How (And Why) To Expand Into a New Recruitment Niche?


With the market changing rapidly in recent years, especially post-pandemic, we all had to learn to adapt quickly. Standing at the gates of another market shift, you must re-evaluate your business plan again and make sure you’re ready for any changes.

One of the best decisions you can make is to expand – after all, it is never a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket. And this rings true for recruitment after 2020, with industries such as aviation and hospitality closing - essentially shuttering recruitment companies serving those industries overnight. The lesson here is simple – you need to start to diversify your niche to protect your business from the current uncertain economic outlook.

Why should you expand your niche?

Sure, being a pro in your recruitment niche is a great way to become known and respected in the industry. When you’re the expert, people come to you – so you can choose the best clients to work with in your market and charge a premium for your services.

But what happens if the market shifts and there is no longer a demand to hire in your chosen niche? The smartest move for you as a recruiter is to follow the money and find new areas to service. Instead of swimming against the current, take a good look into the market and ongoing trends, so you can jump on them before they become too saturated.

Search for niches that compliment your current work

Don’t panic, I’m not telling you to completely change your focus and dive into something you have no idea about: This would be a bad move! Building a new market will take time, however, there are two things that you can do to make switching easier.

One: If your client isn’t hiring for the roles you specialize in but is hiring in another area of the business that’s close enough to the main one, expanding your niche into those roles can be a great way to improve your value to your clients and capitalize on existing relationships.

Two: If the market dries up for your candidates in the industry you focus on, finding clients in other industries who still need the skillset your candidates have is the way to go. Not only does this help solve the immediate need for jobs for your candidates, but you will also be able to bring a fresh perspective to your new clients. A lot of skills are transferable into different roles - presenting amazing candidates that the new clients don’t usually see will help you to really stand out from other recruiters in that niche.

Select a winning niche

The worst thing to do when searching for a new niche is to move from one failing industry to another. You are going to have to spend a lot of time and effort establishing yourself in a new niche and wasting your time on one that is doomed from the beginning isn’t what you want to do.

Diving straight into trying to build relationships in a new market without doing your research first is a major no-no. Take time to understand who the major players are, what are some current industry trends, and what are some of the challenges other recruiters face within that niche. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems! After all, the internet makes it easier with industry reports, specialist news sites, and trade associations that you can access.

Turn to your connections

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve no doubt made a solid set of connections in various businesses, and now is the time to use them. A great first move to make when thinking about changing your niche is to reach out to another recruiter that has experience in your new chosen niche or switching niches in general. They will be an invaluable source of information in terms of identifying any potential challenges and the steps you need to take!

Other service providers in your market are most likely experiencing the same challenges – so why not try talking to them about where they plan to change their focus to? Companies such as payroll providers will often be able to advise which areas haven’t slowed down or have grown for them.

Find out where the candidates are

One thing that can pose a real challenge is having to access new candidates. For example, if your current candidates all use LinkedIn you probably spent a lot of time building your network there. But if your new market is exclusively on Facebook (or any other platform), you need to consider the time and resources it will take to build an entirely new network there. The same goes for job boards - if you are going to have to spend money on new job board providers to access your chosen markets, choosing a niche that is already working within your current sourcing methods might be more efficient.

Looking for industry associations in your new niche can also be helpful in building your profile with both candidates and clients in the market and developing your knowledge of the industry. What if you can’t find any new contacts? Well, I’d say that’s a massive red flag – you might want to consider a different niche then!

And what do you do once you start getting those new clients? Read our eBook to learn!

2 men on a winning plinth new clients

David Connolly

David is a Senior Growth Outreach Specialist at Firefish. After working as a 360 recruiter, he loves innovating recruitment with Firefish Software.

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