Feb 25, 2014

Temporary hiring is on the rise, and recruiters, employers, and staffing pros would be smart to take note.

Only about 24 percent of employers expect to hire full-time, permanent workers this year, which is down slightly from 26 percent in 2013. However, the numbers for temporary hiring paint a much rosier picture: 42 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract talent this year.

In 2013 alone, temporary staffing utilization was up 8 percent. That number is expected to rise as more small and mid-size businesses begin to see the value of employing temporary labor to test drive potential hires and defer recruiting costs.

The temporary hiring revolution is here, and if you want to avoid getting left behind, you need to understand both the value of temporary talent and the new tech tools helping smart recruiters find the best people:

Try before you buy – or face the “Contagion Effect”

One of the biggest reasons employers are utilizing temporary talent is a “try before you buy” mentality. In fact, 43 percent of employers say they intend to transition some of their temporary talent into full-time employees.

Since the cost of a bad hire has the ability to set you back $50,000 or more, it’s not a bad idea to try out candidates with strong potential before onboarding them into the organization.

Then there’s also the “contagion effect” to watch out for. A recent study by Cornell University found, as company cultures become more negative, it’s impossible for a single individual to fight the tide. Conversely, a positive company culture raises all boats.

What does this mean? Who you hire and their ability to fit into your company culture and contribute positively is extremely important.

If temporary workers aren’t a good fit, they’re less likely to contaminate the company culture you’ve spent so long building. But if they are a good fit, you’ve just found someone great and eliminated your onboarding process.

Use temps to jump the skills gap

The skills gaps might be a trendy buzzword in recruiting circles, but it’s also all too real. By the year 2020, the skills shortage could number as many as 21 million workers. Temporary talent can help organizations jump the skills gap by focusing on people with the right skills, filling open positions, and testing out employees on the job.

It can also be a smart way to train employees without committing to them for the long-haul. After all, 65 percent of workers say they developed new or improved career skills through their temporary assignments.

Instead of looking for someone with the perfect skills you need, look to temporary employees as a highly motivated and trainable workforce ready to gain new skills and put them into action. If you make your temporary positions double as on-the-job training, you might just have a worker with the skills you’ve been searching for at the end of your employee’s temporary contract.

Social media expands talent pipelines

With social media on the rise, it’s unsurprising it can be a powerful tool for temporary hiring. When it comes to temporary hiring, faster is definitely better. After all, the Society for Human Resource Management estimates the typical time-to-hire as clocking in between 29 and 43 days — and that simply isn’t fast enough for temporary hires.

One of the major benefits of a smart and aggressive social strategy is being able to identify top candidates and store them in your talent pipeline. This way, when a great position pops up, you already have a talented candidate in mind.

This also means getting personal with candidates using social channels, including taking part in discussions, finding your talent where they live online, and interacting to build and foster positive relationships.

For example, on Twitter it’s important to know what hashtags your ideal audience uses and what Twitter chats interested candidates take part in. Most industries have related chats for savvy candidates (and recruiters) to take advantage of and be seen.

On Facebook, geographical targeting can be a good way to find the talent you need in your company’s backyard. Since temporary talent isn’t very likely to pick up and move for a position, geographically targeting your Facebook recruitment posts is a way to ensure you get in front of the local talent you need.

Video interviews for high volume recruiting

With 11.5 million temporary workers hired each year, the candidate pool for temporary positions can be wide and deep with talent.

However, this can often be overwhelming, and with more temp positions opening up, temporary recruiting can start to feel never-ending. Talent pools are great, but so is the ability to connect personally with candidates.

In a one-way video interview, employers and recruiters can see candidates answer their questions on video without being stuck on the phone for a half hour or more. So it’s little wonder research from the Aberdeen Group discovered employers can view 10 one-way video interviews in the time it takes to perform just one single phone screen.

Since you can evaluate candidates faster without losing the personal connection, you can fully focus on only the best people for your positions. You can also keep in mind company culture fit while quickly working through a pile of candidates, meaning your organization is less likely to succumb to the contagion effect due to a few bad temp hires.

By moving more quickly, you can spend your time connecting in person with the highly skilled and motivated candidates you need.

Temporary hiring is on the rise and if you don’t want to be left behind, it’s time to focus on finding the best people for the job. Hopefully the temporary workers you hire today can be your superstar employees tomorrow.

What do you think? Are you utilizing temporary talent? How are you finding them?