Know your colours

Written by the Editorial Team

by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, Editor and Managing Director of ClearlyPR 

Recruiters need to work on their own employer brand to remain competitive (or else lose their own war for agency talent).

The war for recruitment talent is hotting up, but unless recruitment leaders up their game by improving their own employer brand, they risk ending up on the losing side.

The recent publication of figures obtained from Companies House stated that almost 3,000 new recruitment businesses were established in the first six months of 2016.

This, along with the 9,100 agencies registered between 2013-2015, means that the total number of new entrants to the market over the last two-and-a-half years stands at over 12,000, with recruiters now needing to work harder than ever to position themselves as the employer-of- choice.

The recruitment sector has never been so strong. With the latest REC Jobs Outlook reporting that almost 9 out of 10 [87%] of UK employers plan to increase their permanent headcount over the next three months, both the short-term and long term prospects for the sector look healthy.

However, the surge in new players starting up means that recruiters are not only vying with each other when it comes to clients and candidates, they are also competing in the battle to attract the best consultants too. Having a strong employer brand in their own right is critical to their agency’s long-term success.

Research published by Harvard Business Review stated that businesses with an out-dated or unclear employer brand “miss out on opportunities to attract the next generation of talent”, and often have to offer potential new employees an extra 10% on their salary to ensure they secure the talent they really want.

It is simple: if you’re not an attractive proposition, you won’t attract the talent you need to realise your agency’s business objectives. Ironically, resolving a poor employer brand is a more cost-effective solution issue than pouring money into the hiring process.

There are four key reasons why some recruitment agencies have a poorer employer brand than others:

  1. Complacency: Too many agencies 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.
  2. ‘Now’ mentality: The focus is 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.
  3. Little sign of a staff development plan in place: Top talent is not nurtured, so those who could be developed as future leaders of the business are seen as little more than commodities rather than assets. Retention levels are low and the top talent leave to join other agencies that offer genuine career progression opportunities.
  4. Terrible promoters: 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.

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.

Recruiters no longer have the luxury to cherry-pick the candidates they want. We’re in a ‘sellers’ market now, one where it is the candidate who holds the trump card rather than the buyers (the employers).

As a recruitment marketing and employer branding agency we have seen a steady rise over the last two years in the number of recruitment businesses taking a hard look at themselves to ask, ‘Does our brand really represent us as a business, does it enable us to compete in our market and attract the best candidates to work for us?’