How to add value in an increasingly saturated market.

Stephen Veness, Group Manager, Projects & Operations at Davidson.

Standing out from the crowd is something we need to strive for as recruiters if we are to remain competitive in a saturated market, but just how do we do that and do it in the right way? In NSW, the need to stand out from the competition is arguably stronger than other Australian markets purely because of the volume of recruiters we have working in the space and the jobs required, thanks to key and long term infrastructure projects in the CBD and surrounding regions. 

Based on what I’m witnessing and my previous experience in busy markets, in particular during the resources boom in Queensland, I take a look at what can be done to separate you from the competition for the right reasons.


First contact

In a strong market, clients are telling me they are being called up to 10 times a day by recruiters eager to secure their business so in many ways the first challenge is getting through in the first place (where there is no prior relationship). If you get through, what is going to make your call and contact stand out? If you don’t get through on the phone, what is your next move?

In most cases, the only difference you can communicate quickly is your credibility, networks and enthusiasm to be not just a recruiter, but a business partner, an advisor who can value-add all the way through the process and beyond. If you can be referred or introduced to a new client even better, as nothing beats a referral and introduction from a person they already know and respect.

No matter what level you have reached in business, it remains a truism that people want to talk to people and know they are being heard and understood. Further to this they don’t want to waste their time. They want to speak to an expert and someone who gets their challenges, needs and can truly be advisor and support, rather than just providing a transactional process. 

How are you communicating that? Have you researched the business and can demonstrate to the client you understand where they have been and where they are going? If you are able to demonstrate empathy, industry knowledge and understanding during this first contact, you are already streets ahead of some of the competition.


Follow up

It cannot be said enough – deliver what you say you are going to deliver.

Getting the ear and interest of the client is the first step, but you will lose them quickly on the recruitment path if you do not keep listening and do not follow through with what you say you are going to do. A recruiter’s client may have a sterling reputation and their positions may attract a lot of applications but if the recruitment experience of candidates does not match the hype, it will result in damage to the brand of the client and recruiter alike.

We cannot control what our competitors are doing. But we can control what we are doing and that means delivering a quality service and outcome. Clients want to know the person recruiting for them understands the business, the culture and the role. It is our role to demonstrate to them that we do.

Obviously, every chance we have as a recruiter to value-add should be seized upon.


Why cheaper is not always better

We have seen the cut-price tactic in recruitment used since the industry was even considered to be an industry. It can be easy to attract the attention of clients by offering a cheaper service than the competition. And for some clients this may be perfect, but as a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for.

Cutting costs usually means cut corners in delivery to save costs and make the effort financially worthwhile for the recruiter. But it is a short-term strategy, which is best left to those who are interested in a race to the bottom.

It is certainly not a strategy to build a sustainable business upon.

The rule of thumb should be simple: if you want to stand out for the right reasons, treat clients well from your first contact until your last. Do what you say you are going to do and more. 

Be an expert in your space and go beyond just providing a transactional service. Instead, be an advisor long after the dust settles on key projects. Not doing so will make you stand out, but for all the wrong reasons.

Stephen Veness is the Group Manager, Projects & Operations at Davidson and a Director with the Association of Professional Staffing Companies of Australia (APSCo). He is an experienced senior recruitment professional and Business Manager having worked across the UK and Australia. He specialises primarily in transport, infrastructure, engineering and energy. 

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