A recruiter’s guide to bossing niche recruitment (inch wide mile deep)

Are you a generalist recruiter who’s tired of fishing from the same pond as every Tom, Dick and Harry?

Specialising in a niche is one sure way to stand out in a crowded market. We’re not saying you can’t be successful as a generalist, but carving out a recruitment niche is a proven strategy for success… if you do it right!

What is niche recruitment?

Becoming a niche recruiter means hiring only for a particular industry or skill-set, usually for positions that are harder to fill. You don’t take on just any vacancy that rolls your way. You become more selective about the clients and candidates you work with. You become an expert in your field.

How do you decide which sector to specialise in?

Put a bit of thought and effort into defining your niche. Don’t just take a stab in the dark!

1. Pick a field that interests you

Remember, your niche is going to consume every hour of your working day. So make sure it doesn’t bore you to death. It doesn’t have to be your life’s passion, but make sure there’s some degree of enthusiasm on your part.

2. Make sure there’s a demand

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your niche needs to focus on senior level positions. That’s not the case. But it does need to focus on roles that are harder to fill because of the type of skill-set involved.

3. Don’t go too big, or too small

Don’t pick a niche that contains over 500-700 companies. If the niche is too big, there won’t really be a demand for you as a specialist because candidates are easy enough to find through generalist recruiters. At the same time, you don’t want to go so niche that you’ve dialled through all your candidates and clients within a week. Make sure there’s enough meat to the bone!

4. Hone in on a location

It might be a good idea for you to narrow your niche down to a specific city. This can work really well for certain skill-sets. But beware, being location-specific doesn’t work in every niche. When you’re dealing with industries that often hire remote candidates (like field service engineers or tech professionals), you’re better off focusing nation-wide.

5. Find a niche within a niche

It’s not always just as simple as picking an industry or skill-set and claiming it as your niche. Most industries are too big for that. For instance, saying you specialise in hiring field service engineers is too broad. But hiring field service engineers for machine tools is much more defined. You could also focus on hiring a particular level within a niche e.g. C-Suite Finance professionals.

How do you become an expert in your field?

1. Get a visual of the industry

To gain credibility with your candidates and clients, you need to show you’ve got a good understanding of the work they do. This can be easily done by looking up a few videos on YouTube and reading a few blog posts.

2. Familiarise yourself with the industry lingo

You need to be able to hold a conversation with your candidates and clients. And that means getting to grips with their language. This could be anything from software programs, qualifications, association names, project types, coding languages, machinery etc.

3. Map out companies

Get to know your market. Who dominates the market? Who are the rising stars? Which companies are trying something different? Which companies should candidates run a mile from? Become a fountain of knowledge for both your clients and candidates.

4. Network

Attend as many networking events as possible. Not only will this help improve your industry knowledge, but it’s going to connect you to so many candidates and clients.

5. Keep your finger on the pulse

As a niche recruiter, if something big happens in your market, you need to know about it. Make sure you’re keeping up with industry-relevant news, joining LinkedIn groups and subscribing to journals and newsletters.

6. Own it

Nobody’s going to think of you as an expert if you don’t at least label yourself as one. Go all in! Say it loud and say it proud. Make sure you pimp out your LinkedIn profile with all your niche buzzwords. The same goes for your email signature - include your specialism on there too!

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