A guide to get started
Starting a recruitment agency is hard. You need to make sure you have the right skills, knowledge, and expertise before starting. You also need to come up with a great name for your company.
Your company needs to stand out from the competition in order to succeed in this competitive industry. Here are some tips on how to start your recruitment agency the right way.
What You Need to Start a Recruitment Agency
The first step to starting your recruitment agency is to choose a name. You need to choose a name that reflects both your chosen niche and how you intend to operate your business. If you intend to recruit in a busy sector where candidate onboarding is paramount then care should be taken to choose a name that might benefit from keywords in your chosen website domain name. More on that below.
Once you have a list of options for your company name you should use a domain name checker to see if the domain name is available. There are many sites offering this functionality and the website you use to check does not need to be the company you buy the domain name from. Here is an example of checking the nodex company name that returns a list of TLD's (top level domains [the .co.uk or .com part!]) https://www.name.com/domain/search/nodex (opens in a new window). As you can see there are a number of TLD's returned for the company name nodex. If you are operating your business exclusively in the UK we strongly recommend choosing the .co.uk TLD for your domain name. Search engines will give precedence to country specific TLD's when searching for services in that country. In short this generally means that a .co.uk domain will be treated as more important than a .com for a search query with location intent of the UK - for example a job search for "Sales manager in London". We also recommend that you purchase (if available) other TLD's surrounding your company name such as .com to prevent domain squatting and ask your recruitment website provider to redirect any traffic to your primary domain name. We recommend you register your domain name for a minimum of 5 years but the longer the better.
Once you have secured your domain name you should look at procuring some email hosting. There are many email providers around, if you have good experiences from a particular provider in the past then you should go with them else we recommend using Microsoft Outlook 365 which charges per account per month. You also have the ability to forward aliases such as [email protected] to your email account for free.
We strongly recommend that you keep your website hosting and email hosting separate which gives you redundancy should anything in either chain fail and ultimately gives your clients and candidates a way to always contact you should either one fail temporarily.
There are some really great mobile phone deals available that come with unlimited calls, text messages and data. While it's perfectly fine to operate a business using a mobile phone it will come across as more professional if you have a geo-localised number on your website. There are many services that offer geo-localisation telephone numbers and they cost a few pound per month and ultimately forward the telephone call to your end chosen number.
If you intend to have many consultants working for you then most of these systems have "Call hunt groups" that will ring set of numbers in a list one by one until one answers, this is a great way of scaling out your business as you grow as you can easily add/edit/modify the hunt group number list to suit your needs.
Identify and showcase your uniqueness
You may be the best, most honest, hard working and dedicated recruitment consultants on the planet but if your audience does not know this then it won't help your business gain and retain business. You should identify what makes your agency unique and better than your competition and promote that through good messaging, website copy (text) and your overall company stance on all things recruitment. Examples of this might be diverse or environmentally sustainable recruitment practices where your company ethos may be a welcome change to the current status quo. It seems an obvious thing to point out but sometimes it's hard to put ideas in to meaningful words that portray what you're trying to achieve with your recruitment consultancy.
Take care of your clients and candidates
Both clients and candidates need to feel respected when they interact with you. This means responding to enquiries in a timely manner, speaking to candidates and clients with respect and integrity and treating all interactions fairly and equally. There is no better promotion to your business than word of mouth and by treating people with kindness and respect you will find people recommending your services to their associates. The majority of new business at Nodex comes through recommendations, this is because we both show our clients respect our after sales / ongoing support is second to none in the industry.
Choose your office or location
Since the pandemic hit there has been a decline in office working and commute. Some recruitment agencies saw this as an opportunity to scale back on costs such as an office and offered their consultants the choice of working from home. Working from home suits some people and not others. Some recruitment consultants really thrive in teh social office environment where they can bounce and buzz off the collective office atmosphere, while for others they enjoy the more relaxed approach of no commute and home working.
Running an office from home when you're starting out has many benefits not least of all is the cost saving, however, if you decide to run your recruitment agency from home then you should take in to account the challenges it may bring in the future of your business growth. I've highlighted two of the main potential problems below.
Scalability difficulties: If you are looking to grow your business then you will need to employ some recruitment consultants to help your business scale, some recruitment consultants thrive on the "in-office" life and asking them to give that up to work from their home may stifle their productivity which renders them less able to do their job effectively.
Mental health implications: There is no doubt that mental health is on everybody's mind (no pun intended) these days and mental health int he work place is a big driver of problems. If you work from home you need to have clear boundaries - ideally an office you can close the door on at 5pm as opposed to your kitchen table. You should take time in the day to get away from your desk, a walk at lunchtime is a favourite of mine, it not only stretches your body but it gives your eyes and brain a break from the screen and often gives you more clarity on a problem you may be working on. Clearly defining your working hours will help you switch off at the end of the day and spend time with your friends or family or however you choose to relax. When first starting a business it's hard to have boundaries but they're required to avoid burnout which is far worse for your mental health and business needs. Of course there will be times where you have to put in a few extra hours per week but make those times then exceptions and not the rule. Always remember that we work to live and not live to work!
Choosing the right technology
It's important to choose the right technology to power your business. You will almost certainly require a recruitment website for your business. Your website is your shop front and at minimum should be:
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Mobile optimised
- SEO optimised
- Fast to load
- Deliver accurate and relevant job search results to candidates
- Allow candidates to securely apply for jobs
- Google For Jobs integration
- Promote and showcase your ethos, brand and vision of your business
- Give candidates a compliant and secure way to submit their information to you
- Give clients a way to contact you via a form or contact details
Other desirable functionality includes:
- Job alerts
- Candidate profile management
- Candidate document management (candidates can send you documents securely such as DBS checks, passport scans etc)
- Marketing consent opt-in/out management with exporting to marketing tools
- Business intelligence and metrics
- Client and Candidate testimonials
- Recruitment CRM Software integration
Whichever vendor you choose make sure they sell you on the merits of their product and or service and not by tearing down their competitors, it's far to easy for any company to divert attention from their poor performing product or service than to fix the problem.
Recruitment CRM Software
Most customer relationship management systems are base din the cloud these days, however, there are some that are still "on-prem" (on premises) systems. If you are working from a home office and intend to scale your business with more employees in the future then you should avoid the technical headaches of an "on-prem" system to manage your recruitment business.
Choosing a CRM that not only integrates but is optimised for your website is a crucial part of the decision process. You do not want to be adding jobs to more than one place or worse, adding them to one place to find out when they're listed on tour website that they're not optimised in the correct way for search engines etc. Your job applications also need to integrate directly to your CRM or ATS which is generally done via a unique email address generated by your recruitment CRM software for each job, this allows you to post your job anywhere and have applications sent directly to your CRM for you to deal with efficiently.
You will be using your CRM software most days to manage the recruitment process so your chosen platform should be efficient, performant and have an intuitive workflow. The search functionality of your chosen software should give you fast and accurate results with multiple filters or ways to slice-and-dice your search results to display them how you and your consultants see fit. Your data should be exportable so for example you can send a marketing email to your clients from your favourite third party marketing software or service. Above all else your data should be secure being both stored and transferred using secure industry standard data practices.
Monitoring business performance and growth
In order to validate your recruitment business you will need to keep an eye on business metrics, trends, growths and slumps. Broadly speaking there are two approaches to recruitment which are candidate centric and client / vacancy centric. Candidate centric focusses on procurement of new talent when the job market is strong and the talent pool is low, it concentrates on securing a good talent roster to put forward to clients for the saturated jobs market and is usually marketed using different channels such as social media to attract the candidates. Client or Vacancy centric recruitment instead focusses on procuring vacancies for a saturated talent pool and concentrates on building new or enhancing existing client relationships and or PSL's. These two approaches are in constant flux and some of the time the recruitment outlook is a mixture of the two. We recommend that it's best to try and set up your marketing to be asynchronous to both approaches so that you have a steady stream of good quality candidates and clients/vacancies, this will keep your foundations solid and your relationships between you and your clients & candidates reliable.
Sometimes in business things go wrong, this can be for any number or combination of reasons. Deciphering where and when something started to change is paramount to formulating a plan to fix and recover from the downturn; this is where metrics and analytics come in to play. Having access to historical business intelligence that shows trends with comparisons to similar months / years will help you determine whether the trend is in the industry or your business at fault. Constant monitoring of data trends will also help you better appropriate resources to avoiding down trends, for example if you know that every July is bad for recruitment then plan accordingly - as the old saying goes "there is no point in trying to flog a dead horse"!
Starting a recruitment agency in 2022 can be done relatively easily and within a tight budget as long as it's planned out properly. Sometimes you have an idea and need some technical advice on how to achieve your goals. At Nodex we are industry leaders on the technical aspects of recruitment and how they integrate in to your business processes. We're always happy to talk to anyone looking for advice on how to build their business and have helped hundreds of recruiters over the years to achieve sustainable and profitable recruitment agencies. If you're looking to take the leap in to starting your own recruitment agency and would like to discuss it further then please don't hesitate to get in contact with us
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