An accountant and a salesperson walk into a bar

Two years ago, I went to lunch with a small business owner that was looking to grow his “staffing agency.” If you are wondering why I used quotation marks around this phrase, please read on. He had a vision for his company, and that vision involved distinguishing it from the rest by elevating the brand. The Snelling name had a strong presence in the local market since 1984, and with the entire world changing so quickly, it was time to take the brand to the next level.

I had been in the recruiting field for 15 years, and Chuck referred to himself as a 20-year “recovering accountant.” For our first meeting, I wore a suit. He wore jeans and a pullover. It was one of the best matches anyone could ask for, and this is coming from someone in the business of making matches. Our conversation led to another, and soon after I joined his team. Since then, we have worked to rebrand the firm to reflect our vision of what the company could be, based on our combined experience.

The client base was varied, and very much so. The business was growing, but in many directions. In many years as a CFO and being sold recruiting services from other agencies, Chuck recalled meeting with a recruiter, only to be given resumes that weren’t even close to what he had asked for. The words he uttered to that recruiter, “Were you even in the room when we talked about this?”, resonated with me.  In fact, Chuck’s story ignited what would become a focused, deliberate rebranding initiative

In two years, we’ve changed more than our name. In fact, the name change part came last—after we had made some sweeping changes based on long discussions about our shared vision of the future. So, this March 1st gave me a reason to reflect on where we are now. Even when you are passionate about something, you can get caught up in the day-to-day, and lose track of your progress and how you’ve changed along with the world.

What I appreciate about our firm is how we have paid attention to the past while developing a new version of our brand.

I’ve written before about language and thought and how, if we change our terminology about something, we can change the way we think about it. This isn’t about spin or euphemistic language. It’s about wanting to be known for what you do well and about using the type of language that best conveys your purpose and your values.

The word “staffing” has been used broadly in reference to any organization that provides employees to other companies to fill open positions. We do not like the word, but not because of the broad scope. Today, the term “staffing” is what the term “temp” was ten years ago. Dated.

How many of us have heard, upon introducing ourselves as recruiters, that we are what people used to call “headhunters?” If a company prefers a Chief People Officer over a Vice President of Human Resources, then so be it. Again, elevating the language can elevate the thinking behind the concept. Taking issue with a term simply because it’s different than the old term is, well, silly. Some things need to change. Is there a better word than “staffing?” Why, yes, there are quite a few.

“We are a recruiting firm.” “We are a placement service.” “We are a career destination.” “We are your partners in change.”

Does it matter if we say, “placement firm” instead of “staffing agency?” To us, it does.

We’ve rebranded. For us, the change is about wanting to be known for what we do well and about using the version of our brand that best conveys our purpose and our values. Our company is proud of our history and brand recognition which goes along with 75 years in the industry and 40 years in the St. Louis market. Our core values and our mission and vision have been updated to reflect what we do and where we intend to go from here.

 “We are Snelling Talent Partners.”

Tony Caramatti

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