What do your New Year's resolutions look like? Are they realistic, attainable, helpful? Do they include actions and attitudes that will make you a better overall person? 

They should, in my opinion, also pertain to our professional lives, and since this is a staffing blog, I thought it might be helpful to include a few resolutions those in the staffing industry might consider making their own. 

After all, it’s never a bad idea to get better at what we do! And what better time than at the start of a new year. 

Increase your margins

With yet another staffing agency seemingly opening up down the block every month or two (it seems the only barriers to entry here are a swivel chair and a wad of cash), our margins are under attack from every conceivable angle. Not only are clients after lower rates, but desperate agencies are willing to offer them along with a few promo items and a back rub to boot.

Even though the first bad injury or lawsuit will probably put some of them in the red, they just want to stay in business another day. 

Of course, competition and the free market is best for everyone involved (yay capitalism!), but there just seems to be something about the staffing industry that makes clients think we should be able to provide our services for an ‘attaboy’ and a bag of Fritos.

So, what’s the answer? Certainly not collusion, of course, but there has to be a point where individual, well-positioned agencies say ‘enough is enough’ and hold the line on rates. 

We provide a valuable, important service, and we can’t do it for free. If rate is the only thing your client cares about, maybe the best thing for all involved is for the client to experience the type of service Mr. Swivel Chair provides.

Spread the word

We all know that staffing gets a bad rap sometimes. Because of the actions of a few bad apples, and a few common misconceptions that seem to persist in some circles, staffing is often viewed as a way for employers to
circumvent the law or for greedy ‘middle-men’ to get in the way of jobs and the people who need them.

In reality, we are the grease on the wheels of many employer-employee relationships, the de facto HR departments of many a small business, and a champion for workers who might not otherwise have a voice (or a
job).

Reputable staffing agencies help the economy, obey the law, and make an honest profit while doing so. As staffing pros, we need to learn the facts (start here, here and here among other places) and speak the truth loud and clear to anyone we know who is relevant to the conversation.

Try to be less cynical

There’s a little bit of a cynic in all of us, but for some reason the staffing industry tends to bring the tendency out in full force faster than other professions.

Maybe it’s the lies some of our applicants tell us. "I’ll scoop dog poo. I'll dig ditches. I'll do whatever you need, take whatever you have, I just want a job!"

Or maybe it’s the increasingly impossible demands put on us by needy clients who want us to find them candidates willing to work for minimum wage, screen them, drug test them, run them through a three hour battery of tests - non-paid of course - then send them a stack of profiles. 

IF they are chosen, then it it will be our privilege to orient them, train them, personally meet them at the client's facility, make sure they are happy and productive, and on and on.

When this process is repeated, often the staffing front-liner will tend to start seeing the worst in people, instead of the best.

The challenge is to shrug off the failures, remember the success stories, and fight the cynicism that has a tendency to creep in to our daily lives.

Yes, we get lied to. Yes, we get let down. Yes, we are expected to accomplish the impossible while smiling and standing upside down on our hands.

However, it’s important to remember that this job, this industry, is important, worthwhile, even critical for a healthy American economy.

Let all of that sink in, and resolve to make 2015 your best year yet.