Would you rather be an inch wide and a mile deep or vice versa? There are certainly scenarios where it makes sense to be a mile wide and an inch deep. One may think of a small town lawyer who needs to know a little bit about everything as he/she is the only lawyer in town and that is what the customer base needs. In recruiting, your worth is truly in your expertise.
We often encounter very interesting client opportunities outside of our core business. It is really easy to get distracted by shiny objects, and it’s a trap I often fell into earlier in my career. However, we have learned to stop and ask ourselves “Is this what we do?” Will taking on this client help us to continue to fine tune our industry expertise and add value to our current & future clients? OR will it be a distraction, an opportunity to make a quick buck but add no long term value to “what we do?” We also often encounter firms bidding on the same project at a steep discount and, almost every time, the other firm has no real experience in that particular niche.
The Old Way of recruiting is very transactional and recruiters are willing to take on any client if they can make a quick buck. They are what I like to call “Opportunistic Generalists.” The New Way is for recruiters to serve as critical business partners and provide true industry expertise.
When Does Expertise Matter?
Industry Experience- There is no question a new hire can be immediately impactful if they walk in the door with the credibility of industry experience, with customer or product knowledge, industry best training, a strong network, etc. A recruiter specializing in your niche will have a true pulse on the market, knowing which companies have the best talent, who is underpaying their people, what candidates are ready for more but are stuck in their current role, and which companies have the best training. There are no shortcuts to expertise, it takes years of specialization to develop.
Timing is of the Essence- Recruiters with knowledge in your field will know what candidates to target immediately. It will not take them a month to feel their way through a search to start having meaningful conversations. They will have instant access to the best talent in your market and make an immediate impact in your search.
Critical Hire- When the position is critical to meeting your organization’s broader objectives, the need for an industry expert is paramount. There are searches where you can take a chance on a hire and there are those you have to get right. For hires that will have far-reaching implications in the success of your business or in a particular geography, an industry expert will be more than worth the investment.
What is the cost of getting this hire wrong?
As you develop your annual budget, set aside a reasonable sum for recruiting experiences. If you have a talent acquisition team, they will likely do a great job on many searches but are typically spread thin and don’t have the time needed to target passive candidates. When external help is needed, be sure to evaluate which roles in your organization will need industry expertise and which ones can be farmed out to a cheaper, generalist firm. Like everything in life, you get what you pay for. There will be times the “Old Way” of recruiting can get the job done. However, when the new hire can make an exponential difference in top or bottom line performance, you can’t afford to get it wrong. In those cases, it’s time for the New Way.
Kester Search Group is hyper-focused in a handful of niches within the healthcare space, providing best in class talent in Executive Leadership, Sales, Marketing and other Commercial related roles.