Differentiating from the Competition – Three Options for Your Recruitment Agency to Consider

The recruitment industry is highly fragmented. There are about 20 major players accounting for almost 25% of revenues generated and the remainder of the sector is divided between several thousand smaller consultancies.

In the same way that candidates fight for jobs, recruitment agencies are fighting for contracts. How can agencies differentiate from the competition?

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I was having the discussion with a consultant this week who identified a strong factor that had resulted in their agency winning business and that is number one in our list.

1. Service add ons

There are many occasion that at very little extra cost but with a healthy attitude and some creativity an agency can provide a service add on for a client that differentiate them from the next best agency pitch. A commitment to providing a personalised extra is highly valued by the client. These “service add ons” which are tailored to meet the clients needs can be a real winner. They show that you care about the individual client and are willing to go that extra mile to secure the business. It also shows that you have the business interests of your client at heart AND that you understand your client’s business.

The example that I was given by the consultant was the following. They were awarded a major contract by a large national company because they agreed to undertake to have successful candidates complete one of their clients internal HR forms as part of their recruitment process, saving the national company time in their HR. This was very easy to do for the agency but made a big difference to the client.

2. Creative methodology

Sometimes it is just the way in which the service is delivered, the use of innovation or technology or a genuine commitment to outstanding customer service for example, that can differentiate an agency in a pitch. For example, two agencies might notify their clients when a they have a prospective candidate fit, but one agency might send text and emails whilst the other makes a phone call. Finding out the preferred method could help secure business.

3. Boutique Fit

By specialising; as a niche agency, consultants can provide expertise and know-how that matches specific client needs. Specialising can be in a certain candidate profile (for example graduates, over 50s) or candidate skill (linguists), by sector or industry (architecture, health services) or by region. This edge is a great way for an agency to win business, but the risk is that the agency puts “all its eggs in one basket”. Some agencies actually operate 2 companies out of the same premises. This allows them to market themselves as a niche agency to a certain market sector, whilst retaining the ability to attract a broader cross section of candidates under a wider umbrella of the parent company. An interesting idea to consider.


Categories: Articles for Recruiters, Recruitment Strategy


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3 Comments on “Differentiating from the Competition – Three Options for Your Recruitment Agency to Consider”

  1. June 22, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    its very good article, keep up with Good work like this

  2. Matej Valuch
    June 23, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    This was a good post. There are few things which could be added to your good list.

    I believe anyway, that the real difference between “small” and “big” players in who get the deal lies in the very beginning – in the stage where is decided, who will speak/meet the decision makers.
    I personally have no problems to get a deal once I meet someone who is giving deals, but the problem for small company is actually to be the one of few the decision maker meets – and so that’s why it is like you said with revenues distribution.

    What do you think?

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