The Power of Reputation in Recruitment
Reputation is an essential part of the recruitment industry. Because we rely on a relationship-based business model, how people perceive us will play a big part in how successful we are. Reputation can be a game changing differentiator, so how do we get it right as recruiters? On Episode 9 of the Skill Point Podcast we talked to Gordon Stoddart from The Recruitment Network about how we can build reputations to our advantage.
What is reputation?
Gordon explained that reputation is how people think and feel about you. It’s the emotional connection that people have with you or your company as a result of the experiences they’ve had. It’s not how your marketing makes them feel, it’s a direct output of the interactions they have with you.
How can you build a positive reputation?
In the recruitment industry, your reputation stems from your relationships. Whether that’s your internal culture or the connections that you have with clients and candidates, putting effort into those relationships will build your reputation in a positive way. An awareness of your reputation will drive your behaviours, because as Gordon said, “reputation is an emotional strategy.”
What does a great reputation look like in recruitment?
If you’ve built an amazing reputation, your retention and loyalty will be high. You’ll also get referrals, introductions and feedback from the people that you’ve worked with. Clients will also be willing to give you exclusivity if they’ve had a great experience with you, because that will build your reputation and trust. They’ll be more likely to work with you again if you’ve provided an excellent service before, so repeat work is another way to gauge how strong your reputation is with your clients.
Feedback is another essential part of measuring your reputation. Talk to as many clients and candidates as you can to understand which parts of your process are working and which ones have room for improvement. Gordon said that “how our clients and candidates perceive us is really dangerous, because our relationship with them might be at risk.” Not only that, unhappy clients could spread negative word of mouth and damage your reputation without you knowing.
Can you repair a damaged reputation?
Once a reputation is damaged it’s a lot harder to repair. When it’s a matter of underperforming your client’s expectations, there are things you can do to salvage that reputation. Offering alternative solutions or returning any payment can be a step towards preserving your reputation, as well as being honest about your limitations. Do whatever you can to turn the situation around and avoid a service breakdown, as long as it’s not costing your people. Well, rule number one, you do everything you can not to have a service breakdown.
Feedback is the key to reputation repair. If you’re constantly gathering feedback from the people you work with, you’ll quickly see if something is going wrong, and be able to address any concerns before they become frustrations. Most people will recognise that things go wrong sometimes, so there will be some amount of leeway. It’s down to you to use that feedback to ensure that the same mistake doesn’t happen twice, because that will create a negative pattern and harm people’s perception of you, and therefore your reputation.
Can you use feedback positively?
Feedback is also a great tool for creating a positive reputation for people who haven’t worked with you yet. If you’re able to showcase positive reviews or glowing recommendations, new customers are far more likely to buy into your offering. The most effective way to gather this feedback is from your frontline people, like consultants or customer experience professionals. They’re the ones talking to clients and candidates on a daily basis, so they hear how people respond to you. They can also directly ask people what’s working well and what isn’t. That creates powerful marketing collateral and evidence of how good you are.
What strategies can recruiters use to build their reputation?
Firstly, gather insights. This works with the feedback to understand how you’re perceived. If you have a handle on that, you’re more likely to be able to manage expectations and meet them, which will create a positive reputation.
The second strategy is to build an invested internal team. You need to find people who care about their role, then equip them to succeed. That starts with leadership and works its way down through the company until your whole team has a positive experience. Belief in your own excellence is the best foundation for a strong reputation.
A third strategy is using a deliberate structure in client meetings to gain feedback. Whenever you meet with a customer you should be checking in to see how they’re feeling about your progress, and backing up your success with tangible statistics, such as the number of candidates placed and their retention rate. This will keep them excited about your work.
Finally, using customer journey mapping will transform your reputation. This is an end-to-end understanding of the customer experience, which shows you which touchpoints people are interacting with successfully and which need more work. This is also where marketing comes in, which can manage and accelerate your reputation outside of your direct relationships.
How can you measure your reputation?
Create a business dashboard. You can measure things like financial growth and inbound leads, but you can also measure things like retention, exclusive relationships, case studies and testimonials. Even simple things like your Google reviews can be indicators of how your reputation is shaping up. You should always ask for this kind of feedback or input from the people you work with, because not only will it strengthen your reputation externally, it will build a bond with them by showing that you care about their experience and want to address their concerns.
Gordon’s last piece of advice was to ask ‘what a great reputation means to you, and figure out what you want to happen as a result. Take those things and measure them.’ that’s the best way to establish whether you’re meeting your own goals and upholding the standards that you set for yourself.
To hear more about building a reputation in the recruitment industry, tune into the Skill Point Podcast here.