Would you recommend your own agency as an employer of choice?

Written by the Editorial Team

Why is it that the Google’s and Facebook’s, Manpower’s and Hays of this world never seem to have a problem in attracting top talent to work for them? The answer is that they each have a strong employer brand – the thing that makes people want to work for them specifically.

We all know that we are currently in a candidate-driven market, yet many recruiters fail to relate this to the recruitment industry for some unexplainable reason. They fail to recognise that consultants are actually job seekers too and that recruitment agencies are also employers.

More important, there seems to be a lack of awareness of the amount of competition within the recruitment market right now.

Since January 2016, over 5,000 new recruitment firms have set up shop since January 2016 (source: ClearlyPR/Companies House, May 2017), making this one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. So it follows that demand for consultant talent is also increasing, which is why so many agencies struggle to find the consultants they need to join them.

The question then is why are some recruitment businesses failing to raise their profile as an employer of choice in their own right when the recruitment market is at its most competitive?

Well, we did some digging around and asked dozens of recruitment business owners that very question. Here’s what we found:

  • There’s an element of complacency – too many continue to trade on former glories when they were once leaders in their space, but have been overtaken in recent times. As such, their employer brand is looking dated and to a degree, lazy.
  • Then there’s the ‘now’ mentality – a focus on delivering immediate returns in the form of sales with little consideration for how the agency is really perceived outside the confines of its four walls.
  • The ‘now’ mentality also sees too few agencies have an effective staff development plan in place that can develop and secure the future leadership of the business. As such, staff are seen as commodities rather than assets, retention levels are low and the top talent leave to join other agencies that offer genuine career progression opportunities.
  • Finally, recruiters are by and large terrible at promoting themselves in the right way. They think that populating their Twitter feeds and LinkedIn posts with jobs is how to reach out to their target market in the most effective way. Showing off how many assignments are being worked is akin to a politician boasting about how many new voters they have gained – no one really cares.

A study by Careeralism found that “80% of job seekers research an employer online before deciding whether to apply to a position there. When candidates don’t find enough information to convince them you’re worth working for, they’ll pass.” The consequences of this can be costly.

Indeed, research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that a minimum 10% pay increase was needed to convince a candidate to accept a job with a company with a poor employer brand – the equivalent to £3,297 per hire.

The HBR research went on to say that, “Businesses that have a misunderstood or out-dated employer brand could also be missing out on opportunities to attract the next generation of talent, but resolving a poor employer brand is a more cost-effective solution to this issue than pouring money into the hiring process.”

LinkedIn’s research revealed similar findings. It found that 83% of employers say employer brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent. This much is obvious: if you’re not an attractive proposition, you won’t attract the talent you need to realise your organisation’s business objectives.

There has been a marked shift away from traditional recruitment marketing initiatives to a greater use of employee-generated recruitment campaigns. In other words, using the staff you already have as brand ambassadors, whether though social media hijacking, blogs, videos, podcasts, employee reviews or employee referral programmes.

If you struggle to recruit for your agency, you first need to understand why that is. In doing so, you will then be able to develop a compelling employee value proposition that will help you attract the right talent for the right roles and retain the top talent you already have.