So the polling booths have just closed in the UK and while most Brits now sleep, we here in NZ will probably watch the results steer their government towards a hung parliament and the formation of some form of coalition whose representative colour will end up a muddy brown. In reality, I’ve not been paying a great deal of attention to the campaigning of recent weeks, even though I still have the right to vote in it.
I didn’t vote, though. One reason was that I haven’t lived there for 10 years and I don’t actually think I ought to still be allowed to vote. The other was that it seems, from afar at least, impossible to actually distinguish the parties and politicians. Certainly, the Green Party latched onto this sentiment, and released this quite brilliant and hilarious video during their campaign:
The political message this sends out aligns very closely with my view of the path many recruitment agencies seem to be on these days. Back pre-recession, recruitment companies seemed to know what they were, and didn’t try too hard to be any different to each other. The end-game was consistent: work hard to build up a brand, a base of consultants, and a contracting book, and then sell to some big global behemoth or private equity backed conglomerate.
Nowadays there seems to be a bit of an identity crisis happening. The number of recruitment firms selling up after a few short years have dwindled away. These deals just aren’t on the table anymore. Now, post-recession, as many top recruiters who battled through the tough years are deciding to cash in, do it their way, be their own boss and start up their own recruitment consultancies, they are finding that questions are being asked of what actually sets them apart? Why should client x use them instead of the more established brand down the road?
Having met many such businesses, both older brands and fresher start-up brands, in recent months, there seems to be an increased anxiety around professing that they are, in some way, different to all the others. The thing is, unless you are radically changing your recruiting model and approach to market, the tried and tested way that recruitment agencies work just…well…still works. You really don’t need to offer a 12-month free replacement guarantee (yes, really) like these guys in my old stomping ground in Australia.
Nor do you need to announce across social media your bottom-feeding approach to recruitment by dropping fees for a sub-standard service, like these guys:
My advice to all these new agencies starting up is that, unless you truly have something that sets you apart and enables you to actually stand out from the crowd, such as the Green Party profess to be, then just be honest with yourselves. You’re not doing anything different, you’re just doing it better. Decide on an approach that sets you apart in terms of service levels, follow-up, candidate care or whatever else, and stick to it. Your reputation will soon win over the hearts and minds of client x and their tired old relationships with the older recruitment brands anyway.