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Recruiting is a profession built around relationships, and contract staffing is no exception. How do staffing agencies get contracts? The first step is to ensure you can accept a staffing agreement. If you don’t have the back office set up yet, we recommend looking at Employer of Record services. If you do have it set up, then the key to getting staffing contracts is enhancing existing relationships with clients and creating new ones.

Linda Blakemore, President and Owner of the Atlantic Pacific Group in Laguna Beach, is an expert at building client relationships, which has allowed her to establish a successful contract staffing business in addition to her direct hire placements. Here are some of her most successful techniques for how to get staffing contracts:

  • Be a “Talent Acquisition Partner.” LISTEN to clients. Find out what their biggest staffing pain points are and recommend the best solution. That solution could be a direct hire, or it may be a contractor. It could even be a contract conversion by way of contract-to-direct hire. By focusing on their specific staffing challenges, you can become what Blakemore calls a “Talent Acquisition Partner” rather than just a vendor.
  • Choose a Strong Niche. The strongest niche for you to succeed in contract staffing is probably the one you are already in. This was the case for Blakemore, who works the human resources, accounting, and finance niche. She had a strong client base and she already had a stable of candidates. The pool of candidates was important because recruiters need to be able to present contract candidates quickly. Most niches do have a need for contractors. However, if you struggle to generate contract staffing leads in your current niche, you may want to explore other hot industries for contract staffing, such as Health IT Staffing, and Manufacturing/Engineering.
  • Go to the Right Source. Recruiters trying to figure out how to get recruitment contracts have traditionally gone to hiring managers or department heads for contract placement opportunities because they were the ones with the staffing needs. However, as contractors play a more integral role in the workplace as part of the new blended workforce model, HR is becoming the front line for ALL talent acquisition in medium to large size companies. They tend to know where the open positions are throughout an entire organization, and they are often in charge of selecting approved vendors, so if you want to get on that list, you need to go through them. Even if you are working directly with the hiring manager, Blakemore says to keep HR in the loop. “If you try to go around HR, you are not going to win any brownie points.”
  • Introduce Contracting Early and Often. From your first conversation with a potential client, make it clear that you offer contract staffing services. “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. Also, be sure to tell your existing direct hire clients. Recruiters typically get 80% of their contract business from their direct hire clients. “Keep reminding them. They will forget you had that conversation three or six months later,” she added.
  • Follow-up with Marketing Information. To keep contract staffing fresh in a client’s mind, Blakemore recommends following up initial conversations with a marketing document. The marketing information simply tells them that in addition to direct hire, she offers contract staffing, pay-rolling, and contract-to-direct hire. The document also references a simple weekly process for contracting, along with some key information on insurance coverage. 
  • Client and Candidate Referrals. If you position yourself as THE source and expert in your niche, your clients will refer other companies to you. Candidates can be a great source of referrals for other candidates, making referrals a great example of how to get staffing contracts, especially if your pay your candidates well and offer them quality benefits. “I’ve learned that professional contract candidates want a great contract employee benefits package,” Blakemore said. It is common for contract recruiters to offer back-office support solutions. “My back-office offers them medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, plus a 401(k). The benefits not only attract quality candidates, they help you to retain them and place them on one contract assignment right after another. Your clients and candidates can be one of your best lead generators.”

So, how do recruiters find clients that need staffing contracts filled? Again, it all comes down to relationships, relationships, relationships. Get to know your clients. Get to know their culture. Find out what their pain points are. By doing so, you will become a true business partner who will be able to get ALL your clients job orders, contract and direct. Same thing goes with candidates… Relationships!

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