Keeping your website focused on the talent pays off

Is your company website geared more toward clients or candidates? And in terms of business success, how would you rate your website, on a scale from 0 to 10?

That’s precisely what we asked the owners of more than 8,000 staffing firms in a recent poll. What prompted our curiosity? While we know there is considerable variation in staffing firm website spend, staffing firms have reported company websites to be among the highest ROI marketing tactics (see our 2010 Staffing Company Survey, available to corporate members on our website). For a more nuanced look at what features drive successful staffing firm websites (and ROI), we decided to take a closer look at one of the most fundamental differences in staffing firm website strategy — candidate versus client focus — and its marginal impact on satisfaction.

First, it is interesting to note that staffing firms on the whole did not give rave reviews to their own websites. On our 0 to 10 scale, the average rating was 5.6. Seventy-percent of websites received grades between 3 and 7. Just 8 percent of owners gave their websites a 9 or 10.

Candidate-focused websites were significantly more common than client-focused websites; the ratio of firms with candidate-focused sites to client-focused sites was around 2:1.

On the segment level, audience focus varied notably. In particular, among healthcare firms the ratio of candidate-focused sites to client-focused sites was around 5:1; while among IT firms, the ratio was in the opposite direction, at about 1:1.2.

Upon comparing the grades — we found a relationship that held up both for the aggregate, as well as segment level. Firms with candidate-focused websites reported a significantly higher level of average satisfaction (average grade of 5.8) than firms with client-focused websites (average grade of 4.5). And accordingly, healthcare firms reported the highest level of satisfaction (average grade of 6.3), and (ironically), IT firms reported the lowest (average grade of 4.8).

We think the most plausible explanation may be that buyers don’t look for staffing firms through websites the same way that candidates do. Based on data from our Contingent Buyer Survey, the most common ways that buyers hear about new suppliers are: Referrals from colleagues (74 percent of buyers), sales calls (45 percent), conferences (44 percent), published lists (27 percent), and VMS (25 percent). For candidates on the other hand, internet search is one of, if not the primary way they connect with staffing firms.

We recently quoted industry expert Jason Lander of Staffing Robot on the topic — and he holds a similar view:

“The content most valuable and easily distributed on the Web for any staffing/recruiting company is job content. Therefore, with the right tools and SEO practices, it can be very easy to recruit candidates and drive traffic/ conversions on your website, simply with your jobs alone.”

In summary, your website is a powerful marketing tool — and while both clients and candidates are important parts of the staffing business model, it may be the case that on the Web, candidates take the front seat.