Linda Blakemore’s Secrets to Getting Contract Job Orders

The best recruiters know that recruiting is built around relationships.  Contract staffing is no exception.  Getting contract job orders depends on nurturing existing client relationships and creating new ones.

Preferred Member Linda Blakemore, CPC of the Atlantic Pacific Group is an expert at building client relationships.  That is a major reason why she is so successful on both the contract staffing and direct hire sides of her desk.  She recently shared with Top Echelon Contracting some of her best tips for getting contract job orders.

Become a ‘Talent Acquisition Partner’

LISTENING to clients is perhaps the most important skill.  You are trying to determine their biggest staffing pain points and recommend the best solutions.  The best solution will not always be direct hire.  It could be a contractor or a contract-to-direct hire situation.  Focusing on their specific staffing needs helps you become what Blakemore calls a “Talent Acquisition Partner” rather than just a vendor.

Select the Right Niche

The first niche to consider is the one you are already in because you already have a strong client base and stable of candidates there.  In Blakemore’s case, that niche was Human Resources, Accounting, and Finance.  Having a pool of candidates proved to be especially helpful because it has allowed her to present contract candidates quickly.  If you have trouble generating contract staffing leads in your current niche, there are many other hot contract staffing industries to explore, such as Information Technology, Healthcare, and Manufacturing/Engineering.

Go to the Right Source

Conventional wisdom once held that hiring managers or department heads were the best source for contract placement opportunities.  This may have been the case in the past because HR traditionally did not get involved in the contract placement process.  The hiring manager or department head with the need was the main contact.  Now, as contractors solidify their place in the new blended workforce model, HR is becoming the front line for ALL talent acquisition in medium to large-size companies.  Therefore, they will have the most knowledge about where the open positions are throughout an entire organization.  They will also likely be in charge of selecting approved vendors, so you will need to go through them to get on that list.  You still may find yourself working heavily with a hiring manager, but Blakemore urges recruiters to always keep HR in the loop.  “If you try to go around HR, you are not going to win any brownie points,” she said.

Talk About Contracting

You should start discussing contract staffing during your first conversation with a potential client.  “I typically introduce myself to clients from a search perspective, but during the first meeting, I also let them know that I provide contractors in that specific niche,” Blakemore said.  Don’t forget to tell your existing direct hire clients.  Statistics show that 80% of a recruiter’s contract business comes from their direct hire clients.  “Keep reminding them.  They will forget you had that conversation three or six months later,” she added.

Follow Up

As an extension of that, you may want to follow conversations up with a marketing document that lists the alternative staffing options you can provide (contract staffing, payrolling, and contract-to-direct hire).  It can also explain the weekly process for contracting, along with some key information on insurance coverage.  This provides a visual, written reminder that potential clients can refer back to.

Take Care of Your Candidates

It’s not just about building relationships with your clients, but your candidates, as well.  Quality candidates want to be treated well.  They want competitive pay and quality benefits.  “I’ve learned that professional contract candidates want a great benefits package,” Blakemore said.  “My back-office offers them medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, plus a 401(k).  The benefits not only attract quality candidates, but they also help you to retain them and place them on one contract assignment right after another.”

If you do all of this successfully, you can get referrals from both candidates and clients, Blakemore said.  In fact, you may have to do very little marketing to sustain your contract staffing services.

“Your clients and candidates can be one of your best lead generators,” Blakemore said.

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