The best recruitment agencies provide the best candidates. But that’s not all we provide. Here’s how recruitment market intelligence can supercharge your hiring.
Recruiters provide candidates. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. When a client comes to us with a difficult search in supply chain management and procurement, we laser in on building the right short list. We work our network and relationships to uncover the best passive candidates, we forward them to the client, schedule the interviews, hone the search as necessary, and help them make the hire.
That’s our bread and butter, and it’s the biggest value we provide: knowing the supply chain and procurement marketplace in Canada so well that we can fill even the most difficult roles. That being said, there’s another major source of value that a specialized recruitment agency provides to companies. And it’s one that doesn’t always get talked about, because—quite frankly—not every agency provides it:
What exactly is recruitment market intelligence, and how can it help you in your hiring?
Broadly speaking, market intelligence is a recruiter’s deep understanding of their chosen specialty. It sounds like an abstract concept, but it has concrete, actionable value. If a recruiter doesn’t deeply understand a particular industry or geographic market—say they’re a jack of all trades—it’s likely that they won’t be able to provide useful market intelligence. But if they do, it’s worth its weight in gold.
In short, market intelligence is all the feedback that a recruiter can give you about the factors going into your hire. It goes beyond presenting candidates to get under the surface and tell you exactly what the market is for your job, and what it’ll take to fill it. It’s the sort of frank assessment that you can only get from someone who’s in the trenches, filling roles in a certain vertical every day.
Quite often, companies don’t understand exactly what’s holding them back in a search. Sometimes it’s a simple requirement that makes it impossible to find the right candidate. Sometimes they’re positioning their role at the wrong level. Market intelligence steps in to help identify those gaps.
That doesn’t mean that a recruiter will always just tell you that you’re being too strict in your requirements. Sometimes you’re casting the net too wide. Sometimes it’s a particular aspect of the job that’s turning candidates off, without you even realizing it. If you’ve had a role sitting open for a long time, you’ll especially benefit from market intelligence.
Armed with the right market intelligence, you and your recruiter can get more creative in filling the role, and actually make the hire. But beyond that, market intelligence can help you in future searches for similar roles. As a hiring manager or HR professional, it gives you more depth of understanding of what’s out there.
But what exactly does this market intelligence look like? And how is it useful to make the hire?
Here are the major avenues of market intelligence you can expect:
1. Insight into talent pools.
It’s one thing to post a job on job boards and see what comes in. It’s another thing entirely to deeply understand the scope, location, and competencies of the pool of candidates who will fit your role.
For example, our specialties of supply chain management and procurement are growing, but they’re still a niche market. After 20 years specialized in these roles, we know—and have spoken with—quite a portion of the candidates in the field, and some of the best. The fact is, sometimes companies go to market for a role where the candidate for their exact requirements just doesn’t exist—or where the talent pool is so vanishingly small, it may as well not. Maybe there aren’t candidates in that geographic location, with the exact set of certifications and experience with the exact software tool. We will always try, for as long as it takes, but sometimes the “unicorn” isn’t there, and it helps to have a partner to be frank about that. It’s better than leaving the role open for months.
The good news is that the right person is always out there—or even someone better than you’re hoping for. It may just mean getting creative. It may mean looking at transferable skills, or making a role hybrid or remote, or contract instead of permanent. The solution is always there. But first, you truly need to know what’s out there.
2. Salary data.
As an HR professional or hiring manager, you can use a variety of tools to benchmark salaries, but boots-on-the-ground knowledge is often more immediate. Sometimes a salary has to be pegged at a certain level, due to budgetary or internal pay equity constraints. But other times it doesn’t. Most of the time, a salary is pegged too low, but occasionally it’s pegged higher than necessary, and your recruitment agency can tell you that as well.
Your recruiter can also arm you with valuable data to present to senior leadership to raise the salary for a role. Often, we’ll provide real-life profiles of candidates who would be perfect, but just a bit above the salary band. With that information in hand, our clients have had success persuading their leadership to raise a role’s salary.
3. Feedback about your employer brand.
This one can be tough to hear, but tremendously useful. Sometimes, candidates aren’t applying to a job because they have negative associations with the company. Sometimes, the company is unaware of this feedback. Maybe the candidate heard a “water cooler reference” from a colleague who had a bad experience, or maybe competitors have been poisoning the well. Either way, recruiters have frank discussions with candidates all the time. When a candidate isn’t interested, they learn exactly why. This is intel that you often won’t get when recruiting on your own.
If you have a truly negative employer brand, it’s a much bigger problem than any recruiter can solve. But sometimes it’s a matter of small changes in your approach, or in your hiring process, that can be adjusted. Through a recruiter, you can get candidates to an initial conversation and clear up any misconceptions they may have about your company.
4. Intel about what candidates are truly looking for in their careers.
As mentioned above, recruiters have deep discussions with top candidates in your market every day. And in these conversations, candidates express their hopes and dreams, and their long-term career goals. In short, what it will take to make them actually make a move. The best candidates tend to want progressive responsibility and a higher salary. Of course. But they also want the opportunity to work with the top systems, or implement change, or work on certain projects. By working with a recruitment agency, you get a first-hand look into these conversations, and learn what makes a role actually appealing to the top candidates today.
These are just a few of the ways that recruiters provide market intelligence. But it’s important to keep in mind: when working with a recruiter, the name of the game is collaboration. When viewed as a true partnership, a relationship with a recruitment agency can offer not just strong candidates for your open jobs, but a window into the world beyond your organization. It offers the kind of outside perspective that can be priceless.