Why do some recruitment agencies have such a poor employer brand?

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

In December, Clearly PR, the PR agency for the recruitment industry, published its latest findings into the number of recruitment businesses currently registered as trading in the UK. Their research found 9,001 new agencies were formally set up in 2017, with a record high of 37,725 agencies operating in the market – up from just 12,000 (yes, twelve thousand) in 2012.

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.

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?’