starts. Phrases like “this job is a stepping stone to your dream job” are commonplace in the staffing industry, describing what happens after the candidate is in the job. Similarly, “this job has the flexibility you need” describes what happens during the course of employment.

To show job seekers the real value staffing companies can bring them, shift the focus to the job search process itself:

Instead of telling candidates that the jobs you offer can lead to permanent employment, tell them that you can get their resume in front of the right people.

Rather than touting the flexibility that your jobs offer, explain that you have access to jobs that they wouldn’t be able to apply for on job boards.

In other words, connect your staffing company’s value with the job seeker’s most immediate need: Finding a job.

An ASA study1 that looked into the language gap between job seekers and staffing companies recommended describing the value you offer with this very specific phrase:

“Job placement agencies help job seekers get noticed and land positions that match their qualifications at companies that are hiring.”

The most important part of this phrase, “get noticed,” speaks directly to the main frustration of job seekers who feel that the countless resumes they send out fall into a black hole.

Job seekers don’t expect – or even want – staffing companies to do all of the work for them. They simply want help getting a foot in the door. Many job seekers are confident in their ability to secure a job, if only they could get in front of the right people at a company that is hiring.

Tout your normal. They’re listening.

Spending time with individual candidates, coaching before interviews and restructuring resumes are all things that most staffing agencies do as a normal routine, but job seekers see it as a game-changer. These kind of human interactions make it easier for job seekers to see staffing companies as a solution to their frustrations.

Unfortunately, few staffing agencies include things like helping candidates clean up resumes and providing interview prep as part of their marketing or introductory conversations with job seekers. Why? Some agencies experience a low amount of candidates taking advantage of these services and think that equates to the services being unwanted. Others think that because all staffing agencies provide resume review and interview prep it’s not a competitive advantage and therefore not worthy of mention. But the reality is, it’s a major competitive advantage of the industry as a whole.

Even though “we return calls” and “we review resumes” may seem like something you automatically do and not a major benefit of working with your organization, it actually has tremendous value to job seekers and should be a key part of your pitch when talking to prospective candidates. Even if none of them ever use your resume review services or attend your interview prep classes, the simple fact that they exist has boosted your value in the job seeker’s mind. Lead with these “value add” services in your marketing and introductory conversations with job seekers and you’ll further appeal to their fundamental needs.


Job seekers have needs that align perfectly with staffing company values: find a job, get noticed, talk to real people. But staffing companies aren’t speaking that language. By dropping, or at least minimizing, language around bridging to full time work and job flexibility, staffing agencies can actually boost their favor with job seekers.

Once educated on the value a staffing company can provide, job seekers’ view of staffing companies shifts. Rather than a “revolving door of talent,” job seekers are now able to see staffing companies as a solution to the job search frustration. Not a bridge to better employment or a vehicle for flexible employment, but an answer to their fundamental need: Finding a job.

A final thought: if you’re have trouble letting go of leading with “flexibility language” when talking about staffing jobs, here’s another point to consider:

Work life balance and scheduling flexibility are important, but by some estimates, as few as 40% of employees cite it as a main reason to take or stay at a job. 100% of job seekers need a job.

So, will you focus your value proposition on something that appeals to 40% of the workforce or 100%?

The purpose of People2.0 is to help human capital companies grow stronger and more efficient. Staffing companies that work with People2.0 grow 4x faster than the industry average, as reported by SIA. You speak the language of staffing; we speak the language of back-office efficiency. Let us help you run a more efficient back office, increase your profitability and boost your value.


Did you miss part one of the Connecting to Job Seekers series? Catch up now – Read Part 1

1Source: The New Language of Staffing: Handbook for Communicating Your Company’s Value to Job Seekers, an American Staffing Association publication.

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