Spreading yourself too thin is a good way to lose business – especially in a hyper-competitive market such as recruitment – which is why agencies are becoming increasingly specialised and finding a niche to work with.

We’ve provided five pieces of advice as to how agencies can successfully carve a niche in recruitment and make it their own.


1: Define your niche market

The foundations to success are in good planning, which is why agencies looking to focus their offering should begin by defining the market they want to move into and the challenges apparent.

  • Which skills are you seeking?
  • In what direction is the market moving and how would your agency take advantage of this?
  • Who are the competition?

Whether exploiting a gap in the market or building on your previous experience, once your market is defined, agencies should stick to their speciality as diversifying can dilute your reputation as a specialist.


2: Map your niche market

To be a market leader, you need to know your chosen area better than the rest. Having unrivalled knowledge on your market is what’s going to place you ahead of your competition.

  • Which businesses do you know are hiring the candidates you place? For example, if you were placing candidates in education, a lot of public sector information is freely available, like a list of schools with their spending budgets.
  • Are you subscribed to privileged industry information in your sector, such as One Source?
  • What are the emerging technologies and developments within the sector?
  • Are you anticipating the changes, and are you connected to the right people?

For example, how many of your competition could answer in detail the difference between IOS6 and an Ice Cream Sandwich?

Discover everything you need to know about entering, scaling and thriving in the hot UK contract recruitment market.

3: Be present in your niche market

Being an expert in your niche is great, but only if your target market know about it.

  • Attend conferences or host events yourself
  • Contribute to relevant debates
  • Utilise social media, network, and content market to make their presence felt

Your agency needs to be the strongest voice in the market and the first point of call when a role needs filling.


4: Build a talent pipeline

In a lot of specialist sectors the market is candidate driven, which means the emphasis really relies on you knowing and catering for candidates.

Make sure you have a detailed candidate acquisition strategy with several routes to market, as the best candidates for your clients are likely to be the ones not actively searching.

The longer you work in a niche the more likely you are to build a reputation for a strong repository of candidates and clients.

Nurture relationships with those within your network so that you are the first point of call when a recruiter is needed.


5: Offer more to clients than the competition

Know your clients, have a pipeline and reward your business with more than your competition can offer.

Step outside the common practice of simply offering a reduction in rates for repeat business, and perhaps offer more useful and creative ways to benefit your clients and grow repeat business.

Do you have expertise or access in your niche area that your networks could benefit from?


This isn’t a definitive list of how to find and dominate a niche in recruitment, however, the five points we’ve shared today are a good place to start. In such a highly competitive industry, you need to stay on top of what’s going on to stand out from the other recruitment businesses.

We frequently share recruitment industry insights on our website, which you can download and use for free. This includes industries to watch, new businesses to reach out to and growing sectors to connect with. Visit our market insights page to sign up to receive your free eBooks and insights. You can also download all of the content we’ve created to date.


This article was originally published on Jan 16, 2015 and updated Feb 22, 2018