Business Services

Better Business Services



In a previous post, I talked about the 4 reasons that businesses aren't using One Stops for recruitment. In today's post, I want to propose some services that might provide more value-add from the business perspective. 


Better Business Services

  • Provide Intensive Job Search Preparation and Coaching
  • Support 1099/Contract Workers
  • Become Content Curators
  • Convene and Host Community Conversations on Business Issues Using Innovative Strategies


1. Provide Intensive Job Search Preparation & Coaching

The number one thing we hear from employers is that job seekers are unprepared when it comes to the job search. Get any group of employers together and ask them about their recruitment concerns and this is what you'll hear: 

  • They don't know how to sell themselves with a resume and cover letter.
  • They don't know how to customize their skills to specific employer needs.
  • They don't follow instructions when they complete online applications. 
  • They don't sell themselves well in interviews.
  • They aren't entrepreneurial and focused on how they will bring value to the company that hires them. 

Of course, we also have the ongoing complaints about the "lack of work ethic," the "expectations that are too high" and the "lack of soft skills."

All of these are issues that we could do a better job of addressing through our One Stop job seeker services. This opens up a whole other conversation about how to work with the job seeker side of the house (which I'll get to in future posts), but if we got REALLY good at preparing people to sell themselves and bring value to potential employers, that's a service employers are looking for. 


2. Support 1099/Contract Workers

In 2001, the number of U.S. self-employed "1099 workers" was 1.3 million. In 2012, it rose to 10.6 million. (See Forbes: The Rise of the 1099 Economy). Many companies are turning away from hiring permanent, full-time employees and toward more project-based, short-term hiring of "solopreneurs" and contractors to get work done. 

Making the shift from "full-time employee" to "gun for hire" is a big one for most people and there's little that's being done to systematically support these 1 and 2-person micro-enterprises. Yet, helping them to start and grow their tiny businesses would not only help our local economies, it would also benefit existing businesses who could access skilled people in different ways. 

We could serve both job seekers and existing businesses if we got serious about supporting solopreneurs. For job seekers, we open up new possibilities for developing multiple income streams. For existing businesses, there are new opportunities to bring in needed skills without having to commit to a longer-term hire. 

While we're on the topic, employers could use good advice on working with 1099 contractors--who qualifies and what does the business need to do to avoid problems with the IRS? And job seekers need help in figuring out how to pull everything together--how to cobble together a full-time income on contract opportunities? 


3. Become Content Curators

One challenge that all businesses have is identifying the BEST information from a sea of online posts and articles. This is where "content curators" come in. They sift through resources, scanning for information and articles that would be useful to businesses, and then put this info together into digestible nuggets that employers can use. 

This requires us to know where there are gaps in the information that employers want and need as well as requiring us to educate ourselves about how to find and package the information. But becoming an effective content curator is a major way to build up trust and influence and is a strategy that we should consider pursuing as a system


4. Convene and Host Community Conversations on Business Issues Using Innovative Strategies

This is something that WIBs have been doing for awhile, but I'm suggesting going way beyond employer panels which typically don't invite or encourage meaningful conversations

I'm talking about doing things like:

The value we can bring here isn't about being the content experts. It's about becoming conversation and relationship-building experts. We can provide the space and structure to encourage more innovation and deeper connections to build business partnerships and growth. 


This is by no means an exhaustive list--it's a starting point for us to expand our thinking about what we could do to support businesses in our communities.

Yes, these services would take us out of our traditional comfort zone, but that's what business is all about now--reinventing yourself to meet the needs of a new economy. We have to learn how to play along if we want to continue to be resilient and relevent for the future. 

What are your thoughts? What other services should we add to the mix? Leave me a note in comments and let's discuss!

4 Reasons Employers Don't Use One Stops as Recruiters (And It's Not Because You Need Better Marketing)


4 Reasons Employers Don't Use One Stops as Recruiters

  1. Employers aren't using 3rd party recruiters to hire new employees. 

  2. The job seeker populations we work with are the least attractive to businesses. 

  3. We are duplicating online services already provided by more commonly used job boards like and CareerBuilder.

  4. Businesses aren't hiring as many workers as they did prior to the recession. 

(Read on for more info) 



In my work with WIBs and One Stops, a recurring theme is the struggle to get local employers to see the One Stops as valuable recruiting partners. 

The reason for this gap I hear most often from staff is it's because local employers just don't know about what we do. The implication is, that if they only KNEW about the One Stops, they would be flocking to use our recruitment services.

While there may be some truth to the notion that employers don't know about us, it's not the whole story. There are much bigger issues going on that we have to acknowledge if we hope to have a prayer of getting businesses to work with us on an ongoing basis, not just when they have a bunch of positions to fill quickly. 

Warning: This is a "tough love" post where I talk about some realities that we'd rather not acknowledge. 

1. We are trying to be "recruiters" during a time when employers aren't using them. 

This is our number one problem in trying to position ourselves with employers as recruiters.

Companies aren't using 3rd parties to find new hires. 

We haven't kept up though--we're still acting like it's 1997. 

Here's what things looked like back then, when, by the way, we started positioning ourselves as recruiters. Notice that newspapers were at the top. And 3rd party recruiting sources were in 3rd and 4th place. 

1997 Sources of Hire
Sources CareerXRoads 2013 Source of Hire Report

So in 1997, prior to the rise of the Internet, about 20% of new hires came through outside agencies. 

This is how it looks now:

2013 Sources of New HIres
Source: CareerXRoads Source of New Hire Report


Only 3% of new hires come from a 3rd party source--and in those cases, they are mostly for very specific higher-level and technical occupations where you need specialized recruitment.

Also notice that job fairs (one of our more popular One Stop offerings) are almost at the bottom of this list, with less than 2% of new hires coming from that source. 

The reality is, most employers are doing their own sourcing by going on LinkedIn and looking for (employed) qualified applicants or finding people through their own career websites, where people have submitted an online application. Almost 50% of new hires come from that kind of recruiting. 

They just aren't turning to outside "recruiters" and especially not for the types of jobs we tend to fill. 

Yes, we can be helpful when a company needs to fill many positions quickly--but this tends to happen only when a new business is opening in the area. It's not a strategy that works for us in the long-term because it's not a recruitment strategy businesses are pursuing on a regular basis.  

2. We are doing most of our work with the job seeker populations that are least attractive to potential employers

When we aren't trying to engage with employers as "recruiters," we try to engage with them by saying that we're a great job board source for them to use. We tell them that by posting their job openings in our systems, they will get access to our populations.

The one probem with this is that our system is comprised of the job seekers that are least attractive to employers 

If you read any business publications or talk to any business people, they will tell you that the most attractive job seekers are people who are currently working. In fact, one of the first questions recruiters and managers will ask is "Where is he/she working now?" and if the answer is "nowhere," there is already a strike against that job seeker. 

And the longer unemployment continues, the worse the situation gets. The Boston Federal Reserve has done research to show that for many job seekers, being unemployed is the chief barrier to employment. In fact, employers will consider someone with no experience in an occupation, but who has a job currently, before they will consider someone with experience who has been unemployed for 6 months or more!

Add in additional barriers, such as lack of education/skills, being an older worker, ex-offender status, etc., and it becomes clear that we are not going to be the "go to" place for employers who are looking for talent. 

I don't agree with this. I don't think it's fair. I think that businesses are being short-sighted by eliminating people in these ways. But it's still a reality we have to live with. And pretending that businesses are going to be altruistic or charitable in their hiring is living in a fantasy land. 

3. We are duplicating services already being provided by others in the market that have been much more widely adopted by employers. 

When we look at our online job banks, these are essentially the same services offered by for-profit companies like Monster and CareerBuilder. Companies are still using these sources (albeit less frequently than they used to) so the question for them becomes

"Why do I have to do a separate posting for the One Stop? Especially when that posting is only going to put me in front of job seekers I don't find that desirable anyway?" 


 I'm not sure that making the service "free" is a big enough incentive. Employers are used to using these other job boards and our board becomes just another place they have to post. 

4. Businesses aren't hiring as many people.

Another big part of our problem is that employers simply aren't doing as much hiring. Technology is eliminating many positions. Current employees are picking up the slack when people are laid off. And as the chart below indicates, companies are moving more people within their organizations, so there are fewer external openings. 

Internal hiring

You need recruiters when you have many positions to fill and you need help filling them. But when hiring has slowed down, there's no reason to work with a recruiter. 

Implications for the Workforce System

So what does this mean for the public workforce system? 

First,  on a local level,  we need to find other ways to add value to our work with employers. Businesses don't particularly need our our recruitment services and we are wasting valuable time and energy on trying to communicate a value that they just aren't going to see. Yes, if they need a job fair or mass recruitment, by all means, we should help. Maybe we should start marketing ourselves to coordinate "Hiring Events"--there could be some value add there.

But we need to find other (better) ways to bring value to our local employers outside of things like "labor exchange" (stop calling it that, too!) and "job matching" services. We're fighting an uphill battle and our resources could be better used elswhere. 

Second, on a larger policy/regulatory level, we need to re-think the entire "Job bank" system and all of the money/time/energy we are investing here.

At a time of shrinking resources, the last thing we need to be doing is replicating existing systems, especially when we lack the capacity and funding to make it as user-friendly and employer-focused as the alternatives. If the private sector is actually doing a better job (which it seems to in this case,) why are we investing in re-inventing the wheel when there are so many other unmet needs?  Have employers been clamoring for a better job board system? I haven't been seeing that. 

I would also argue that we should re-invest our time, money and resources in doing a better job of facilitating job seekers in the job search process. In particular, providing them with ongoing coaching and high quality support in crafting customized marketing plans that target specific employers. 

To the extent that employers ARE hiring, they are looking for people who are entrepreneurial and know how to communicate the ways that they will bring value to the business. Businesses mostly expect to engage directly with a job seeker, not through a 3rd party who "presents" the job seeker, and their biggest complaints have centered more on job seeker preparation for applying and interviewing, not on the need for another recruitment source or job bank. 

Rather than investing in "labor exchange" and trying to talk businesses into signing up for our job banks, we'd be better off helping job seekers become more effective in demonstrating and communicating value. This is what employers want anyway--they have the "recruitment" thing covered. 

What are your thoughts? Leave me a note in comments. I'd love to hear from you!