Staffing centers, Part I Featured

5:48am EDT September 20, 2006
Someone finds themselves in a job that doesn’t appear to offer any sort of future. They would like to find a better job, but can’t afford to go to another office to fill out an application, and they don’t want to raise suspicions at their current place by leaving for three hours in the middle of the day.

“When you look at emergent workers, they’re always looking at different opportunities,” says Kevin White, director of operations at Spherion Staffing Services. “You want to create an environment where they can apply for jobs on their time, when they want to do it.”

Smart Business talked to White about candidate centers and what they can do to help potential job candidates. This is the first of a two-part series.

What does a good candidate resource center offer?
You want to give people things such as access to libraries, job search tips and career advice so that you’re not just providing a place to apply but also tips such as how to write a good resume. All of this has to be offered to the candidate when he or she is able to access the information.

Has technology helped make such centers possible?
Yes, it has. It’s important that the center works on the candidate’s time frame. Typically in the old world, a candidate had to come in between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and fill out an application. In these new days, that candidate can go online whenever it’s a good time for them; all day, every day. It’s really most beneficial to the potential employee.

Unbeknownst to us, when we developed this concept a couple of years ago we didn’t know how much gas prices would skyrocket. People don’t have to drive across town just to fill out an application; they can look at all of the information online without the commitment of having to drive somewhere. They don’t need to get a bunch of kids ready or try or find a babysitter if they can’t take them along. The convenience factor is huge.

Can candidates update the information on their profiles?
The Web portal is password-protected. When you go into the resource center you fill out an application, which becomes your profile, and you can attach a resume. As information changes, you can go in via your password and alter your resume, update your contacts and access the information that’s in the system as you continue to look at different openings. You can apply directly to a posted position that matches your skills and background. The inquiry is sent directly to the employer.

Are services available to help candidates better present themselves?
There is access to an online library that offers help in areas such as resume writing and effective correspondence along with tips and strategies to help candidates negotiate for the jobs that they really want. There is also a network of contacts to help with future career opportunities. This is not just a one-time hit; there are many areas you can go with this program.

Who is most likely to use a candidate resource center?
We look for the best candidate to fill the position. The traditional worker wants to stay where he is and have a career with the company, believing it will take care of him. The emergent worker takes care of himself and looks for opportunities to increase his viability in the market.

Traditional workers believe their success will be with the company, while emergent workers believe the more they know, the more opportunities they will have for financial gain and the better lifestyle they can have as a result. They want to be in charge of their employment, not the company.

How are candidates matched to job openings?
Candidates that enter the resource center can apply to open positions using assigned job codes. We can see who has applied for a job and what qualifications they have. An assessment is sent through e-mail that the candidate can complete at home. After we evaluate the candidate’s viability for the job we can set up a phone interview and if that works, bring them in for an interview. By the time the candidate comes in for a face-to-face interview they are a legitimate candidate and are ready for a behavioral interview. Candidate time in the office is reduced from two-and-a-half hours to 45 minutes.

KEVIN WHITE is director of operations at Spherion Staffing Services. Reach him at (904) 358-7864 or kevinwhite@spherion.com.