Reputation Management in Recruitment: Why it’s broken and how to fix it

By Matthew Gibbs

Director / Co-Founder at Lucerna Group Ltd

Blog Image Reputation management in recruitment why its broken and how to fix it
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Recruitment agencies haven’t got the best reputation within the industry – it’s something that we know first-hand. Some say it’s down to employers hiring between five and 10 different agencies to place a single role, developing something of a ‘cut-throat’ environment. Others believe it’s down to the commission culture, claiming that recruiters are motivated to place any candidate to earn their fee – not just the right one.

Unfortunately, there are a vocal minority of agencies out there that don’t help the reputation of the profession. You may even have experienced it yourself – poor communication, the hard sell, and sending you any candidate with no consideration for their relevance.

It’s not just clients who have a hard time with recruitment consultants, however. Any candidate will likely have been told a consultant will call them back… just to never hear from them again. It seems like most agencies just want your money and don’t take the time to listen and understand your needs… right?

But are the negative views of a recruitment agency really deserved?

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” 

That’s what it all comes down to – branding. Many say the recruitment industry is broken beyond repair… I disagree. It’s something that can be fixed with better communication (to both clients and candidates), better marketing, and above all, the communication of the value that recruitment specialists can actually offer. 

Great brands understand that it’s about the whole customer experience – not getting clients to part with their money. Agencies need to show their potential clients why they do what they do and that they provide added value. Effective selling is all about creating human connections by building relationships, listening and understanding what your clients’ needs, are and meeting these needs.

Agencies need to work together to change the reputation of the profession. Some agencies have built a credible brand and give value to their clients and candidates. Agencies need to look at the routes of their business and what their brand stands for and why they set up the business in the first place, to then begin to build up their reputation in a positive way.

So how do we fix this?

1 – Charitable giving or community outreach

An agency can begin to repair a reputation by getting involved in community projects or charity initiatives. The legal sector uses this strategy well in the form of pro-bono work.

2 – Increase the focus on client retention and repeat business

It may sound obvious, but we’ve seen a huge number of recruiters fall into the ‘new is better’ trap. In reality, it’s a lot less resource intensive to look after existing clients for repeat business, rather than gain new ones.

If they’re looked after, clients will often do some of the hard work for you. Word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of branding, with research showing that 92% of people trust recommendations… even from people they don’t know.

3 – Invest in marketing

People buy from people – it’s why recommendations are such a valuable tool. The people at the top of your agency, or even your consultants at the coalface, can act as brand ambassadors for your business.

Additional value can be developed for a brand by passing on knowledge, advice and expertise about recruitment as an industry, through blogs and guides. Employing someone to manage your brand can be hugely beneficial – ensuring that every single communication platform used reflects your brand and is consistent with your key messages, language, tone of voice and values.

The recruitment industry is in need of a reputation boost. Today, the vocal minority are impacting the reputation of the sector at a far higher rate than recruiters that are actually doing good work. The majority of recruiters now need to speak louder, reminding the industry of the value that a specialist recruitment partner can provide.

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Matthew Gibbs

Director / Co-Founder • San Francisco