Let us imagine a situation in which your best client enthusiastically comes to you with a great new position for you to fill. The salary is significantly higher than what you usually recruit for the client, which means a very large fee. You are beyond excited with your good fortune, and then the bomb is dropped. The person they need is for a highly specialized IT position and your niche is way off base from this request. You jot down the requirements frantically, which sound like Greek, and panic sets in. Do you call an IT recruiter friend and do a split fee agreement?
Plain and simple answer: Not yet.
If you do not specialize in computer related industries, the idea of filling an IT position may seem very intimidating, as the field appears very black or white: You know what you are talking about or you don’t. What you need to keep in mind is that some of the best information technology recruiters do indeed come from long and successful careers in the computer industry, but a fair amount of the top players in the recruiting arena started with absolutely no technical knowledge at all. With that in mind, it is entirely possible to recruit the perfect candidate for your client’s odd opening without opening the door for another recruiting firm to step in. The key to recruiting for any position you are unfamiliar with is honesty.
That’s right, honesty. We cannot always be experts for every opening that presents itself. As you begin recruiting for the position, candidly let the candidates you speak with know that you specialize in another niche. Explain to the candidates you speak with that you are unfamiliar with the technical aspects of the position. Explain to the candidates that you have worked with the company for quite some time, and fully understand the advancement opportunities and company culture.
Let yourself be educated by the candidates you speak with. Give them some starting points by asking questions like “My client asked for someone with experience in C++. Can you tell me a little about your experience with it?” Chances are, the best candidates will open up and tell you more than you ever wanted to know about C++ with these types of questions. Take detailed notes, and you will be more prepared for asking questions in the next interview you conduct for the position.
As with any form of recruiting, you’ll be able to smell the manure from a mile away. A person without the experience you need will give short answers, stumble over responses or change the subject. Those with experience will show passion in their words and tone of voice. It’s about asking open ended questions and listening for subtle inflexions and nuances in the conversation.
Before you call in an information technology recruiter, attempt to make a few calls or run a listing online. You never know, you may end up finding your next niche. At the very least you will broaden your abilities, which in the end only broadens your ability to increase business and positively impact your bottom line.
The idea that recruiters have to “specialize” is accurate in that you usually are most successful by devoting the bulk of your efforts into a specific niche. However, it is not true that you cannot or should not recruit for positions outside that niche. The important thing is of course to qualify your client relationship – especially when you are recruiting for positions outside of your niche, you should have a very tight working relationship with your client. To do both (working on an odd job title and with an unknown client) can exhaust your productivity.