The digital revolution has radicalised many different industries, and recruitment is no different. Back in the day, being approached by a recruiter was always referred to as ‘headhunted’ and was almost a badge of honour. But now, being headhunted now seems to lean very heavily on LinkedIn. However, this ‘digital’ recruitment environment is muddying the waters for all involved. Many candidates are becoming rather jaded with LinkedIn and the ease with which commission hungry recruiters can contact you. Meanwhile, many companies fail to see the value in utilising a recruitment company when a DIY online service like LinkedIn
For the candidate, arguably yes (unsolicited LinkedIn approaches notwithstanding); the sheer availability of information and access to job specifications through job boards, agencies and corporate sites has made this a candidate’s market. The current recessionary climate in part negates this, but the best candidates tend to be employed anyway, so they can sit back to an extent and allow themselves to be courted by all and sundry. For the recruiter the answer is yes and no. Yes, candidates are more visible, but this visibility extends to everyone – agencies and clients alike.
Visibility is now a tough challenge for recruiters. As Google makes it harder and harder to be invited to the party without paying on a per click basis, the job boards, as with the aggregators in the financial market, have a vice-like grip on the coveted top spots for many of the key traffic-bearing terms. This is a source of frustration for the smaller recruiter who, while arguably more agile in a number of aspects of their business than the global behemoths, can simply be muscled out through budget and manpower.
So how does a recruiter compete in this market without defaulting to the job boards? Here are 5 rules that should be satisfied for your digital recruitment company to bear more employable fruit and get you through your guarantee period.
- Talk like a specialist. Unless you are a large generalist, it is unlikely that you are going to have the manpower to produce the quantity and quality of content required to beat Google’s algorithm and get to the top of the SERP for a generic term like “London job.” Therefore, pick the area you are known for and focus on it. Spreading yourself too thin in terms of content production will ultimately bring poor results.
- Vary the content. If you are a specialist medical recruiter then talk about the industry not the process. Most people know how to write a CV (outside of graduate recruitment) and top 10 tips for interviews are rather hackneyed – “Turn up on time! Wear a suit! Maintain eye contact! Don’t spit in their waste paper bin!” All pretty obvious and this rather condescending content is rife (actually, I’m not sure about the spitting part so feel free to throw that up if candidate feedback dictates). Think laterally. What are the implications of legislation in a certain market? What trends are emerging from talking to your candidates?
- Know the value of every action. Cold hard maths. You know how much you are prepared to spend advertising a job on Monster. You should also know how many CVs convert to interviews and in turn how many of these become placements. Apply the same logic to your search engine marketing. With actionable data you can plan far better in the next quarter. The nirvana for a consultancy is to track ad spend versus cold hard cash in the bank through successful placements. This is traditionally quite tricky as there are a number of factors, not least of all the sliding scale guarantee period offered by many agencies and the difference between contingency and retained work as a source of revenue. Long story short – track everything. Even if you are using a spreadsheet and doing this manually – track everything. It’s the only way to truly know how well you’re doing.
- Treat the press as an account management imperative. The market is in constant flux, with certain areas profiting and others being hit by the changes to the UK economy. Therefore, read everything and adjust your approach accordingly. Changes to an industry can not only act as an excellent barometer for content creation, but enable you, the recruiter, to target your paid search to certain area. Using vertical and geographical targeting is often essential. For example, there may suddenly be a glut of new candidates in one area because of a manufacturing plant closure or large company relocation, as has been the case recently with companies such as Pfizer.
- Create advocacy. Pretty obvious, really. Through your professionalism and diligence, you will place candidates. Referrals are still a rich seam of business. Candidates stay loyal to a good recruiter and can now broadcast their content to their peer groups across social networks. Focus on that all important moment of joy after the phone call saying “You’ve got the job.”