The recruitment industry is a highly saturated market. You will be up against any number of competitors each time you bid for a job so you need to make sure that your recruitment agency has a strong brand identity and your consultants have distinct personal brands. Differentiation is key. What makes you stand out? What can you offer that puts you ahead of the competition, that will ensure clients choose you? This is where marketing comes in – establishing your brand and then communicating that brand and its values within your agency and out to the world. Those brand values should weave through everything you do – the relationship your consultants have with clients and candidates, the way you do business, and, importantly, through your window to the world, your recruitment website.
The importance of marketing in a crisis
Too often, marketing is seen as something nice to have but inessential. After all, it doesn’t directly win jobs and bring money in like a consultant does. It is frequently the first thing to be cut back in challenging times. However, it is precisely in a crisis that you need marketing and should in fact be doubling up on your marketing efforts. When jobs are still relatively low and you are competing in a crowded market, you need to do things differently.
Establishing your ‘why’
“Marketing offers the differentiation, the story,” insists recent Talent Matters webinar guest Richard Williams, Global Head of Marketing for Austin Fraser and Austin Vita. His marketing team increased their output during the pandemic, putting together assets to enable the company’s consultants to stand out and get their jobs noticed. It is something every business needs to ask themselves. What is your story, the way you do things that sets you apart from other agencies? What is your ‘why’, i.e. why do you do what you do every day? You need to establish your culture, your DNA, your purpose. That, in essence, will form your brand values and it is marketing’s job to turn that into a story and ensure that it is delivered.
Building a brand to reach out
When the world stopped, everyone turned to the online world. Platforms such as LinkedIn suddenly became hugely important and offered a way to stand out by developing a personal brand at a time when no-one could meet. This is true for individual recruitment consultants and for the business as a whole. Creating content, offering support, communicating important messaging via social spaces such as LinkedIn and your website, all helps to build your brand and reach out to candidates and clients.
The marketing tools to build a brand
In truth, recruiters are naturally some of the best marketers out there. On a day to day basis they build communities, push content, spend years forming personal brands and are able to communicate both online and offline – the very essence of marketing. What a marketing team/individual needs is to enable them to do just that. Provide your consultants with a marketing tool kit and they will use it – that could be content ideas, templates in which to drop content, anything that will allow them to market themselves and the business as a whole.
Empower recruiters to build their personal brand
Austin Fraser’s new website has individual pages for each consultant, listing their contact details, live jobs and brief background information. Not only does this give the consultants their own space online to maximise their exposure, it has hugely increased traffic to the website. Recruitment consultants need to be empowered to do more than simply fill jobs. They need to embody your brand values by talking to clients and candidates and forging those relationships, communicating positive messages online, building their own personal brands. They represent your organisation and are your greatest asset so instil in them your brand values and they will communicate them to the world.
Partnerships, not transactions
Ultimately, the successful recruitment businesses are those that do more than just win jobs and fill jobs – and this has never been more relevant than now when people don’t want a hard sell approach. It’s essential to take the time to understand the long term needs of both clients and candidates in order to make meaningful and lasting hires. “Recruitment agencies that take it further than the transactional nature of the job are the ones that will fly,” says Richard.
Use your website, social media platforms and conversations with clients and candidates to constantly push your brand values. Ensure your internal communication is clear and ongoing so that the entire company is aligned. Be the agency that cares, foster strong relationships, build tight networks with the industry that you recruit in, reach out to people when times are tough, embody your brand values, and both clients and candidates will return.