Finding good staff can be frustrating and time-consuming, which is why many businesses turn to a recruitment agency to help them in their search. Recruitment consultant Charlie Cantello-Tayler explains how rewarding a career choice it can be.
Recruitment agencies work closely with employers, establishing their needs, finding suitable candidates and arranging interviews. In the event of placing a candidate, the agency charges commission as a percentage of the starting salary – typically between 8 and 25 percent depending on the nature of the role.
Success in the recruitment industry requires resilience, tenacity and diligence, but perhaps the key skill is an ability to understand people: to interpret their needs, to make them feel comfortable, and to relate to them regardless of their position or circumstances. A background in sales provides a good grounding, but recruitment is a suitable profession for anyone with strong people skills and plenty of determination. Experience is everything, however.
Start-up costs are relatively low. In theory, an agency can be run from the home, with little more than a computer and telephone. However, it is a good idea to pay for the use of serviced offices. Companies such as Regus have office suites nationwide that offer a useful alternative to the home office, and an ideal place to meet clients or interview candidates. They also provide a mailing address and answering service, which add a professional edge to your business.
The disadvantage of using job sites is that they are available to your competitors.
As with all businesses, it is useful to have a good accountant to help you with tax returns and general financial advice. To start with, at least, there is little need for specialist business software to manage your accounts. An Excel spreadsheet will suffice. One piece of software that will prove useful, however, is a database package to enable you to keep a track of your clients and candidates. Sage Act is affordable and easy to use.
There are many well established players in the recruitment industry, so it pays to specialise if you are to stand out from the crowd. One way is to focus on a specific industry. Clients prefer to work with people who understand their particular needs, so having a detailed understanding of their profession goes a long way to winning their confidence. Another way of specialising is to concentrate on a particular geographical area. This makes it easier to visit your clients in person and to establish closer relationships. Once you have established yourself in one area, you can cast your net further afield.
Recruitment agencies generally offer to find permanent staff, temporary staff or a combination of both. Temps' wages are paid by the agency, and then invoiced to the client. Due to the capital required and the legal implications of being an employer, it is easier for an agency to focus on permanent staff to begin with, and to only contemplate placing temporary staff once they are in a stronger financial position. Once you are in a position to offer temps, it will enable you to handle contracts that involve a high turnover of staff and regular income.
In the past, recruitment agencies relied on candidates approaching them to register, which gave an obvious advantage to the larger agencies with their own high street presence. Nowadays, however, most job-seekers register with one of the major Internet jobsites. For a fee, these sites allow access to their database of CVs, putting recruitment companies in touch with thousands of potential candidates. They also allow agencies to advertise a fixed number jobs on their pages per month – the number and cost being agreed in advance. It is a good idea to compare rates and services before deciding which site to go with. There is plenty of room for negotiation on price. Many candidates register with multiple jobsites, so there is not necessary an advantage in paying to access more than one site at a time.
The disadvantage of using job sites is that they are available to your competitors. Therefore, it pays to look at alternative means of reaching out to people. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, offer a free and easy means of staying in touch with candidates and clients alike.
A company may only need to recruit new staff once a year, so it's important to build as big a client base as possible. Sales calls are still the main way of making yourself known to potential customers, but in an industry that thrives on word-of-mouth recommendation, being willing to network is a must. Business groups, such as BNI or local Chambers of Commerce, host regular events that put you in touch with potential clients and suppliers. Joining one or more of these group is a useful way of meeting the people who can make your business a success.
As long as there are companies in need of new staff, there will be money to be made from recruitment. It can be frustrating and demanding, but also richly rewarding. After all, there are few greater pleasures in business than finding someone a new job.