Turning uncertainty into opportunity for smaller recruitment businesses

The British Chambers of Commerce in partnership with LinkedIn are currently hosting a series of regional round tables across the UK specifically focusing on SMBs in the Recruitment sector, and the role it plays in supporting the economy as a whole.

For this series of round tables, LinkedIn have also created an eBook, Growing your Recruitment Business in Times of Challenge and Change, which is designed to help any recruitment business find opportunity amid the disruption.

Companies in the UK have never had greater need of trusted recruitment partners. However, with those businesses struggling to negotiate a perfect storm of Brexit uncertainty, technological change and growing skills gaps, being a trusted partner has to involve more than just another way to fill vacancies. Success depends on building recruitment brands and business models that clients can have faith in to help future-poof their talent strategies.

For smaller recruitment agencies, the disruption to the UK’s talent market creates plenty of challenges – but also unprecedented opportunity. You may not have the reach, name recognition and marketing resources of bigger firms, but you can be agile in spotting recruitment needs as they emerge and positioning your business to take advantage. And as a challenger recruitment brand today, you have more scope for building a differentiated proposition and delivering unique value to your clients than ever before. As talent strategy and business strategy move closer together, there’s value in expert consultancy – and a small agency with the right insights can provide that consultancy as effectively as a large one can.

The challenges for talent strategies

It all starts with understanding the particular challenges that your current and prospective clients are facing. The impact of automation and AI means that many of these businesses are struggling to source skills they never knew they needed just two years ago. In LinkedIn’s Recruiter Sentiment survey, for example, 55% of finance recruiters say there is greater demand for tech-related skills than talent to go around. More companies will find themselves facing unexpected skills gaps as the workplace continues to change – and they are likely to have fewer options than in the recent past when filling them. Brexit is already undermining the flow of talent from the EU, and forcing HR teams to find new solutions to their hiring needs. LinkedIn data shows that the UK’s share of professional migration within the EU has dropped significantly from 23.6% to 20.8%, and our Recruiter Sentiment survey confirms that 75% of recruiters are now filling more vacancies from within the UK.

Brexit is also leaving many business leaders in a quandary, with 93% of recruiters in our survey describing it as impacting on hiring strategies: do they respond to economic uncertainty by filling only the roles that they absolutely have to? Or do they take a longer-term view and start investing in a talent pipeline that they know is vital to their future competitiveness?

The types of recruitment agencies that are able to help answer these questions are those best positioned for growth over the next few years. Clients don’t just need candidates in the here and now. They need insight on how talent pools are changing, which new sources of skills they can tap in the future, and how they need to develop their brand and business strategy to secure their most important competitive asset: their people.

As economic uncertainty puts pressure on hiring budgets, the needle is swinging towards quality of candidates over quantity: finding the right person for today’s vacancy, and ensuring you are positioned to secure the right person for tomorrow’s. With 71% of recruiters saying candidates are more nervous about moving jobs, skills in cultivating relationships and building trust and credibility are more valuable than ever.

Becoming a challenger recruitment brand

To play a growing role in this disrupted talent market, smaller agencies need to position themselves to meet these challenges in three important ways: by specialising at scale, building brands through leveraging thought leadership and organic reach, and using a new generation of data tools to be as productive as possible when reaching out to candidates.

Specialising at scale means identifying the areas where you have unique insight and experience – and can add real value for clients. Have you done a lot of recent work placing designers in the auto industry, for example? Has a brief introduced you to a pool of candidates with particular software skills that the finance industry is hungry for? Build on this experience by looking deeper into such in-demand talent pools, spotting the gaps between supply and demand and the businesses that need help connecting to them. Tools like LinkedIn Talent Insights are invaluable for helping smaller agencies access the data they need to specialise confidently. You can use Talent Insights to find trends in the talent market, size and locate talent pools, and track the flow of skills between businesses to see where the greatest demand lies.

Growing your share of voice organically

Getting value from your expertise depends on building a brand that can appeal to both potential clients and potential candidates – and for a smaller agency, that means finding a way to grow your share of voice on a limited marketing budget. Bear in mind that, on LinkedIn, the combined reach of employees’ networks is typically 10x greater than that of the business they work for. Even if you only have a small number of people working for your business, that’s still a network that can connect you to highly relevant audiences. Share thought leadership on your areas of specialist expertise, mixing up formats between written blog posts and video to humanise your brand and bring the experience of working with you to life.

As a smaller agency, punching above your weight in terms of the impact that you can generate for clients has to involve making effective use of data – and the simplest way to do so is through recruitment tools that have data-driven insights built into them. The AI-driven recommendations in LinkedIn Recruiter can help to integrate the power of data analytics into your agency’s approach. Combine these with insights about where the opportunities lie and you’ll be equipped to find the right candidates faster – and reach out in a personalised way that’s more likely to generate a response.

Equipping yourself for the opportunity

The UK’s talent landscape has never experienced so much dramatic change in so concentrated a period of time. This creates challenges for any recruitment agency – but it also rewards those willing and able to adapt their approach to the fast-changing needs that businesses have. As talent pools quickly evolve, there’s opportunity for those able to translate insight speedily into consultancy, advice and action – and a new generation of recruitment tools means those capabilities are within the reach of smaller agencies just as much as larger ones.

Download our full guide to Growing your Recruitment Business in Times of Challenge and Change to find out more.

Author: Gary Moran, Regional Sales Manager, LinkedIn


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