"What does the recruitment industry compete on?"

Recently I was asked "What do you think are the key factors that the recruitment industry competes on?"

My Answer:

You have to think about what you are competing for. Are agencies and search firms competing for the potential candidates or are they competing for the actual deal with the customer? They should have both in mind always.

Of course if competing for the candidates you have to be able to present yourself as credible and effective. An agency has to present itself as knowing the market as well as the ins and outs of the customer they are representing to the candidate, without the hard sell. They have to know all there is to know to ensure that the candidate has sufficient information to determine if the job and company is suitable. Also armed with the customer knowledge the agency recruiter will be able to determine accurately if a candidate can be turned into a credible applicant in front of the customer.

Competing at the customer level we look for agencies or suppliers that will be able to represent our brand, our company and the position we are recruiting for as if they work for us; much like a sales channel does for products. If a search firm or agency can show they have the ability to understand our business, our processes and our culture then they will be equipped to sell our proposition to each candidate and be of greater service and thus value to all parties.

To compete we all have to be in the position to represent ourselves to each other and meet the expectations of all involved. If as a customer I respect the agency or search firm – and more importantly the person I am dealing with - I will invest the time to educate them and equip them to better represent me. In doing so the agency or search firm will be armed to earn the trust of the candidate. The candidate will have confidence that they will be represented to the customer and the customer will have the confidence that their brand is in safe hands. The customer will appreciate that candidates from that particular source will be thoroughly vetted and closest to the mark.

So answer to the question; the industry competes on knowledge and credibility……………oh yeah, for the poorly managed in-house PSL structures its all about price and not quality of service and the poorly equipped agencies all compete on speed of service rather than quality.

I welcome thoughts and comments on this one please

Views: 660

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on September 13, 2010 at 8:44am
I believe that I must please my client. Client # !
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 13, 2010 at 10:28am
Hi Gary, Your last paragraph just summed up the industry so you may have to modify your question to include the other aspects of your question: " poorly Managed... speed of service etc side of things". The industry is moving towards working with and in most cases competing with Employers for qualified candidates; agencies that can deliver where existing acquisition resources of a Client has failed to deliver.... Unfortunately, the delivery mechanism within our industry is still pretty questionable from poor to great agencies ....
Comment by Thomas on September 13, 2010 at 12:01pm
I agree that meeting the Client need is paramount. What I believe to be the key differentiator is service quality and consistency as well as a demonstrated ability to deliver high caliber candidates. We will always have to navigate around "schlocky" firms, but high ethics and good corporate character will win. Of that, I'm convinced.
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on September 13, 2010 at 12:42pm
First I think it would be a fallacy to assume that our industry competes much differently than any other professional services business just because we are involved with recruitment. While there may be some finer distinctions made within the domain of recruiting, the basics are the same as any business; value prop, positioning, innovation, and style.

Make people feel great about doing business with you, and the world is yours. That's the true competitive arena.
Comment by Dave Opton on September 13, 2010 at 3:56pm
I would agree with both Thomas and Martin. My own feeling is that be it a product or a service, people are always prepared to pay a premium for quality.
Comment by Paul Alfred on September 13, 2010 at 4:51pm
Hmmm Martin ... I beg to differ ... Our Industry has light years to go if we even want to compare ourselves to Other professional services business let's take the the Big 4 which I support they do what we do on a bigger level "Outsourcing" a service offering wrapped up in a bigger practice however ; Its a totally different ball game at that level ...
Comment by Ross Clennett on September 13, 2010 at 7:05pm
A lot of clients say they will pay a premium price for quality service but the reality is that not many clients, especially large organisations, are prepared to pay that premium. Some will, many won't.
Comment by Rebecca B. Sargeant on September 14, 2010 at 11:10am
Here is an interesting twist for you.

We compete on "Production of the candidates."

As we are dedicated to the success of both our clients and candidates we take the time to understand expectation from all sides. By working with our clients to set out clear production markers, we can give our candidates a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities and our client can quickly identify when our candidates have added value to their organization.

By conducting business this way it forces us to be conscious of our brand and who we associate it with. We take our time in selecting both our clients and candidates. The net result for us is an instant return on investment - our clients set up interviews sight unseen and typically we are at a 1 to 1 hire ratio. I am also happy to report ALL our clients and candidates are still happy with the decisions they made over a year ago.

I would say - If more Recruiters were vested to the long term care of their clients and candidates the question about what we compete on would become a very minor issue for the Top Recruiters and Agencies.
Comment by Craig Silverman on September 14, 2010 at 3:23pm
If you ask clients what the want the answer I hear most is Quality. There is always a war on talent and those who can deliver the best people often have an edge in the market over their competition. Since most recruiters just push paper and do a poor job of matching it makes those who care stand out.
Comment by John Reen on September 15, 2010 at 3:22am
I believe that I must please my client.


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