Interview with Sharon Black

What is your view on remote work in staffing?

One impact of the pandemic has been that employers feel more confident in their staff’s ability to be productive remotely. And more companies are seeing this as an opportunity to recruit candidates outside their market when struggling to staff open roles. According to a survey by Robert Half, six in 10 managers that hired new staff during the pandemic said they expanded their search geographically to access a wider candidate pool.
As remote work continues, companies will be able to hire talent anywhere, which can be helpful when looking for people with specific, high-demand skill sets. Employers can also better attract top talent by offering fully remote job opportunities.

Are you considering any technology investments this year? What technology platforms would you recommend to other staffing operators?

Our technology tools are state of the art, and we will continue to improve and expand our digital infrastructure. We’ve invested in mobile and cloud technology and have developed automated intelligence and machine learning capabilities to simplify staffing, improve employee efficiency and deliver a better customer experience.
Our commitment to digital innovation allows us to meet customers’ changing expectations and reach new audiences. We’re already seeing quantifiable benefits from these investments, such as a significant increase in customers engaging with the Robert Half mobile app and website and then wanting to work with our staffing professionals or use our online services.
That said, technology will never replace our people, who handle the most complicated aspects of the hiring process, from identifying skilled candidates and confirming their availability to interviewing, negotiating job offers and ensuring new hires achieve on-the-job success for our clients.

Do consider Online Staffing Platforms as a threat to your current business? What advice would you give to a staffing operator to stay competitive with new Online Platforms entering the staffing market?

Technology advancements — and the current business environment — have changed customer expectations and behaviors: They want 24/7 access to services. But what hasn’t changed is why companies and job seekers come to Robert Half, which is to find a great employee or career opportunity by working closely with highly skilled staffing experts.
Our research shows clients and candidates want easy-to-use digital options, but they also want to be able to access human support at any time. We have more than 10,000 dedicated staffing and recruiting professionals around the world. Online-only staffing platforms lack our geographic reach, industry expertise and personalized service.
We use online staffing platforms for candidate recruiting and consider them to be a resource versus a threat. To extend our traditional staffing options, we launched our own hiring platform, Robert Half Direct, which allows employers to peruse our vast candidate database and receive candidate recommendations based on our proprietary matching technology.
Agility is critical for any organization to succeed in today’s climate. Our company quickly evolved to meet the demands of the pandemic workforce, and we will continue to pivot to support new staffing and working models as they emerge.

What is your go to place for news and advice on new trends in the staffing market?
I draw on a range of sources, including but not limited to:

  • The Wall Street Journal for news about industry trends and current economic conditions
  • Public staffing industry publications and research
  • Insights from Protiviti, our internal audit and risk consulting subsidiary
  • Direct interactions with our clients to identify key business initiatives driving the need for talent

Sharon is President of Enterprise Strategic Accounts for Robert Half overseeing the company’s professional and technology staffing services operations throughout North America. She directly oversees the management for the North American sales team, three service centers and four recruitment delivery centers. She is responsible for collaborating across Robert Half’s matrix organization working closely with Senior Field leadership, Line of Business Executive Directors and twenty dedicated Strategic Account Pursuit Teams. She is a member of the Executive Committee who are responsible for Robert Half’s strategic planning and charting critical business initiatives. Sharon is committed to mentoring and influencing women in leadership. She is on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and C200 Member for Women Executive Global Leadership, and spent five years on the Board Development Committee for Girl Scouts of Northern California. She is a committed member of the community in which she lives and works, with long-standing service track records with Dress for Success, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Junior League. Most recently, Sharon was named to Staffing Industry Analysts’ North America 2021 Staffing 100 list. For twelve consecutive years, Sharon was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times and inducted into the prestigious Forever Influential list. In addition, in 2010, Sharon was named a Top Human Resources Leader by the North Bay Business Journal and one of the Top 100 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.


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