Your Niche Matters More in the Age of Social Recruiting

We already know that social media plays a huge role in hiring.

And with a Facebook job board reportedly in the works, it could become even easier for companies to match up with better candidates.

As companies become more connected to the right candidates, will the role of the agency recruiter diminish?

It could, if agency recruiters fail to become expert enough in their field to add value to clients.

In Sendouts white paper, 6 Steps to Gain a Competitive Edge, Sendouts President & CEO, Brian Hopcraft said,

Expanding your niche helps your business grow and keep up with the high demand of qualified talent in every industry. Become experts in your field and your competition will have trouble keeping up.

Hopcraft’s statement is relevant in the quest to gain more market share against competing recruiting firms. But it is also very true as mediocre recruiters face competition from social recruiting technology.

Recruiters who work hard to understand a specific market are going to excel in even as it becomes easier to pinpoint talent via social media.

Guy Battaglia, a Business/Information Technology Recruiter and TBG Associates, points out that online sites only provide superficial profiles that still require more analysis and probing. Battaglia says that unless the reader of profiles is well-versed in the field and range of specialties, top talent can get buried under sub-par candidates.

Companies can’t assume that the best candidates are tending to their profiles on social media sites. In addition - even armed with a candidate’s employment history, skill set, and social media persona - HR generalists don’t always have the right tools for judging the appropriateness of a candidate for a specialized position within their company.

Recruiters who work with a specific specialty have the same social media touch-points as corporate recruiters, but are more deeply embedded in their niche by:

  • attending trade shows
  • networking with key industry contacts
  • following industry news
  • contributing to industry publications

Keeping tabs on industry hot -buttons, top players, and future developments will always add value to clients, no matter where candidates are being sourced from.

this post originally appeared at

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Comment by Paul Sanderson on July 12, 2012 at 9:35am

Great post, Jessica. I might add a bullet - building even deeper relationships. The internet and Social have allowed us to connect with more people but can come at the cost of not building deeper relationships. "Everybody's friend is nobody's"

Comment by Jessica Lunk on July 12, 2012 at 9:41am

Paul, great point.  Recruiters / sales execs really have an edge in their ability to network and build relationships - resulting in the "ins" that you wouldn't have via superficial social media relationships.

Comment by Dyll Davies on July 12, 2012 at 10:06am

Absolutely agree but I don't think 'niche' necessarily just means sticking to one vertical or industry area e.g. IT is very broad so you could specialise in a number of technologies and still be a 'specialist'.  Specialising in finding certain types of candidates for certain types of companies is another obvious one - I work almost exclusively now with start-ups and understanding their needs (they are very different from IBM or Oracle!) and the kind of people likely to fit well in those kind of environments is a major value add for my clients I believe.

Also, while it is true that better connected social media savvy clients may source candidates from their own network, this process still takes time and effort and, no matter how savvy the client, they will not have a network to match that of a good recruiter or, as you say, the expertise to filter and qualify candidates.  Likewise senior level candidates are unlikely ever to apply for an opportunity through a job board (social media driven or otherwise) and connecting with them and persuading them to leave a secure job is still a skill most clients will not have.

When a client says to me, "We are going to try and source a candidate for this role through our own network."  I am always pleased: for several reasons:  1.  I know they are unlikely to source someone and 2. When  they do come back to me to open the search with me - they will know how hard it is (and time consuming) to find the kind of people they are looking for and are more likely to be receptive to my suggestions about solving their requirements.  The pink and blue spotted juggling elephant just might not be a reality!  - but you know what  -and this is reason 3 - if I do find the aforementioned pachyderm the client thinks I am even more brilliant than I actually am! ;-)


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