In our most recent blog, we cited that according to recent figures, between January and March 2018, a total of 1,777 new recruitment agencies had been registered– an increase of 9% from 1,621 over the same period last year- putting the total number of recruitment agencies in the UK at over 37,000– the highest on record and rising.
Within this large surge on start- ups, the numbers of smaller, agile recruiters are really making their mark on a sector enjoying prosperity. Industry growth and healthy competition is surely to be welcomed, but it comes with its own set of unique challenges – the biggest being how agencies can retain and gain a competitive advantage in a fast-growing market.
The need for recruiters to both understand what sets them apart from their competitors and how to ‘sell’ that difference in a way that makes them a go-to agency of choice, has never been greater.
We have noted a surge amongst recruitment agencies, seeking to raise their profile, promote brand awareness and position themselves as leading authorities within each of the sectors they operate.
Like giant finance+, with our own track record of over 15 years in the sector, they understand that longevity can only get them so far. New start-ups, without that history to trade on, have to be more proactive in getting their name ‘out there’. That is why now, more than ever before recruiters need to think like marketers.
But what does it mean to ‘be more marketer’? Typically, this process starts with putting yourself in the shoes of your audience.
The first thing you should do is start to understand your target market; who are they and what is important to them. Begin with the basics; what do you know about them; their drivers, motivations for looking for and ultimately accepting a role. Where and how do they consume information and job searches, what they think about your brand and what they are looking for from your service?
From this research you can build a persona of your target customer and begin the process of producing engaging and informative content on websites and social media, or featuring as ‘experts’ in leading industry and business publications, extending your digital footprint or use PR to build a brand and a legacy that will out-live a promotion or campaign offer.
find your niche
What is your unique selling point? There are around 37,000 recruitment agencies in the UK – so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. It is vital new agencies identify with a target audience target audience and offer a unique service to clients, whether it be by skill, region or sector.
In today’s connected world, you can recruit people hundreds of miles away online meaning geography is no longer an issue. Consider picking one industry and sticking to it, as too broad of an appeal will mean you could be competing against too many players. While giant finance+
works with many sectors we only deal with recruitment agencies. That is our niche.
location, location, location
While walking down a high street with an A board attached to your principal consultant shouting ‘Jobs here, jobs here’, may seem a little old hat a typical, high street agency has the benefit of attracting people walking by and looking for work. Other industries meanwhile are so used to working remotely or are so digitally focused that a physical presence may be unnecessary. But if the audience you are targeting this way consumes information, forms opinions, bonds and attachment to your brand without ever stepping foot in the office, you need marketing and communication mechanisms in place to deal with this entire customer journey without a face to face intervention.
With a basic understanding of the most powerful social media platforms, the world is quite literally your trading oyster. But just having an account won’t flood the candidate pipeline. Engage with your target community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and drive traffic to your own website. Connect with your candidates on Linked In, become part of a community and share your sector knowledge. Encourage browsers to sign up for newsletters and events so you have permission to contact them again. Many of our clients are currently benefiting from our new Social Sauce service where we create and share eye-catching, sector-relevant content for them through their social channels.
You may have seen some of the recent heavy criticism aimed at a job ad that suggested parents of young children need not apply. This type of audience discrimination will build entirely the wrong brand perception about an organisation and those managing the recruitment process. Your job ads should segment and target your audience, but they need to tell a more positive story. With low unemployment rates, employers face a tough battle to win top talent. On the flip side, employees now have the luxury of being selective in their job searches and millennials in particular will pick a workplace with a culture and reputation that most aligns with their values.
Taking a job is a big decision and in the same way car sales are often focused on the after-sales care aspect of the service, recruiters should promote positions as a product they’re trying to sell to the workforce, which comes into its own after they cross the threshold. One key component of this is to build and nurture a strong employment brand for yourselves and your clients. This shows candidates what it’s like to work within the organisation and how they might fit into the overall work environment.
Content is king, and can be created in so many ways. For example, when a candidate asks questions about the culture of the workplace, the recruiter can now film a quick video around the office on their phone and WhatsApp it to them. Or, with the touch of a button, send photos from recent company outings, documents outlining benefits or job descriptions. Strong employment brands can make a huge impact on a business by building the talent pipeline, improving the overall quality of the hire and reducing the cost per hire.
Taking a planned approach to marketing will help ensure your business is seen and heard in a noisy marketplace. Not every method of communication can be right for your business, and the methods you use can change as your business grows, but the six main tools to consider are: public relations, advertising, online and social marketing, direct marketing, sales promotion, and face-to-face selling.
Some promotional activities are expensive, and the tactics chosen should be informed by your objectives and your audience. giant finance+ partners with the REC to support its start-up programme and REC members have access to a comprehensive bank of resources such as a guide to marketing your business.
Remember, A Spec is NOT an Ad. Even when you receive a job spec from a client and an instruction on the specific type of person they require. (Please notes points on discrimination above). You have your brief, now think about the type of person you need to attract. Use your persona work to establish who they are and what would attract them?
Don’t copy and paste the content of a job spec instead think about the person you are writing to and what might motivate them to click on your ad, let alone apply? First you need to know about the role and not just a list of ‘skills needed’ but also the emotional motivation for applying to, getting, and accepting that job. Essentially, why should they?
Your copy should talk to the person applying, talk about what they can gain from this role. Talk about why they’d be mad not to look at it. Talk about how they can develop their career with the employer. Talk about the benefits of applying. Talk about the dream. This job is a dream for someone, so tell them – and others why. Then implore them to take action.