All posts tagged: Recruitment

Just Another Stinkin’ Agency

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Just Another Stinkin' Agency

How to overcome the industry’s bad rap so clients see your value

The staffing industry provides a tremendous service of great value to its customers, but still gets a bad rap. Some companies think staffing agencies are nothing more than a necessary evil-and they’re not shy about saying so to anyone who’ll listen.

A little harsh? Sure. There’s a lesson to be learned there, though, and staffing agencies should listen to the message behind all the griping. When clients give you flak, they’re trying to tell you something.

They need better results.

Case in point: a CEO from a staffing firm called me last year for help. This thirty-year veteran of the industry told me he’d finally had enough. He was sick and tired of all the negativity. He was beyond tired. He was done.

When I asked what was going on, he told me about a sales meeting he’d recently attended with one of his national sales managers. The meeting had barely begun before the client, who was the director of operations for an insurance services company, surprised them with a remarkably blunt question:

“Are you truly different or just another stinkin’ agency?”

On my end of the phone, my face split into a broad grin and I told the CEO that this was great news and presented us with a huge opportunity. After a stunned silence, during which I clearly imagined the perplexed look on his face, he asked me to explain.

I’d encountered this same situation countless times, so I had the answer ready.

“Problems always define the solution,” I told him.

Then I went on to break down the following issues, which have plagued the staffing industry for decades:

  • Staffing firms neither own nor control their product. The people provided to customers have free will. Firms have no control over the work they do or whether or not they show up for work.
  • Different staffing and recruitment firms do essentially the same thing. Yes, some do certain things better than others. Some put unique twists on common services. But when it comes down to it, buyers tend to lump all staffing companies together.
  • It’s easy to compete on price, so many firms do. Price wars undermine the value being provided, increasing the perception that staffing is a commodity.

I told the CEO that being truly different requires creating truly better outcomes for customers. I have the same advice for everyone in the staffing industry. If you want to be different, you have to be better. To be better-to provide better outcomes-you have to define those outcomes in advance and plan strategies to create them.

Here are three steps to better outcomes:

Step 1: Determine the outcomes you wish to create.
If you’re going to improve things for a buyer, you need to understand not just what’s going on in their company, but what they’re missing. Too many organizations keep doing things the same way because that’s how they’ve always been done. You job is to show them a better way-a better outcome.

Step 2: Leverage the five impacts of staffing.
I’ve identified five critical impact areas that can enhance your services and improve client outcomes. By exploring the implicit questions associated with each impact area, you’ll create true and meaningful differentiation.

Impact Area #1 – Flexibility
How can we deliver more flexible solutions that solve more of our customers’ problems?

Impact Area #2 – Accuracy
How accurately do we match jobs and candidates? What do we need to change to achieve “perfect” matching?

Impact Area #3 – Quality
Where is our quality of talent or service inconsistent? How can we leverage our strengths to improve our quality across all areas?

Impact Area #4 – Value
What do our customers value most? How can we best learn what they value and deliver more of it?

Impact Area #5 – Immediacy
Customers typically need someone yesterday. How can we deliver the talent they need the moment they call?

Step 3: Pick the right impact areas to create the desired outcomes.
My CEO client dug deeper and found out why his client was so blunt. It was simple: he was frustrated by persistently long time-to-fill and none of his current agencies were addressing the issue. Using the five impact areas as a blueprint, the CEO and his team offered a faster, on-demand approach for filling critical roles. Time-to-fill went from weeks to hours.

Now that same client is a huge fan because he’s getting much better results. The CEO and his team made a solid plan for a better outcome and then delivered like rock stars.

And guess what? The client did a complete one-eighty and recanted on his “stinkin’ agency” comment.


Potential customers in every market engage in the same kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’.” These buyers and their companies provide you with a great opportunity to improve their circumstances, turning them in to huge fans of what you do.

And what do you do? You plan and deliver better outcomes.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Staffing Industry Review.

Scott WintripJust Another Stinkin’ Agency
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The Lions and Hyenas of Staffing

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The Lions and Hyenas of Staffing

It’s a jungle out there.

People are animals. But it’s not only individual humans who can act like noble beasts: in the current business market, staffing and recruitment companies remind me of lions and hyenas.

Both animals hold a special place in my memory and heart. Four years ago I got to see these predators in action while on safari with my wife Holly in Tanzania. Our first experience with hyenas came before we actually encountered one. On the way to our tent in the Serengeti our guide told us not to leave our boots outside our tent. When we asked why, they said, “The hyenas will eat them.”

If you’ve never seen a picture of a hyena, they’re beautifully ugly: they have bodies like dogs, ears like cats, and teeth like wolves. Character-wise, they’re wicked and fierce. They eat anything and everything to survive—birds, lizards, insects, and, of course, any old pair of unattended shoes lying around. They play an important role in the ecosystem, cleaning up what other animals leave behind.

Two lionessesLions, on the other hand, are pickier eaters. I witnessed this firsthand one day as we came upon two resting lionesses, their pride of cubs playing close by. These stunning beasts completely ignored us. They couldn’t have cared less as we watched them snooze. However, when a hyena appeared at a nearby stream, both knew immediately. Their territory had been violated. In total stealth mode, one rose to stalk towards the intruder. After a few silent steps, she launched into an all-out sprint to begin a chase I assumed would end up in a kill.

It didn’t quite play out like I expected.

After about a hundred feet, the lion stopped short. Then…nothing. The chase was over. The hyena kept running, but the lioness simply held her ground and watched. I was stunned. I expected something much more dramatic. I think I wanted something more dramatic. I turned to our guide Kareem and asked why the lion didn’t kill and eat the hyena.

“Hyenas no taste good,” he quipped.

Lion and Hyena

In the staffing and recruitment industry, I’ve seen similar scenarios countless times. The firms I think of as lion firms pick business opportunities—their meals, if you will—with a careful and mindful awareness of which are the most satisfying and sustaining. They claim clear territories defined by geography and business type. They dominate their chosen ground and rule their market. They brook no opposition. They’re proud. They know they deliver high value in the hiring ecosystem and their rates and fees are commensurate with that value. The leaders of these prides hold everyone accountable to high standards and rein in anyone who scavenges business that doesn’t fit their high-end diet.

The staffing hyenas fill a different niche. They pick up the scraps left behind by the lions. Their clients are high-maintenance and demand low rates, so they have to work very hard for their money. They’re often hungry and unsatisfied, prompting them to work even harder to make scratch. As they scavenge for business, they can’t afford to pick and choose. They have to take what comes along. Wide territories mean business opportunities are spread thin, which in turn makes their work costly and labor intensive. Like the other hyenas, they have to lowball everyone. They always find their competitors eating away at their market share—because that’s what they themselves do to the other hyenas.


Use the table below to find out. Be honest with yourself and pay special attention to the traits I mention.

Lion or Hyena?

Unlike the beasts of the Serengeti, you get to choose your identity. Thanks to our big brains and this wonderful mechanism we’ve got called the prefrontal cortex, we can observe our behavior, make rational decisions on what we see, and implement changes in real time. If your firm is a hyena, do something about it. Transform it into a lion. If you’re a lion—good on you. Your job is to monitor, observe, and hold your pride accountable to the high standards that ensure your company never devolves into a scavenging hyena.

Both lions and hyenas have a place in the market—which you are is entirely up to you.

Scott WintripThe Lions and Hyenas of Staffing
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Empty Seats Are Like Open Wounds

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Scott's Monday Morning MessageIn an organization, an empty seat is like an open wound. It’s a painful distraction that interferes with the business’s core mission.

When there’s an empty seat, the work must either be redistributed or left undone, resulting in stress, costs, delays, and lost opportunity, as well as lower revenue.

What’s more, hiring to fill empty seats can take weeks or months, adding strain and extra costs.

This is why I’ve launched a new LinkedIn Group, called ZERO-TO-FILL. Members of ZERO-TO-FILL are committed to hiring that is faster and more accurate. Our shared vision? All jobs and assignments get filled with quality talent the day they open.


  • Staffing and recruitment professionals
  • Talent acquisition and human resource leaders
  • Executives from vendors who provide hiring-related technologies and solutions

Currently, the group is accepting requests to join. Discussions will begin on July 15, 2015.

ZERO-TO-FILL will always be a supportive place to learn, share ideas, and improve the status quo.

Time-to-fill should be zero. This group brings together the parties who can make that happen.

To submit your request to join, go to:

Scott WintripEmpty Seats Are Like Open Wounds
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Time-to-Fill Should Be Zero

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Scott's Monday Morning MessageCan your company instantly fill any open seat? When you achieve a zero time-to-fill, which I call ZERO-TO-FILL, you can.

A new LinkedIn Group, called ZERO-TO-FILL, is now adding members who will support one another towards this goal.

Members of ZERO-TO-FILL are committed to hiring that is faster and more accurate. Our shared vision? All jobs and assignments get filled with quality talent the day they open.


  • Staffing and recruitment professionals
  • Talent acquisition and human resource leaders
  • Executives from vendors who provide hiring-related technologies and solutions

Currently, the group is accepting requests to join. Discussions will begin on July 15, 2015.

ZERO-TO-FILL will always be a supportive place to learn, share ideas, and improve the status quo.

Time-to-fill should be zero. This group brings together the parties who can make that happen.

To submit your request to join, go to:

Zero to Fill medium logo

Scott WintripTime-to-Fill Should Be Zero
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Effective Hiring is Never a Solo Act

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Scott's Monday Morning MessageCompanies are remiss if they go it alone in trying to recruit good people. Most organizations are unable to fulfill all of their own needs for full-time employees and temporary help. And that is okay, as hiring is not their core business. This is why the staffing industry is a vital contributor.

Staffing and recruitment companies must do a better job of delivering services that allow their customers to always hire someone today or acquire contract talent in an instant. Almost every customer needed someone yesterday, so it makes little sense to make them wait until tomorrow.

Recruiting professionals must also deliver this same level of service to themselves. It is baffling that they often do a better job of fulfilling their customers’ needs for talent than they do for their own open seats.

Effective hiring is never done alone. It is done with accuracy, precision and speed. It is this last element, in particular, that needs quite a bit of attention.




Scott WintripEffective Hiring is Never a Solo Act
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Recruiting and Religion

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Scott's Monday Morning MessageRecruiting and religion share common ground—both require a reason to engage, a belief in what’s being offered, and a conversion experience.

Without a reason to fully engage, an individual is transient, easily swayed the next time something else catches his attention. He needs a reason to believe, be it in the spiritual practices of the religion, or in the promise a new job or assignment may hold.

When there is no belief, he is an imposter, only going through the motions. He may do this to placate a spouse who grew up with those religious beliefs, just as he may do in interviews, acting the part by answering questions, yet, only posing as a viable candidate, wasting the time of the hiring authority.

Without conversion, he becomes a spectator, appearing engaged, but never being fully committed. He will sit and listen to the minister, teacher, or imam, but he is only watching, not fully giving himself over to the experience. After appearing like a viable candidate who interviews well, he will decline an offer for an assignment or full-time job, resisting conversion to a new employment direction.

Redemption occurs when reason and belief lead to conversion, delivering him from previous circumstances into an opportunity for better conditions. The convert has a community and belief system to guide him towards an improved life experience. The candidate turned employee or contractor can now pursue a path that can provide more mental, emotional, and financial fulfillment each day.

While serving different purposes and varying audiences, religion and recruiting employ similar paths to move people to commit to something different or new. For that to work, it’s our job to ensure that reason, belief, and conversion are all present, otherwise, the only outcome will be wasted time and effort.

Religion and Recruiting

Scott WintripRecruiting and Religion
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