Business development · 29 August 2019

How to start a recruitment agency

Capitalising on record demand, more Brits than ever before are considering starting a recruitment agency. As with all business ventures, starting a recruitment agency from scratch isn’t for the faint-hearted. But at the same time, opportunities within the sector for ambitious and enthusiastic entrepreneurs have never been greater.

Successful recruiters combine natural salesmanship with a passion for people and a tenacious attitude. Some set up as self-employed specialists, while others set about the creation of the next big recruitment brands. In all instances, however, there are several important considerations to factor in.

For candidates interested in starting a recruitment agency in 2019/2020, here are the six most important questions to ask yourself.

Are you the right candidate for the job?

Successful careers in recruitment are built on more than hard skills and knowledge. You also need to have a very specific set of qualities and characteristics, including but not limited to the following:

  • Natural salesmanship
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Optimism and motivation
  • Relentless tenacity
  • Team working skills
  • Passion for people
  • Advanced business acumen
  • Flawless communication skills
  • Strong negotiation skills

Recruitment is the kind of sector where you cannot fake it – you simply have what it takes, or you don’t. 

Are you willing to put in the necessary hours?

Not only is setting up a recruitment business a time-consuming process, but you also need to be extremely flexible. This is because many of the candidates (hires) and clients (employers) you deal with may not be able to deal with you during normal office hours. It’s your job to accommodate their schedules and timetables, not the other way around. You could eventually end up in a position where you work normal office hours and your employees cover the more dynamic shifts. In the meantime, you’ll find yourself working unusual hours to say the least.

Have you considered how you will finance your business?

Getting your business off the ground (financially) can be simplified with the support of a specialist recruitment startup service. Whether you need recruitment finance to cover a few initial outgoings or all important costs across the board, there are packages available to suit all requirements. You’ll need to demonstrate the strength and viability of your proposed business to qualify, but do so and the recruitment finance you need could be made available at an affordable price. Starting a recruitment company from scratch can be surprisingly expensive, so it’s a good idea not to underestimate prospective outgoings. 

Have you come up with a viable business model?

Speaking of viability, it’s up to you to carefully consider and establish a business model for your agency. This means determining what sector (or sectors) you will focus on, what types of candidates you will have to attract, which employers you will attempt to secure the business of and so on. You’ll also need to consider the locality (or localities) in which you will offer your services, whether you will need to set up physical premises and so on. 

Do you intend to hire help?

It’s almost impossible to run a successful recruitment agency without at least some kind of support. You could outsource key responsibilities to a third-party service provider, or you could hire your own in-house workers. These decisions will have a significant impact on the viability of your business model, therefore must be considered at the earliest possible stage. 

How will you market your business?

Last up, you cannot expect clients and candidates to find your agency by chance. Competition is simply too ferocious among new and established recruiters alike. If you want them to do business with you, it’s up to you to make it happen. Use every appropriate online and offline marketing channel at your disposal, focus on your unique selling points and create an irresistible proposition. Think about what makes you different from your competitors and offer something they cannot. 

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Business Advice is a website for the UK’s four million micro businesses – a section of the market seen as the "engine room" of the British economy. It provides expert tailored advice, industry news and profiles on trailblazing entrepreneurs, supporting companies turning over up to £1m and hiring no more than ten staff.

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