Unique Selling Points – do they exist in the recruitment agency marketplace?

January 14 7 Comments Category: Opinion

OpinionSomething I regularly get asked about during training and coaching is “How can I be different from the competition?” Every consultant is looking for something that they can do or say which will make them appear different, or better than their competitors. If you are reading this and work as a recruiter then you may well be looking for the same thing. Is there an answer to this question? Yes there is! Though many of you may not like the answer…

The answer is not something we can say – Let me rephrase that; The answer is not something that we can just “say”. We must “be” the answer. We must live the answer and we must act like the answer. The answer itself is actually pretty obvious. To be different, you must be different. Not similar, not the same but bigger – different. How many of the consultants who ask me how to be different can answer these questions do you think? (can you??)

Who is your competition in your customers mind, and what are they comparing you with as criteria?

What does that competitor do for their customers (not say they do, but do) and how do you know?

How do they treat their candidates?

What do your competitors claim to be their unique selling points?

Here are some exerts from UK based recruitment agencies and what they claim makes them different:

“What makes us different is our unique blend of innovative processes, consistently high levels of service and a real passion for our work. What makes us special is the way we build ongoing relationships with our customers and candidates”

“We aren’t your average team of consultants. We offer:

~ A professional, approachable team.
~ Member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation – we adhere to their Code of Good Practice.
~ We have been accredited with the IIP (Investors in People) Certification.
~ Consultants who have been with our company for 5 years or more.
~ Consultants with in-depth knowledge of local companies and the demand in the local job market.
~ Consultants trained in sophisticated client management software which ensures your details are easily kept up to date.
~ A quality level of service which is at the centre of our operation and ethos.”

“…we are different. We believe that ethics are the key. We advocate good old fashioned hard work and are consistently striving for a greater understanding of our clients needs.”

“We believe that it is our approach that makes us different. We provide a tailored recruitment service based on an outstanding level of expertise in recruiting for the environmental sector. We are selective in our approach and recognise the importance of representing both companies and individuals in a professional and considered manner.”

I have no argument with any of these statements. All are noteworthy and commendable. How many are different? Seth Godin would ask – Which is the Purple Cow?

Difference is claimed by all and quite often it should be presented as:

“At Company X we are similar to others out there because we have similar ethics and beliefs as to what is important to us”

In essence, we are similar because…

How many clients in how many companies do you think have met untold numbers of consultants who have said similar things that they claim make them wildly different?? Wears a bit thin after a while. Then now and then someone different will come along. That person will say something different and be different – deliberately. Think hard about it – what really really makes you different.

Before you say it the old chestnut of “It’s me, it’s me I am the one who will deliver the service I am the one who is unique and different” has been flogged to death and all too often said by those who really weren’t (As a reference point to that – I have never met or worked with anyone who thought they were the worst or the 12th best at what they did; All had a mindset of I am the best).

Really, don’t get me started on the I am a specialist statement…

I am very keen to know what it is that you think makes you different. Truly different. Price is definitely not the place to go to with this yet many do as they know deep down they have little else to offer in difference.

7 Responses

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  1. This is a fantastic article.
    Thank you.

    Elle 3 December 2010 at 8:45 pm Permalink
  2. I think the only difference that we provide to the usual recuiter is that we offer videos of our candidates as well as a CV. We actually own the software so no-one else can claim to do this. However we do follow the general rules that apply to most other recruitment companies. Our clients can expect the best service with a slight difference. Really like dthe article as we set up our company on the premise that we wanted to be different.

    Tom Liddell 31 October 2011 at 11:48 am Permalink
  3. Love the article and an desperate for help with selling and industrial recruitment service to clients, struggling with it to be honest as it does seem that it’s hard to differentiate between everyone else as its viewed as essentially arms and legs recruitment … Anything you may suggest please ?


    Scott 22 March 2012 at 10:10 am Permalink
  4. Very well written article, and I am absolutely inclined to agree. I worked corporate for 10+ years before moving on to set up my own company. Whislt spending time thinking about what would be our “mantra” this question came up. Yes, we all interview our candidates, we all network and headhunt rather than relying on advertising like those “lesser” recruiters, but what why should they use me rather than the more established recruiters. In the end, I went with “open and honest” and actually live that brand. I lose some deals by releasing client or candidate information but long term it’s proved to be a real… difference (oh, and it’s very profitable which is a nice by-product).

    John Edwards 17 May 2012 at 8:14 am Permalink
  5. In my opinion, BEING different is not something you can describe on a website or over the phone – it’s about understanding the little details that others miss that allow you to demonstrate commercial ability that is so rare in recruitment.

    Aaron 28 May 2012 at 11:16 am Permalink
  6. Being different is about not treating your clients and candidates like commodities, they have thoughts, needs & feelings & theirs must come first not second to your own!

    Dianne Jones 10 July 2012 at 8:22 am Permalink
  7. In my experience of writing a lot of copy for recruitment consultancies, the majority tend to say the same sort of thing = focused, tailored, personal service, strong ethics, empathy, industry knowledge, good people etc. etc., just in different ways. I believe it’s difficult to truly set yourself apart no matter what you say. You will ultimately be judged on the professionalism of the people who work for you and actually keeping to the promises set out on your website and in your promotional material as your particular selling points.

    Alconcalcia 10 June 2013 at 3:12 pm Permalink

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