How to become an excellent Recruiter....Generalist or Segment specialist...

Many people think that one can recruit in any industry. Become a generalist and recruit in accounting, finance, engineering and manufacturing - it doesn't matter which industry. They think that if their recruiting skills are good enough, industry should not matter. Just get the competitors names and start sourcing people from phone directories, switchboards and operators and we're golden! Is this really true? I guess there are some aspects to truth in this approach to headhunting but the reality is --- can you really be an expert in all of these industries and understand the small differences associated with each of these industries.

The other approach to recruiting is to become a segment specialist. Pick your market and understand your niche really really well. Understand the terminology used within your niche, know the competitors, and lastly the potential suppliers to your client. Using the latter approach, a recruiter will then start to engage in a certain market segment and be involved with the local community. He will then understand who the key players are in the industry he recruits for and who to avoid due to bad reputation. A recruiter who implements a niche specialty rather than a generalist approach has the potential of bringing more value to his/her client.

Showing the client that you understand their industry they recruit in is a great competitive advantage over other recruiters. The client starts to respect you and starts to see that you are different than the rest of the pack. The recruiter later can bring other candidates (not from the competition) but can describe similar skill sets and transferable skills this person used in a different industry and how these transferable skills are marketable to the hiring manager of your client. The second approach to recruiting requires an applied knowledge of a basic headhunting strategy. I've seen too many recruiters just find competitor companies and competitor names and once they get the potential 'headhunt' on the phone, they lose credibility to the potential candidate because they don't understand the industry that they are in. They fall flat and lose credibility with the candidate.

So, I ask - which is better? A generalist approach to recruiting or becoming a segment specialist. To me, I prefer the niche approach in order to differentiate myself from the competition.

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