Recruitment Benchmarks to Consider

By Dave Nerz

benchmarking-word-cloudEntrepreneurs like to keep score. OK, that is a generalization but seriously, how do successful people become successful? They hold themselves accountable and they set targets. So my question is, as an independent recruiter or recruitment firm owner do you have someone that you compare your success with on a regular basis? Benchmarking is the term many use.

It is tempting to compare only with your past results because it is easy to find the data and if the direction is up, all seems good. What you may fail to realize with such a simplistic approach is the best in class benchmarks that could propel you to a completely new level of success.

One organization that makes data available for these purposes is Staffing Industry Analysts. Maybe you read their publication, Staffing Industry Review. SIA has a monthly report called the Pulse and a semi-annual Staffing Industry Benchmark Consortium (SIBC) Report. I just completed a Pulse Report and it took about 5 minutes to complete. It may take longer if you have a complex mix or have a hard time finding your metrics year over year, etc. This is the price you pay: to get a copy of the results…you must contribute. There are also more in-depth reports available for a fee.

Here are some metrics that SIBC suggests you should benchmark:

  • Segment-specific, year-over-year revenue growth each month
  • Marketing and technology expense as a percentage of revenue
  • Temps and Accounts per staff employee
  • EBITDA per location
  • Days sales outstanding (DSO)

I also know of membership organizations that are good at creating networking opportunities to connect with like-minded peers. It is always good to find someone that you can benchmark and then becomes a coach/consultant to help you improve results. It is great to find someone of similar size that has been through the issues you are dealing with currently. NAPS (National Association of Personnel Services) is one such group at naps360.com. Our members in NPAworldwide do this regularly too, and I’m sure there are many other great organizations that offer open and honest partnership and networking opportunities.

Seek a benchmark opportunity out and measure yourself or your business. It is a great way to learn what is possible.

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Sell Yourself to Clients: 5 Recruiter Strategies

By Sarah Gawrys

candidate-globeApple CEO Steve Jobs had a particular way to sell yourself or your brand whether you were an average job seeker, a manager, consultant, or even a CEO. Presentation skills not only help sell ideas or products; you can also us them to elevate your personal brand, which as a recruitment firm owner, is essential in establishing yourself to clients. Consider these Steve Jobs techniques on your next presentation.

  1. Sell Dreams. You are not selling simply the fact that you can find candidates for positions. You have the power to “move the company forward by discovering the people that will lead it into the future” because in reality, they know the service you are providing, as they have hired previously, so they want to know how you can help them achieve more, which leads you to a lasting client relationship. When you meet with a client, research them and sell them the idea of fulfilling long term goals with the candidates you turn over to them.
  2. Create a short vision for your firm. Steve Jobs presented products with a short one-sentence description, such as the MacBook Air being “the world’s thinnest notebook.” Can you summarize your firm into a sentence to lead and finish with? For example, if you are a healthcare recruitment firm that specializes in niche roles in rural areas, you could state that you are “the hunter of rural healthcare candidates otherwise undiscovered.” This is under 140 characters, fewer than a twitter post, but the mind is trained to key in on these statements and the next time that client needs a healthcare role they will remember that.
  3. The Rule of Three. Neuroscientists have findings that state human think in chunks of three or four. Do not overload your client with too many stories, attributes, or experiences, but stick to three points and introduce them early, expand on them, and summarize them at the end. This way, your client will be able to focus on the main points you are trying to sell your firm with, instead of remembering odds and ends from throughout the conversation.
  4. Strive for Simplicity. Steve Jobs stated that, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Do not clutter presentations or speeches, but keep it as sleek and to the point as possible.
  5. Practice. If you are looking to expand your clientele, or even asking a current client for more positions, make your presentation look effortless by practicing your pitch as many times as possible. This is a great way to teach the recruiters you hire how to become more effective and to brainstorm ways to make your client pitch stronger.

Above all, keep your personality alive. You have decided to become an independent recruiter for a reason, and that passion should be visible to your clients. Show them that they should want to use you as their headhunter not only because you deliver results, but because this is your calling and what you were made to do.

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5 Twitter Tips for Recruiters

By Veronica Scrimshaw

Today’s guest post is from Megan Wilkes, the social media & marketing manager at JXT, a specialist digital agency for recruiters. Megan already boasts years in social media management, which means JXT’s clients get access to never-been-thought-of-before social media ideas coupled with marketing expertise that includes guerrilla strategies. Follow her on Twitter at @mwilkesy.

It’s a very exciting time for me, someone who has taught the importance of social media for so long to really see recruiters start to embrace it. I’ve particularly seen a great uptake in Twitter for sourcing and engaging candidates and clients as well as network with industry peers. So for those of you who are just starting to get your hands dirty with Twitter or if you’re not quite sure you’re doing it right, read on for some helpful Twitter tips for recruiters…

#1 Learn the basics    addition

Before you begin your foray into any new social media network it’s imperative you learn the basics, the lingo, the how-to’s. If you don’t already know what a hashtag is (& what it’s used for), what a mention is or how to follow people…. then click here and check out Twitter’s glossary — it has everything you need to help you get “hip” with the Twitlingo (<– I made that up).

#2 Make technology your friend

A lot of people, especially beginners, can find the sheer information coming out of Twitter overwhelming – how can you keep up? How can you contribute enough to be found? Below are two apps that help you dominate the Twittersphere.

Hootsuite-logoHootsuite: You can use Hootsuite to manage multiple social networks including Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and more. However, there are a few nifty ways I like to use Hootsuite for Twitter:

  • Schedule & Reschedule Content; You can optimize for different days/times (there’s always a new audience on Twitter – don’t be afraid to re-use quality content… just try different intros)
  • Reporting; activity & clicks/day, geo-info, top referrers, most popular links
  • Listening; #hashtags, #events, #twitterchats

Hootsuite is free up to 5 accounts, but if you really want some great reporting functionality, more social networks or team member collaboration you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial on the pro version by clicking here.

Buffer-logoBufferapp: If you’re all over Hootsuite already – then use Bufferapp to promote even more great content and engagement. How I like to use Bufferapp:

  • 1-click scheduling from any website (with the browser add-on)
  • “Buffer” re-tweets directly from Twitter (great for spreading out engagement over a week)
  • Connect it with Feed.ly to quickly schedule out great content I already follow

Click here to sign up for free for up to 10 “Buffers” or get the awesome plan for even more … well, awesome. A paid Bufferapp account will let you customize different times for different days of the week, as well as schedule as much content as you like!

#3 Use automation wiselyautomated

No one likes this guy…. (See picture to the right). Why? Because…

  1. They send you the same boring content… job ads 10 times in 10 seconds. (Hello SPAM)
  2. They never share quality content you actually want to read
  3. They never engage with you (because their whole account is automated)

Don’t get me wrong- automating content is a great time saver, and yes as a recruiter of course you’re going to want to put your jobs out there – but there is a much SMARTER and less ANNOYING way to get this done.

When you’re actually setting up your automation… don’t just flick it on, but set the frequency and quantity to a respectable number. 1 post per hour is a pretty good start.

But, even more important is making sure you are replying, re-Tweeting and pushing out other relevant content in between your automated posts.

You can use Hootsuite or another RSS feeder to set up automation.

bullseye#4 Be audience-focused

One of the biggest and most common mistakes I see recruiters making on Twitter comes down to the recruiter either not knowing who they are trying to attract or not caring. If you just Tweet about recruitment and jobs, all you’ll get are active job seekers, other recruiters, and a whole bunch of competition from the majority of other recruiters doing the exact same thing.

Now, if you get smart about your Tweeting, you can Tweet about relevant industry topics (ie. if you specialize in marketing you should be talking about social media, branding etc., to get the attention of your target market), which will both engage who you want to and actually make you more knowledgeable about your sector.

Pro tip: Follow relevant people! Not only will about 50% follow you back, but you’ll also get better and better suggestions for whom to follow that you didn’t even know were on Twitter, as well as more quality and quantity content for you to share!

#5 Use Twitter to Listenlistening-learning

If you don’t want to actively use Twitter in the ways mentioned above, it’s a fantastic listening tool – you can search for recruitment-related hashtags to learn about latest recruitment trends, or search for industry-specific hashtags about what’s happening in your sector and what’s important in your clients’ and candidates’ world… making you a true expert in your sectors.

If you have any more basic tips for beginners, or tips that helped you when you got started, leave them in the comments below!


The 3 F’s of Employee Retention

By Veronica Scrimshaw

employees-teamToday’s post is courtesy of Joshua Ro with People Consulting Group in Seoul, Korea. People Consulting Group places senior executives in manufacturing, information technology, consumer products, banking and finance, telecommunications, logistics and distribution, professional services, entertainment, and fashion. Joshua serves as a member of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors.

Recently, I attended a human resources seminar where most of the attendees were foreign companies doing business in Korea. There I had an opportunity to speak with a HR Director of McDonald’s Korea and she mentioned that they have a high rate of employee retention. The reason is 3 keywords their employees have identified: Family & Friends, Flexibility and Future. McDonald’s Korea’s staff members and employees feel they belong to a Family & Friends, enjoy Flexibility at work which drives better performances, and see a vision for the Future in getting promotion and opportunities.

Then I came to think about the implications of these three key factors in successful employee retention in our own field. The recruitment industry is somewhat notorious for having a high turnover rate.

I understand making staff members and employees feel they belong to a family and/or group of friends is a key factor in retaining them. Amongst any group, there must be some who are doing better than others, yet others who are struggling. Surely it would be your desire to have all of your family members perform well. Thus, investing your time to make them feel they are a member of the family may encourage that high performance and ultimately help you to retain your staff and employees.

Another key to employee retention is providing flexibility at work. We are so used to working from 9:00AM to 6:00PM, but it is important to recognize the different situations of each staff member and employee. Offering flexibility at work, such as giving different options in working schedules, will certainly lift their burdens off from their shoulders and lead to higher performance.

Lastly, envisioning a realistic and tangible future (not a transient one) at work helps retain staff members and employees. Setting goals and making them see what is achievable triggers their sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. This means employees have to see the benefits and rewards generated from both their work and your organization.

Retaining staff members and employees, especially the high performers in the recruitment industry, is challenging. Addressing the “3 F’s” of Family/Friends, Flexibility, and Future improves employee retention and may also increases their job performance and overall satisfaction.

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No One Wants to Work with “Recruiters”

By Dave Nerz

business-men-shaking-handsI recently attended a conference of global recruiters. New business development for recruiters was a topic of conversation. Attendees agreed that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to cold call into prospective client companies. A big part of the challenge is “recruitment fatigue.” Employers are just plain tired of hearing from recruiters and refuse to take the calls or return messages left. Nothing new there. The big “a-ha” was that it often has to do with the way you position your service offering and the title you announce yourself by on each prospect call.

Again, most employers are contacted by a long list of search professionals, executive recruiters and all the other titles the profession has adopted. I heard of someone using a fresh approach or at least it seemed fresh to me. Perhaps you are already on to this concept. The idea is to avoid approaching those clients with recruitment fatigue with another call from a recruiter. Some global recruiters are now positioning themselves and their firms, not as recruiters, but rather as “Talent Managers.” They pitch the ability to work with existing talent rather than promoting the addition and search for new talent. So they lead with services like:

  • Executive Coaching
  • Performance Management
  • Outplacement
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Psychometric Testing
  • Personality Profiling
  • Short List Review
  • Candidate Sourcing

Obviously this approach will require some training and skills development if you are not expert in these areas. Some can be achieved via partner or supplier affiliations while others will require training. I am guessing that this approach is not unique but is it is likely less frequently used than the “I am a recruiter” approach.

I am interested to know if you are having success with new business development for your recruitment business and any secrets to your success.

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Recruitment Books to Read This Year

By Veronica Scrimshaw

woman-reading-by-lakeIt’s the start of a long holiday weekend here in the USA as well as a popular time for summer vacations. In between barbecue and fireworks, I’m hoping to find some time to read some recruitment books. How about you? If you’re in need of some ideas, Social Talent has compiled a list of 12 Books Every Recruiter Should Read in 2014. A few that I’ll be adding to my list are:

Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Today’s technology means a lot of traditional ‘barriers to entry’ have been removed. It’s never been easier to launch a start-up venture. It also means you can work fewer hours than entrepreneurs from even a few years ago. This book gives you a whole new way to approach your work.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink. Drive explores what motivates us and Pink suggests it’s not external factors like money. Instead, he makes a case that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are what truly motivates people and offers suggestions for how to put these into action.

The Read Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragon’s Den, by James Caan. James Caan is one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. This biography explores his accomplishments both personal and financial. Caan was even the owner of a start-up recruitment agency.

Of course, in the summer, it’s hard to go wrong with a good beach read. Right now, I’m working on Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, with  The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, and The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, by H.W. Brands stacked up next. What are your favorite recruitment books?

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Behind the Scenes of a Global Recruitment Network

By Sarah Gawrys

hands and wrenchesAs the Director of Membership at NPAworldwide, a recruitment network, I am often asked this question: So who runs this network? As a network that is member-owned and run, this is a multitiered question at best, and does not apply to every online network that you may find. However, here is the breakdown of what is happening behind the scenes at our specific split-placement network.

  1. Staff. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, NPAworldwide has a staff of six employees in office, and one located in Brisbane, Australia who mirrors the work for the Australian members. They all work diligently to be reachable by members and enroll and train them to be successful in the network. In charge of membership, I personally qualify firms to determine if they meet the characteristics of being an NPAworldwide firm prior to submitting them for membership approval. A Training Director and Member Services Manager then take over new firm’s onboarding by showing them how to utilize the web-based sharing tool for posting candidates and positions, and how to build recruiter lists to start to form solid trading partners. This is an ongoing process throughout any membership, as we are constantly expanding the number of trading partners. Our global conferences and global networking meetings are all also planned at headquarters, in addition to the monthly trading group calls and other networking opportunities.
  2. Regional Directors, Managing Directors and Trading Group Chairs. As mentioned, this network is member owned and run, and the reason it has worked since 1956 is the volunteer and elected positions the members take. As an independent recruitment firm owner in NPAworldwide, you not only have the power to vote on changes in the network, but are able to be in leadership roles as well. Each region globally has a Director that oversees the region, or multiple regions, and works on being involved in bringing on quality firms, and then introducing them to trading partners in that region and being a resource as they begin their membership. The Trading Group chairs are responsible for organizing monthly trading group calls and regular communication regarding their particular niche, and exchanging industry topics and hot jobs/candidates with other members in that group.
  3. The Board of Directors. The top elected position in NPAworldwide is a seat on the Board of Directors, which governs the network and upholds the Bylaws and Operations. There is an election each year and firm owners can rotate onto the board. Since the network began in 1956, this has been the network’s strength in knowing how to best provide membership benefits for the network with direct feedback from the members themselves. This Board also is broken up across various committees, that along with staff, specifically focus on membership growth, retention, technology, and partnerships/sponsorships. The President of NPAworldwide here at headquarters is responsible in large part for implementing the Board’s direction and addressing concerns.
  4. The members. The network would not exist without over 400 firms and 1200 recruiters making split placements each and every single day. As an expectation of membership in a split placement network, engagement is essential for success. By posting open job requests and hot candidates, the sharing tool is able to help members grow revenue that would otherwise not be possible. Attendance at networking events, logging on to trading group calls, and connecting with many trading partners are the things we see from our top grossing members.

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Mobile Job Search Is the New Normal

By Veronica Scrimshaw

It’s official. Mobile job search is mainstream. Earlier this week, Indeed announced its acquisition of MoBolt, a technology platform that allows job seekers to apply directly for any job, from any device. Further, in the same announcement, Indeed reported that half of all Indeed job searches are performed on a mobile device. Yet only a small percentage of Fortune 500 employers provide a fully-mobile job application process. The Indeed/MoBolt relationship means virtually any employer can now accept mobile job applications, without any IT integration.

A recent infographic from Beyond.com indicates that 64% of job seekers prefer to use a smartphone for job search activities because they can search for jobs anytime, anywhere. However, only 8% of survey respondents indicate that it is EASY to apply for a job via their smartphone. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said when they find a job of interest on their smartphone, they wait until later to apply via a desktop computer. Click the image below for the full infographic:

Multi-Screen-Job-Search-Beyond

And here’s the rub: other research indicates that job applications must be received within the first 72 hours after posting or are 50% less likely to even be opened. Forcing job seekers to ‘come back later’ because the mobile application process is so cumbersome means a lot of job seekers won’t come back. Glassdoor says that 75% of job seekers will conduct a mobile job SEARCH, but only 44% will APPLY via a mobile device. That means employers could be losing out on almost half of potential applicants. In a talent short market, who can afford to lose out on even ONE great applicant?

That leads me to my final point. One of the current hindrances to applying via a mobile device is that most people do not have a copy of their resume stored on their mobile device. And most career sites still require a resume to be uploaded. So I ask, is it finally time to  replace traditional paper-based resumes with a digital alternative? LinkedIn offers the ability to apply using your LinkedIn profile, but many profiles lack polish or aren’t up-to-date, and not all candidates are using LinkedIn. Similarly, Indeed offers an “Apply with Indeed” button (ZipRecruiter offers an interesting comparison between the two here), which works well for employers who post on Indeed and job seekers who search with Indeed. True, that represents a lot of employers and a lot of job seekers — but not all of them. And not necessarily the right ones. Could a link to a digital portfolio be an acceptable alternative? Can recruiters and employers and candidates (and ATS’) leverage the visual content trend so that it works for everyone? In my opinion, recruiters and employers who figure out how to turn mobile job search into mobile job applications (with a great user experience) stand to win the talent war big-time.

What are your thoughts on the disconnect between mobile job search and mobile job applications? How are you adjusting your process to accommodate mobile usage?

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10 Recruitment Trends to Watch

By Dave Nerz

recruitment trendsFollowing visits to several conferences in the past 10 months, I thought I should capture some of the recruitment trends that are becoming evident.

  1. The ease of success for recruitment is not returning to pre-recessionary levels. It is more difficult to achieve similar levels of recruitment margin and success today when compared to 2007 or before.
  2. Alternative recruitment models and strategies are becoming mainstream. These vary from recruitment by the hour to firms focused on RPO and VMS.
  3. There are recruitment firms growing by becoming VMS (Vendor Managed Service) providers. These are perceived as low recruitment margin, high volume types of work. If you have a good process, low margin VMS business becomes very good recruitment margin.
  4. Websites like freelance.com will in time have an impact on the level of placement done by recruitment agencies. Less low-level, short duration work being done by recruiters.
  5. The “Branch Office” strategy is evolving. During the recession, many branch locations were consolidated in the home office. There is a trend to handle more from a central location and have recruiters that focus on the former branch geography working from a home office or remote location.
  6. There are some hot spots for recruitment on a global basis. Poland and Eastern Europe continue to be hot, while South America seems to be heating up, particularly Colombia.
  7. There is a recruitment trend pointing toward offshore outsourcing for some back-office and non-client facing work. If you are not doing this, then you are creating a cost differential to your competitors that will eventually impact your success.
  8. Integration of social media is no longer an idea to consider. Successful recruitment agencies have it factored in to everything they do.
  9. Top-producing and benchmarked firms have integrated technology into their recruitment process. This includes video interviewing, CRM, social media, and other back-office tools.
  10. If you are not benchmarking against a peer group, you are missing an opportunity to decrease cost, increase effectiveness and grow recruitment margin. The best firms belong to peer networks or benchmark against a peer group regularly.

Do you see any recruitment trends that are evident that I missed on my list? I’m sure there are more than a few!

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5 Principles Important to Achieving Split Placements

By Sarah Gawrys

business-cardAs an independent recruiter, you are very familiar with the idea of split placements, have considered implementing them into your business model, or a good percentage of your business already involves split fees. There are 5 very important principles you should abide by and look for in others as you make successful split placements.

  1. Your trading partner’s time is just as valuable as your own. If you have reached out to a trading partner or posted a job, you owe them the acknowledgment and information to make their time worthwhile. Do not ask your trading partners to work jobs that do not have a chance of success, or that you are already almost closing on. Having chosen to be involved in a split placement network or agreeing to make split placements means that you are viewing your trading partner as your equal, and should treat their time and diligence as you expect yours would be treated.
  2. Do not only give out needle-in-a-haystack jobs. A successful splitter realizes that being able to take on larger client orders or take on more clients means a growing business, and uses their trading partners to fill many jobs more efficiently. Only relying on, or wanting a trading partner for those nearly impossible-to-fill roles is not a beneficial situation for both parties, and will make it harder to establish long term trading partners willing to give your jobs attention.
  3. Their candidates deserve the same respect as yours. A trading partner who provides you with strong candidates should be given the same consideration and attention that you give those candidates you find yourself. They deserve to be kept informed once they are in process, and even given bad news if they are not chosen for a role, as you may end up filling a similar position again. Trading partners will notice and appreciate the way you treat their candidates, and use it as a reflection of how you treat your clients or other trading partners as well.
  4. Not everyone recruits the same way you do. While in a split fee recruitment network, or searching for trading partners on your own, you are going to come across a variety of personalities and business styles. None of these are bad, just different from your own and in order to make split placements, their style needs to be respected. If they require four phone calls for clarity on a position to present you with a star candidate, then the reward will be reaped in the end. If their style completely does not work for you, tell them instantly, so you both can move on to other trading partners and opportunities.
  5. Pay immediately and true to contract. Those independent recruiters that do not give reason to mistrust them are the ones that deliver payment in the amount, and in the time frame agreed upon. If you are getting a 25% fee from your client, you owe your trading partner 50% of that, and you owe them the minute you receive payment. The most common frustration I hear from recruitment firms wanting to join our split placement network is their concern that the posted fees will be less than what that recruiter is getting from their client, so the split placement is unequal and unfair. In this instance, make sure that you are joining a network operated on bylaws and ethics that prevent this from happening, such as NPAworldwide.

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