One of the keys to a successful staffing process is building great client relationships. After all, if your clients love working with you, they’ll want to keep working with you—and that means more job requisitions (reqs), more business, and more opportunities to help your clients succeed.
However, building client relationships can be tricky. Every client is different. For each one, you have to know what they’re looking for, how to navigate conversations with them effectively, and what to do when the talent they want isn’t readily available. How do you go about clarifying your staffing process so your clients come back again and again?
The answer? Objective labor market data.
1. Evaluating reqs
The first step to building a great client relationship is making sure you can deliver on the reqs a client gives you. Though it might seem counterintuitive, accepting every req a client throws your way isn’t the best way to serve them. It’s important to evaluate the reqs at the beginning of your staffing process. Otherwise you could end up wasting you and your client’s time by trying to fill a req that’s simply unfillable.
Several different factors go into determining a req’s fillability. Objective data comes in handy here by providing key insights into the quality of the reqs you receive.
Supply. Can your market provide the candidates your client needs? All of your staffing expertise, your long hours, your connections, phone calls, and advertisements won’t amount to much if there aren’t any people to hire. Poor soil yields a bad harvest no matter how often you water it. Make sure your client isn’t looking for candidates that simply aren’t there!
Skills. Do the candidates in your market have the skills your client needs? Finding a strong supply of staffing leads is half the battle, but chances are your client doesn’t want graphic designers or computer programmers generally speaking—they’re looking for graphic designers with experience in Adobe Suite, or computer programmers who know SQL, C++, and Java programming languages. Make sure the candidates in your market meet those requirements.
Demand. Can your client compete with the market demand for those candidates/skills? A strong supply of roles and skills is a great start—but that advantage can be cancelled out by ravenous demand. If your market has a supply of 500 candidates, and a demand of 1,000 job postings, wrangling ten or twenty new employees will be difficult. Make sure your client isn’t going up against insurmountable competition!
Wage. Is your client offering a competitive wage? The price a company is able or willing to pay for talent is one of the biggest differentiators between companies that get the talent they need and the companies that don’t. If your client’s advertised wage falls below what everyone else is paying, that req will be tough to fill. Make sure the wage your client is offering matches or exceeds the going rate.
Ideally, the reqs your clients send your way will match your current market conditions perfectly, and you’ll be able to fill them, no problem! But in the situations where that isn’t the case, you need to know so you can avoid days and weeks of useless expense.
2. Navigating client conversations
You also need a plan for bringing hard-to-fill reqs to your clients’ attention. Of course, talking with clients about how they should change a req isn’t an easy conversation to have. But it’s better than wasting you and your client’s time trying to fill one that doesn’t show promise.
This is where the objective part of the data comes in. With data to back you up, you can point to tangible evidence of tangible mismatches between what your client wants and what the market has to offer. Let’s take a look at a couple ways this could play out in your staffing process.
Case Study 1. Say you’re working in Seattle. A client has given you a req for five computer programmers with experience in SQL, C++, and Java, at a wage of $40 an hour. You dig into the data and find that there’s a strong supply of computer programmers with those skills in Seattle, higher than most other markets of a similar size. So far, so good!
But there’s more to the story. You realize that demand for computer programmers in Seattle is among the highest in the nation. What’s more, the data shows that the going wage for computer programmers in Seattle is $53 an hour. That’s a long way from $40. Between the high demand and the wage mismatch, that req has a pretty low chance of being filled.
Case Study 2. Say a client (again in Seattle) has sent you a req offering $38 an hour for three graphic designers with experience in web design, company branding, video editing, and animations. Using data, you see that demand for graphic designers in Seattle is relatively low, and supply is relatively high. Furthermore, the wage is even higher than the typical going rate of $35 an hour. This req looks promising, right?
However, upon further digging, you discover that there are very few graphic designers in Seattle who possess skill in video editing—and even fewer who possess skill in animations. Even though the base supply of graphic designers is high, the skills mismatch means that candidates are going to be difficult to find. Which means (once again), this req will probably be tough to fill!
With objective data fueling your staffing process, you’re (1) aware of the problems, and (2) equipped to show your client where the problems lie. In the first instance, you can tell your client that demand for computer programmers is up 26% from last year. You can also tell them that the wage they’re offering is a full $13 an hour below the going rate. In the second instance, you can tell your client that few—if any—graphic designers know video editing and animations. If they want those roles, they’re going to have to prioritize some skills and forego the rest!
3. Working with your clients to create solutions
Even if a client gives you a flawed req, that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. By pointing out tangible problems, objective data points to tangible solutions. This allows you to sit down with your client and figure out how to adjust a req so you and your client are set up for success.
Let’s take the first case study above as an example. Currently, the $40 an hour your client is offering can’t compete with the going rate of $53 an hour. One solution would be for your client to simply raise their advertised wage by $13 an hour. If your client’s budget doesn’t allow for that, another solution would be to look at remote work options. The wage for remote workers tends to be lower than in-person workers—in fact, the average remote wage for computer programmers is $43 an hour, much closer to your client’s original wage! Either way, your client has options to get those five computer programmers it needs.
For the skills mismatch in the second case study, there are a couple different options as well. One would be to merely remove the skills in video editing and animations from the job posting. Another would be to split the skills between different job postings: rather than seeking out three graphic designers with skills in web design, company branding, video editing, and animations, maybe your client needs two graphic designers and one audio/video technician. Again, with a little creative adjustment, you and your client can get the requested talent!
How to optimize your staffing process for client relationships
Ultimately, the key to a staffing process that produces great client relationships is clear communication. Your clients have to know what they can expect from you, and you have to be able to tell your clients how they can win the talent they need. If you set your clients up for success by ensuring their reqs match the job market, then go out and fill those reqs quickly and consistently, your clients will keep coming back to you again and again!
To chat with a data pro about how objective data can help you achieve your staffing goals, fill out the form below!