Employer branding - Part two

Those that know me personally will know I am a flippant bastard some of the time. However when it comes to engaging with candidates and clients I am straight down the line. On reflection a bit to open, a bit too transparent but my view has always been that in recruitment transparency is king, knowing where you stand is worth it’s weight in gold even if it bad news.

I have recently been working on a bid with a fellow recruiter, demonstrating that collaboration in this market is possible if you want it to work. In the main we work well together although recently our different approaches to the same challenge have caused us to bang heads a little. The good news is for the prospective client is that as a result of our shouting we have created a much better proposition, pushing the boundaries in terms of what is possible, bringing genuine innovation in a market that is dominated by transactional CV pushers.

The reason I wanted to share this in my blog today is that the prospective client just doesn’t... what’s the word... get it?

Hurdle number one is that our proposition is built on the premise that if you continue to do what you do in recruitment you will continue to get the same results. This is never something clients want to hear, especially if they have been doing it themselves for a while. The walls come up and conversations become loaded with hints we are trying to push them out of a job. Not true in this case. We just believe that using people to who understand recruitment to deliver recruitment gives you a better chance of success.

We are not trying to replace their existing recruitment partners but to work alongside them to improve the overall performance of the recruitment service for the benefit of the client. It appears to be a strange concept but it think about it for a minute? How many recruitment firms place their client before them, no matter what, good times and bad? Most are focused on the size of the fee rather than the best thing for the client. I'm not having a go it's a fact of life and even in our innovative solution there is a place or them. To be fair it's a place that most recruiters would die for, a comprehensive recruitment process that is slick and understandable and all they have to do is feed some good candidates whilst we take away the pain of managing them through the process. Even better than that our 'candidate ownership' agreement says that if they put in a good candidate and we can't place them today, they will get paid when we do in the future. Not us. Them.

The prospective client has told us their recruitment challenges and in the course of working with them we have seen them for ourselves. It is a sorry tale of poor quality of hire, lack of in-house capability and capacity, poorly defined process and slow response to candidates when they do find a candidate. The candidate experience is very poor.

Luckily for us so far the other recruitment companies have gone for a ‘standard’ pitch, better candidates, big databases and my favourite “we have a database of 60,000 candidates but to get the best candidates you will need to retain us”... love it, love the industry, love that I know I am right.


The client is not buying. So I need your help. The majority of people that read this are in the recruitment industry and I am taking a crowdsource approach to it that says a combined view is better than my isolated biased viewpoint.

I need some guidance and support around the ‘what to next’. Think of it as a recruitment case study.

Our proposition is built around the idea that we will become their recruitment function. Not in an RPO or managed vendor way but an in-house proactive search team. What this means is that we will compete against the clients competitors for candidates as well as the existing search teams they use. Taking our client directly into the game. Other businesses have done this and done this well and I know we can deliver.

We will create a true talent pool of qualified talented individuals that fit the company profile in terms of skills, experience, behaviours and culture. We will focus on their business priorities delivering the people the need to day and in the future. To get there we will implement a comprehensive branding plan, based on doing not saying. Every candidate touch point reviewed and changed to deliver on the candidate experience promise. We will train, mentor and coach their current in-house team, developing their capability, improving their success rate.

You see I don’t believe that the traditional recruitment approach can succeed anymore.

Traditional recruitment models and traditional recruitment organisations are designed specifically for a transaction, driven by the size of their fee or retainer. We will manage the process, committing to a number of placements for a fixed annual fee. I should mention that commercially we are on the money. The client will get all the things from their existing suppliers plus all the other things for a lower price. We are also committed to this client. If a candidate isn’t right for this client we will let them go.

We won’t be talking to them about another role in another organisation nor trying to make a fee from them. If you were my client what would you like? That I talk to a candidate about a role with you and 5 others elsewhere?

If you were our prospective client why wouldn’t you want you recruitment brand managed. Why wouldn’t you want a proactive approach to potential candidates, capturing all the data as you go, exclusively for the client building a talent pool that they own and can talk to. Why wouldn't you want the best candidates to be approached professionally by professional headhunters in your name? I should say they appear happy for us to 'source candidates' its the approach that they don't appear to get.

What have I missed?

Employer branding - Part One can be found here.

2010 is going to be another tough year, I believe we are out of the worst of it but it is by no means a done deal yet.  If you want my help with your recruitment strategy, from inception to delivery, help in the creation of a 3 year business vision or practical on-site recruitment support then contact me on +44161.408.4005.

As well as being a Regional Director for the IRP, Martin is Director of the innovative recruitment business mckinleyresource, a freelance people consultant specialising in talent attraction, assessment and recruitment and a provider of business coaching for high growth entrepreneurial organisations.