When I set my business up almost 10 yrs ago, my differentiator at that time was to market exclusive recruitment professionals and to genuinely be seen as the “go to” person to be trusted with their own career search.

Incredibly, despite the plethora of competition via social media, particularly the dominance of LinkedIn as THE recruitment sourcing tool, this remains my USP!

Even when the tide is turned:

During the difficult years of 2008-2009 when there were few recruitment agencies hiring externally, I still behaved on the candidate’s behalf- refusing to give in to the explosive volumes of recruiters calling me due to (impending or actual) redundancy.

I chose to ring-fence those candidates whom I thought added value, had superb experience and usually who had transferrable skills. Rather than the alarming numbers who clearly had “given up” mentally and so had cascaded out of the sector for poor performance rather than because their sector had been hit by the credit crunch and subsequent recession. (sorry if that sounds harsh and unsentimental but this observation is true from my own experiences of interviewing thousands of recruiters over the years).

The current landscape and beyond:

Most sectors, markets and disciplines are now so candidate driven, it is the most common talked about topic on social media, in meetings, between recruiters. This is obviously due to a huge skills shortage in a lot of key growth areas such as Technology, Digital marketing and Construction, to name a few. (recruitment is also very skill short and has been for a very long time, so I write from (hopefully) an expert perspective….

Reversing the recruitment process:

You can have the best website, a wonderful CRM database, an aggressive headhunting programme, a talent mapper in house… but all of those things are totally benign if you don’t reverse your thinking in HOW you market and treat your candidate.

I would like to share with you some tips of how to run a successful Candidate led service. My business has benefited from reversing the process from day 1. By proving that if you work your candidate’s requirements rather than trying to fill a job spec, you get better results for BOTH parties- the client gets to know about the best candidates whom they may not have considered or been approached about before. The candidate gets a more bespoke service and gets to meet clients they may not have known about and is not elbowing 54 candidates out of the way!

But it takes proper consulting to achieve this! Anyone reading this who runs a high volume, bums on seats style service just won’t be able to adapt nor gain the results intended.

My tips:

Exclusivity– by gaining the exclusive control of a candidate’s profile and CV, you have carte blanche over where their best place to work is; with no fears of “cv races” or a duplicate application. I always maintain, if someone is exclusive and GOOD, I WILL place them (whether this takes a week or 3 months, the more discerning the better!)

Educate – it is so important that your clients understand HOW you intend to work on their behalf. Please don’t promise that you are going to get them 5 Cvs by the end of the day/week. Instead, total honesty and proactiveness combined to assure your client you will only contact them about suitable and interested people for their role/business. NB. Suitable AND interested. Never just one of those key words!

Communicate – as a recruitment ambassador, the comment that horrifies me the most when speaking to people socially or otherwise is their lack of respect for recruiters they have engaged- and this spans every sector- in that they have “never heard back from” or are “waiting for feedback from 2 weeks ago”. It costs nothing to drop a text or email if you haven’t time to call someone back! Sometimes, even a call just to “update” can make someone’s expectation elevate- something that simple could differentiate YOU!- and you may even get referrals off them for proving you actually care.

Empathy– have YOU yourself ever been the candidate? I bet 99.9% of you answer “yes”. So you know what it is like. What service did you rate? Someone who showed they cared about YOU or where you were just another box ticked. Show your candidate that you have empathy and you will get loyalty from them forthwith.

Commodity – NO! Candidates are NOT commodoties. They are not pound/dollar signs! Don’t ever treat a candidate’s career search like they have a fee attached nor make them feel like you NEED the commission. Show some respect, you are dealing with their LIFE/Livelihood! Simple.

Integrity – an overused and often misunderstood recruitment buzzword. Be honest. Have respect. Care about the person whose life you are changing. Don’t lie to them. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t be controlled by your targets so that you screw up someone else’s life. Have courage- if a role clearly isn’t right, tell your candidate that. They will remember you for it!

Ask the experts:

Don’t just take my word for it. I asked Brian Matthews, the Co-Founder of The Candidate – a digital, marketing and e-commerce specialist recruitment consultancy based in Manchester,  how they define their own differentiator in their competitive market:

We founded The Candidate based on the demands of the market. We wanted to create a better service to our customers. We have created a tailor made approach for our candidates which ensures that all of our customers receive care and attention from our business. All businesses should be centred around its people and that is what The Candidate has set out to achieve.

What do you think?

Is your market candidate led?

As a business owner, could you reverse how you target your revenue by consultants by focusing on candidates instead of filling jobs?

As we enter the next era of recruitment, I predict this will be how most perm and interim markets will have to behave and conduct themselves. I predict few things (clearly especially lottery numbers!) but this is one thing I know will need addressing; there are too many recruiters who I fear will fail to adapt and will disappear into the ether of job filler.

Look forward to hearing your comments, in agreement or contrary!


Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.

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