The traditional recruitment model is increasingly coming under question as internal recruiters come to the fore. Facilitated by the rise of tools such as LinkedIn, now internal recruiters can quickly and easily identify prospective candidates and engage with them directly. Indeed it is estimated that there are now over 30,000 internal recruiters in the UK alone, where this has had the effect of internalising significant amounts of the tasks that used to be outsourced to agencies. This has meant that agency recruiters increasingly are facing a choice, either cut their fees and seek to compete on cost, or work fewer jobs and focus on areas where finding the right candidate takes real expertise. For recruiters wanting to stand out and not be commoditised, being intelligent about client needs is now more important than ever. What steps should a recruiter therefore take who wants to stand out in this regard?

Firstly, providing a high quality service is not enough, show you are an expert. If as a recruiter you want to command high fees, service alone does not guarantee client loyalty should other recruiters match that at a lower price. With larger businesses increasingly using RPO’s regardless of how well you service your client, you will struggle to prove the value. With smaller businesses, ROI calculations will dictate. Therefore you should be looking to build your profile as someone that has demonstrable expertise regarding market trends, competitors, salaries, regulatory changes and other disruptive influences.

Using social media means you can then engage with a wider audience to position yourself as an expert. Whereas LinkedIn is a great tool for keeping in touch with people you meet networking, Twitter is a highly effective way to engage with people you don’t have a business relationship with, but where you want one. Therefore in the first instance encourage your existing network to follow you on twitter so to provide a critical mass, from there engage with others. Facebook can be highly effective in attracting people to you from your peripheral network.

Using Buffer then allows you to schedule your posts and synchronise between Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media so you can quickly and easily engage with prospective clients and candidates positioning yourself as a thought leader. However doing this requires you to have a reliable source of information for the purpose of distribution, therefore you should find 10-20 different media outlets that frequently publish content that is interesting to you and the people you want to engage with. Through doing this even if it is the articles written by others, you are demonstrating that you are someone keeping yourself informed.

For your key clients, start monitoring their websites not just for jobs, but for their press releases. On top of this monitor their competitors. Use tools to allow you to do this. Free solutions will need more of your time, or have a turnkey solution. By being fully briefed on everything your client is doing, you will quickly see when the right moments will be to engage in a conversation where the discussion will be insight led, for example by highlighting a key appointment at a competitor you can ask what that means for your client specifically and whether the business is going to alter its immediate plans as a result.

When negotiating with new clients, make your terms linked to levels of service. Traditionally recruiters have sought to link variable fee structures to anything from type of role, salary or size of organisation. Instead perhaps outline what it is you are able to do and at each step what fee you would expect. For example, a campaign around researching a marketplace to identify who the perfect skills fit would be with a face to face interview to further determine suitability is clearly more time consuming than a quick database search with follow up email / inmail. By providing transparent pricing linked to the work you intend to do, clients can then better understand the challenges involved in securing the hard to get candidates. This then also means if clients do place pressure on fees, you can slide down the service scale, or demand alternate terms, to do with exclusivity or a retainer, or both.

Make sure to understand how your client wants to be positioned with potential hires. Research from the RPO’s shows that with their recruitment teams, consultants from an agency background are far more likely to sell the candidate to the hiring manager, as opposed to ensuring the person will be the perfect fit for the organisation. Therefore selling the job hard to the candidate has the potential to result in a mismatch in expectations between employee and employer. During interviews where hiring managers are under pressure to deliver, they may end up offering the role to the candidate where in reality, the expectations of the candidate can not be met, resulting in them leaving downstream where the external recruiter used is potentially held accountable, on either finding a replacement or providing a partial refund.

Finally, understand your real clients are your candidates. If as a recruiter you have a black book of one hundred star candidates who whenever they look to move, get hired, who are only ever exclusively registered with you, as a recruiter, you will always be a big biller. So make sure at every step that you are investing in your star candidates regardless of whether they are looking or not, offering career counsel free ahead of appraisals, for example on how to negotiate a better salary package (regardless of your own agenda), in the knowledge that such an investment of time into them will be rewarded come the day they look to change their career path.


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