I recently attended a recruiting conference in Sydney Australia. The guest lecturer was a North American who landed and stayed in Australia about 25 years ago. His specialty was “Strategy” and “Strategic Planning” and his name is Bob Nordlinger – a good and interesting speaker, worth the time if you ever have the chance to hear him speak. Bob is good at driving recruitment strategy to a simple and easily implementable level for those seeking strategic planning ideas for recruiters.
Bob took what can be a complex process and made it easy. One big “ah ha moment” for me was his simplification of the 3 basic strategic positions you can take as a business. You can be:
- Lowest Cost
- Niche Focused
The mistake too many of recruitment strategies make is selecting two of these rather than just one. “Lowest Cost” is difficult to achieve, particularly as a recruitment strategy, but if you reach that point you can write as much business as you wish and likely prosper. That is, if you don’t run into a competitor that mistakenly thinks they are masters of the low-cost strategy for recruitment. Some will perhaps decide that for a large opportunity they will take business at any price and figure out how to do it at a low cost later. Low-cost suppliers typically dominate competition and prosper in the process. I picture Wal-Mart as a retailer that has taken “low-cost” as their strategic position. Most small to midsize recruiting firms will find themselves in this space occasionally, but it is not a comfortable or profitable spot to remain for too long.
Differentiated businesses don’t need to compete on price and the attractive features increase brand loyalty and enhance sales. I view Apple as playing in this market for their computers, phones and MP3 players over the past many years. The iPad, iPhone, and iPod have basic functions that can be satisfied with other products, but Apple solutions are in demand because they have differentiated their solutions from the others in the market. Can you see your firm as the Apple of the recruiting world? How do you differentiate a recruitment business? Do you think most recruiters are really differentiated in the client’s eyes?
Finally, many businesses focus within a specific niche and get as good as they can a servicing a niche. Home Depot took the concept of focus and created a success story. Home Depot focused on the home improvement hardware and building supply business for the do-it-yourselfer and put small operators out of business. They now find themselves in a market where others, like Lowe’s, have entered the same market with a differentiated strategy and Home Depot can no longer rely on niche focus alone to win versus their competition. A niche can be geographic, meet specific client needs or serve a specific client group. Have you considered differentiating your business by offering global reach for your clients? Have you allowed yourself to develop a very tight focus but connected with trading partners that can fulfill on those areas and opportunities outside of your core area?
So what is your strategic position? Are you low-cost, differentiated, or niche focused? If you picked two from this list, you may have an opportunity to focus and improve your results