Staffing_Curators_as_Personal_Brand_Consultants_ branding and the future of talent

Tom Peters, an influential business management writer, called it back in 1997 when he introduced the term “personal branding” into the workforce lexicon: “The main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work and chalk up a remarkable track record, and looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh.”

In his groundbreaking and much lauded article “The Brand Called You,” Peters saw the future of talent and business clearly. Branding was everything, and it rose to even greater prominence in the late 1990s as the Internet allowed any business a competitive, visible, online presence. And Peters saw that with these advances, talent would also need to adopt personal branding efforts to make themselves recognizable across the countless communication platforms that would inevitably sprout.

Personal branding, as Peters conceived it, described an increasingly freelance workforce where talent not only began thinking of themselves in terms of marketable brands, they relied on the same business assets, resources, tools and tactics as large corporations to keep themselves relevant and identifiable to prospective buyers — in this case, employers.

What if staffing curators became personal brand consultants?

If Peters’ idea was considered transformative and novel when he envisioned it 17 years ago, the business conditions of the 21st century have made personal branding an imperative. That said, it’s still not easy for people to think of themselves as microcosmic companies that need to promote a brand in order to transact business. And with the changes in the nature of employment, and how talent is procured, the philosophies and structures of staffing are becoming equally as transformative. As we discuss in our eBook “The Future of Talent in the Contingent Workforce,” staffing professionals are taking more consultative approaches to engaging and facilitating talent. They are more actively curating processes, as experts in the field, to match talent to hiring managers — not just place them.

There are all sorts of books and columns these days that offer advice on how to achieve personal branding goals, however we believe there are tremendous opportunities for staffing curators to step up and help candidates develop their own promotional campaigns and personal brands, bridging the chasm that still exists between the buyers of freelance labor and the freelancers themselves.

Think of it: staffing curators know the needs of HR and hiring managers, they understand the technology and online marketplace platforms, they have become social media gurus, they know how to polish resumes and pitch candidates, and they are highly proficient employment brand ambassadors for the companies they support. Why couldn’t they elevate their sourcing and recruiting efforts by translating their expertise into a sort of public relations/image consulting role? In large part, it’s what many already do.

How staffing curators can help talent cultivate and market their personal brands

Love it or hate it, social networks aren’t going away in the foreseeable future. Business leaders know this, too. Companies fighting to stave off their competition and stay one step ahead are aggressively developing social media strategies that include training their workers to become brand evangelists across their own audiences. According to a study performed by the Altimeter Group, business leaders state that training for social media awareness and usage ranks among their top three priorities. And yet, only 38 percent of those companies are doing it. This coming year, most experts predict, a robust social media presence will separate the victors from the laggards.

Staffing professionals have understood this for a long time. To remain competitive in today’s evolving labor market, forward-thinking staffing companies have already invested in social media as sourcing tools and techniques to recruit the emerging generation of Millennial workers. Many organizations have found that traditional recruitment methods take too long, cost too much and produce too few qualified candidates.

Each day, sourcers and recruiters enter a digital space in which passive and active job seekers have already shared or collected massive amounts of information on a daily basis. In order to make candidates take note, staffing curators have become adept at making a company’s message stand out above the unrelenting traffic. They present job openings in creative ways to showcase the personality of the organizations they support, which in turn helps job seekers get a feel for whether a business culture will be a good fit.

They can do the same for talent. Staffing curators have the wisdom and experience to help candidates market themselves to companies just as effectively through social media. Not only can staffing professionals help talent develop personal brands, they know the types of employers who would find those brands most attractive. They also know how to educate talent on the best usage of social media, as well as the optimal networks to use for specific employers, industries and markets, based on traffic.

The rise of the freelance economy

One of the predominant themes in our eBook “The Future of Talent in the Contingent Workforce” is the undeniable rise of the freelance economy, along with the momentum it continues to gain. Today, contingent talent choose their freelance lifestyles. Temporary or contract-based work is not a matter of circumstance or situation, it’s a choice — a preferable career arrangement for highly skilled, tenured and credentialed supertemps. And the most recent industry statistics point to even greater numbers of freelancers and contractors penetrating the workforce of the near future.

The contingent workforce is not only a new permanent reality, it’s going to keep growing and maturing. With the entrance of Generations X, Y and Z into the workforce, we are seeing a renaissance of values that emphasize freedom and entrepreneurialism. Learn more about the novelty of full-time employment.

As skilled professionals turn to the freedoms of contingent work, throwing off the shackles of domineering corporate schedules and impositions, organizations are making tremendous efforts to find ways of working with them. These freelancers are in the driver’s seat now. If businesses want to succeed, they need to follow the talent. According to Elance, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces for freelancers, 1.2 new jobs are posted every 60 seconds.

In this evolution, staffing professionals can play a pivotal role in curating the relationship between freelancers and their clients. The contingent labor industry isn’t just creating new jobs — it’s creating opportunities. With the growing reliance on freelancers and the online marketplaces they use, elite staffing professionals will be needed to curate the process, ensuring compliance and connecting businesses to this exceptional contingent talent. And that, of course, means branding.

Staffing curators, with their intimate knowledge of companies, industries and skilled talent, are ideally positioned to help candidates brand themselves to buyers on sites like Elance. They have a mature perspective on how companies can discern the characteristics that make up inherent aspects of their overall employment brand. This insight can be translated into helping talent evolve their own brands through blogging, social media posts, personal websites, online presentations and more.

Putting a face to a brand

It’s no secret that the staffing industry buzz about video interviewing continues. Every day, new articles are written about it. RFPs sent to staffing providers by MSPs or hiring managers now include questions about it. YouTube channels keep cropping up, dedicated to this kind of personal branding. Now, the industry is witnessing the introduction of technology firms that specialize in recruiting videos.

According to the company videoBIO, their “biggest growth application is videoBIO Recruiter being used by hiring teams for recruiting, interviewing and screening new talent.”

As ERE noted: “Video, combined with the Internet, is a game-changer for recruiting. Used together they create a better candidate experience and raise the likelihood of a better hire. They also enrich recruiters by giving them a much deeper perspective on a candidate, in less time, than has ever been possible.”

A video interview allows employers a rich, genuine and credible experience with a prospective candidate. For talent, video interviewing demonstrates that a company is modern, progressive and tech-savvy.

Staffing professionals know all the ins and outs of acing interviews. They have a prime opportunity to coach and prepare talent for presenting their personal brands in the most compelling ways when video recruiting comes into play. The fact is, video is a way of life now with smartphones, YouTube and even Twitter’s Vine. However, as blogging becomes micro-blogging and videos give way to six-second Vines, candidates must be able to convey the key points of their brands as quickly and effectively as possible. Recruitment experts at staffing firms know what their clients are looking for and how to help top talent parse down their brands to the essentials.

More importantly, video recruiting platforms are rapidly being integrated into major ATS and online marketplace systems. As superusers of these technologies, who better to educate talent on the systems than staffing curators?

Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark

Perhaps Tom Peters had not imagined the extent to which advances in technology and certain economic conditions would have shaped the need for personal branding, yet he clearly grasped the core necessity of it — one that’s undeniable today.

“The good news — and it is largely good news — is that everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build up their skills,” Peters wrote. “Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.”

And as staffing professionals expand their roles to curators in the hiring process, they could very well set the stage for how those brands will be developed and made remarkable to employers.