Recently we sat down with IBS Account Executive Corey Graves to discuss the state of the IT staffing industry. With over 9 years on the job, we talked in-depth about his approach to the market, as well as how he communicates, cultivates, and builds relationships with customers in his network.
As an AE, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen throughout your 9 years industry?
Specifically, in terms of the market, the opportunities are more plentiful than they used to be. In fact there’s more opportunities than there are candidates, which you can see reflected in the unemployment rate, especially when it comes to IT.
So basically today, the competition is at an all-time high. Organizations are looking for more and more full-time equivalents or permanent hires to add to their ever-evolving IT staff. Where this complicates things on our end is the fact that there’s just a limited number of resources in the market. It no longer matters if you have an outstanding relationship with a hiring manager or customer. Nowadays, it all really comes down to timing. As an AE, you really have to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s to make sure everything aligns.
So as it relates to customers and hiring managers: If the business is all about timing, how do you determine when that timing is right?
It’s really about taking a step back and understanding the evolution of your customer and who they are as a company: What are they trying to accomplish with a particular project? Or what are they looking for in terms of a specific role from a job responsibilities perspective? Being able to translate that information into a detailed requirement is critical. That way we are able to properly identify the right candidate—one that fits in the parameters of the organization.
In years past, job roles were a bit more open-ended. A candidate with relevant experience could learn a new skill on-site with the client. Now, everything is becoming a lot more specialized based on the sheer number of new evolving technologies.
How have these changes in the market altered your approach to your clients and customers?
For me specifically it’s about taking a more consultative approach. I make an effort to understand the customers’ needs, what their business model is, and generally just try to see things from their perspective. I try to take a more detailed approach in learning the day-to-day functions of the organization, as well as the job duties a potential candidate will be expected to meet. From there, I set out to translate and unpack that information into the conversations I’m having with recruiters and their candidates. So basically, if you develop an in-depth understanding of a particular client’s needs, as well as the candidate market, it becomes easier to sort of can connect the dots, so to speak.
That’s interesting to hear because one would assume that if competition between staffing companies are at an all-time high, AE’s and Recruiters would have to move more quickly to secure placements. Does some of that more involved, in-depth understanding get sacrificed in the process?
That is true for some companies, without a doubt. But for IBS specifically, we’re doing a disservice to a customer if we’re not spending the time necessary to develop a detailed requirement. We have to understand the whole landscape and scope of a clients’ project. On the other hand, our customers and hiring managers that we do project work with—hiring for specific positons is a priority, but it’s not the absolute top priority. As AE’s, we take the information the hiring mangers gives us, and we are expected to provide them with exactly what they want. This process takes a bit more time, but again, taking that extra moment to truly understand the requirement is critical to our services. Then we are able to set the appropriate expectations, not only on the candidate side, but with our internal staff as well.
How do you go about managing client expectations?
Every customer relationship is different. That’s based on the longevity and tenure of that particular client. However, I think it is important, whether it’s the first meeting or somebody you’ve worked with for years, to find opportunities to sit down and educate them about emerging trends in the market. Meaning, you have to be able to articulate, explain and speak to their vantage point about the opportunities that could be of interest to them, and being honest about what the market truly dictates: price point, availability, skill set, and the overall process of implementation itself.
How often are you touching base with existing clients? In what way do you prefer to reach out them?
Current customers I try to touch base with as frequently as possible. That being said, there needs to be a reason for me to be reaching out them, specifically looking for ways to enhance the relationship and add value. If not, I touch base with them less frequently. For new customers, it’s all about doing research and being able to provide a service that will align with their portfolio.
What are your predictions for the IT staffing market in 2019?
I think the market itself will continue to increase in demand. Simple economics: there’s a lack of hirable resources, so organizations, I believe, will start exploring more creative solutions and ways to identify talent and close the skills gaps. Consulting will still be the kind of “bread and butter,” and provide the best opportunities for organizations to not only knock out their day-to-day project goals, but also fill the shortage in talent. It’s the most cost-effective solution. But I also think companies are still going to maintain the same discipline they always have and remain somewhat conservative.
What advice do you have for new Account Executives entering into the industry?
Be organized in your approach, but also be creative. Have a plan of attack for each day,but also focus on the relationship as a whole and taking a more consultative approach to your client partnerships.