Staffing agencies are optimistic about their growth prospects, according to our 2021 State of Staffing report released this week. More than 4 in 10 (43%) expect to grow by 21% or more this year. To achieve that growth, firms are adopting new tech and recruiting automation solutions.

In the past for this report, we’ve divided firms into fast-growth and slow-growth categories based on their previous year’s revenue. Since 2020 was an outlier because of the pandemic, this year we’ve categorized companies by their anticipated 2021 growth rate. The goal is to provide a picture of how businesses that expect to grow the most plan to get there.

More than 250 staffing professionals across all industry verticals completed the survey. Most of them have high expectations for 2020. While nearly 60% of companies reported less than 10% growth in 2020, nearly 70% expect to grow by double digits this year.

Staffing Industry Growth 2021

The industry verticals that expect to see the most growth are IT, professional/managerial, healthcare, and industrial.

In line with results from the previous years, both fast- and slow-growth firms cite finding qualified candidates as their top challenge. However, the most valuable lead source has changed. In 2020, the top lead source was LinkedIn. For 2021, referrals take the top spot.

Top Lead Source

Of those sources, referrals were also rated the most valuable in terms of highest quality, fastest interview-to-placement, and most cost-effective.

Candidate Sourcing

To find qualified candidates, fast-growth firms are turning to technology. Fast-growth agencies were much more likely than slow-growth agencies to agree with the following statements:

  • I’m an early adopter of technology.
  • Technology provides a competitive advantage for our business.
  • Recruiting automation is going to transform the staffing industry.
  • Our business is leading the digital transformation.

Currently, the most valuable software platforms are LinkedIn, Bullhorn, and MS Teams.

Most Valuable Platform

The top three software solutions agencies plan to adopt this year are Bullhorn, Herefish, and LinkedIn Recruiter. Texting software, chatbots, referral software, and online staffing are also among the top technologies companies plan to implement.

For more information about what differentiates fast-growth agencies from slow-growth ones, including Net Promoter Scores, ATS usage, job board spend, and more, download the full report.