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Website Teardown: Learn from two case studies how to revamp your recruitment consulting website to start more sales calls.

Let's be candid: as a recruitment consultant, you're coming into every engagement with a need to differentiate yourself and a shadow to overcome. Why?

Open up a Google search box and type in, "recruiters are" to see what the auto-suggestions are. Here's what I see:

That's no accident. It's an industry with big budgets, full of hucksters using every dirty trick to outcompete you. False promises, fakeouts, and flakeouts are the norm.

That's why at high levels of consulting, you've learned to establish your credibility from the very first second. ESPECIALLY when you're doing cold outreach.

Now take a glance at this screenshot from Essence Recruitment, a typical consultancy in Canada:

First, what are they doing right? They're trying to communicate honesty and integrity to offset the negativity that starts off new recruiting relationships. That's good.

And they're using a geniune (non-stock-photo) image of relationship-building. They're also on the right track by using a testimonial as social proof, though it misses the mark.

There are glaring messaging and conversion-optimization issues here, and overall the website is going to struggle to meet the firm owner's objectives. Why?

The number 1 mistake new (and even experienced!) recruitment consultants make is: failure to see your online marketing from the perspective of your clients.

Which is surprising, because when cold calling or selling by phone, you naturally make it all about your clients.

But look again at that screenshot and you'll see that the entire website is "we-focused" rather than "you-focused".

Here I've marked up every repeat of words like "we", "us", "our", and the firm's name.

You might react that this all looks fine.

"isn't my website supposed to be about me?"

"isn't somebody coming to my website to research who I am and what I do?"

That'd be nice, but no. Not in recruitment consulting.

Your website isn't where they come to learn about you, it's where they come to find out whether their recruitment problems have stress-free solutions that you can provide.

Waffling on that question is a major failure for Essence Recruitment, because they spend so much space "above the fold" talking about who they are and what they do that half of incoming leads will bounce away before reading any of it.

They're hoping that clients will not only take the time to read a wall of undifferentiated text, but also take the action of picking up the phone or firing up an email to ask about their needs. That's a big ask.

Scroll down on their front page and you'll see more canned recruiter-jargon, blended into a blue-overlay background that makes it a chore for even a dedicated prospect to read.

The fact is that text doesn't serve a purpose, and neither does the stock photo in the background. It might as well be replaced with random placeholder sentences. Here I've marked "the essence" within that wall of words.

These are the key points that Essence is trying to communicate to potential clients. Is there a way to do that while simultaneously grabbing the attention of a disinterested visitor who happened to get your business card?

The first step is to stop shying away from their differentiating quality: if you're small and local, own it.

Essence Recruitment can highlight that they're an "insider": they know the local market in the province of Saskatchewan and have established a local network of companies, professionals and executives. That's their USP.

Here I've sketched out a view of what this firm's site could look like if they embraced their local-feel and turned it into their core differentiator.

Why is this a marked improvement?

The original website did more "telling" than "showing". This does more showing than telling:

  • Instead of saying the words "respect and community", this version highlights the local feel of the firm, and doesn't obscure the expressions of trust on the faces of the people in the photo.
  • I get right to the point: here are the career areas we handle, and you should hire us if you're looking for peace of mind.
  • I've made small tweaks, like changing the word 'blog' to articles. This is purposeful, since 'blog' connotes someones musings, whereas we want Essence Recruitment to be a thought leader who publishes considered articles about their industry.
  • I've created a positioning statement and put it front and center. Here's who we help and how: contact us if you're in our target niche.

But when you hand someone your business card or cold-email them, is there even more that you can do to get them to follow-up with you after checking out your firm's website?

Instead of "us", switch it to "you".

Here's Petro Staff, a second case study with example that's slightly better than Essence's original version (although less refined than my modded version):

I say "slightly better" because this firm still makes some basic web marketing errors.

For one thing, although their messaging is indeed "you-focused", it's still abstract.

  • “Your goals, your future, your life.”... "a unique experience"... these claims are too vague to elicit interest. Remember that weak forms of differentiation are claims that almost any of your competitors can credibly make.
  • Wherever possible, avoid stock photos. Here we have bland people pointing to a nearly-blank schematic.

Also this is a subject for another day, but 89% of people will only see the first slide in their animated slider. The rest of their slides only serve to increase page bloat time without contributing to sales.

That said, it's a lot easier to identify how hiring them over a generic competitor might be worthwhile, thanks to this firm's specific name and hard-hat wearing stock models.

Could you differentiate yourself from competitors even more?

What's your core positioning statement? Does your online marketing have a direct business objective beyond "have a website"?

Your core positioning statement is a concise way to tell your clients why they should get interested in you. It goes "above the fold" at the top of your website.

One version might be: We help {some market segment} do {some important action} SO THAT {some major business benefit} or USING {some distinctive advantage}.

Looking at Essence Recruitment, their positioning statement might be:

We help companies in Saskatchewan find and assess high-performing executives from all over Canada using our extensive in-house network.

Need another another example? My positioning statement is:

I give modern recruitment consultants automated processes to pull in top‑tier clients without overspending on ads.

The purpose of your online marketing is to pull in prospective clients and get them to take an action that will build up trust.

Our second example, Petro Staff, obviously focusing on the oil & gas industry. But we can do a lot better than what's on the site now.

Here's their current positioning statement. Do yourself a favor and don't read the whole thing, because it's a slog:

Again, I've gone through and highlighted the key messaging. Petro Staff would do well to synthesize that into a concise positioning statement and replace the animated slider at the top of their page with something more direct.

What would that look like? Here's a quick mockup I sketched up myself:

What targets does this new version hit?

  • It speaks directly to the needs of the client. It's not about who we are and what we do. It's about who you're looking for and what results you expect.
  • It removes the unncessary animations and walls of text, and focuses in on the message.
  • It provides a clear call to action for the firm's bread-and-butter work: manpower for exploration activities.

So what's the key takeaway for today?

When you're competing against other hungry recruitment consulting firms, you can stand out instantly by pivoting every scrap of your website messaging away from "us/we/our" to "you/your" statements.

This is not a cosmetic change– it signals a completely different approach to your marketing and your day-to-day relationship-building.

Focusing on WHAT'S IN IT FOR THEM keeps decision-makers on your website and puts the spotlight on your key differentiators.

It also sets you into the position of being an expert in your recruiting niche – a trusted advisor – as opposed to one of hundreds of commodity recruiters.

This is not news to you. "You-statements" sell shoes, sell iPhones, and sell high-value repeat consulting services. And you know that because you already use them from the moment you jump on the phone with a prospective client.

But for some reason when recruitment consulting firms go to make their own websites, they forget how to market themselves. It becomes an ego project, with predictably weak outcomes.

Here's one of my favorite XKCD comics saying the same thing in fewer words:

Ask yourself what the objective of your website is.

Did you spend all that time and money building your website because you need something to put on your business cards?

Or did you build it with one objective in mind: to convert prospects who are "on the fence" or who know about you vaguely into much warmer leads who are eager to get your expertise on sourcing the right people?

If the purpose of your website goes beyond being just another brochure for your business... if it's to serve as dependable online asset that sells you effectively when you're not there to sell yourself, then it's important to put in the effort to getting it right.

If you have any questions about this stuff, feel free to drop me an email. I respond personally to every message.

And if you're ahead of the curve and want help DISCOVERING where your website & marketing is leaking and how to fix it, lemme know that and you can apply for a strategy session with me.

Our first 10-minute strategy session is always free, and not sales-y. At worst, you'll walk away with one or two actionable to-do items for your developer.

Scribimus latinum sine intellectum

– Dima

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