Recruiters: get job candidate insight, especially from the largest segment of the workforce

  By Lynn Connor  |    Wednesday February 10, 2021

Category: Expert Advice, Recruiting


Do you own, work or support a staffing company?  You should know what your potential job candidates are thinking as we move further into 2021. ASA and ClearlyRated partnered to conduct a 2020 Candidate Sentiment Study using an independent online panel to provide peoples thoughts regarding staffing firms and temporary assignments.  

The resources job candidates use differs, based on the age of the job seeker.  Who makes up our workforce, again?  As a quick reminder, because I know I needed it, Millennials comprise the 26-40 year olds.  Generation Z is the youngest generation with those that are 18-25 years old, Generation X captures 41-55 year olds and Baby Boomers consist of ages 56-74.   

Oh gracious, we’re talking about Millennials again?  Actually, it’s with good reason. In only nine years from now, Millennials will make up a whopping 75% of the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Right now, 25% of the world's population are Millennials and “according to Pew Research on Millennials in the United States, there are 72.1 million of them, outnumbering Boomers with a population of numbered 71.6 million.”  This group is the largest portion of our workforce, so it makes sense that we are focusing on them. 

The good news right now for staffing agencies:  Millennial job seekers are the most likely generation to use a staffing/recruiting agency in their job search process (44%).  While Millennials are most likely to engage with a staffing firm, Generation Z is least likely at only 18%.  The candidate sentiment study also noted the work sector that saw the most value in using a staffing firm was the engineering, IT and scientific industry.  Nine out of ten job seekers in this category noted that a good staffing agency can help get them more job opportunities and ease their job search burden.  


There are many different means a job seeker can utilize while searching for a job.  The participants in this study discussed 15 resources they used while looking for a job: online job boards such as Career Builder and niche job boards, job site aggregators like Indeed, internet searches such as Google, online reviews similar to Glassdoor, also LinkedIn, Facebook & other social media sites, a person’s own personal & professional network, a staffing agency, online talent marketplace like Upwork, Craigslist, state/federal agencies, company hiring sites, and associations or trade groups.  The average job seeker uses at least 6 different resources while searching for a job.  

The resource job seekers used most was online job boards, with the highest percentage at 70%. Online resources dominated the top 6 of 15 on the job resource list, yet staffing/recruiting agencies made the top 10 at 33%.  

From the top 10 resources, the only two that were not online were staffing firms and personal/professional networks.  Millennials and the younger Generation Z utilize online reviews significantly more than their older peers where company reviews found on Google or Glassdoor made #5 on the list of resources used while searching for a new position.  Four in 10 millennial candidates have used a staffing agency in their job search.  Four in 10 men have used a staffing/recruiting agency in their job search compared to less than a third of women (28%).

Online reviews are the most trusted resource for job candidates when determining the quality of a staffing agency.  ASAs Candidate Sentiment study found that candidates trust online reviews even more than personal referrals, and 4X as much as the firms advertising.”  Various sites such as Glassdoor, Google, and ClearlyRated are some of the sites job candidates visited to research online reviews.  Almost 9 out of 10 millennials read a staffing company's reviews online before determining whether or not to utilize their services.  External validation of service quality should be a consistent theme across the entire staffing go-to-market strategy, both online and offline. 

A very high percentage of job seekers prefer at least some of their job search to be online, 93% to be exact.  Almost 50% preferred a mix of online and human interaction across all generations, thus we’ve seen an even larger uptick in remote hiring and electronic onboarding within the staffing and other industries as well.  Online application software is just as crucial, to keep potential employees happy.  Make no doubt about it, “A frictionless online experience is an asset for staffing firms that will pay dividends with candidates of all ages.”    

The ASA candidate sentiment study also found that while 1 in 3 prefer help from a staffing firm, women (74%) and white (72%) candidates prefer to job search on their own.  With nearly 70% of job candidates preferring to find and apply for jobs on their own, there is an opportunity for staffing firms to provide a primarily self-directed experience for job candidates.”  

Staffing firms should also be mindful about commute time when placing their employees into job assignments.  It’s rather telling that six in 10 administrative candidates say commute is their most important aspect of accepting a position.  Their second largest factor was benefits, followed by career growth potential.  Industrial employees listed benefits as their first most important job factor followed by commute time and career growth potential.  Six in 10 Asian and 5 in 10 Black/African-American candidates say career growth potential is the most important aspect of their position. 


Social media use differs significantly by age and therefore a varying strategy on social media may be required for different generations.  Again, “with Millennials being the largest generation in the workforce, it is imperative for staffing firms to align their social media strategies to the demographics of their candidates.”  And, this is also an opportunity to reach more of Gen Z than is currently engaged.  For Millennials, YouTube is listed as their number one social media choice capturing 90%, followed by Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Glassdoor and TikTok. 

With technology dominating every aspect of Millennials' lives, it is not surprising that 41% say they prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face or even over the telephone. A digital generation that feels at home on the internet, Millennials spend a lot of their free time on the phone as well.  In fact, they pick up their phone 150 times/day.  They expect to be able to access and use their phone at work and to access work-related tasks from this device.  

Millennials are hard workers, they are ambitious about their career growth and expect a lot from employers such as excellent internal communication, feedback, flexibility and benefits. Millennials are also seeking a good work/life balance as well as strong diversity policies. They want to admire, trust their employer and value their brand. They are also prone to job hopping with 6 out of 10 millennials open to new job opportunities and in the meantime, over half are not engaged at work.  It's possible that many millennials actually don't want to switch jobs, but their companies aren't giving them compelling reasons to stay. 


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, the number of people quitting their jobs has been increasing, even during a global pandemic. We've seen 1.9 million people quit in April and 3.1 million quit their jobs in November 2020.  With higher turnover rates, the cost has been rising and negatively impacting employers.  

Turnover is expensive.  The cost to replace an $8/hour hourly employee as Investopedia reports, can cost a business around $3,500. “Companies spend an average of $1,886 and 47.6 hours a year on training for each employee. For companies to reach a break-even point on managers they hire, it takes an average of 6.2 months due to costs incurred.”

It makes sense then, to review and understand the reasons employees are leaving positions.  Across all generations, the top 2 reasons from the candidate study noted burnout and lack of career growth.  When looking specifically at Millennials, their next 6 reasons for leaving were, in order, compensation, benefits, management, company culture, better offer and schedule. 

With 77 pages of data and information provided in the candidate sentiment study report, there is much more to learn about the job candidates your firm needs to attract and retain. Ten reasons candidates will work with a staffing firm again, which experience is a key opportunity to improve upon and the typical response time almost every candidate expects in an always-on society -- are just three examples we haven’t covered here. 

And, if you’re looking for an all-in-one staffing software solution, COATS Staffing Software provides a multitude of remote hiring tools to keep the 93% of job seekers who want some of their job search online, happy. With 70% of job seekers using a job board as their number one resource, our online job posting software has you covered.


Lynn Connor, COATS Staffing Software

Business Development (800)888-5894

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