How can staffing firms be different when forced to deliver candidates anonymously through technology that whitewashes their differentiators? The industry has been debating this issue since vendor management systems became widely adopted in enterprise organizations.

However, the winner in the anonymous submissions of candidates for requisitions — at least from a client perspective — is the provider that can consistently deliver quality candidates. Here are a few things to consider as you sell quality candidates on the experience of working for your staffing firm.

Quality. This can be measured in many different ways. For the sake of this discussion, we will consider the original start dates to actual start dates. Discrepancies are often client-driven. But how often do you think about what you can do to improve your quality metrics in this category? If a candidate has the choice to work for your company or another staffing firm, why would they choose your firm if they can’t count on a start date?

Trust. When you are straightforward and continue to deliver on your word, candidates are more likely to remain loyal and not jump at the first offer for a little more money in their pocket.

Convenience factor. Most contractors working on a W-2 basis would prefer to stay with one provider for the convenience factor alone — such as having taxes deducted, receiving benefits. But if they leave, it’s safe to assume they do so because they don’t “feel” connected to your firm enough to bet on you being there for them any longer than the length of the assignment.

Open dialogue. What can you do as part of your culture to keep candidates wanting to work for you? Start with active discussions about how you affect their experience. Consider how your team either positively or negatively affects the candidate experience from the initial time of engagement through the term of their employment with your firm.

Feedback. Feedback is a three-way street. Do you provide feedback during the assignment? Are your recruiters or account managers checking in to get feedback from the candidate about the assignment? Do you act on the feedback or and discuss their concerns with the proper personnel and follow up? Do you solicit feedback on what you can do to improve their employment situation? Do you make it easy for them to communicate with you?

Career concerns. When the assignment is nearing the end, do you reach out to help them transition to the next project? Do you share how others with similar skills furthered their careers? Are you helping them build a reference list? Do you seek their feedback on your firm, their placements and whether they will refer your firm?

These considerations are by no means exhaustive. There is always room for improvement when it comes to the candidate experience.

Conclusion. Candidates keep the lights on; however, very few staffing firms make the above points a solid part of their culture and do it well.

As the workforce solutions ecosystem grows, the process for providing contract labor continues to evolve and includes countless ways to reduce the amount of human intervention to find the “right” candidate. What remains is the experience of the candidate, which will be the primary differentiator among staffing firms.

Today, there are applications that can do the work of the recruiter in a fraction of the time it took the best recruiter to do manually. We have artificial intelligence and other matching technologies that will arguably make better decisions on selecting the best candidates for an assignment, so what’s left to us is creating that great candidate experience.