The Advantages and Embellishments of Industry-Specific Recruitment
In recent years, industry-specific recruitment has been on the rise, and it’s expected to only get bigger. This kind of recruiting, sometimes referred to as “niche” or “boutique”, many mistakenly equate only with the work of small agencies – and it’s no wonder when you consider those labels. Instead, employers should think of such recruitment in terms of its pinpoint-like focus rather than the size of the organizations that carry it out.
Why the rise in industry-specific recruitment?
Industry-specific recruitment is becoming more and more important to Canadian organizations as this country, among many others, continues to evolve into a knowledge economy. In other words, as the means of actually making products continues to become automated and/or outsourced, specialized knowledge and skills are becoming increasingly valuable in the Canadian job market. From marketing, legal, sales, IT, engineering, and more, the workforce of the future demands expertise in a wide range of disciplines. Therefore, to adapt as a profession, recruitment has had to branch out and take root deep within these many fields.
As a result, a multitude of small, local recruitment agencies have sprung up across the country. This outcome is understandable, given not only the need to target specific industries and meet companies’ niche needs, but also because of the importance of having a presence physically near clients, which allows for face-to-face interactions, more personal relationship-building, and a fly-on-the-wall’s view of the local job market (a market which, in some cases, may be heavily dependent on only one or two industries). In addition to the knowledge they have of their particular milieus, these small recruitment agencies claim to have access to passive (i.e., currently employed) rather than active (i.e., unemployed) candidates and the ability to work more closely with clients due to their smaller teams.
The flipside is that larger recruitment agencies are painted as impersonal recruitment generalists (jacks of all trades, but masters of none) who rarely attempt to entice the innovative-types sitting behind the desks of their clients’ competitors. While these things may be said about some large recruitment agencies, it’s certainly not all-encompassing – and in some cases couldn’t be further from the truth.
The advantages of “big boutique” recruitment
Some large recruitment agencies have made considerable – and successful – efforts adapting to the onset of the knowledge economy, creating different brands staffed with seasoned recruiters who boast many years of experience serving the industries they’re focused on and the local job markets they’re stationed in. These experts provide clients with the same advantages smaller agencies highlight, such as firsthand local knowledge, a single point of contact, and face-to-face relationship building. But ultimately, it’s the national – even global – interconnectedness that provides large recruitment agencies with the real advantages.
Citing ourselves as an example, Adecco Canada has a large general staffing arm, but also several niche brands, including Roevin (which staffs engineering, technical, and IT personnel), Holloway Schulz & Partners (which focuses on professional and executive recruitment primarily in BC), Adecco Finance (which recruits for finance and accounting roles), and Adecco Professional (which services a range of professional verticals, including marketing, sales, legal, HR, and more). Each of these brands is able to leverage the expertise and candidates of the others. For instance, if Holloway Schulz & Partners is doing a Canada-wide search to place an IT executive in BC, they’re easily able to contact the Roevin branch in Ontario, for instance, to ask them about potential passive candidates, enlist their help firsthand, and even be put in touch with their industry connections.
Smaller recruitment agencies have no such networks to take advantage of, making their time-to-fill slower – and often at much higher markups than large recruitment agencies. In fact, according to Adecco USA, many niche suppliers have markups of up to 80% for in-demand roles, which is anywhere from 50% to 60% higher than what a “general staffing firm” can afford to charge.
Recruitment: an industry of industries
Recruitment as an industry has a long and rich history, and it continues to be an integral component of the world economy. But as an industry serving other industries, it is subject to an onslaught of changes over time. As Canada’s workforce continues to transform into one of increasingly specialized skills and knowledge, recruitment will transform in kind. Those recruitment agencies that have taken notice of these changes, recognizing not only the need for evermore local and focused expertise, but also how they can leverage their national – and even global – breadth to bolster those concentrated services will continue to be the best choice for employers.