Magazine Thought Leadership

How to battle recruitment’s ‘big boys’ and fight the war for talent on a level playing field

Written by the Editorial Team

by DAVID THORNHILL, Managing Director at Simplicity

Things quite literally have never been this good for recruiters. With employment at its highest levels since any one of us can recall, it is hardly surprising that the number of consultants taking the leap to escape the confines of their existing agency to start up on their own, is also at an all-time high.

This is great for the health of the recruitment industry too – quite literally.

Indeed, research undertaken by the think-tank Bright Blue found that more than three-quarters (80%) of self-employed people in the UK are ‘overwhelmingly satisfied’ with their work, compared to 74% of their ‘employed’ counterparts.

This, according to research from the University of California, which involved 250,000 subjects, leads to higher incomes, higher levels of productivity and quality of work which, by default, doesn’t just make for happier workers – it makes for better off workers too.

Given the evidence above, it is hard to find a reason not to become self-employed!

Once you have made the leap to swim the seas to what many perceive to be their own career nirvana as a new recruitment business owner, the challenge you will face is how to compete with those agencies operating in the same market space as you.

No matter the sector, location or how niche your area of specialty there will be others doing the same as you.

They will be bigger than your new start up agency, they are already established and recognised within the sector, and they hold a commanding share of the market that they have no intention of relinquishing.

It all comes down to what you offer and how you are different and better than what is already out there.

Here are some of the most effective and proven ways that recruitment start-ups can raise their profile quickly as an agency of choice.

1.  Make LinkedIn your best friend

Most senior people who you will be dealing with use LinkedIn, so make sure you are seen as being at the forefront of your sector, both in terms of your industry knowledge and your understanding of HR issues themselves.

Participate in and start group discussions that add value and shine light on a topical matter and are newsworthy.

Take advantage of LinkedIn’s self-publishing tool, imaginatively entitled ‘Publisher’. This blogging platform enables you to upload a blog post that is then seen across your network.

If one of your key contacts ‘like’ or ‘share’ it, it will be seen across their network too; thereby, maximising your audience reach, which in turn raises your profile online.

You can also post your blog across each relevant LinkedIn group – groups where your target clients and candidates may also be hanging out.

2. Show off your achievements

Put together a short case study of a key assignment you have worked, outline the challenge and the approach you took and then quantify the result in terms of deliverables, such as time saved, reduced hiring costs, etc.

Clients want to know “what’s in it for me?” and by showing what you have done for others, they can get a better insight into what you can do for them.

But be careful about how you position yourself. Calling yourself a “leading provider” is all well and good but as a start up it’s not something you can claim just yet.

Focus on what you are great at – maybe you have a different approach to search, perhaps you provide on-going support once an assignee has assumed their new role?

With most agency’s guilty of describing themselves as a ‘leading’ provider, by not doing so you actually stand out!

3. Get to grips with Twitter

Follow the main accounts of the companies on your ‘hot’ list. ReTweet those posts that have greatest relevance, such as a new product launch or contract win.

Find out if their MD or HRD is on Twitter and if so follow them too. This puts you on their radar when the next round of vacancies come.

Also follow the press that covers your industry sector. Post stories that your target market may find interesting and useful. This positions you as having your finger on the pulse of what is topical in your sector. Aim to schedule at least six posts per day – anything less and your opportunities to be seen on Twitter are drastically reduced.

This helps to raise your ‘discoverability’ levels not just on Twitter but on Google too, as the search engine now features your most recent Tweet in its search results.


If you truly know your onions then write about it. As well as LinkedIn Publisher, write a weekly blog on your own website. Blogs that have the maximum effect in terms of attracting readers and raising your profile are those that offer a solution to a problem – the How-to’s that we are all familiar with.

Writing a blog is one thing, but if what you are saying is simply echoing what is already being said elsewhere it wouldn’t stand out. By offering a unique perspective on a topical story you can raise your profile as someone who truly ‘gets’ the sector.