What differentiates your recruiting model?

I attended an HR Conference in Fort Worth, Texas at the tail end of 2009 and had the opportunity to meet with dozens of exhibitors and attendees who work in the HR space. Par for the course; the event coordinators placed all of the staffing and recruiting exhibitors in the same row, which enabled me to listen to the presentations/elevator pitches of a number of my competitors over a two day visit to Texas. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed a booth and overheard the company representative say, “We aren’t the traditional recruiting company”, “we take a different approach” and I wanted to scream… OK…WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? See, I had heard this IDENTICAL elevator pitch from the 4th company in 2 hours and it taught me something important; I had to quickly determine if my recruiting delivery was able to stand up to the question of –why is your firm different? My row-mates from this conference kept alluding to “being different”, but I didn’t hear anything that supported that claim.

Most recruiting professionals have a proprietary process and/or technology that enables the “smooth delivery” that our client and candidate prospects are thirsting for. If we’re being honest though…most recruiting organizations have a pretty universal recruiting process that flows a little like this:

· client hiring manager/HR manager calls a recruiter who he/she knows personally

· recruiter finds a candidate (through networking, internet, cold calling or referrals)

· recruiter screens a pool of candidates (5 minute introductory conversation with 50-75 people found from their recruiting activity)

· recruiting team interviews a short list of candidates (behavioral based discussion, 20 minutes in length, with the 5 strongest people from that list of 50-75)

· recruiter introduces a candidate portfolio to a client hiring manager (top 3 professionals from that short list of 5 are sent to the hiring manager or HR leader through email)

· coordination of interviews (recruiter arranges interviews at the request of the hiring manager or HR leader and statistically speaking, 2 of the 3 candidates get interviews with the client company)

· offer a job (1 of the 2 candidates interviewed will received a job offer from the client company)

For the sake of this article; I looked at the high level process flow (above) and started wondering if my company does anything “different” in this space. My conclusion; yes, my company does something different and it’s not simply the process or technology that we utilize; it’s the “how” we deliver that will set us apart. I’m no longer talking about simply finding the next great candidate; I’m talking about “how” you communicate to your client if you don’t find a great candidate. I’m not referring to representing the best talent, I’m talking about “how” you treat a candidate who might be represented by another firm and when they seek your help; how will you respond (do you continue talks with them and offer guidance or do you let the candidate deal with their problems on their own because you might not be representing them)? In summary, as an organization that specializes in assisting organizations with the acquisition of their talent; we need to differentiate ourselves and here are some philosophical beliefs that help illustrate why our team creates a different experience for the people we interact with:

· Partnerships- We desire/demand that our candidates and clients become partners with us. For those who know me, I work in a “hug it out” kind of environment, so a candidate or client who isn’t truly open to partnerships or connections might not want the “experience” we try to create.

· Acts of Kindness- being kind is a philosophy, so if you need someone to vent to, done! If you need some consulting advice to better your decision, done! Our team looks for ways to help others before we help ourselves and it makes our business that much more rewarding.

· Control- I can’t control other human beings, so I have coached our team to control what we can, our actions. Our team will own up to the commitments they make whether that means returning phone calls from candidates or if it means delivering a customized proposal at a certain day and time, we control our actions.

· End Game- Some people’s end game is the “placement” of a candidate or the new contract signed by a client. The recruiting industry has thousands of people trying to differentiate in order to make money; we are trying to differentiate by doing right by people.

Travis Furlow is the Managing Director for Resource Recruiting and Learning Solutions. He can be reached through is weekly blog, www.fearlessleadership.wordpress.com or through the company’s website, www.smartworkforce.com .

Views: 320

Comment by Paul Alfred on March 9, 2010 at 2:50pm
Preet being different than your competitor is just the first step in why your Clients will choose you and your service. In the end you still have to deliver a quality end product or service - takes you out of the promise stage. There has to be a unique value proposition offered to the client - in terms of the Recruitment business my clients use job boards to identify qualified candidates - to simplify if I also use Job Boards I offer no unique value.

To answer your last question - You can't come up with a new model or way of doing things without not having worked with existing status quo models and learning from what works and or what does not... I have... Also why would one adopt a model if he or she does not want to improve a process and come up with a better way of doing things ... ?

Regardless of the model monetary success is about deliver of quality services and having that repeated over a long time period ...

Being better is determined by the Client - (will they use you again ...)and the relationship you have with him or her.
Comment by Victoria Westcott on March 10, 2010 at 3:43pm
Hi Travis
This is a great post and really makes me question when I hear myself say "Well, my company is very different from the other agencies out there..." I do say this same statement almost daily to new candidates! Uh-oh!

But to clarify, I always go on to explain how & why we are different. I recruit teachers to work in inner city schools in London, England (from Canada and America) and there are plenty of agencies just like mine trying to break into the market in North America.

But what I do is quite different in that I take a "whole" approach to the big move abroad for them, setting them up with housing in Central London (Oxford Circus to be exact) and a social network of other Canadian & American teachers that support each other in the transition. Most agencies just look at "client = school, candidate = teacher + job = done." They don't really care about where the candidates live, or their social network, or friendships...

I do all this through blogging, facebook, social media, asking for testimonials through interviewing the teachers... - all the kinds of things that I'm sure you all do, but for some reason, the teacher recruitment agencies are slow to adapt. Fine by me! I'm very happy & successful in this small niche market, but now I'm thinking...how can I say that we're different without actually saying it that way? If they do any research on the company, it's very clear online. But what about those candidates that don't do their research? How do I say all these things without sounding too "salesy" or "up my own arse" (as they say in England ;-)

Any tips? Thanks for writing this thought-provoking blog Travis. I love this kind of discussion!
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 10, 2010 at 4:04pm
Victoria, I appreciate your thoughts and from the sounds of your response...I can't offer too many tips to you because you have hit on a number of great tips already! It's great to hear that you have zeroed in on your niche (school teachers) and that you are working to be honest & genuine with your clients and candidates. I agree with you that we can benefit from keeping focused on the "people" in our transactions (both clients and candidates alike). Continue doing great things and as long as you are being genuine in your approach, you'll not come across as "up your own arse"...haha Talk soon, Travis
Comment by Sandy MacDonald on March 10, 2010 at 4:54pm
I can readily identify with your approach, Travis. Yes, we are running a business and I always keep that in mind. However, for those of us who have ever been on the "jobseeker" side of the desk (and I have before founding my own business) we remember the kindness and consideration of those who considered us as people first. Helping for no other reason than you can comes back to you in thousand different ways. The candidates we deal with will eventually work somewhere and can be one of our best internal referrals.

On the practical side of the business, we conduct Performance Based Interviews to determine if the candidate can actually do the job. Just having the skills isn't enough if they aren't motivated to get the results clients need. This seems to differentiates us from most recruiters...and our clients love it.
Comment by Isaac on March 10, 2010 at 5:06pm

Good stuff man.

I have come across people that are basically in it for the money and for the love of closing the sale. Although those are all wonderful and im not complaining about the money being good, some recruiters (or so called) have lost touch of the reasons why they enjoyed this from the beginning.

The one thing that I owe my success to in recruiting has been this exact point, I focus on the people I am helping and how I can best serve the community around me. Being a coach sometimes brings more satisfaction than "closing that sale".

Thanks for your post. Certainly a good read.
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 11, 2010 at 9:45am
Thanks Isaac! It's been great to see so many comments from people who share similar views and some of the ideas that have been thrown around are tremendous. I know that we still run "for profit" businesses, but for the last year I have been working with a coach who is helping me see that "letting go" of the money as the end game and focusing on being connected and available to our clients and candidates can really help a business grow. I am in Detroit, so as you can imagine, our town has been hit pretty hard and more than ever, candidates and clients need that coach and that listening ear... All my best and thanks again for reading.
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 11, 2010 at 9:50am
Performance Based Interviewing and Assessments can be an AWESOME set of tools to use and thanks for sharing some of your best practices. If you ever need a consultant/provider of those interviews, screening tools or assessments; I have worked with a firm in the Detroit area (who works internationally) and they are TREMENDOUS. They have supported us in the past and did really nice work!
Comment by Chuck Summerland on March 11, 2010 at 8:28pm
Great Article Travis,

I was meeting with a vendor the other day and I heard a similar pitch that I have heard in the past or that has been said in here. There are several other differentiators that I have seen work in the past that I would recommend recruitment companies use to increase their footprint in the industry.

By offering your clients online timesheets, consolidated invoices, reporting tools, ect. you enhance your customers experience with your organization. The more the hiring manager does business with your organization and enjoys the experience the more likely he will recommend you to additional managers. I am not saying adding these things are the only differentiator you will need but certainly adding more “tools” to your tool box you’ll shine brighter then your competition. We have all told our candidates that if their resume and another are similar but one offers more education or volunteer work, whom do you think the client is going to pick? I believe the same stands with companies.

Another big differentiator but basic is who your sales people are and who your recruiters are. A good sales person will be able to use the aforementioned tools to drive more business from a client.

I was just about to write a blog something similar to the one you have here, glad I found yours.

- Chuck
Comment by Travis Furlow on March 12, 2010 at 8:28am
Thanks for the feedback and I am glad that you found the article. If you ever have ideas, questions or concerns- don't hesitate to reach out. Best, Travis
Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on March 16, 2010 at 2:20pm
I enjoyed your take on being different Jerry, and have watched your video not once but twice. As to Preet's comment and claiming to have heard it all before and linking with Jerry's video differentiator, - why all the song and dance and being different? If there are new and truly widely applicable ways of doing things, then yes we should all sit up and listen, but what if there aren't any?. This to some degree link with the wider aspect of social recruiting, Twitter and Facebook, where the consensus is far from one sided. Are we in the process of trying to reinvent the wheel for the sake of reinvention or does it truly make a difference.? Take general management and HR topics of which there have been written numerous books articles, papers etc etc. What is new, what is different from what was written/preached/taught 2-5-10 years ago?, - I would argue not a lot. So coming back to main topic, is there that much to be changed, and what difference will it make. The act of linking a open role with a suitable candidate isn't rocket science and requires methodology, hard work and a knack with how to do it, - the rest is in my view 'packaging' of which we may replace that from time to time, - yet it is still the same.
Anyone care to put me in my place, as this is as much meant as provocation as what I think about the matter?


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