Everyone knows businesses need to stand out, go the extra mile and offer something more than their competitors to thrive. The recruitment market is tough and we don’t have the best reputation (!) so building trustworthy relationships is a priority for me.
A couple of months ago I decided to try to get even more involved with the Ruby market and build on my knowledge of the sector by attending a developer event. I really enjoyed it, although of course most of the tech chat went over my head! I very deliberately didn’t approach anybody with “sales patter” nor did I make it obvious I was a recruiter.
In the days following the event I did what I believe to be the normal stuff, followed the speakers on Twitter, tweeted to say I enjoyed it etc and I also tagged a few attendees and speakers into a tweet, nothing salesy or opinionated and certainly not asking for business. To my surprise, I received quite a bit of push back and negativity. I received one message from a client (and speaker) I’d love to work with saying my interest and excitement in the event was making him “uncomfortable” and I should delete the tweets.
This was pretty tough to take, so it led me to wonder ‘what do people want from a recruiter’? Is fact-finding, knowing your market and increasing your knowledge important or not?
So, what do you want from a recruiter? I would love to hear your views and opinions….
What’s your story?
In the current candidate-driven market, businesses need to have a strong, succinct narrative that tells candidates who you are and what you’re about. It’s more important than ever to cut through the noise and stand out from your competitors as a great company to work for.
Your ability to bring your brand to life and tell a compelling story with passion is vital if you want to recruit the best people.
Paying more money, giving free fruit, having a work hard play harder culture and or having a work from home 1 day per week policy have all been done, it’s old hat and frankly, everyone does it. Your brand and company ethos is not just for customers and clients – potential employees want to be emotionally engaged and buy into the bigger picture. If you like the look of a candidate, so will 10+ other companies, so you HAVE to connect with them on another level.
So what are candidates looking for? We’re seeing a growing trend in demand from developers for the following things:
- Tech Stack
- Company story – what’s the background and culture of your business?
- Purpose – what are the company goals and objectives and how does the role contribute?
- Vision – where is the company going and how are the team involved in taking it there?
- Learning opportunities – how are you supporting and developing people?
- Team Info (size, composition, level)
If you can clearly articulate your offering and be bold about who you are and what you stand for, then you have a great chance of recruiting strong candidates.
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 to everyone and know their market, which is why I believe they deliver 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 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 skill set far better these days.