As we enter 2024, it’s normal for agency owners to strategise for success – you summarise the previous year, look at the industry and your own performance, and adjust the strategy. But for the second in a row year that we’re seeing a decline in optimism about the year ahead among agency owners - so it’s vital that you’re prepared for whatever challenges it might bring and get ahead of your competitors. And whilst data should be at the very core of everything you do, the other key aspect of successful 2024 recruitment is relationship building. Being able to utilise soft skills, network, and partner up has always been an important part of any good agency’s journey – and now it’s becoming more crucial than ever. Relationship building is the tool that sets your agency up for success for years to come, turning your agency’s database into a rich ecosystem of engaged candidates.
But how exactly should you improve your relationships and strategy in order for them to directly translate into higher ROI?
Streamline your processes
In the quest for excellence and heightened returns, streamlining your agency's processes is a key catalyst for transformation. It shouldn’t surprise you that automation only grows in value within the industry, year by year becoming more crucial to success as more agencies adopt technology and automation tools to increase their efficiency, quality, and return. With 20.7% of businesses reporting trouble in finding new candidates at the end of 2023, being able to bring your clients top talent faster and more accurately than your competitors becomes even more valuable. But how do you go about it in the most constructive way?
Start by mapping out the intricate steps of your agency's workflow
An essential first move is creating a roadmap for optimisation. Create a hub hosting all of your agency’s processes explained step-by-step. This not only helps you determine which ones could be streamlined and automated but also keeps the agency more prepared as new recruiters come on board.
Zoom in on those time-consuming tasks
Tasks that take more effort than they need to often hide in plain sight, not directly contributing to revenue. Think of the manual formatting of CVs, data held in Excel spreadsheets, copying email communication to your CRM, or manual entry of time sheets – all important, but perhaps there's a more efficient way. These tasks, when categorised and critically assessed, reveal opportunities for automation or elimination, freeing up resources for more impactful endeavours.
Make use of AI and automation tools
Finally, something we’ve all heard a lot about recently - AI and automation tools, being the technological evolution of your recruitment processes. Implementing AI is one of the key trends predicted to take over the recruitment industry this year. If used correctly, AI can seamlessly enhance candidate sourcing, speed up your communications, and increase your processes’ efficiency and quality.
In essence, by strategically embracing technology and optimising processes, you're cultivating an ecosystem where your agency isn't just efficient but is also well-prepared for the future. As technology handles the routine, your team is liberated to focus on high-impact initiatives, much like a well-tuned engine propelling your agency towards innovation and effectiveness that sets new industry standards.
Invest in your team’s training
Another area that is pivotal for staying ahead in 2023 is honing your team's skills. Recent years have witnessed a significant rise in skill and value-based hiring, necessitating recruiters to adapt with a versatile skill set. Recruiters need to seamlessly blend both soft and hard skills, becoming adept practitioners in the art of talent acquisition. The most notable shift has been one towards data-driven recruitment, transforming recruiters into thought leaders. Now, your recruiters should act as guides, navigating clients through the intricate data landscape, and providing insights that transcend conventional recruitment services.
Making sure your team is educated and ready to advise doesn’t always mean you need to spend extra time and money on coaching – but providing them with relevant industry insights, monthly reports, and data is often enough for them to have something to bring back to your clients.
Review your reporting structure
As recruiters, we’re no strangers to reporting – and I’m sure every single year you evaluate the data when planning ahead. But how often do you actually look at your numbers throughout the year – and what value do you take out of it? It can be easy to get lost in reporting just for the sake of reporting, but if you don’t have a clear strategy and a way of analysing data to adapt your approach on the spot, you might as well not do it at all.
Reevaluating your reporting structure is a strategic move that requires a purpose-driven approach. Spending time on reporting without leveraging the insights derived raises questions about its effectiveness. Instead of refreshing reports merely for the sake of it, focus on the meaningful analysis of data trends. Explore the origins of your business, dissecting sources and identifying areas of friction in the recruitment process. Where do your applications come from? What communications channels carry the highest response rate? What are the areas of friction within that process? And then, dive into the wider industry - where do you fall short against your competitors? What changes are they making that you haven’t made yet? This ensures that your reporting structure is not just a static entity but a dynamic tool for informed decision-making. Moreover, delve into the alignment between your recruiters and the customer profile they are targeting. Are they honing in on the right demographics? Are there patterns in client preferences that your reporting can unveil? By addressing these questions, your reporting structure becomes a strategic compass, guiding your team toward more effective and targeted recruitment efforts.
Building success amidst challenges demands a focus on both strategic relationships and operational optimisation. Seeing and understanding the industry shifts, you realise now the pivotal role of relationship-building and transforming databases into thriving ecosystems of engaged candidates. Strategic process streamlining, marked by automation and AI integration, emerges as a catalyst for efficiency and heightened returns. Additionally, investing in team skills, especially in data-driven recruitment, positions agencies as thought leaders. And let’s not forget about purpose-driven reporting structures that, if used correctly, will guide your agency toward effective and targeted recruitment efforts in the evolving industry landscape.
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Wendy McDougall is Chief Fish of Firefish Software. In her spare time, you'll find her playing squash or feeding her inner geek with the latest technology!