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Three Secrets to Staffing Software or Recruiting Software Selection

How to select staffing software or recruiting softwarePsst! Want to know the three secrets to choosing the best software for your staffing or recruiting agency? Sure you do. And I’m going to share with you the three secrets to choosing software that I’ve learned over the past 25 years that I’ve spent marketing staffing and recruiting agency software.

If you’re in the market for new staffing or recruiting software – and you should be if your current software is more than 5 or 10 years old – you’ve probably already made your wish list of what that software should be able to do. And that’s great. You should do that. I know that because I’ve written many guides over the years to help staffing and recruiting agencies make honestly objective “good” choices.

Now I’m going to share with you how you can assure yourself that you’ll make a “great” choice.

You see, there are three factors – “secrets” – that will determine the success of the software you buy for your agency. And they have NOTHING to do with any special technology or whatever else a software sales rep is telling you. These secrets have everything to do with the software vendor and their vision, attitude, and commitment to achieving success. They measure the essential stuff that pays off for the vendor, and more importantly, for you and your agency.

What are these three secrets? Glad you asked!

First, they have to INNOVATE.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must innovateWell, duh, right? Software developers started their business built on an idea. The idea was to innovate and solve a problem using software that would result in better organizational performance.

For staffing and recruiting software vendors, the problems usually revolved around either front office recruiting or back office payroll/billing. The earliest staffing and recruiting software solutions were relatively crude and cumbersome, but they were an innovative miracle to agencies that were often overwhelmed with paper CV’s and the challenges of payrolling temporary workers.

Over the years, these solutions have grown in their complexity and sophistication, offering more bells and whistles and integrations and “enhancements.” Some of these new developments have been fairly innovative. And all of them were supposed to improve the performance of your staffing and recruiting agency. Maybe they did. But, when was the last time that your staffing software vendor offered or delivered to you a truly innovative enhancement to its product?

I’m not talking about an enhanced interface or integration to someone else’s product. Or something that you’ve been asking for in the software for years.

Nope. I’m talking about blow your socks off innovation that perhaps caused you to re-think your entire business service model because you see where implementing the new staffing or recruiting software can dramatically improve performance and profits.

When you think about innovation in that context, it’s really rare, isn’t it?

And that’s the problem. Staffing and recruiting software vendors often started with great ideas and created spectacular solutions. Then they spend the rest of their business life trying to stay up with or ahead of the competition. Some are just as happy with the status quo and become “one-hit wonders.”

True innovators are always doing more. They think up, develop, and provide frequent enhancements that deliver on the long-term vision of the software company to help agencies do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently, and more profitably.

Innovators are fearless and not afraid to put forward concepts that solve your agency’s problems in ways you might never have thought of. Innovators will see the possibilities in some new technology and adapt that to other staffing and recruiting problems. Non-innovators will just try to keep you happy enough to renew your maintenance contract.

A good example of forthcoming innovation is the beginning onslaught of Artificial Intelligence-based systems that will, according to many, disrupt the business market over the next 10-to-20 years. In 2015 nearly $3 billion dollars was spent on HR-related technology alone. Where does your staffing and recruiting software vendor spend your money? On innovation? Or just keeping up?

Your agency deserves an innovative partner that’s looking out for you and your business needs tomorrow. It’s up to you to ask: “What innovation have you delivered in the past three years that is unique to your software that will improve my business?”

If the software vendor can’t give you a clear answer, they are not an innovator.

The second secret is that they have to GROW.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must growIf innovation is the intellect that starts and sustains success for a staffing and recruiting software vendor, then growth is the result. Growth is the only true measure of success and acceptance in the marketplace.

Growth means that an increasing number of agency business owners recognize the value of the vendor’s software to their business operations.

But growth is more than just about the number of users and customers. Growth – the sale of more new software to more new users – provides the critically needed capital for reinvestment in the product, services, and, yes, innovation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it is financially nearly impossible for a software firm to sustain any kind of innovative thinking if they aren’t growing.

So how should you measure growth of your staffing and recruiting software vendor? At its simplest, the yardstick you should use is: “How many users and customers have you added year-over-year for one, three, and five years?” You want both numbers because if all you measure is the total number of users, that number can be skewed by one or two large customer agencies that are growing themselves.

What you’re looking for is a consistent pattern of growth over time. A good benchmark is the staffing and recruiting industry’s growth. It’s averaged about seven percent per year since 2010. Your staffing or recruiting software vendor should have somewhat similar year-over-year growth in their number of users and customers. If it’s greater than that benchmark seven percent, you’re looking at a leader in the market, if not, well…

A second yardstick you can use is to ask: “How much has your staff grown year-over-year for one, three, and five years?” This second measurement will offer insight into a different aspect of their growth; how they are growing internally in response to sales and the support of their customers. If the numbers you’re given don’t reasonably align with the growth in numbers of users and customers, they should be considered suspect.

Software companies are always growing, stagnating, or dying. You want to buy from the growing vendor.

Third, they have to ENGAGE.

Staffing software and recruiting software vendors must engageEngagement is the secret sauce in the recipe for success in today’s hyper-connected world. That’s one reason why many staffing and recruiting software vendors are touting whatever Customer Relationship Management capabilities their software may have.

But how’s their engagement with YOU, their customer? For many, it’s a quick “How are you doing? Everything alright? Good. Bye!” More often, it’s a panicky or irate call from you to THEM about what the software isn’t doing. That’s not the kind of engagement that fosters successful relationships, growth, or innovation.

Engagement means that the software vendor is relentlessly focused on YOU and your agency’s needs and challenges. They want to know every one of your pain points, just as they also strive to take a broader view of the staffing and recruiting industry and the issues and challenges that are important to and influence it. They engage because they must be constantly learning. It’s the only way to discover how they might be able to solve those problems through the application of technology or in collaboration with other resources.

They can only learn this by listening and learning through engagement with you.

It’s pretty easy to measure the software vendor’s engagement with you, as you’ll be able to see firsthand ample evidence of their efforts. They’ll work at engaging with you personally and frequently through a variety of means such as social media. They’ll coach you on how to optimize your use of the software. They’ll listen intently to your feedback on the software to correct defects and improve your experience. They’ll reward your loyalty and give you opportunities to weigh in on their new developments or innovations. They’ll have a high-profile at industry events as both attendees and presenters. They’ll generally strive to build a community of customers that is highly inclusive. Customers who are enthusiastic and eager to be references.

Here’s one measure of staffing and recruiting software customer engagement. Ask how many users show up for the software vendors’ annual user meeting – assuming they have one. In my experience, the customers who come to these events are often the most engaged and the most successful among their peers. A vibrant and engaging user meeting is a strong indication of just how committed the software vendor is to its customers, and to its vision. For example, Avionte hosted 350 users at its 2016 user forum. Even more impressive, Bullhorn had 1,000 attendees at its 2016 conference – that’s roughly equal to the number of attendees at the American Staffing Associations national conference!

Engagement is the catalyst that in turn fosters innovation and growth. You want a partner who is as engaged with YOU as you want to be with your customers.

Innovation, Growth, and Engagement – The Three Secrets to Selecting Staffing Software or Recruiting Software.

So there you have it. The three secrets to selecting staffing software or recruiting software that will help ensure that it will be successful for your agency. Go ahead and make up your RFP with all of its requirements. It’s a necessity. But before you send out that RFP, ask any prospective software vendor questions that will help you determine whether or not the software vendor is an innovator who is growing and engaging with their customers.

Those software vendors that successfully pass your innovation, growth, and engagement questions should be the only ones that are honored with your RFP.


Phil McCutchen is a B2B marketing professional with 25-years of experience marketing software to the staffing and recruiting industry. The observations presented here represent his own opinions. 

15 Signs You’re Working With a Staffing Software Leader

Think about the very best staffing software you’ve ever used.

15 attributes of a staffing software leaderMaybe (hopefully) it’s what you’re using today. Maybe you’re a bit wistful about some software you used previously. (I’ll admit that I sometimes miss the simplicity and ease-of-use of MacDraw.) Or maybe you’re fantasizing about (or actively working toward) the NEXT staffing software you’ll buy.

Regardless of what that software was/is/will-be, the very best staffing and recruiting software vendor for your agency will probably have these 15 key attributes.

1. They Share Their Vision

The most important thing a software vendor can do is share with you their goal – vision – for what the software will do for your business now. And in the future. A great software vendor will advocate for something worthy that you, too, can enthusiastically embrace. They will ensure that they communicate that vision effectively and often.

2. They Develop – and Extend – Their Expertise

Nothing is more detrimental to the continuing success of your agency than being chained to a software vendor who doesn’t truly understand your changing agency needs. They have to demonstrate exceptional competency at all levels of staffing, recruiting, agency practices, and how all of that is impacted by technology if you expect them to provide leadership and vision.

3. They Respect Your Time

Great staffing software vendors understand that software exists to solve problems. And the single most important problem to be solved in any staffing and recruiting agency is time management. Every second counts. And how their software works should reflect that thinking.

4. They Set Priorities

When your staffing and recruiting software vendor tries to focus on everything, they’re probably not focusing on your business. Just as your own staffing agency can achieve higher profit margins with a focus on niche staffing, so too will you benefit from a staffing and recruiting software vendor who is focused completely on your industry.

5. They Share Information

With some staffing and recruiting software vendors, it seems that the only time you hear from them is when they bill you. Or when you call for support. It seems like they’re keeping you in the dark about their business and how it might impact yours. There are legitimate reasons to control the timing of information sharing, but overall the more transparent a staffing software vendor is, the better it is for the partnership and relationship.

6. They Make Decisions

Frequently, staffing and recruiting software vendors may explore new technologies that seem appropriate for your agency, yet be slow in the development of the new tech. Regardless of the reasons (and there are many that can impact development), a great staffing software vendor will recognize when it’s time to act and go all-in or fold ‘em on some new tech.

7. They Demonstrate Empathy

Great staffing and recruiting software vendors are able to see things through your eyes. They will seek to truly understand the things that keep you up at night. And will want to fix it. ASAP.

8. They Offer Thanks

Building a culture of gratitude starts at the top. If your staffing and recruiting software vendor doesn’t take time to offer thanks to you for your ongoing business, why should you continue to do business with them?

9. They Pull Everyone Together

A great staffing and recruiting software vendor recognizes the talents, skills, and expertise of customers like you, and strives to work with you in a way that maximizes your combined effectiveness and ultimate success.

10. They Ask Smart Questions

Staffing software vendors that double-check their assumptions sends the positive message that they know that they don’t know everything. They aren’t willing to accept that things should be done a certain way just because that’s how they’ve been done in the past.

11. They Sell Thoughtfully

Let’s face it; your agency may not be the best fit for a particular staffing and recruiting software. After all, most can trace their development roots to a staffing and recruiting agency with a particular focus or mind-set that just might not fit your agencies’ business model. The great staffing and recruiting software vendors will let you know that before you’ve wasted much time trying to convince yourself otherwise.

12. They Accept Blame

Principled staffing and recruiting software vendors accept blame for their failings. Maybe they don’t dwell on it, but they accept it. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors look to change their software and/or business processes to fix the problem(s) and move forward.

13. They Communicate Effectively

No mumbling, no backpedaling, no long awkward silences. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors find the words to explain what they mean — and they back up what they say.

14. They Model Ethical Behavior

Trust is the single most important currency between people – and businesses. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors demonstrate an iron-clad adherence to ethical and moral business practices and processes.

15. They Strive for Excellence

Because really, who wants their staffing and recruiting software to simply be adequate?


© Phil McCutchen, 2016 | Phil McCutchen is a B2B software marketing professional with 25-years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry.