Demystifying Digital Transformation for Modern Staffing

Demystifying Digital Transformation for Modern Staffing

If you're like most recruitment firms, candidate acquisition and engagement are your top priorities for the year. But a surprising third priority across more than 2,000 global staffing and recruitment industry professionals? Embracing digital transformation to improve operations. Nearly half of these recruiting professionals say that embracing this transformation is an operational challenge. But the challenge is worth it: 80 percent of them believe it will help their business.

80% of global staffing professionals believe digital transformation will help their business.

That you're reading this means you're in the top one percent of staffing firms thinking about bringing in new and modern tech. You are a staffing firm of tomorrow. 

The numbers clearly state that digital transformation is a key business priority. But when one considers the full scope of this change: revamping operations, overhauling existing systems even if they are antiquated, and retraining the team on best practices, the whole process seems scary. It doesn’t have to be.

We’ll demystify the process of undergoing a digital transformation - beginning with research and procurement, to implementation and adoption. 

Simply by knowing that such a transformation can ultimately enable you to improve operations, source new candidates, and improve the candidate experience means you’re halfway there. We’ll walk you through the rest.


The Case for Digital Transformation:

But first to better understand the role that technology can play now, it’s helpful to go back and see the progress we’ve made so far, and how technology has helped so far. Although innovation has shaped the staffing and recruiting industry over the past 30 years, most of that innovation has taken place in the past five years.

So what does it actually mean to undergo a “digital transformation?” By some definitions, it could just mean going paperless. Experts generally agree that it’s the use of digital technology to solve traditional problems. As a result, the solutions inherently enable innovation and creativity instead of simply supporting traditional methods.

Technology is evolving quickly and it’s only accelerating. If you don’t make technological advancements a priority, your firm could get left behind.

Digital transformation is the use of technology to solve traditional problems. Inherently, this enables innovation and creativity instead of simply supporting traditional methods. But why the need for a transformation that is digital-specific?

It’s scalable…

Which means it can be a solution to a myriad of different problems. When you leverage digital solutions, you can post the same job posting on multiple boards, you can post marketing messaging to various social media channels, and you can quickly assess when a candidate is finishing up a contract role and may be ready to be redeployed.

For instance, according to the GRID report, there wasn’t a universal consensus for the areas in which recruiting professionals thought their peers were in most need of training and development. These areas were:

Social Media 17%
Use of technology to automate manual processes 17%
Client management and relationship building 15%
Candidate screening and selection 12%


Recruiting leaders can kill all these birds with one stone: technology. Training individuals on embracing digital tools will then enable them to use these tools to improve their social media savvy, automate manual processes, and focus more of their time and energy on building relationships and sussing out the strongest candidates.

Tasks can be automated

By embracing digital tools you can send mass emails, schedule follow-up notes, and through a robust applicant tracking system (ATS), receive notifications when candidates are ready for redeployment.

In other words, you can use technology to automate mindless tasks so that you can spend your time and energy on more personal interactions. One example? Take some extra time to craft a thoughtful follow-up email for candidates who have made it past the first phone screen. And then use this email as a template for all your follow-up communications.

Candidates are already online

This approach enables you to meet candidates where they are. Billions of people around the world are using the internet: over two-thirds of people around the world own a smartphone, and 45 percent of the world’s population are using social media. That’s 3.5 billion people. 

People are using technology throughout every aspect of their lives, from hailing rideshares or cabs to ordering food and grocery delivery, to dialing into conference calls and sharing their computer screens, and more. So when it comes to applying for jobs, why would candidates expect anything less than a seamless online and mobile experience?

The instant, easy access that technology affords people in their everyday lives has spilled into job searches and candidates’ expectations. It’s causing recruiters to rethink their approach to the tools, tactics, channels, and KPIs - across every stage of the recruitment life cycle

Leslie Vickrey, CEO and Founder of ClearEdge Marketing

Ultimately, digital transformation isn’t about being the first person to invent an algorithm or use machine learning - it’s about joining the technological advancements that are already happening around you.


Making the digital transformation:

Now that you’re committed to a digital transformation for your business, you might be worried about how you can get started. We like to break it down into two key areas: people and processes.


We’re in the business of people. As we think about the different people that we work with, this spans the teams within our organization such as Recruitment Marketing, Talent Acquisition, Operations, Contractor Care, and the C-Suite. This also includes the people we ultimately work for, our candidates and clients.

Consider the goals of each of your internal teams and then align them around return on investment (ROI). At a high level, Recruitment Marketing is going to want to improve their pipeline of talent, streamline the time and effort it takes to hire a candidate, and boost redeployment numbers. Talent Acquisition is likely to have similar goals, with a key focus on finding great talent and matching them up with the optimal opportunities. Contractor Care will want to increase loyalty and continue to improve the candidate experience. Meanwhile, Operations will want all of this to happen smoothly and efficiently. The C-Suite will want all of this - along with continued business growth.

Taking a bird’s eye view at these goals will help you think about the commonalities, which are likely to include: increased pipeline, improved experiences for all, business efficiencies, and business growth.

Now think about your external partners, candidates and clients, and where they fit into this puzzle. They won’t be thinking about your businesses’ growth, but candidates are sure to want good gigs in which their skill sets are fully utilized, and clients will want the best talent they can get.

With all this in mind, you have a clear picture of what you ultimately want to achieve as you introduce new technology into your company and how you conduct business. Seeing your digital transformation through this lens will enable you to take an empathetic approach to the process, ensuring everyone’s needs along the way.


RFP From A to Z: Your Checklist For Choosing a New Tech Partner

When you’re looking to hire a new technology vendor, don’t think of them as a vendor that sells a bundle of features. Instead, think of them as a partner - someone with staying power and who is committed to you for the long haul. Here’s how you can zero in on the right fit:

  1. Be specific when you put out your RFP. Don’t be afraid to list out all your pain points. A good partner will take the time to figure out how their solution can best suit your needs. Doing this exercise now will also give you clarity on what you’re looking for, and may save you time in sussing out the right partner as continue the RFP process.
  2. Be honest about the tech systems you have in place. Many vendors will likely say they can integrate with “any” technology and while this might be true, it’s often not without a lot of extra hassle throughout implementation. Tell your prospective vendors about the systems you use so you can have a productive conversation as partners about how implementation might look like.
  3. Bring in your decision makers early. No CFO or CEO likes to be surprised about the money they’ll need to spend. Clue in the executive team early, giving them the high-level scope of work, general timeline, and expectations. Consider bringing them on as decision makers once you’ve homed in on 2-3 vendors that you like.
  4. Set a timeline for implementation. It doesn’t need to be aggressive, but setting a timeline can help ensure at the very least that you, your leadership team, and your external partner are all aligned on expectations. At best, this could give you and your partner a stretch goal to try to hit.
  5. Set KPIs and hold the partner to it. You’ll want to make sure your investment was worth your time and money. Think of several key performance indicators that are important to you and your business, and start tracking and benchmarking them so that you can gauge success. Help your partner be more helpful to you, and be upfront about these KPIs.


You’ve taken the time to align your internal partners on ROI, and you’ve thought through how such a transformation can help your external partners. Now comes the biggest part of this change management: actually getting the work done with the right technology partner. Let’s further break this down into stages:

Establish goals:

As you start to look for the right partner, make sure you establish a clear sense of problems and goals. What problems are you trying to solve both internally and externally? How would you force rank these problems? What’s your number one goal? And a short list of goals?

Crystallizing all of this to yourself - and out loud, to a potential tech partner - will help you stay focused if you feel like you’re starting to stray from your path.

Assess your tech stack:

What is your current tech stack and how does everything interact with each other? Whether you have already have these technologies or not, your different stacks will ultimately fall into three categories: system of enablement, system of record, and system of engagement

System of enablement refers to your office tools: the tools that enable you to do the day-to-day at your office. This might be your email and calendar system. System of record, or applicant tracking system (ATS), is the heart of your business. It’s your bread. It’s the record of your candidates and contractors, their information, and where they are in the employment process. System of engagement is the butter. It is the platform that enables you to interact with your candidates.

Now think: what do you already have in place, and can one or more of these systems be augmented? Can the needs be streamlined into a few technologies? There are many all-in-one solutions which have a slew of benefits:

  • Consolidated backends
  • Specialized support and customer success
  • Economies of scale
  • Tighter integrations
  • One interface
  • Shorter buying cycles

When it comes to a system of record, you’ll want to ensure this system tracks all the candidate information you need. A robust system should also have data feeds you can easily view, dashboard reporting that shows metrics like team performance and activity against specific job orders, and even passive activity tracking so you can check when candidates are reading the emails you send them. It should also offer a range of integrations - in particular, to your systems of enablement and engagement.

Some systems of record will integrate directly into your email so that you can view your inbox directly within the system and add resumes, candidate notes, and tasks. Some will also integrate into your social media account, like LinkedIn, so you can learn more about your candidate.

Once you pinpoint a given applicant tracking system and develop a sense of the information you’ll have access to, the tasks that it will enable, and the metrics you can track along the way, you can start thinking about how this system integrates into your system of engagement. Remember: this is the platform that enables you to interact with your candidates.

At Sense, we work with customers who are looking for tools that can enable them to survey, text, and send automated emails to their candidate database.

Make the purchase:

Now that you know what your system needs are, make the purchase. Choose a vendor partner who’s in it for the long haul with you. Every organization, whether it’s yours or theirs, has a different policy on payments and contracts. Consider what type of structure will enable you and your teams for success and allow you to have the best possible working relationship with your new external partner.

You’ll want to ensure the contract is inclusive of dedicated ongoing support so that you know you can always pick up the phone and call someone on the team if you need guidance.


3 Things To Look Out For When Signing A Partner Contract

You’ve chosen your tech partner, and you feel the nervousness creep up on you as you ready your legal team for a contract review. To help ensure you stay on track with your implementation milestones, here are three quick items to look for before you loop in your legal team.

  1. Ownership of intellectual property. Who owns the information in the database? You do. Especially when it comes to user data, privacy is key. Make sure your external tech partner doesn’t ask for ownership of your data.
  2. Duration of contract. If you foresee there won’t be dramatic changes to your core business or data needs, it might make sense to lock into a multi-year contract, especially if it can help you save a few extra dollars in your budget.
  3. Milestones and deliverables. Maybe you’ll agree to an upfront payment for implementation and then monthly invoices. Or maybe you’ll pay quarterly. Whatever the case, it’ll be a good idea to consider writing out milestones against these payments. This way, both you and your partner can stay aligned on expectations and timeliness of deliverables.

    Own implementation:

    Successful implementation of technology requires a true partnership. From your service provider, you’ll need a dedicated customer success manager (CSM) and investment in your content strategy. And from your side of the house, you’ll need an engagement champion - it might be someone on your team, but more likely than not, it’s you.

    As you start to integrate your new technology into your business, work with your CSM on an agreed-upon calendar of deliverables and milestones. Be sure to communicate this calendar up and out at a high level.

    Consider Day 1 to be kickoff. By Day 2, data migration or import should be underway, and by Day 5, it may be reasonable to request a quick check-in with your CSM to ensure they’re working on their deliverables and you’re uncovering any potential roadblocks.


    1. Write out a calendar. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to be clear. Use a spreadsheet to list out dates, tasks, stakeholders, and deadlines. Given the tactical nature of implementation, stakeholders listed should be people on the implementation team - from your company and your partner’s.

    2. Create a direct line of communication. Depending on your working style, this might be a daily 15-minute conference call. Or maybe it’s a Slack channel. Whatever you decide, make sure this check-in is at an expected time each day, and that communication is a two-way street. Think: it’s less helpful to get daily emails from a partner if you have no intention of responding.

    3. Set clear rules of engagement. Forgot how to pull a report? Scared that the data inputted is taking awhile to show up? You and your CSM will have various requests from each other, some more or less urgent than others. Be open about best communication tactics. Sometimes an issue can be cleared up over a quick phone call - and sometimes it needs to be via email because the specifics are better off being copied and pasted.

    Enable adoption:

    As the champion of digital transformation, this will ultimately fall on you. To get your team on board, you’ll need to get everyone trained to the extent that they need to be trained.

    No doubt, the Recruiting team will need to know the ins and outs of tracking workflow and tasks, and understanding how to gauge success. The Recruitment Marketing team is going to care most about the success metrics. Operations will need to be able to tie the system to ROI. And your C-Suite? They just need to know that it all works. And that it was worth it.

    But remember: being the internal champion is almost like being an internal seller. You might even need to create materials to drive adoption. Your CSM has seen this before; lean on them as a thought partner and ask for best practices on successful implementation. Ask them about the common onboarding mistakes people make, and don’t be afraid to ask if they already have some messaging that you can incorporate in your own onboarding materials.

    Being the internal champion is almost like being an internal seller.

    Measuring success

    Over time, you’ll likely home in on the most important success metrics for your business. But when you’re in the early stages of tech implementation, it’s best to cast a wide net. And these days, most software automates the capture of success metrics.

    Referrals. If you can, go back to your most recent quarter or even fiscal year to understand how many referrals you’ve been getting. How many referrals do you get from your existing team? How many referrals come through from your clients? And from your talent pool?

    Net promoter score (NPS). Ultimately, this gauges the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships and correlates with business growth. NPS is calculated based on responses to the question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?  

    Redeployment. How many candidates or contractors are you redeploying into new opportunities? Think about what that average number is and how you can improve it over time.

    Time to hire. Are there inefficiencies in your process that increase the time it takes to hire a candidate? Consider what you can optimize and streamline so that you can lower this time period.

    Candidate dropoffs. This metric is important in understanding candidate engagement which could ultimately unlock the key to how you can improve your candidate experience. What are the points in the candidate cycle that you see dropoff?

    Online reviews. When all is said and done, and you’ve deployed new talent into positions, and they’ve completed their tenures, what are the various online reviews saying about you? What can you learn about how both candidates and clients perceive your business, your brand?

    Top Takeaways

    See? That wasn’t so bad. You already have a sense of your business needs and goals - and more likely than not, by this point you’ve had several ideas churning in your head.

    And now you have the framework: from structuring your plan of attack for digital transformation, to ensuring successful of new technology, to determining reasonable and needed KPIs, you now have the tools to make sure your company and your technology is on the forefront of success. 

    You were already in the top one percent. Now you’ve just moved a few notches up.

    Sense is the all-in-one communication and engagement solution for modern staffing companies to accelerate their growth. Sense turbocharges recruiting, marketing and contractor care teams to dramatically improve the candidate experience, lower contractor attrition and increase redeployment.

    Alexandra Kane

    A full-stack marketer, Alexandra is currently the Head of Marketing at Sense. Prior to joining Sense, Alexandra served as the Head of Marketing at, and the Director of Marketing at Zenreach. Previously, she served as an associate at Scout Capital Management, and a founding member of the Emjoyment leadership team, a mobile first recruitment marketplace for top young college graduates. Alexandra holds a BSc and MSc from the London School of Economics.