The problem: Inability to provide a sustainable talent stream to meet your buyer’s needs.

Solution: Focus on the five W’s and the H and what you can do to help provide the value the buyer seeks.

There are thousands of staffing suppliers in the industry — around 28,000 in the US, according to the US Census Bureau — which makes setting your firm apart a must. If you as a staffing supplier want to differentiate yourself from all the others, use a tried-and-tested approach for problem-solving: the five W’s (who, what,
where, when and why) and the H (how to execute each W).

Who. Who are the stakeholders in supporting the staffing need? Who is the talent you are providing, who is the hiring manager and who is the managed service provider that will be reviewing the talent?

How can you differentiate yourself when it comes to the who?
Step 1. Build a profile of what an ideal candidate looks like for the buyer. What attributes are consistently sought? Build out talent recruiting streams that support getting the talent that fits the attributes.
Step 2. Know the criteria the managed service provider uses to filter candidates, to share with the engagement managers — they should be able provide what they look for.
Step 3. Know the culture that the talent will be brought into and ensure all steps are taken to confirm validity of the skill set and match to the culture.

What. What work needs to be done, what skills are required to support that work and how can this be accomplished? Start with a good foundation for the role — common attributes shared by anyone who fills the role. If your customer is not providing this, seek it out — it will help to develop a proper job description and enable you to provide a resource who is aligned with expectations.

The job description for a role should focus on professional qualifications that address the desired attributes. For example, “Experience with business operations a plus, market knowledge, competitor knowledge, growing and developing teams, inspiring and empowering others, and coaching and providing feedback.”

It should address technical qualifications as well: “The candidate in the role should have specific programming skills required for the role, development practices (as it relates to branching, peer review practices, test quality build), patterns and framework (know basic design patterns), planning/metrics capturing (using various development practices and application lifecycle management systems), familiar with engineering principles of the customer, driving automation within the framework of customer” — these insights need to be shared to align on the talent needs.

The buyer must make an investment here to effectively address the what.

Where. The acceleration of remote work puts more emphasis on the where as well. Some companies are going to remote first, others are taking a hybrid approach and still others are 100% return to office. It is important that suppliers are able to clearly articulate the buyer’s culture and why they have taken the approach they have. We buyers need you to be our ambassador and help us sell our culture and how we want our teams to work in the future.

When. This is where we program managers will readily admit we need to improve. There has to be better forecasting of the need; otherwise, we are going to be reliant on the supply available when the demand takes place, and that is not sustainable.

Why. The why is about telling the story and helping candidates and staffing suppliers understand our overall strategy and vision as they relate to leveraging the contingent workforce program. There needs to be alignment behind the contingent workforce program’s vision and the staffing supplier’s vision to ensure there is a sustainable partnership.

How. The how is present in every W: How this can be executed? It is reasonable for staffing suppliers to be proactive in asking for the how in order to ensure they can align their service with the clients’ expectations.