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To niche or not to niche, let me answer the question.

By David Mandar

Every week agency owners describe to me their challenges in meeting their goals. It would probably surprise you to hear that among the vast number of agencies in North America, their goals and challenges, no matter what size or description, are relatively the same. One of the most asked questions and common challenge is:

“How can our company differentiate itself from our competition?”

Now, many would list tons of marketing and branding techniques that would help make a bigger splash on social media, get more eyeballs on your job postings and even increase your in-bound client calls. All positive outcomes. But in the long run, everyone will be doing this. So, ultimately what business owners are really asking for is a way to be “better” than the competition. To stand out.

During my corporate years, I used get marketing calls from agencies trying to win my business. They would all say things like, we are the best, largest, fastest, etc. The fact that they described themselves the same way made it cliché. Fluff. No meaning, no power, and certainly no sale.

As a hiring manager, all I wanted was an agency that specialized in an industry, a trade or a technology related to my hiring needs. Why? Because to me, an agency with a specialization set an expectation about the level of service and quality of candidates they would provide me.

Here are the differences I experienced —as a client— when working with niche agencies;

  1. They reduced any confusion and increased the quality of each candidate sourced. Their ability to gather requirements and easily understand my company’s needs created job requirements that truly captured the skills and experience needed for the position I needed to fill.
  2. They increased the possibility of attracting top talent and reduced declined offers. Their knowledge of the industry helped establish a competitive compensation range.
  3. My project planning and team workload management was more accurate. Their knowledge of the industry helped set expectations on start dates and other variables.
  4. They helped keep my company competitive. Their knowledge of the industry provided strategic information on trends and competitors.
  5. They increased the success rate on hires. Their experience in the market provided a large talent pool of industry focused resources. They could get referrals on tough-to-find resources. The speed of turnaround was excellent. Sometimes the same day.
  6. They gave me access to some great passive candidates. Their relationships with industry experts were strong as consultants viewed them as experts and preferred working with them. They always knew who was available or interested in discussing a career change.

There are more benefits and even a few negative points, like they aren’t a “one stop shop”, but the pros for me always outweighed the cons. As a hiring authority, I am willing to pay more for the right service.

If you are looking to up your game and differentiate yourself from the pack, focus on your strengths and market your services in a specific niche. Otherwise be prepared to fight over “table scraps” with the other generalists in your region.

 

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Building a Staffing Agency

 

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Beat The Recruiter’s Bad Rap

by Rebecca Sargeant

Tenure recruiter


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On July 23, James Rossiter posted a blog on LinkedIn called, “It’s time to stop using recruitment agencies.” Within 24 hours this blog had been seen by 28,239 people, there were 293 Likes, 416 comments and it had been shared 1,129 times. Anyone working with Social Media will tell you these numbers are only a fraction of the people that are talking about the blog.

What was interesting for me was I found James’s post moments after I had a similar conversation with a software development company. They were echoing James’s frustration and irritation with the Staffing and Recruiting industry as a whole.

We may not agree with James’ opinion of our industry. We may dismiss him because of his grammar. We might even try to discredit him because of his background. What we can’t do is ignore James’s message:

“I am sick of Recruiters.”

This message is coming to us from everywhere. James just took the time to blog it for you, your clients and your candidates. In the past, we could hang up on anyone, dismiss them as crazy and move with no repercussion. Good or bad, depending which side of the fence you romp, Social Media is revolutionizing how our clients and candidates hold us accountable. In today’s environment anyone can blog, post or open a discussion to deliberate about our overall short comings as an industry.

The short comings come from lots of places, such as the past and even novice recruiters either still learning the ropes or due to lack of proper leadership, that none of us will be able to stop. As we mature into our recruitment profession, we learn 5 simple principles that help us develop better relationships that net us a comfortable living and a good reputation no matter what the other bad apples are doing. New recruiters to the industry, pay attention:

 

5 principles of reputable recruiting shared by tenured recruiters

 

“Nothing happens overnight.” Being a recruiter is not about running as fast as you can, getting all the orders you can, only to filling the industry standard of only 33% of them. Tenured and reputable recruiters know they have to invest time in developing a trusted working relationship with everyone. These relationships do not happen overnight. You need your client’s time to answer questions about the opening, they will need to give you feedback in a timely manner, and then you will prove the time they have spent is worth it by providing them quality candidates. Take the time to provide them value. And what about candidate relationships? They are key to your placements. Candidates are sick of recruiters offering them “opportunities.” You will have to take time repairing the damage a junior recruiter has created with their smash and grab approach. You will also have to gain their trust to get vital information. By slowing down, recruiters become more strategic, have access to better quality orders and make more money tapping into candidates others have missed or dismissed.

“Shut up and listen.” As recruiters, we are always hoping the person we are talking to will be the one for the job, and sometimes we hope so much that we push for the correct answer not the real answer. When pushing for the correct answer, we don’t hear all the other things people are saying. Tenured recruiters have learned that people are more than willing to share valuable information with you if you would just sit and listen to them. By being an ‘active listener’, you will quickly become the person people turn to for advice and solutions.

“Respect is a two way street.” Many times recruiters are working in the best interest of the client. At the same time those clients don’t have any respect for that recruiter. This situation often leaves the recruiter with egg on his face. Especially when the recruiter has a candidate for the client and the client is not available for their call. Good candidates are left with the impression the recruiter over promised. To avoid this situation, reputable recruiters establish relationships based on mutual respect. They present themselves as the hiring consultant they are, they offer solutions, gain buy in and follow thru. At any point if there is a breakdown, they quickly address it with an open and frank conversation. By being respectful of others, we should expect the same in return.

“Documentation is KING.” As recruitment professionals, we work very hard to ensure everyone’s success. What we don’t do is take the time to demystify our job by explaining the recruitment process. In fact, if you asked any average recruiter to whiteboard the recruitment process, you might be surprised what they show you. Tenured recruiters have a flow chart or a document readily available they can give their clients and candidates that clearly outlines their recruitment process. By taking the time to document your process you show people you know the way and you can help them achieve success too.

“Do your research before anything else.” Tenured recruiters hate being caught not having all the information. They have learned over the years information is power and what you don’t know is really going to hurt you. Spending time researching how a company works, digging into people’s backgrounds and asking hard questions is what tenured recruiters have built their long successful careers on. By taking the time to investigate companies and people before you call, you will lay the platform for a more in-depth conversation about how you as a recruiter can help them.

These 5 principles of recruiting are not outlined in any one recruiter handbook. They are simple universal truths that many tenured recruiters develop on their own. They would simply read this blog and nod their heads in agreement. Learning these principles may come with lot bumps and bruises but, when they are learned, a Headhunter will always make a comfortable and happy living no matter what, because they actually help companies hire the right candidates and people find the right jobs.

 


 

Rebecca Sargeant Curta

Rebecca is the Recruiter’s Coach at Curta, where the mission is to raise the bar in the global recruiting and staffing industry and assist Recruiters in exceeding their business goals. Rebecca is currently meeting the 360 Desk Challenge of building a desk from scratch and targeting a $100K by October 1st using Curta methodology. “Because those who teach well, definitely can!”

 

 

Bad Boy Smoking photo credit: Christophe Verdier via photopin cc

 

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4 Quick Ways To Find ‘Job Reqs’

by David Mandar

Find job reqs

 


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Pick up new business fast

So it’s been another busy week. You placed a couple candidates while a few others did not make the cut. You look at your desk and realize that every requirement has either been closed, filled or already has enough candidates to fill the pipeline. You have no new business. So, now what?

If you want something to work on, you will have to go get it. How do you drum up new business fast? Here are 4 easy ways to pick up leads that I use to create new business quickly:

1. Call your existing clients. This one is straight forward. Take the opportunity to reach out to clients whom you already have connections with. You may not have successfully filled one of their positions yet, but you have worked on requirements for them. Remember, don’t jump in right away with, “Hey! You have anything I can work on?” Instead, get caught up, build on the relationship. Even go so far as to asking them out for coffee or lunch plus invite other hiring managers along. This will increase the chances of picking up new business across the entire organization. If you don’t pick up any new requirements at least you worked on the relationship and maybe made new contacts.

2. Contact recent prospect companies. Make those dreaded “Cold Calls” again, but this time they will probably remember your name from a voicemail or a past conversation. Again, work on the relationship. Get caught up on what their company is doing. Ask what their short term business goals are and how you may be able to help with perm or contract staff options.

3. Connect with active candidates. Reach out to candidates who are actively looking for new opportunities. Get up to date on their search and find out where they have interviewed recently and/or which companies to their knowledge is hiring. This should be done on a regular basis as part of your business development research. These are not always the best leads, but will give you an idea of who is hiring and for what positions. Getting hiring managers’ names will help in connecting with the prospects.

4. Check Social Media. If you don’t already know, most if not all of the user groups on social media sites like LinkedIn have areas where the members can post job requirements. If the position is posted by the company’s management or HR, they may not have a recruitment team and may need your help. Reach out and offer it. This is better than looking at postings on Monster/Workopolis/Dice, etc., as you can actually see the person who is posting the position. When you reach out, remember to pick up the phone. Don’t try to do this through e-mail (and remember spamming laws like CASL). It’s just like cold calling, but with something to talk about.

Finally, if you find yourself in this situation, you probably haven’t been spending enough quality time every day creating new business. Remember to do all of the little things every day to keep your client and candidate funnel full so you never have to ride that income roller coaster.

Happy Hunting!


 

David Mandar

 

Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.

 

 

 

Flickr treasure hunter photo by Elsie esq. – Attribution License

 

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3 Ways To Sabotage Your Candidate’s Interview

by David Mandar

Help candidates interview


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Another stellar candidate rejected?

Wondering why your awesome candidate, the one you knew was the perfect fit, blew the interview? It’s pretty frustrating when you spend extra time and effort to find the right one only to have them rejected after thinking they were a sure hire.

If this happens to you, don’t be disheartened. As you know, there are many factors you cannot control in the hiring process. We’re dealing with different personalities including the Hiring Manager and the Candidate, and unpredictable scenarios like the interview.

But recruiting is more than just finding the right candidate, it’s making sure all of the key pieces are lined up and that the risks due to unpredictability are minimized.

So if your perfect candidate was rejected after an interview, as a recruiter you may be guilty of one or all of these 3 situations:

Poor Hiring Manager Relationship
It’s important to know and engage your Hiring Manager. You need to create trust so that you can have open conversations around positions being offered and what matters to the Hiring Manager. You have to dig and ask what are key skills and other work ethics important to them and crucial for the position. Gather these details and use them in the job description and candidate screening process, as well as when prepping your chosen one for an interview.

Poor Job Description
If you don’t talk to the Hiring Manager and qualify the hiring opportunity, you will probably present a poor job description. A poor job description will attract the wrong kind of candidates. It’s important you know exactly who you are looking for and that your job description calls to that exact person. Quite often, you’ll be given a previously used job posting. These are frequently outdated or were never a good match for the position in the first place. If you post using one of these, you are sabotaging your efforts in finding the right fit for the job. You’ll often find that after speaking with the Hiring Manager, some crucial criteria does not even appear on the job posting and at times actually contradicts some of the information. Make sure to include these key items in your posting!

Poor Interview Prep
Did you properly prepare the candidate for the interview? The only way you can answer this question is by knowing what your Hiring Manager wants and by knowing you have the best fitting job description. As you can see, you have to have a good Hiring Manager relationship and accurate job description to be able to prep the candidate properly. For example, did the Hiring Manager specify a preferred background or a key skill? Make sure you go over these with the candidate and that they enter the interview prepared with examples and details on these crucial aspects of the position being offered.

Of course you can’t control everything. There are times when life throws you a curve. Maybe your candidate is having an extremely bad day or the Hiring Manager was replaced with someone else with a whole new set of values and perceptions on what matters in a specific post. But if you cover these three steps properly, you will minimize the number of golden candidates who fail the interview and get more returns for your efforts.


 

David Mandar

 

Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.

 

 

Article image by pakorn at freedigitalphotos.net 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Interviewing, Uncategorized

 

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10 Reasons To Cut A Client Loose!

by David Mandar

prime clients


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As recruiters we spend a lot of time finding that ideal candidate. If we met for coffee, we’d probably have a lot of stories to share of all the interesting characters and situations we come across!

But what about the client? Ideal clients are just as important as candidates. Yes, they pay the bills, but sometimes they not only waste our precious time, they actually impede the whole hiring process. They make us work twice as hard for less return.

That’s why once or twice a year, it’s important to do some client decluttering. Cross those low ROI customers off our list and make room for better matching and more promising clients.

Below is a list of 10 client traits you can use as a guide to cut current clients loose:

1) Never has time for you.

2) Isn’t open to advice; they know it all and are closed-minded.

3) Has a poor reputation in their industry.

4) Offers a below market salary for hires.

5) Always complains about your fee, even when you’ve provided excellent value & service.

6) Difficult to schedule interviews with.

7) Creates obstacles in the hiring process.

8) Operates with continuous high turnover.

9) Is in financial trouble, maybe even behind in paying you.

10) Works for a great company, but is a bad Hiring Manager.

During the summer, many clients and candidates are off on vacation. This slower period is the perfect time to trim your client list. Where should you start? Start with that one client that makes you cringe every time you see or hear their name. Look over their track record and compare it to the list above. How do they score? Happy de-cluttering.


 

David Mandar

 

Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.

 

 

Dr. Jekyll photo courtesy of Jack Samuels flickr/creativecommons

 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Increase Productivity

 

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Did You Forget To Prep The Hiring Manager?

by David Mandar

Interview preparation


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Prepping the Hiring Manager is half the battle

Yes, you heard it right. Prep the hiring manager. As recruiters we hate to leave anything to chance. So we are constantly checking and confirming through the hiring process so that there are no surprises. We do background checks, we do in-depth candidate screening, we prep our candidates for interviews, we follow up, we pre-close, we get confirmed offers and even follow up regularly after the hire.

It’s a lot of time and effort invested with the candidate to make sure things go right, but they are only half of the equation. The hiring manager is the other half. Considering that they make the hiring decision, the majority of recruiters leave a lot to chance by not addressing the following topics before the candidate interview.

  • Job Description: Since the manager wants to meet with the candidate, it’s easy to assume a good match. But does the manager see any potential gaps with the candidate’s fit to the job requirements? How are they going to be addressed in the interview? Are these gaps critical? Get this information and discuss it with your candidate prior to the interview. Refresh their memory of past job experiences so that they can use them in the interview and close that gap.
  • Concerns about background: Is there anything in the candidate’s background that concerns the manager such as education, companies they have worked for, upward trends, downward trends or even titles? Everyone makes assumptions about other people including hiring managers. For example, does the manager think the candidate lives too far to commute without getting burned out in traffic? Address these by discussing them with the candidate.
  • Salary expectations: You have spoken with the candidate. Now you have to make sure everyone is on the same page with salary expectations. Do you need to bump up the manager’s expectation? Does the manager have a poor perception of the candidate with a lower salary attached to it? Make sure going into the interview, your candidate’s salary expectation is level to or lower than the manager’s. You need to keep up to date on this over the entire hiring period. It does move around when budgets change, the client hits a poor quarter or they are no longer desperate.
  • Process: You should already know most of this from working with your client, but make sure you confirm all the details around the interview. How many people the candidate will meet with, their names, titles and their part in the decision making. How many meetings over how many days? Is there a test? Time is always a factor. If a manager is dragging the process out, grease the wheels and get it moving forward. Remind them that good candidates don’t last long on the market.
  • Competition: Are there other candidates interviewing? How many? How do they compare to your candidate? What does the manager need to see for a candidate to be successful? When will the manager be able to make a decision? You have to know where your candidate stands.
  • Offer: You may think this is common sense, but many recruiters get caught off guard by a hiring manager who makes an offer before the candidate leaves the interview. Your candidate is perfect and the manager doesn’t want to lose them, so they jump on them with a quick offer. You may think this is good. Sometimes it is, but it can also cause damage since everyone makes decisions differently. Remind the manager that the evaluation process is going both ways. Moving before the candidate has all of their questions answered or before they are ready can blow up in their face. An offer that is too low can be nasty if the manager is not prepared for a flat out “no” or the reaction of an insulted candidate. Make sure you set the expectation that the offer goes through you.

The important thing here is to open dialogue that is honest and to the same end: getting the right candidate into the right company and job. Having a relationship with a hiring manager that reflects this will minimize the number of candidates you will have to present and manage through interviews. Plus it will ensure everyone involved in the process has a positive experience.

 


 

David Mandar

 

Utilizing over 20 years of experience within the Information Technology field, David has grown progressively through his career in Recruitment and Staffing. He is currently a Curta Coach, assisting fellow recruiters and agency owners, new to the industry and experienced, get off the recruiting hamster wheel and love their work by applying smart processes that raise the quality of hires and result in a greater business and personal brand.

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Interviewing, Screening

 

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August 2014 Hiring Forecast is Bleak, Maybe

by Rebecca Sargeant

August Reflection Recruiter Month


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Is August Slow?

Every industry has its high and low seasons. For recruiting, August has become the low season: the month company executives go missing. What I mean is that they head off on vacation and unplug completely from the grid, slowing down the hiring machinery to a snail’s pace.

Last August in particular hit a low note for many agencies when hiring came to a screeching halt. Many CEOs, VPs, some Directors and Line Managers didn’t bring their laptop, PDA, or cell phone with them on vacation, championing to the rest of the workforce an important new life goal, and consequently trend – the priority of work-life balance.

Considering the significant lull in hiring we saw last August, we have to ask who else will be unplugging and what does this mean to agencies and independent recruiters? Will the trend trickle down the food chain and influence candidates, recruiter staff and all the people involved in the hiring? How will this lull affect your business?

 

See Quiet August As An Opportunity

Naturally, many third party agencies follow their clients’ and candidates’ lead and take a vacation too. But if they do, they are missing out on a valuable opportunity. The opportunity to finally have a block of quiet undistracted time when they can concentrate their efforts into organizing and strengthening their business.

Agencies that are flying high and surpassing all their targets and don’t want their business to get bigger and better don’t need to read further. This article isn’t for you (go ahead and book that August trip). But for agencies still trying to play catch-up after a disappointing 2014 first quarter, or those that just want to stop struggling and take their business to the next level, August is the perfect time to give your business your undivided attention.

For you August should not be about hiring and hitting targets but readjusting, practicing, planning and implementing within your business and its practices.

First, readjust your target for August to accommodate its slow pace. Don’t waste your or your staff’s time working harder trying to find job requests when there are none. Even worse, don’t sit by the phone, waiting for a certain Hiring Manager to call. Your time would be better served on other areas of your business, preparing you for a productive year and the very busy fall season.

 

August Opportunities For Agencies and Independent Recruiters

I’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started. If from now on you make August the month you up your game, you will thrive for the rest of the year. If you use any of these ideas you will improve your business and desk.

  • Revamp your branding. Take some time and look at your competitors. You will quickly find everyone is saying the same thing. This is a great time to answer questions such as these: how is your branding, as a recruiter or an agency, coming across online or in your other communications? How can you stand out from your competitors? Do you need a new profile on LinkedIn? Do you need to rework your mission statement or elevator speech? How do you want your market your message? How do you want the industry to perceive you? Do they perceive you that way? If not, start planning what you can do to improve your brand.
  • Revamp your business goals. During the year, many agencies measure production day to day or month to month, rather than year to year. Step back look over the last 12 and even the last 24 months (or more); how have you done? Where do you want to improve? Did you meet your targets? Should you reset better targets? Is there an industry area you want to focus on more or less? If you didn’t meet your targets, what obstacles are blocking your success? Do you notice any trends or seasonal behaviours you need to plan around. Brainstorm on solutions and how you could implement them. Set up a plan with a timeline.
  • Research your market. Many agencies are focused on the Recruiting Industry Trends rather than on our client market trends. Stop looking in the mirror. Go and look at what is trending for you client. What trends are occurring? How does this affect their business and your business? How does your research help them be competitive and what part do you play in helping your client become competitive. When they return to their desk in September, communicate how you will help them and back it up with your research so you are both ready to take on the market together.
  • Close the deals before August and have interviews scheduled for September. Once August comes around, decision makers go AWOL and so does your opportunity of getting hires. If some interviews do overlap into August, confirm with the Hiring Manager whether approvals can still be made during their vacation or if things will stall until September. Here’s a good tip, offer to help your Hiring Manager be ready to run forward when they return in September. Ask for interview times when you can book in your top candidates. This approach will take confidence to pull off. Make sure to thank the Hiring Manager for this opportunity and for the trust they are giving you in finding the right people.
  • Brush up on your recruiting skills. Many of us are too busy during the regular work week to consider how we could improve our skills or work more effectively. The August doldrums make it the perfect time to finally take that course you had your eye on or get better at sales or cold calling, etc. There are plenty of recruiter specific training classes that will review the basics and teach you or your staff new skills. Or, you can stretch yourself by taking a sales course. You can also find out what training vendors offer for the tools you use every day. Finally, you can challenge yourself, and talk to a coach about what and how you could improve. Many offer a free consultation.
  • Connect with recruiting colleagues in your area. We as recruitment professionals work in a vacuum, with heads down searching for candidates, filling orders, generally making it happen. Take this time out to look around for a recruiter networking meeting. It’s a great way to blow off steam, get input from other recruitment professionals, share information on various industry tools, discuss good techniques and share ideas. All this information can help you make more hires and meet higher targets as well as run a better business. Plus, you get to meet others in your industry and take a small vay-cay from your desk!

 

Since August is the peak of summer, you may be tempted to follow your clients’ example and use up your vacation time. I don’t blame you, but I urge you to reconsider. The fact that August is not saddled with holidays and family obligations (like Christmas), makes it the perfect time to unplug from the usual sourcing, sales, and hiring juggle, and to plug in to your business and desk. It’s an opportunity to finally get organize, to improve, and to plan for the future!

 


Rebecca Sargeant Curta

Rebecca is the Recruiter’s Coach at Curta, where the mission is to raise the bar in the global recruiting and staffing industry and assist Recruiters in exceeding their business goals. Rebecca is currently meeting the 360 Desk Challenge of building a desk from scratch and targeting a $100K by October 1st using Curta methodology. “Because those who teach well, definitely can!”

 

* Image courtesy of Flickr.com/arte

 

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