With the market for contingent labor becoming more competitive, how can you attract the most reliable and capable candidates? Here are some ideas.

1. Be proactive and creative to find the strongest candidates from the start.

Go beyond traditional job boards. Soda CEO Corry Cummings suggests:

  • Searching relevant blogs and forums,
  • Connecting with users of key products and services, and
  • Networking with industry experts.

Communications firm TextUs suggests these in-person strategies:

  • Throwing recruiting parties,
  • Going to local Meetups, and
  • Visiting colleges to talk with soon-to-be grads.

2. Seek referrals from sources you trust.

Tap your current network for good leads. Keep tabs on what works — if you’ve gotten successful referrals from certain sources in the past, seek them out again.

One valuable resource may be current staffers. They know others in the field and can connect you with good candidates who are on the market.

3. Ditch the “sprinkler method.”

PROTECH staffing partner Elizabeth Becker describes the sprinkler method — “trying to hit … as many candidates as possible with the same quick, generic message.” She notes that this practice won’t lead to a high response rate — it will lower your chances of hearing back from talent.

Instead, Becker recommends taking the time to choose the strongest candidates and to personalize your interactions with them.

4. Leverage your social media presence.

Make sure your company is active and accessible on social media. When amazing candidates seek you out, you want them to be engaged and encouraged to make contact as easily as possible.

According to a 2012 Randstad workforce report, “social networking outlets are far more utilized in landing jobs among free agent workers than permanent workers.” The report shows that 29% of temporary workers and 26% of contractors got their last job through online resources and social networking.

5. Know what’s important to contingent workers.

Contingent workers are often drawn to the flexibility, autonomy, variety, and – in many cases – monetary rewards of contingent assignments. Highlight these features when staffing for open positions, and offer these benefits whenever possible to keep top talent coming back.

6. Consider maintaining individual “person profiles” to help retain top talent.

In its white paper “Successfully Executing and Managing a Contingent Workforce Strategy,” Oracle recommends creating detailed profiles of workers to describe their skills, accomplishments, etc.

According to Oracle, “Profiles provide greater insight into talent planning and facilitate more effective management of existing talent, which can help increase retention and improve morale.”

7. Initiate ongoing conversations with contingent workers.

Open communication with your contingent staffers is key to building a workforce you can count on. Make informal check-ins and casual conversations part of your routine with the staff you hire. Be responsive to workers’ concerns and feedback. The stronger your communication with your contingent workers, the more likely you’ll be able to rely on them for staffing needs over the long term.

8. Make sure contingent workers feel engaged and valued.

Sometimes contingent workers can feel undervalued or disengaged, which can negatively affect retention. Your best staffing candidates and contingent workers are important – make them feel that way!

Along with open communication, recruiting software company iCIMS says that “companies must cultivate relationships and deliver personalized experiences before the contingent employees even start.” Staffing firms can help familiarize workers with a company’s culture and foster a sense of belonging.

9. Re-initiate contact with previous contingent workers.

Stay in regular touch with reliable candidates. Check in every few months. Even if they’re not in the market for a position now, they may be down the line. And, if they’ve had a positive experience with your firm in the past, they’re likely to send referrals your way.

10. Stay on top of things.

The contingent workforce is always evolving, so it’s important to stay on top of industry trends and technology. Using the best tools for your circumstances can help you effectively identify, attract, and maintain relationships with the best contingent workers for your needs. In short, staying current can help you build the reliable workforce you’re looking for.

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