Ben Wardleworth is Director at Engage Technology Partners
Over the last few years the niche recruiter has arguably become the ‘King’ of the industry, with more agencies using their knowledge in a specialist field as their USP over the competition. Indeed, in 2017 alone there were 9,001 new recruitment companies set up in the UK alone, suggesting a sharp rise in niche firms. However, my instincts tell me that this isn’t necessarily a future-proof approach. The reason? The focus on improving the candidate experience.
You might be asking why this is impacting the rise of the niche, but hear me out. There’s no doubt that employers recognise just how valuable a positive applicant experience is to their brand and we are all in agreement that the hiring process has taken on a consumer-like style. However, in order to deliver this, a joined-up recruitment approach is needed. Regardless of the role that is being recruited for, clients want to know that their applicants will have a seamless experience that leaves them satisfied regardless of the outcome.
And for hiring managers, the prospect of juggling multiple agencies and processes to ensure they are all consistent and relevant is daunting to say the least. In my opinion, that’s why we need to look at finding the balance between the specialist and the generalist.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that agencies need to move away from their niche and seek to become an expert in everything – we know that in most cases this simply isn’t achievable. But an all-inclusive approach that is centred on collaboration can be significantly valuable.
Something as simple as having a centralised location for agencies working on roles for the same company can work wonders when it comes to presenting the image of a joined-up approach for end-hirers. Collaborating with other specialist recruiters who aren’t direct competitors and bringing the client into the conversation will demonstrate that together you can deliver a generalist approach that utilises the niche expertise across agencies, while also providing consistency to them and their candidates. This, in turn, will help firms compete against larger businesses following the managed services RPO model that so many clients find appealing.
We can’t ignore the fact that hirers are crying out for an all-encompassing recruitment solution, whether that comes from an RPO, recruitment partner or agency collective. Essentially, future proof agencies need to be all-inclusive. They need to have an approach that can deliver a joined-up solution, no matter what the client needs. And, perhaps more importantly, the candidate experience needs to be at the heart of everything you do.