differentA couple of months ago I read What Drives Me Nuts About Staffing Agencies, and many of the points made by author Matt Lowney really stuck with me. I also have 20+ years of experience in the staffing industry but I’m on the other side of the table from him. I might even be one of those folks driving Lowney so nuts, but I don’t think I am and here’s why. I agree with him.

He’s right when he says that everyone claims to have a proprietary database, candidates no one else knows and a process that delivers the best results. He’s right when he says that too many meaningless platitudes like “we’re different” or “we build relationships” are uttered in pitch meetings, with no example or proof of what they mean or how they benefit you. Sadly, he’s also probably right that some suppliers badmouth others instead of spending time showing how they are actually different and better. The standard approach to answering the question is too often to talk about years in existence, office locations, skills sets placed, databases, process flows and a long list of other common attributes.

Those common attributes and basic qualifications for a staffing supplier are not bad things and I don’t think that’s what Lowney is saying. But they are not differentiators in and of themselves; if everyone has them, they can’t be a marker of difference. Differentiators are not the common things we do but the uncommon ones. A true differentiator provides an extra value to our customers; or it’s something that is different and delivers a tangible benefit in the delivery of the services we were hired to provide. What actually makes you different? In response to Lowney’s question there are several things I could discuss that distinguish ATR International but I will focus on one for now; our knowledge and our willingness to share it.

Working with a company that has longevity in the staffing space can be a big benefit if you can tap into the knowledge and experience their team possesses. At ATR, we’ve made a commitment to share what we know with others in several ways. First, and perhaps most obvious, is Staffing 360, but we also publish our eGuides. But what I think is the biggest differentiator is that well before anyone heard of blogs or eGuides, we were helping our clients individually. Many of the topics we cover come directly from our clients, and the articles and guides evolve out of special research and analytics that we’ve done to answer a question for a single customer.

Everyday our customers have various business initiatives they are working on. It may be a software upgrade, a plan to move resources off- or near- shore, the meshing of a newly acquired company or simply to cut costs. ATR’s ability to ask the right questions and our consultative approach means that we understand the customer’s issues holistically and can offer advice and assistance outside of just providing technical talent. For example, one of our clients was interested in offshoring but wanted to know more and asked for our help. After pulling together the information for her, we were happy to package it up and share it with all our friends and clients in a post, The Current State of IT Off-shoring. On another occasion, a discussion with a client regarding their concerns about retaining contractors through the lifecycle of the project led to our eGuide, 6 Things You Can do to Dramatically Increase IT Contractor Retention, and several columns on the topic.

If you need data or research or information about staffing or employment trends to help you make a smart decision about how to staff your project or design your contingent workforce program, we’re here for you. We take the personal knowledge and experience we’ve gained working with hundreds of clients through the years, and infuse it with research, data and analysis from industry sources to provide the answers our clients need. Then we share it with others. You don’t have to be a client necessarily: do you have a question? Do you need information on a staffing related topic? Let us know – we’re here to help!

Download our eGuide on selecting the best staffing firms for your program: 6 Best Practices for Selecting Excellent Staffing Suppliers


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