Can recruitment leaders become 'thought leaders' too?

15 June 2022 | 5 min read | PR
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

Two years ago this month, 87,000 people in the UK stated in their LinkedIn profile that they were a ‘Thought Leader’. Globally, there were 1.2 million describing themselves in the same way.

By June last year, these numbers had increased to 104,000 and 1.6 million respectively.

Today, something interesting has happened. There has been a drop to 90,000 in the UK and less than 1.1 million in the US. The question is, Why?

Simple: Nobody believes them anymore.

Where did they come from?

When the pandemic hit, business leaders sought answers to the challenges and obstacles they were facing, and so they canvassed the opinion of perceived industry experts to make better informed decisions or simply make sense of what the heck was happening.

This created a surge in demand for experts that sparked a meteoric rise in self-professed ‘thought leaders’ eager to raise their profiles and make a quick buck or two.

Why the dip in numbers?

Honestly? Well, truth is that the majority were utterly useless and were soon found out, as McKinsey found.

They ranked thousands of executives worldwide who produce thought leadership content on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being truly naff, and 10 being tickety boo.

The study found that just 10% of executives achieved a score above 5, which means that 90% frankly didn’t know their arses from their elbows, yet were attempting to convince us all to the contrary.

Can recruiters be thought leaders?

Against this backdrop, what then makes a thought leader that people respect, admire and buy into?

It is about building on the thinking in your area of expertise and creating content that adds value to your audience. What’s happening in your target market’s world?

Recognise the challenges and pain points faced by your prospects and generate content that offers a partial or full solution so they can overcome them.

For example:

Are they struggling to attract candidates? Then talk about the importance of a strong employer brand and culture, diversity and inclusion, or mentorship schemes.

Are they losing talent to other companies but can’t afford to raise salaries in line with the cost of living? Talk about other ways to reward and incentivise teams, such extra work-from-home days, or introducing lunch allowances, etc,.

Do they have a high staff attrition rate but don’t know how to stem the flow of key people leaving the business? Take a deep dive into effective onboarding strategies, the importance of exit interviews, succession planning, or staff development and progression planning.

Do they have a limited recruitment marketing budget? The answer is always Yes, so share tips on how hiring managers can maximise their return on investment using social media marketing, content amplification via LinkedIn, or establishing links with local colleges and universities.

Won’t this negate the need for our services?

Err, no. Of course it won’t. You know how to lay a carpet but what are the chances of you ever doing it yourself? When hiring is not your bag it is a headache and a potentially costly one if you get it wrong.

True thought leaders are those who can demonstrate empathy toward their target market. It’s not about saying, “I feel your pain”.

Rather, the focus needs to be on “It looks like hiring great talent has been problematic for you because your employer brand is not as strong as you would like it to be, here’s some ideas.”

Tools to seriously consider to communicate your thought leadership content

  • Blog: Write weekly – Infrequent articles posted on your website just doesn’t cut it (and makes you look lazy!).
  • LinkedIn: Post daily – Most recruiters have 1,000+ connections, so share your ideas, insights, and content with them.
  • Twitter: Post daily – You may hate it, but decision makers hang out here a lot and so you should too.
  • Vlogcast: Monthly – Verbalise your thinking, invite guests to discuss key issues. See example here.
  • Piece to camera: Monthly – Share your views on latest trends and future predictions. See example here.
  • Whitepaper: Quarterly – Show you have your finger on the pulse of your industry.
  • Media relations: Ongoing – Fed up of seeing your competitors quoted in the media? Next time, make it you that’s featured. Recent examples of client coverage we have secured for our recruitment clients:

Final thoughts…

As a recruitment leader, you will gain more influence over your target audience by giving your insights away and holding back from attempting to sell your wares at every given touch point.

By sharing your ideas, experiences and insights you position yourself as a trusted expert whose focus is on helping and supporting their audience and not on what they can get from them in terms of securing a business deal.

Food for thought. Do let me know if you need a steer or some help. Have a great rest of the week!