Reaching the half way point also means you’re 50% of the way to achieving this year’s budget and targets.

As a professional training company we work with lots of agencies in a myriad of different markets – giving us insight as to patterns across the recruitment landscape. There are three things I have been championing in training as business critical; Due to current market conditions, they have become even more important. In fact, without strategies to consistently perform well in these areas your business will suffer as we go into 2019.

  • Client commitment
  • Developing a candidate pipeline
  • Adding value for your customers

Why are these becoming even more important?

As I am sure you’re already aware, the recruitment sector has continued to grow in revenue and agency numbers through 2017/18. In fact, according to ClearlyPR, there was an additional 9001 agencies registered at companies house in 2017. This takes the total number of trading recruitment agencies in the UK to a staggering 35,275. This level of competition means that you are only going to find there are more recruiters chasing your existing clients and competing for the attention of the same talent you seek to engage with. For each of the three areas I’ve shared the key things that need to be considered and some tactics to help ensure you stay focused on delivering consistently.

Client Commitment

Ultimately this is about working with the right clients. Working the right jobs. Investing time in those who are willing to invest in you. In light of the number of agencies in the country (never mind globally) how certain are you that you know that this client knows what you are going to do?

Let me put it another way – Are you assuming that because:

  • They’ve worked with other agencies
  • You’ve been courting them as a client for a couple of months
  • They work in a company that have worked with you before
  • They recruited through you last year

That this means they know exactly what you are going to do, to what depth, with what level of energy, applying which skills, for whose benefit? Do you fall into the trap of thinking the same as they do – all agencies do the same thing and therefore price becomes a clear differentiator?

The reality is that too many consultants stop selling to a client contact after the third contact and fall into “update mode”. Catch ups that build personal relationships that don’t continue to develop the business case for working with your agency. My challenge to you is this – Think about your current live open vacancies (permanent or contract). If I were to phone the client contact and ask them about you, what would they tell me? How would they answer the following questions:

  • What do you believe your agency is doing right now to find, engage and qualify the right candidates on your behalf?
  • How certain are you, on a scale of 1 to 10, that your agency understands what you are looking to hire rather than the profile of CV you would like to interview?
  • What timetable have you agreed with your agency to map out a successful hiring process?
  • If you’ve given it to more than one agency, what do you consider to be the benefits of this to you, your business and the success of your hiring campaign?

Now think about how you could start to address these more robustly at the point of instruction and in the build up to winning your first piece of work from that client.

If you have a temp business, then think about your current clients who have temps on site today. If I were to phone those clients, how would they answer the following questions:

  • How many potential candidates have to screen and meet to find one individual that they would allow into your business on their behalf? How does this compare to this time last year?
  • What does your agency do to ensure that they can provide you with a consistent pipeline of good quality temps to work in your business?
  • If you became the Managing Director of your current agency, what would you change to make the service and overall experience as a customer better?

Developing a Candidate Pipeline

In many markets there is a high level of demand for good people. In fact, some skill sets are in such high demand that good candidates are able to secure six or more interviews within 24 hours. This is mirrored in the contract and temporary markets too, with good candidates seeming to have a consistent pipeline of work or being retained and extended with their current employer. Talent pooling, passive candidate work and social media are often talked about. Yet few agencies have a structured process for engaging with these individuals to nurture relationships and ultimately increase the bandwidth of good candidates they have access to.

Stop treating passive candidates as if they were actively considering their career options and take time to understand the individual

As a permanent or contract recruitment consultant it is easy to fall into the trap of over working jobs and not investing time in building relationships with candidates that don’t involve selling them a job. With best intentions consultants can sell too quickly to a passive candidate to try and gain their interest in “an exciting opportunity” without knowing enough about their ecology and motivation. Bottom line – stop treating passive candidates as if they were in jobhunt mode or actively considering their career options. Treat them as individuals and understand the human being. With so many agencies now trading in the UK the attention of these people is going to be harder to capture. Too many agencies are trying to chase and place CVs, with little focus on matching people to the right team, environment and true opportunity.

Allocate time to working your network of individuals in your market. I dislike referring to everyone as a candidate as it infers they have all elected candidacy – i.e. they’ve come to term with the idea of looking at other roles. Over the next three months you have 464 working hours in the office. Just 15% of this pointed at building your candidate pipeline would be almost 70 hours. Look at your candidate alumni – whose CVs did you send out in the last three months? Where are they now? Who has been on interview for you in the last 12 months? What has happened to all of the placements you’ve made?

Do you have a segmented alumni list that you point different communications at, or do you have a database of “candidates” that you call and mailshot when you need them?

Adding Value

There is a phrase that has been around in recruitment for a long time – “added value services”. Many of today’s added value services are what used to be called “the service”. Organisations have a definite appetite for working with agencies. With job creation continuing in the UK at a rate of 70,000 jobs per month (November 2017) and unemployment at its lowest in 40+ years then finding good people is more challenging. There are a number of agencies in the country who are truly excellent at adding value. Look at your own business and consider how you could add more value and develop service offerings that create a platinum experience for your customers that impact on their:

  • Insight and understanding as to what is going on in the market
  • Knowledge of how they are perceived as an employer
  • Ability to increase their level of choice of good candidates, consistently
  • Engagement with candidates throughout the hiring journey
  • Ability to assess and interview candidates to select those who will stay long-term
  • Capability to develop a talent pool from which to hire from
  • Retain their staff to improve productivity and frequency of hiring
  • Reduce the reliance on agencies for hiring and work with selected niche partners for specific skill sets

I work with agencies who are delivering excellent offerings in the above. Each has developed a service offering to their customers that helps them to standout from the crowd and demonstrate their ability to help their clients achieve their true goals.

No doubt you have heard the phrase that a rising tide lifts all boats. When there is a good flow of jobs into an agency you will always find you fill some. As the market tightens (particularly the candidate market, which it has significantly in the last nine months) your working practices will be tested. If you’re operating the same way as you were this time last year, the danger is you’re operating methods are no longer suitable for this market.

If you’d like to discuss how we could help your business develop effective strategies in the above areas and develop the right behaviours, habits and structures to consistently deliver results we’d be delighted to talk!


Written by

Jeremy Snell


12 June 2018