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How to stand out in an ultra-competitive recruitment world

How to stand out in an ultra-competitive recruitment world

16 Jul 10:00 by David Lawrence

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So almost 5 months into our brilliant new venture, it’s safe to say we’ve had our good days and bad days, ups and downs and every day is a lesson that makes us stronger. One thing that I’m absolutely loving though is the challenge of developing new relationships with companies and contacts that do not know who we are.

Anyone that knows the recruitment industry will know that when you leave one company to join another, you’re restricted to not deal with clients/contacts that you’ve dealt with in the previous 12 months for 6 months. This means that all the requirements we have at Amicus Recruitment are currently with businesses that have never worked with us, who don’t know us personally and don’t know our offerings or previous successes. It’s therefore up to us to promote the brand, promote our individual abilities and then up to us to prove our ability to deliver when given an opportunity. But how do you get that opportunity with someone who doesn’t know who you are? Hard work’s a start, but that should be an absolute given for anyone wanting to be a successful recruiter and it will only take you so far, and in the grand scheme of things it’s not very far.

There are currently more registered recruitment agencies in the UK than ever before, more internal recruitment teams than ever before, more platforms for companies to recruit directly and quite simply, it’s the most competitive time to be in recruitment than I have ever known it to be. On the flip side of the coin though, within IT, it’s probably one of the most candidate short markets that we’ve seen in a long time. In such a competitive market, the only way to differentiate yourself from every other recruiter, recruitment company, internal recruitment team or recruitment partner is to provide a solution that no one else can provide.

There’s one thing I think about a lot and I personally think it draws one the most spilt opinions within the recruitment industry whether you’re internal, rec 2 rec or agency side. Try not to gasp too much guys, but I want to talk about ‘The speculative CV’.

For me, the very best way for any specialist recruiter to show a new contact that they are in fact a specialist within their niche is to present a profile of a professional that they’re representing that the new contact is unaware of when they are looking for said skillset. There, I said it. I think that sending a speculative CV when directed to the right person, in the right moment, is the most powerful way of demonstrating your ability to deliver. Let’s face it, with so many people claiming to be able to provide the same solution, nobody’s going to give me an opportunity to help because I say I’m a nice guy. Nobody owes anyone anything. Businesses want results, that’s it.

What I would like to ask is why are so many so offended by the idea of receiving a speculative profile?

There’s a certain business in London who will remain unnamed that I have been wanting to engage with for the past 5 months but have not had the opportunity to help, yet. They work with recruitment agencies though. For the past 3 months, they’ve been searching for a Senior JavaScript Developer and until this point they’ve been unsuccessful. I have called their contact responsible for recruitment at least 40 times (apparently, they don’t take calls) and have emailed them at least 15 times introducing myself, our services and asked them for an opportunity to help. I have left numerous voicemails and have even written a letter of introduction. Bar sending Hedwig the owl with a note or turn up to their office uninvited with a tray of donuts, there’s possibly not much else I could do. In that time, I’ve not had a single response. Not one. That was, until last Friday.

Friday was the day I decided to bite the bullet and send in a profile of a truly amazing developer that I’m working with currently. It’s worth noting that they had given me permission to do this previously as they see they value in me creating more opportunities for them in their search. The response I got from the contact come within minutes of the email being sent:     

‘We do not accept speculative CV’s. We are happy with our PSL. If you send another speculative CV, you will be blacklisted and will therefore not be considered to work with ‘x company’ in the future’

Can someone please explain this to me? How a business that doesn’t accept calls, does not reply to generic emails, does not respond to letters & does not respond to polite voicemails react in such an over exaggerated manner and threaten ‘blacklisting’ off the back of being introduced to the one person that could be the answer to their 3-month search? And more importantly, why is it that the only time that they have responded to any communication over the past 3 months is when they receive a speculative CV? Why are people so offended by this? I’m genuinely interested.

What’s also very puzzling is the growing number of recruiters who seem to want to portray this perfect image on Linkedin and other social platforms of an ‘ethical recruiter’. These people wouldn’t possibly do such a thing like send a perfect profile of a candidate looking for a role to a company who is desperately searching for their skills! Heaven forbid, the world’s gone mad! The respectful thing to do would be to contact the recruitment partner directly and engage in conversation instead of bypassing them to line management, but when someone’s ‘so busy’ that they don’t take calls, is constantly ‘in a meeting’ or just doesn’t reply to a generic email, you really can’t grumble if you get bypassed to someone who will communicate.

Practically every advert I see nowadays from businesses advertising directly state that they look to hire individuals who have excellent communication skills. I think the irony is lost on many.  

I’ve established many strong relationships with internal talent acquisition partners and FTSE 100 businesses who have openly requested speculative approaches as a way of demonstrating capability. How else are they to establish if I’m a suitable supplier and able to deliver if selected to be a preferred partner? It certainly shouldn’t be because I told them so, because after all, supposedly everyone’s a specialist nowadays, so how else can you determine capability? Maybe that’s why their requirement has been live for 3 months, because their PSL is full of suppliers that have promised capability and have never actually been tested on their ability to deliver? Food for thought :)

Happy to hear everyone’s views and please remain respectful to other people’s opinion.