In-house and social media: friend or foe?

I often get asked by the slightly less experienced and slightly more nervous recruiters I meet (online or offline), how we can compete with corporate recruiters and all the latest DIY social recruiting tools and my answer is 2 fold:

1. Do NOT compete with them

Not directly anyway. You must always understand your market and build a valuable niche and service for it.

As agency recruiters we provide an outsource service and by default as a service provider we do things people either don’t want to do themselves, do it better than they do, or more efficiently or all 3 in various combinations.

If you have no Value then you will lose and rightly so. Stop stressing about what others are doing and provide your unique value proposition using a nice mix of deep set knowledge, the best capability/solutions out there, that fits and adapts to the market and its needs…and people will buy it.

A typical example I give is I know plenty of people who, like me, hire tax agents. Now, I know I could do the tax return myself – I have done so (grrrr, rips out hair thinking about it!).

I certainly have the brainpower to go through the necessary government instructions. I also have enough smarts to be able to get a few clever returns but I don’t, I do some of it myself throughout the year and then outsource the big bits I want to.


Well, quite simply I met a Tax agent I liked. He did a good job. I saved myself hours of (what I consider) boring work I was then able to spend with my wife and it also removed one area of stress from my life. He also found a few things I had missed and got me a better return which helped pay for his service. Also, I knew I was covered by him. Someone had my back.

If, as a recruiter, you can have / provide some, if not all of these kind of benefits, you will always be used and valued by many many clients. 

2. Compliment them

Corporate recruiters or Social tools such as LI or BraveNewTalent might try and steal your market $ but at the end of the day they are not external service providers and people will always buy a service, so it is actually not really your $.  These 2 are obviously different though, so let me split them up.

a) Corporate recruiters

Some consultants think it’s the end of their world as more and more clients build internal capability. My view on this is the opposite. The more recruitment is promoted in the right way in a company the easier it is for you to source for them. Sure some internals have it all wrong and are difficult to recruit for, arrogant etc etc but let’s leave those people (on both side of the equation – yes you know who you are agency recruiter) out. You might need to adapt to the changes in your client and understand different needs but I am yet to meet any company that hasn’t outsourced some part of their Talent Acquisition.

Second, move on. If you are truly not valued despite doing a great job then help the growing companies compete with the big boys that can afford internal teams. Help the SMEs and smaller corporates get the best talent out there and grow into real threats for the bigger companies. Innovate and be brilliant to help your new clients. You passion, drive and ability to act freely will outstrip any internal team however good they are as recruiters.

Finally, corporate recruiters only care about their line managers and company, not the individual (sorry even if its not “personally” true it’s “commercially” true). The biggest difference between you and them is the diverse options you can offer Talent. Make sure that that is true and you will have a loyal following they can’t compete with. To Talent, every corporate recruiter equates to another relationship just for one Co’s opportunity. You could (I stress the ‘could’ to make a point, as most don’t!) manage their whole space/search. Care and be that trusted resource.

b) Social Tools

Again, these are great, but HOW MANY?!? Seriously, I am a tuned in Digital recruiter with a Blog in two locations, active on Twitter, LI and have HootSuite and an RMS and PMS and even I drown in the onslaught of Tools.

How do you think the Talent feels?

They apply to Co. X, and Y and Z and they don’t hear anything back and they get calls from companies they don’t want to hear from and they are told to create a profile here, and use FB and who else knows what and they fit this in around their busy and stressful lives?!?

OR, they meet you, a recruiter who is specialised, knowledgeable, connected and NICE…a living person that can say, “don’t worry Fred/Jane” I work with X, Y, Z and can manage the whole thing for you…Again, its not for everyone, there are those that don’t mind building a million different profiles, or managing different tools…that want that control…but there are plenty of people that are really not interested and would rather someone else does it for them. Make sure you are up to speed on the latest trends and tools and have the most efficient way of reaching out to and managing top Talent in your field – you are the expert and will be called upon for these skills.

Your Value

The caveat to all this is of course

1) Make sure you have Value (a niche and a service worth doing that is needed)

2) Make sure you are good at what you do so you can deliver for those willing to outsource.

If you are stressing about the NEW talent world because you know you don’t have 1 and know you are not 2 then, I’m afraid it’s time to shape up because I have no sympathy for that. 

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