The hardest thing in recruitment is to differentiate your brand. Most recruitment firms advertise the same jobs through the same channels to the same audience… from the candidate or client perspective most recruiters are some of the least exciting shades of grey.

Ask a recruitment owner what makes their business stand out and few will be able to identify a true differentiator. Whether they claim the differentiator is “our team” or ”our process” when pushed about how they differ from the competition few are able to articulate let alone evidence those differentiators. The phrase “I know everyone says it, but we REALLY actually do it” is too familiar.

Why colour matters

The costs of switching recruitment consultancies for clients, candidates and consultants are small. Barriers to entry into the industry are low. In other words, recruitment is always going to be competitive and to perform better than the sector average you need to stand out.

Highlight your colour

The most common ‘differentiators’ companies tell me they are striving for are:

  • close relationships with clients;
  • attracting the best consultants; and
  • the ongoing service they provide to both clients and candidates.

The fact is these are only differentiators if you are able to evidence them – otherwise your ‘spiel’ sounds as hollow as that of your competitors. Companies that can evidence their differentiators thrive. They may publicise the number of clients they have worked with for more than three years or share positive data from a net promoter score conducted to assess the company’s and individuals’ performances with clients, or they may simply highlight the number / proportion of their candidates who are successfully placed. Whatever the evidence, good numbers that correlate with the company’s public image will further improve your reputation.

Internal and external impact

Evidence of competitive differentiation shared externally will also have an impact on recruiter behaviour. It will help your team understand how you want clients and candidates to judge the firm and so will set the standard for what they look to achieve themselves.

It isn’t easy to be better than your competitors, but if you are then get the proof and use it to stand out.