If you work in recruiting, you know it’s a brutal market for finding and placing candidates right now. Record unemployment, demographic shifts and the skills gap make it especially difficult for us to land top talent.

If we want to be successful as recruiters despite these market conditions, we need to bring their A game. Part of that is knowing their subject matter. Recruiters need to understand the industry they’re targeting, as well as the current trends and pain points.

You Don’t Need to Be an Expert, But You Need to Know the Basics!

You don’t have to be expert in manufacturing or software development or whatever industry you’re targeting. Let’s face it, you will probably never understand the industry quite like someone who works in the field. But that’s okay. As a recruiter, your job is to be an expert on recruiting and employment in your field – not an expert on the field itself.

It’s critical that you have a basic understanding of the work, however. For example, if you’re trying to recruit a software developer, you should educate yourself on the differences between Java and JavaScript! Although they sound similar, these are two entirely different programming languages. If you treat them interchangeably, you will make yourself a laughingstock trying to recruit developers.

Know the Lay of the Land and Current Trends

Furthermore, recruiters need to understand the trends and pain points of whatever industry they’re appealing to, and your messaging needs to reflect that. Part of a recruiter’s job is to encourage candidates to at least consider a new position, and if they’re a good fit, sell them on the role. This becomes a lot easier when we understand what pain points someone may be feeling at their existing position.

For example, if a field has a bad reputation of long hours or low pay, we can entice candidates by advertising a position’s work-life balance and competitive salary. When we understand what’s someone’s day-to-day work experience is like, we can communicate and sell to them much more effectively.

So How the Heck Do I Learn This Stuff?

If you’re a new recruiter or have a placement in a new industry, the first thing you should do is a little research. Anyone can jump on Google and read about anything in the world, so there’s no excuse for recruiters who don’t understand their target industry. Soak up as much information as you can and learn about the work experiences of people in your industry, as well as current employment trends.

Find user groups and forums for members of this profession and listen in on their conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – all you have to do is be polite and thank people for their time. Lastly, you can always ask other recruiters working in the industry about their experiences. Find out what these professionals are sick of, what they’re frustrated with, what they’re looking for in jobs, and what makes them excited about a position.

Get Ahead of the Game

You might be thinking, “Gee Steve, that sounds like a lot of work.” You’re right – it is! Hey, no one said being a good recruiter was easy.

However, think of all the time you spend chasing after candidates. All the messages you send that get abysmal response rates. All the conversations that go nowhere. All the time you spend on candidates who later ghost you. The more research you do ahead of time, the more likely candidates will respond positively to your outreach and initial conversations.

You’re essentially frontloading the process – you’re putting in more effort now to save yourself time in the long run. It’s worth it. You’ll not only save time engaging with candidates, but you’ll be able to make better placements.

Knowledge is power. Act accordingly!

For more advice on effective recruiting, you can find “Recruiting Sucks… But It Doesn’t Have To” on Amazon.