The big secret. Unique candidates

The big secret. Unique candidates

The recruitment industry is dysfunctional in many ways.

And the consequences are negative for all stakeholders. Clients, candidates and the recruiters themselves.

All the research*, and my own observations across the world, suggest most recruiters are working longer and harder than ever before, for less return.

Technology has not improved the process as we all hoped it would. Quite the reverse, in fact. It’s made so much data so available, and applying for jobs so easy, that the recruitment process is in fact made less efficient by the day. A cursory glance at how many candidates the average recruiter screens before one gets in front of a client, will tell you that**. (Note to HR tech wannabees: Solve THAT problem first)

What is for sure is that we must get paid more often for the work that we do

Historically, we have tried to deal with that by securing retainers, or at least taking job-orders exclusively. And that’s a good thing, as the contingent multi-listed job-order paradigm is about as fucked as a business model gets.

Exclusive jobs are good, but the big secret about recruitment now is exclusive candidates! (Check out the short video where I explain exactly what this means)

The candidates you get from job-boards are not exclusive, by definition. They are approaching clients direct, they are talking to other agencies, they are combing search engines and social media. The cold hard truth is that there is very little chance of you placing them. Even if they have all the skills. It’s a fact. We place a tiny percentage of the people we screen from job boards**.

If you have access to the same candidates that everyone else has, then your competitive advantage is driven around speed and price, and in that case you are on a slippery slope to recruiting hell.

The modern recruiter is a genius at accessing unique candidates. That is a candidate working only with you. Not available to competitors, but more importantly, unable to be found by your clients either.

What is more, these unique candidates are at the beginning of their job search. They are not ‘out there’. You can act as their agent. This is key.

How do you get these elusive ‘unique candidates’? I have written and spoken extensively about this, but it’s all around becoming a skills-hunter and a talent magnet.

Take heed – don’t follow the herd into oblivion. Unique candidates are the differentiator in modern recruiting. Find unique candidates with in-demand skills and your clients will not only come to you, they will pay you higher fees for the privilege.

* e.g. Bullhorn Recruitment Trends Report 2015.
** Recent research from Social Talent suggest that on average agencies screen 282 potential candidates for a job, for 6 to be presented for interview, 4 to actually get interviews, and one to get hired. Reflect on that for a moment!


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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5 Responses to The big secret. Unique candidates

  1. Gordon Alderson June 15, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

    Thanks for another ripper article Greg. Recruiters definitely need to think and act outside their normal 9 dots.

  2. Stephen Booth June 16, 2016 at 5:11 am #

    A question from a non-recruiter. Why the frilly heck should I limit my options by being anyone’s ‘unique candidate’? Seriously. You’re one person so there’s a limited amount of jobs you can see each dayday, if you have client exclusivity then by definition you cannot be aware of jobs that other recruiters are awareaware. I go with two recruiters and I’ve doubled my potential for finding a job.

    If I can a very specialist skill set and you are the only recruiter who specialises in that then I can see the point. Otherwise, from my point of view volume is the key.

    Anyhow, odds are, based on past experience, that you’re just going to bombard me with mails for contract roles (even though I said I’m only interested in permanent), on the other side of the country (even though I said I have to stay local), doing something I progressed beyond 15 years ago for 30% less than I’m currently getting as a permanent employee with paid leave and sick pay.

    You want exclusivity then you need to stop treating candidates as fast moving consumer goods to be processed in bulk. Maybe you operate at the six and seven digit salary end of the market, but until you prove different then you’re looking a lot like the recruiters we dealt with when our salary was only five digits.

    • Greg Savage June 16, 2016 at 7:37 am #

      You ask a good question Stephen (although your tone and aggression is a little unfortunate)

      I will give you the benefit of the doubt however, and pay you the respect and take the time to answer your question, most of which you have actually done for yourself. What I am suggesting only works for specialist recruiters who do in fact treat candidates as partners. The “level” of the market is not relevant. The rarity of your skill is. In this case if a recruiter builds real trust with a candidate, and the recruiter has deep market knowledge and a great reach amongst the best roles, handling many of them exclusivity, then it will be VERY much in the candidates interests to allow the recruiter to act as his/her ‘agent’, and represent that candidate to carefully selected opportunities. You are right that many recruiters have no concept on how to do this and do not have the credibility or skill. That is the very issue i am trying to address. Thanks for reading my blog. What I am advocating in this piece is happening all over the place right now. Remain open to new ideas… its the smart thing to do.

      • Glandu June 22, 2016 at 2:40 am #

        I’m good, but my specialty is not niche enough, and I’m not unique enough to have such added value.

  3. Stuart H July 21, 2016 at 12:36 am #

    Greg, you highlight a very important factor here :

    “most recruiters are working longer and harder than ever before, for less return.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. I believe the main reason for this is that many companies have taking the manager out of the early stages of the hiring process making you have to deal exclusively with HR (or risk being struck off as a supplier) or by releasing jobs through a portal. I supplied a customer in my last employer that was solely portal based and we were not allowed to approach hiring managers. The jobs were released on a portal and often the managers requested conference calls to find out why they are not getting what they need. It often turned out that the job spec they had provided was completely different to the actual role.

    In roles where we have direct manager engagement, not only is the process smoother but we are able to close roles having submitted less candidates. An added bonus is that managers can’t hide behind the portal and disrespect the candidates by avoiding giving feedback.

    I am truly staggered by how many company’s take this hiring manager-less approach during the recruitment process where the manager is unable to exert their vision for the role into the process. I mean, it’s not as though they are going to be working with the candidate is it?

    Do everyone a favour hiring company’s, get rid of these God-awful web portal / manager-less processes and save yourself a lot of time, hassle and delays by hiring the right people, faster.

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