I wrote a blog last year and mentioned the need for clients and candidates to work with a specialist recruiter. I’ve always believed niche and specialist is the way forward but never really been brave enough to be one. I’ve been a recruiter for 14 years and always worked the technology market, predominantly with Developers, but never specialised in a particular technology for any length of time.
Niche recruitment agencies & consultants have a clear advantage over general recruitment agencies. They specialise, don’t try to cater for everyone and know their market, which is why I believe they deliver a superior service to clients & candidates. I no longer see a benefit of working across a wider market – there may seem to be more opportunities, but the reality is it is much harder to develop a specialist knowledge in a large sector and long-term you’ll make fewer placements and add far less value.
Over the last few months a serious injury has allowed me time to reflect and review my time in the recruitment industry – 14 years is a long time. I have always liked the security of having lots of clients who needed people and several ‘live vacancies’. The problem was they didn’t become placements. Placements I made were down to graft and luck rather than science or intelligent recruitment. I’d start every assignment from scratch and be working on 7 or 8 different types of roles at one time.
Late last year I bit the bullet and made a change and decided to work only within the ‘Ruby’ technology market. This allows me to really know my market and have my finger on the pulse. But it also means I have had to learn to say NO to new business from other markets, a daunting prospect for a small company. However, it’s been the best decision I ever made and in truth I should have made it years ago.
Saying no to jobs I could probably fill in favour of new business, lead chasing, endless voicemails and emails nobody replies to sounds crazy but I’m “playing the long game“. Recruitment these days is more about adding value than ever! I want to add more value to clients and candidates and I want to stay in the industry. Trying to work on lots of vacancies in lots of different verticals shows me that the recruiter is only really interested in making as much money as possible. Focusing on a niche market, becoming a specialist, is about delivering the best quality service and adding value, which will lead to loyal customers and repeat business.
It’s a tough call for a start-up because cash is king but nobody wants to be a flash in the pan either. Russell Clements, ex CEO of Computer Futures tells Roy Ripper that all good recruiters should “Know their market” “Be an expert” and to “Be famous for something“. Intellectual curiosity makes a different!!
I love that I’m no longer purely motivated by filling vacancies. I’m more interested in building long term relationships with clients and candidates. Repeat business is what drives me and this suits my motivations and skillset far better these days.