Recruitment’s bouncebackability is unrivalled, but choose your marketing partners wisely

11 November 2020 | 6 min read | News
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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Well, this has turned out to be some year hasn’t it?! From the highs of Q1 to the woes of Q3, 2020 has been perhaps the most extreme of years in living memory for the recruitment sector. But we’ve been here before. Remember the last recession? Jeez, I do. It was dreadful.

I was contracting for, CareerBuilder and several other leading jobs boards and search firms and recall the pain and frustration that saw 1 in 5 recruitment business shut up shop during what was then the worst downturn in a generation.

By 2012, the green shoots had appeared and the following eight years saw a growth that surpassed all expectations, exceeding even the most optimistic of forecasts. That’s the recruitment industry. It is a resilient beast with an innate ability to bounce back and drive itself forward which is, in my view, unequalled anywhere within the economy.

That’s why I have every confidence this time will be no different. Yes it’s tough right now, yet we’re seeing a plethora of agencies making great strides already.

Indeed, as the UK’s biggest content marketing and PR agency for the recruitment sector, we have taken on two new agencies in the last week alone which brings the total number of recruiters we work with right now to 11. What unites them is the recognition that they can’t ‘wait and see’ what happens by remaining in quiet isolation, disengaged from their prospects and candidates.

Rather, they are grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns and doing what it takes to get in front of those people who matter most to their agencies. They’re not selling to them, they’re adding value to the relationship with a PR and marketing approach that ditches the ‘Hey, we’ve got a great candidate for you and we’re the best in the business’ and focusing instead on the ‘We get your pain points and the challenges you are facing right now, and we might have a solution to help you overcome them.’

The former approach is alienating, the latter is engaging, builds respect and trust, and makes you more attractive as an agency who clients want to do business with.

“The recruitment industry is a resilient beast. It’s ability to bounce back and drive itself forward is unequalled anywhere within the economy.”

I started my career in 1995 selling advertising space. Three years later I made my first foray into recruitment, selling graduate advertising campaigns for the largest employers in the UK including Deloitte, Siemens, British Army, and BBC. My last ‘proper’ job was with Monster in the mid-2000s and since launching Clearly in 2014, I – we as a business – have supported over 100 recruitment agencies, executive search firms and job boards with building their brand, positioning their key people as true experts, and enhancing their appeal as an agency of choice. That has provided us with a remarkable insight into what works, and equally what doesn’t.

LinkedIn is full of self-professed recruitment marketing professionals – even more have come to the fore since the start of the first lockdown. Some are very good and I love what they do, others are full of s*it and don’t know their arses from their elbows – plenty of smoke and mirrors. But few provide any evidence-based facts to support their claims. That’s concerning.

“Check the facts and be sure the agency you choose has your best interests at heart and are best-placed to use your investment to build your brand and drive your growth strategy.”

My advice if you are considering doing business with any of these people is to make sure you know that your investment delivers a return and that they’re as good as they claim to be.

So, do some due diligence first and ask your preferred agencies the following critical questions:

  • “What percentage of your current recruitment clients come to you through recommendation from another client?”
  • “Market leaders become such because they are very good at retaining clients and winning repeat business, what is your client retention rate?”
  • “Who will work on our account and what experience do they have of working with recruitment businesses like ours? How long have they worked with you?”
  • “Can I see examples of their written work?”
  • “We want to feature in the trade, local, regional and/or national media, what experience do you have of this and can you share recent examples of press coverage you have secured for your other recruitment agency clients?”
  • “Can you provide us with at least two references from clients – one who is current and one who you have worked with previously?”
  • “What impact has your work had for other recruitment clients in terms of audience reach, lead generation, sales etc?”

Remember that kid at school who always thrust their arm up into the air to ask the teacher, ‘Why?’ That’s what you as agency leaders and recruitment marketers need to do. When considering which specialist PR and Marketing agency you partner with, ask questions of them.

Remember, this is your business, it is your brand, and it is your money you are investing. You wouldn’t enrol your wee little ‘un into a school without first checking their academic record, recent results and the destinations that students take upon leaving. So don’t rush into making a decision. Check the facts and be sure the agency you choose has your best interests at heart and are best-placed to use your investment to build your brand and drive your growth strategy.

Choose carefully, Decide with data.

PS. As an aside, here’s a few examples of media coverage we have generated for some of our recruitment agency clients… y’know, practising what we preach ‘n all that: