The state of the recruitment industry today is a complex issue going far beyond traditional stereotypes. Ultimately, over the last 20 years, the recruitment industry has stood still in terms of processes. It’s safe to say that the invention of the telephone was the last great innovation to hit recruitment, with LinkedIn counting as more of a caveat.
With such a lack of change over the last two decades, and an ever-increasing number of recruiters out there vying for business, staffing firms have fallen into an unexpected trap – focussing on volume over quality. This can, in part, be attributed to the bonus culture, but is really more endemic of the philosophy of recruitment today, favouring short term results over long term relationships in most cases.
Unfortunately, for recruiters that do focus on longer term relationships with clients, providing a stellar service and bringing candidates to their best career option, there is no means of differentiation from their less accomplished peers.
After 20 years, the business world thinks they know recruitment… but as realised by the amateur electrician who decides that rewiring their entire house is a great weekend project, there’s far more to the process than meets the untrained eye.
There are, naturally, a huge number of issues in differentiating between good and bad recruiters. Unlike Yelp for restaurants, or Glassdoor for employers, however, there’s no real ranking or recommendation service for the recruitment sector beyond word of mouth or simple trial and error. It’s an expensive and often flawed methodology that rarely results in businesses finding the perfect hire, or candidates finding the perfect job.
Reviews make good business sense
Glassdoor and Indeed each offer a review service with differing results. The issue is, with Glassdoor for smaller companies, employees are not motivated to make honest reviews. If someone acts as a Senior Recruiter in a five-person operation, it’s going to immediately be clear which employee has written the piece – whether positive or negative. For Yelp, many of the reviews put up are famously fake, or are simply inaccurate.
Despite these flaws, however, recent research has noted that for each one star increase in ratings (via Yelp), a revenue increase of between five to nine percent is also noted. According to Reviews, reputation and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com, this effect was not seen across the board – namely, that “ratings do not affect restaurants with chain affiliation”, and that “chain restaurants have declined in market share as Yelp penetration has increased.” Reviews for specific businesses, therefore, are the most effective forms.
When it comes to research on the business benefit of reviews, the process is strongly tilted towards consumers. Yelp, Glassdoor and other review sites are designed and made with end-users in mind… but what are employers? They’re end users, yes… but the product they’re consuming is talent. In marketing today, there are huge gaps between how companies target B2B and B2C audiences – but these strategies miss the simple fact that everyone is a consumer… just within different pipelines.
There are some strong lessons that recruiters can learn from their B2C brethren. Namely, from the conclusions of the aforementioned report on Yelp. While “online consumer reviews substitute more traditional forms of reputation gains”, “consumers do not use all available information and are more responsive to quality changes that are more visible, and consumers respond more strongly when a rating contains more information.”
In English: reviews are a fantastically efficient tool that consumers take advantage of in detriment to other forms of recommendation. Further, the more detailed the review, the more responsive consumers are.
Indeed, according to research from Act-On, word of mouth marketing such as this (whilst perhaps inaccurately named for the modern age) should be the top priority for businesses… it’s the original marketing channel. 64% of marketing professionals now believe that word of mouth is more effective than traditional marketing. In context, that means reviews, testimonials and recommendations.
The commercial case for reviews
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association: “At the low end, for fast moving consumer goods, offline word of mouth is worth five times more than a paid media impression. For higher consideration categories it’s more than 100 times more valuable.”
The Harvard Business Review released figures supporting this. In a study of over 1,400 B2B customers, nearly 60% of purchasing decisions, from benchmark pricing to research and ranking, were completed without any contact with the person selling that product – the stage where reviews were most needed. Notably, further research found that for each negative review, B2C businesses lose an average of 30 customers or clients. Scaled down for B2B, this still represents an unacceptable level of loss.
For recruiters, this means that businesses will already have researched, assessed and come to a decision on any supplier before they begin working with them – whether for good or for ill remains to be seen.
That’s a huge part of the sales pipeline that’s not being influenced effectively… but does this have to be the case?
Strategies for implementation
There’s no doubt that the recruitment industry is becoming more and more crowded. The Harvard Business Review hit the nail on the head. They found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, highlighting that call-back rates are under 1%, and just 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened.
With such a large amount of the decision-making process happening before a firm even speaks to a recruiter, it’s no surprise that attempting to circumnavigate that buying process is such a futile exercise. This is why the awards industry is booming today – it’s a form of accolade… a differentiator to let customers know that your business is better than the competition.
Research has now found that from doubling the number of online reviews from clients, prospect interest can increase by up to 60%. Outside of LinkedIn, however, where every recruiter is trying to sell candidates their most recent “opportunity” with an “industry leading” company which is “pioneering in their field”, the opportunity for such reviews don’t really exist for recruiters. Whilst testimonials on websites function (in a sense), they aren’t independently verified.
Recruiters need to harness the power of reviews to really supercharge their business. An independent, demonstrable process that ranks the best recruiters apart from the worst. Most importantly, it should be done by actual, verifiable experts in their own fields – the hiring managers who have worked with said recruitment specialists.
Whilst B2C reviews are an open playing field where just about anyone can review a company with no consequence, implementing a B2B review strategy needs to be a different beast entirely. Reviews have to come from those with real clout to have any effect.
At Recruiterly, we’re helping to redefine the recruitment industry. Our new platform is specifically designed to raise the top performing consultants apart from their less successful
We have built a free tool for recruiters that want to turn their reviews into profit, check out our blog post: Recruiterly Explained: Reputation Management Tool.