The key to being a successful recruiter is to move past transactional relationships and begin to build valuable partnerships with clients and job candidates. These relationships can lead to prosperous and long-term deals rather than one-time jobs where you are competing on price.
Becoming a subject matter expert (SME) by taking the time to really understand your client’s business operations and needs can make you stand out from the crowd. After all, if you were hiring someone to fill key positions, wouldn’t you prefer to do business with someone that knows your industry – and your business – well?
What Is A Subject Matter Expert (SME)?
Subject matter experts learn as much as possible about specific industries. You don’t have to be a true industry expert, but you do have to become a reliable and knowledgeable resource for your clients. You do this by knowing the details of their industry in relation to employment.
Key Questions Subject Matter Experts Know How To Answer
- What are the industry trends when it comes to hiring and recruitment?
- Which candidates make the best industry employees?
- What does the pool of available talent look like?
- What are the real salary ranges for specific jobs?
- Who are the key decision makers in the industry?
This makes you the go-to recruiter for clients looking for the right candidates. Clients are more likely to trust you and come back for repeat business. They are more likely to provide referrals. They are more likely to call you first to ask for opinions. You will also be able to more quickly identify priority candidates and assess their marketability.
It takes time to develop trust with a new client. SMEs have a built-in advantage.
Demonstrating this knowledge can make clients more comfortable. It establishes you as a credible source of information and can significantly shorten the time frame for filling positions.
It also helps when you are trying to find great candidates. They are more likely to search you out because they know you are an industry expert and have relationships with the best companies.
Key Benefits Of Becoming A Subject Matter Expert (SME) Recruiter
- Helps develop trust
- Leads to repeat business
- Leads to more referrals
- Helps you get the “first call” from clients
- Helps surface better candidates
- Identify better candidates
- Shorten time frames
Becoming A Subject Matter Expert in Recruiting
It won’t happen overnight. It takes time and it takes work on your part.
- Start by talking to your current clients in the industry you have identified. Ask questions. Lot of them. If you let them know that you want to dig deeper into what they do and what works best so you can do a better job for them, they will likely accept you with open arms. Is it worth spending some time in the workplace to experience what it’s like and talk directly with workers on site?
- Consider contacting other companies doing business in your niche. Let them know you aren’t trying to sell them anything, but that you are on a learning mission to be the best in your business. You’ll be surprised how many will be flattered by the attention and share their thoughts with you. Can you do a job shadow? This may also be a chance to develop relationships that may lead to future business.
- Reach out to industry organisations. Ask questions. Again, lots of them.
- Read industry publications, websites, and blogs. Keep track of current trends. Publish your own guest blogs or posts sharing your expertise in recruiting as it applies to their industry.
- Develop relationships with industry leaders. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect with industry leaders and thought leaders. Look for posts from key players and respond online in the comments with key points. Ask questions. Send them a message on LinkedIn with a specific point you are trying to research. This has a much better chance of success than sending an email.
- Attend conferences and conventions in the industry. Talk to speakers and panelists. Better yet, be a panelist or speaker using your recruiting experience to help companies hire better.
- Undertake recruitment training on how to develop deep relationships with key industry stakeholders. Continue to learn throughout your career. Any kind of career development training can only make you a more desirable recruiter to clients and candidates.
Are you sensing a theme here? Becoming an SME means consistent learning about the industry and trends.
More Substantive Conversations
All of these can help you do your job better. It can also help you have better, more substantive, conversations with key decision makers. When you are trying to find new clients for your recruiting business, it can give you more VBRs (Valid Business Reasons) for making contact. It can take a cold call to a warm call with just a little industry knowledge. Here’s an example: Let’s say you are trying to connect with a CEO or HR manager at an engineering firm that handles large building construction. Which approach is more likely to get you a return call?
Approach 1: “Hi. This is Julie with Julie’s Recruiting. I noticed you have a Low Voltage Engineer position you are trying to fill. We have helped hundreds of companies just like yours fill open spots. We are a top-flight recruiting agency that works to fill professional-level jobs in many industries…”
Approach 2: “Hi. This is Julie with Julie’s Recruiting. I noticed you have a Low Voltage Engineer position you are trying to fill. I have a brand new industry study that just came out that compares salaries for low voltage engineers that I would like to share with you. In addition, I just placed two people in similar positions. I don’t know if you’re looking for help filling that spot, but if you call me back I will be happy to share what I have…”
The same applies when approaching candidates to fill spots. As a subject matter expert, you can identify the key drivers that motivate people to change jobs and use these facts to attract quality candidates. “We have a client that is looking for low voltage experience engineers and is willing to pay about $10,000 a year more than the average. If you have an interest…”
Be Better At Your Job
Specific recruitment training on how to become a subject matter expert can help you refine your skills. The more you know about a subject, the better you will be at your job. Setting yourself up as a bonafide subject matter expert will pay dividends.