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Recruitment Guide: Knowing your market

James Caan, CEO of Recruitment Guide


Read the introduction to the Recruitment Guide here


The first important step in the recruitment process to help you go from being a good consultant to being a great one is knowing your market. Being a knowledge worker in your market is fundamental to your professional and reputational success as a recruiter.


It’s important to build knowledge on the sector and region you are working in, so you can provide insights and add value to your clients beyond a Boolean or LinkedIn search. Today, clients have access to the same pool of candidates that recruiters do and so being a knowledge worker and expert on your sector is where you can really add value. If you are building a new desk, it will also help to guide your choice of sectors or regions.


Everyday a consultant should be upskilling in their knowledge of their market by taking an hour to read the latest trade and sector news and researching the most popular roles within your sector. This doesn’t need to be arduous, it’s something you can do on route to work or while you’re having your lunch etc. This should include the sectors that are growing at the quickest rate, the vacancies that are frequently available and which roles job seekers apply for most. Recruiters should also be aware of which roles are the hardest to fill, which candidates are in high demand and most importantly the salary variances in your market or region.


Recruiters should be in a position to support their clients and manage their expectations of the market when creating a job role, helping them to understand how competitive your job briefs are and understand the benefits packages that are the norm in the sector. If your client is looking for a tax director and offering a salary that’s 20% under the market rate… you should be able to flag this instantly. You’ll waste your time and theirs if you are not able to offer this important advice.


One of the first tips for understanding your market is to establish whether you’re working in a candidate or job lead market. A candidate lead market is when the supply of candidates is less than the demand within their market. This tends to occur during a period of economic growth when there’s an increase in jobs available but fewer candidates to fill them. You will need to be far more active to attract quality candidates because the demand outweighs the amount of available candidates. Typically, recruiters in this area will need to have strong headhunting skills to attract candidates and they’ll be even more likely to receive counter offers from existing employers. With so much competition for top talent in a candidate led market you can develop your relationship with new clients by working with them to establish USPs and encouraging them to make quicker hiring decisions.


A job lead market is when there are less jobs but a high number of candidates available. This typically happens when the economy is challenged and there are a high number of people looking for work but fewer opportunities for them to chase.  The hiring process tends to be slower because clients will want to take more time selecting the perfect candidate. The other downsize is that you may need to negotiate harder on your rates and fees which are typically squeezed in a job lead market. 


Secondly, you should always assess the marketability of your sector. Do your research on how clients in your sector build brand recognition, engage with candidates and attract top talent. You should be aware of the employee engagement strategies of your clients and how these compare with their competitors.


Once you’ve become a knowledge worker in your sector, it’s important to share your expertise. Sign up to relevant news feeds, LinkedIn groups and discussions. If you’re on top of the latest industry news for your sector you should share and comment accordingly. Trade news will not only help you to understand the movers and shakers in your market, it may provide hints and tips for business development too.


It sounds really straight forward but after 30 years in the business you’d be surprised by how many consultants cannot answer basic market related questions about the sector they work in. This has to change. Knowing and understanding your market is absolutely critical to providing excellent customer service to your client and it should never be underestimated. This is the foundation of your recruitment career.


Always keep up to date with your market and adjust your recruitment strategy accordingly. If you want to be a successful recruiter, it starts with becoming and being known as a knowledgeable worker in your sector and building a reputation as someone people can turn to for insight and advice. This knowledge also empowers you to be prepared and anticipate economic changes that could impact your desk. 

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