IT TalentTechServe Alliance recently released the results of a survey of IT and Engineering clients, candidates, and staffing firms that it commissioned from the global firm Inavero. Since ATR International serves this industry I was clearly interested in the results and I wanted to share some of the thought provoking findings with the readers of Staffing 360. Click here if you would like to get a copy of the Executive Summary for yourself. If you are a member of TechServe Alliance you can automatically download the executive summary, full report and other additional information.

TechServe Alliance is an industry organization that fosters IT & engineering staffing and solutions for clients and exceptional professional opportunities for consultants while supporting industry growth and advancement. The study takes a 360 degree view, asking questions “about key drivers in the decision making process and the benefits and level of satisfaction with the outcome.” It looks at what clients, candidates and staffing firms care about and identifies both shared concerns and priorities, and the instances where the respondents differ.

Some of the findings will not surprise anyone working in the industry. For example, both clients and staffing firms agree that one of their top three priorities is finding highly qualified talent. For staffing firms this is a double concern; both finding internal talent for their own companies and finding top IT and Engineering talent for their clients are top priorities. It’s also not too surprising that both clients and candidates consider speed of hire important; clients need help and consultants want to work.

What might be surprising is that while staffing firms have often bemoaned the downsides of working within a VMO/VMS system, clients are almost equally unhappy. 78% report that “the talent acquisition process slows when a VMO/VMS is involved,” with 60% agreeing on three top concerns:

  1. Less understanding of their requirements than working directly with a staffing firm
  2. Takes too long to fill a position
  3. Process or rate restrictions limit access to top talent

Points 2 and 3 are especially important because the survey also reports that 84% of the candidate survey respondents found their jobs within 3 months or less with 32% of them doing so in two weeks or less. If your company’s process or procedures are slowing things down, they may in fact be costing you the talent you desperately need. If your company does not have a realistic view of the current salary and benefits marketplace for IT and Engineering professionals, this too could be a hindrance in securing the high quality professionals you’re looking for. If you’re in charge of your firm’s managed services program and are wondering why your internal clients try to work around your process with SOWs or other tactics, this may give you some insight into where their pain points are and where you might be able to improve things and drive higher participation and satisfaction.

Another surprise, certainly to many staffing firms it would seem, is that both clients and candidates think that the staffing firm’s understanding of their industry is important (27% and 22% respectively) while only 6% of staffing firms thought so. This is a significant disconnect. No one has to tell me the importance of industry knowledge: I worked for over 20 years as an engineering professional and founded this company specifically to serve the specialized requirements of those who need to hire highly skilled technical consultants in the IT, engineering, and scientific industries. I was a bit surprised though at another disconnect: clients didn’t rank price as one of their top three factors in the selection process while staffing firms ranked it number two. Being an approved vendor, with a strong reputation or referral and being able to find the right talent were the top three for clients. I think that value is what matters and generally work with clients that agree but I was pleasantly surprised that so many others see it the same way.

So what are the takeaways for me? Well, that I’m on the right track in being a specialized provider and in focusing my efforts on an industry I know well. It means I’m in the best position to help my clients and that they appreciate and value this knowledge and experience. More importantly I have ideas about what I can do to make things better for both my clients and my consultants. The study reports that clients could use help in onboarding talent and reducing the time it takes to ramp up as much as possible. There are certainly opportunities to help identify roadblocks or pain points in VMS processes and find workable solutions that cut the time to fill. ATR should also focus on communicating the benefits of a consulting career through the staffing industry. Making sure that we are listening to what our consultants want will lead to attracting and retaining more and better talent, which will translate into benefits for our clients.

There’s much more to be learned from the data and I encourage everyone to read the report carefully and draw your own conclusions. A survey is only useful though if you use it, just reading it only gets you so far, so I’m going to see where else I can put this information to good use and make practical changes and improvements. Share your ideas, thoughts or concerns with us. We’d love to hear if you agree with the survey respondents or not!

Jerry Brenholz
President and CEO
ATR International

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