Can This Really Radically Improve Your Business?
I want to take you back in time for a moment. When I first entered the world of recruitment, more than 20 years ago now, there was an old guard who scoffed at computer systems. They used to say things like, all I need to get my work done is a rolodex of contacts and a phone. I can smile and dial my way to success. The stack of business cards they kept on their desk was proof positive of their networking prowess.
It wasn’t long before this mind-set was considered archaic. You might find statements like these amusing. Can you imagine a world where you help clients place candidates quickly and efficiently – without computer systems? I cannot imagine such a world.
Yet, another shift has taken place that many recruiters have not completely bought into. Some recruiters might say today, all I need is our website, a laptop, email and a phone. Some people feel like this is enough to be successful as a recruiter today. I take a different perspective.
Over the last 7 years or so, I have seen nothing less than a seismic shift, a literal moving of the Earth, when it comes to how recruiters might use technology. The possibilities are really mind-boggling. Not sure what I mean? Take a moment right now and count up how many online or cloud-based applications you use on a weekly basis. I’ll bet it’s a lot more than you realize.
For instance, do you do the majority of your banking today inside an actual bank or do you make transfers, pay bills and check your balance online? Do you go to the bank’s website or have you downloaded their app?
When you buy an automobile, do you start searching at a dealership or do you start searching online? What about groceries? Do you walk into a store or do you order 50% or more of your groceries and household items online? What about how you book airlines, hotels and rental cars?
What about the way you watch TV? Do you do this exclusively at home in your living room, in front of an actual TV, viewing programming from a major network? Or do you do spend 50% or more of your time watching programs on a digital device, somewhere outside your living room from a content provider like Amazon, Netflix, YouTube or Vimeo?
What about taxis? Do you take these anymore or do you prefer to dial up an Uber driver right when you need them? I could go on, but I think you get the point. The world of digital applications and ubiquitous digital devices has transformed how we live our lives today. I think they’ve made things better.
So why is it that most recruiters who readily adopt these technologies outside the office seem reticent to adopt these technologies inside the office? More than that, what would it mean for your business if the digital systems that have transformed and improved your personal life could do the same for your business life? How much more efficient would you be? How much more work could you and your team get done? How much better could you serve your clients? How much more money might your company make? What would it do for your profit-margins?
Ahhh my friend. The possibilities are indeed very attractive. Let me show you how to take advantage of what digital operations have to offer your business.
WHETHER YOU ARE A SMALL FIRM LOOKING TO GENERATE A LIVING INCOME OR A MEDIUM-TO LARGE FIRM SEEKING TO ENSURE YOUR INCOME EXCEEDS YOUR EXPENSES, YOUR BUSINESS PROCESSES ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME.
RECRUITMENT OPERATING MODELS
I want to describe the operating model of a recruitment firm as it matures from a very small practice to a medium-sized business to even a large global firm. Here is what I mean by operating model. I think of this in four primary areas:
- Physical infrastructure (office, phones, furniture)
- Technology infrastructure (computers, mobile devices, internet, applications)
- Business processes (client attraction, candidate attraction, candidate placement, billing)
- Human resources (executives, recruitment consultants, marketing people, IT staff, office managers)
Many small recruiters start with just a single founder or maybe a small group of people who join forces. If these people have a solid history in a particular industry, a good personal reputation and a network of contacts, they can achieve success fairly quickly.
Their physical infrastructure can literally be a garage or a kitchen table and a phone. Their technology infrastructure can be just a laptop with internet access, a website, email and a few mobile apps. Their business process is very straight-forward: get clients, get jobs from clients, post jobs, get candidates, vet candidates, place candidates, bill clients, get paid.
The human talent they need is often just them. They can do everything necessary. Within a fairly short period of time, especially if they have passion, these small recruitment firms can generate sizable incomes for their stakeholders.
Some percentage of these firms will choose to go to the next level and become a medium-sized organization. This will dramatically change their operating model in all four resource areas. But before I describe that, let me define what I mean by medium-sized.
A medium-sized recruitment firm, the way I think of them, has multiple offices, more than 20 staff, multiple recruitment consultants, multiple clients and quite possibly expertise in more than one industry vertical. But the single biggest differentiator between a small firm and a medium-sized firm is the need for a brand. Here’s what I mean.
A small firm can gain clients and earn income based solely on the reputation of the founder. The “brand” the clients trust is often a person – not so much a company. That is not the case for most medium-sized firms. For medium firms to earn the confidence and budgets of clients, those clients have to believe in something that is absolutely not a human being: a brand.
This is the chasm that a small firm must cross if it is to become a medium-sized firm. This is also why many small firms remain small. A rainmaker can earn the trust of a handful of clients. But often that rainmaker is not effective at transferring their personal credibility to their company brand. The firms who grow from small to medium-sized figure out how to make the company brand, not just the founder’s personal brand, preeminent.
The physical infrastructure needs of a medium-sized firm increase exponentially. A kitchen table will no longer suffice. Real office space with a real lease and real rental payments are now required. Expenses go up. Multiple computer systems and a network must be installed and maintained. Expenses go up.
To attract and serve more clients, recruitment consultants must be hired. Expenses go up. The recruitment consultants need staff to support them and help them be productive. Office managers will ensure that the wheels keep humming. Expenses go up. Pretty soon a CFO will come along and watch over the cash-flows of the business. Then a COO will need to be hired to build realistic operating models and a business plan. Expenses go up.
But here is what does not change for the medium-sized recruitment firm. The business processes of finding clients, earning their trust, placing candidates and getting paid – that is essentially the same as for the small firm. But the expense picture for the medium-sized firm is exponentially greater. This is yet another reason that many small firms choose to remain small. They cannot cross the chasm, financially, from small to medium.
At some point, a few medium-sized recruitment firms will be approached by a global player. Often that global recruitment firm will be looking for expertise within a particular market niche. The big firm believes the mid-size firm can supply that expertise. The big firm believes in the brand of the medium-sized firm. So they make them an offer and equity changes hands.
The global player has formal plans in all four resource areas of the operating model. Their physical infrastructure often includes posh offices in major cities around the globe. Their technology infrastructure grows exponentially and may include full-blown data centers.
The global firm’s human resources seem nearly endless. They have layers of management and fully-staffed departments. But again, I draw the same conclusion as for the medium-sized firm as it relates to business processes. Those processes really don’t change.
This is the conclusion that I now draw. Whether you are a small firm looking to generate a living income or a medium-to-large firm seeking to ensure your income exceeds your expenses, your business processes are essentially the same. While many things will change, these processes are core to the success of a recruitment firm of any size:
- Earn the trust of a client so they give you jobs to fill.
- Place those jobs in front of as many qualified candidates as possible.
- Collect those candidates into the largest pool possible, ensuring at least one candidate will get placed per job.
- Vet the candidates to ensure they are qualified.
- Introduce the client to the candidates.
- Place the candidate.
- Bill the client.
- Get paid.
These business processes really don’t change all that much from one company size to the next. This is now where I want to focus your attention because I believe I have ideas you will find very exciting.
When you look at the list of business processes above, I want you to think about how these actually take place today. Here are some questions to consider:
- When, where and how do you earn the trust of a client so they give you jobs to fill?
- How do you place those jobs in front of as many qualified candidates as possible?
- How do you collect those candidates into the largest pool possible?
- How, when and where do you vet the candidates to ensure they are qualified?
- How do you introduce the client to the candidates to be interviewed?
I’ll bet the answer to nearly all of these questions is – digitally. Only the very smallest of firms, usually a solo operator, can earn the trust of a client without some level of technology being involved. The very first thing most solo operators do when they found their business is build a website that makes them look bigger than they actually are. But even for these small business models, advancements in technology could have a huge positive impact on their ability to earn income.
Let me break down for you a scenario, based on those five questions above, that I believe can really advance your business.
When, where and how do you earn client trust? Most recruitment firms today know that a prospective client will begin to evaluate them as a potential provider by looking at their website. This is why recruiters have used their website as a face-to-the-industry for over a decade now. While your website certainly serves this role, if that is the only value it provides your firm – you have missed a huge opportunity.
How do you place those jobs in front of as many qualified candidates as possible? Most recruiters will do this today via job boards, social media, email announcements and other channels. But the key thing is to place the job through your website. Why? Because you are building your brand. More than that, you want candidates to come to your website so you can streamline your operations in the next step. This is why job board technology is so critical to your digital operations. Your website must be both a face-to-the-industry and a job board. If your website is not both, you are missing out.
How do you collect those candidates into the largest pool possible? Most recruiters will do this via an applicant tracking system or ATS. You want to use an ATS because of the tremendous efficiencies it can provide your business. An ATS will collect resumes, contact information and candidates into a single pool around a particular job offering. This makes your life easier and helps your recruitment consultants be more productive.
Yet here is one of those areas where we see recruitment firms missing huge opportunities. While most recruiters have an ATS, their ATS is not fully integrated into their website – the very place where candidates will respond to your job opening and the very place where you need to ensure you deliver a great brand experience. If your ATS is not fully integrated into your website and mobile responsive, you are missing out.
How, when and where do you vet the candidates to ensure they are qualified? Most recruiters will vet candidates by logging into their ATS and viewing applicants for a particular job opening. But this is where a recruitment consultant nearly always has to make a judgment call. Do we have enough of the right candidates, the best qualified candidates, to satisfy our client? If not, then what?
Most clients want to view a pool of qualified candidates within a finite time period. This means the pressure is on the recruiter to show results well before the deadline. Miss the deadline and you miss the opportunity to earn revenue and you have an unhappy client who may not place their next job with you.
This is why your digital operations need to be streamlined to allow your recruitment consultant to increase promotions for a job quickly and effortlessly. Let me give you a scenario to explain what I mean. Let’s assume you have a job opening with a deadline that is 8 days away. Your recruitment consultant views current applicants and decides that they need a few more qualified candidates. What do they do?
In the world I want you to embrace, they literally click a few buttons and the job is re-posted to your job-board, re-shared on social media, another round of emails go out and people who have requested to be notified of openings in this area receive an alert. If your digital operations are not that simple and easy, you are missing out.
How do you introduce the client to the candidates to be interviewed? Different recruiters handle this in different ways. Some will send the client resumes via email. Others will make personal introductions. Yet the overriding imperative is to make this fast, easy and seamless for the client. Here is where digital operations can give you a huge advantage.
If your ATS is properly integrated into your website, you can give your client access to a password protected environment where they can view the candidates in real time. They do this on your brand. Talk about making an impression. They don’t have to wait and can examine candidates at their leisure from anywhere in the world. This makes you a real partner to the client and earns their loyalty. This strengthens your brand and makes you look like you’re on the cutting edge of technology.
Most recruitment firms have not embraced the full range of what digital operations can do to advance their brand and help them serve their clients more effectively. You’ll notice how many times I talked about your website in this post. I have come to see your website as the center of your digital ecosystem and the place where you strengthen or diminish your brand.
Speaking of the digital ecosystem, that concept is at the center of an action guide I’ve developed called 6 Steps To Becoming A Digital Marketing Ninja. If you want to substantially improve your digital operations and reap the full benefits of what technology can do, I encourage you to register for this free resource today. I know it will really help you.
Across these six videos and downloadable tools, I explain how recruiters are using digital today to realise competitive advantage and how you can do the same.
About the author
Rick Maré is the founder and CEO of JXT, the number one provider of cloud-based digital marketing solutions for recruiters and corporate recruiters. Rick has coached thousands of recruiters, empowering them to take their businesses and careers to the next level. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.