Growing Your Recruiting Business: Lessons Learned From the Past Year

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The last year has caused so many people to reevaluate their lives, including their career choices. With so many people transitioning into new fields of work and so many businesses hiring, I became introspective, too, and the idea of expanding my recruiting business popped up again. 

I was ready and knew it was the right time. The numbers were also backing me up. There was a projected 11% growth in staffing for 2021 and a 4% industry revenue growth for 2022.

Additionally, staffing is currently one of the fastest-growing industries  in B2B services. So, there I went, diving into this ever-changing business landscape. 

I already had my primary office in Las Vegas and an office in Georgia for years. Still, I opened three new offices in one six-month period: South Carolina, Texas, and Reno. It has been a crazy, busy ride, but I am glad I did it. In looking back, I realized a few things that I did right along the way and learned a great deal about the power of hindsight. 

After you open one office, while time-consuming, the others get a bit easier as processes are already in place, and learning what works and what doesn’t becomes clearer. 

Combining tried and tested approaches with new techniques makes the difference between growing or stagnating in business. If you’re only just starting to look into the idea of expansion or already writing down detailed plans, I thought it could be helpful to offer tips that can aid in this transition.

Know Your Niche

I couldn’t imagine owning a recruiting agency right now that handles an extensive range of industries. Quite frankly, the need is too big for this; having a niche allows you to be lasered focused, and when you are starting a new office in other states, that is a good thing.

If you have not yet figured out your niche, think about your experience, as this can help give you credibility from the start. Also, think about the industries you care about and what keeps your interest. Having a passion coupled with experience can help set you up as an expert and put you on the right path in a new city.  

Costs Can Vary from City to City

As I am sure you all know, costs can range drastically from city to city, so planning a budget for a new office in a new state takes some real research and flexibility. You need to understand the differences in the cost of rent, staff, and even office products because they can vary widely.

Finding the Right People

This may sound ironic coming from a recruiter, but hiring people for a client and another for your own business is different. And, I am not talking about hiring someone who will sit in your office where you can watch them. This type of hiring, where the person will be your representative and located thousands of miles away, is on another level. 

You can’t scale a business without great people. The type of person needed to join you can be hard to find, so always be networking, building your connections, and following up with contacts. Also, determine the type of attributes you think will work best.

I had a particular kind of person that I was looking for to run offices in these cities; a person who was on the cusp of breaking out and starting to make a name for themselves in recruiting. This would have been someone in a junior position who was not afraid of responsibility and ready to jump to a more senior role.

All they wanted was a chance to prove they could lead. The ideal person needed to have a passion for recruiting and be a good salesperson. Still, I also wanted someone ambitious and serious about their career with a willingness to do what it takes to be successful. 

Do Not Micromanage

Yes, you are the leader of your business, and one can argue that you got to where you are because of you. But if you are going to grow, especially with other offices out of state, you need to learn to let go. That is why the tip of finding the right people is so important. If you can’t let your staff run the day-to-day, then I believe you could be doomed. 

Take it from me, in the beginning, I was handling everything. I didn’t know how to let go, and it wasn’t working well. I was exhausted and no good to anyone. I had to start allowing my staff to make some decisions and determine a bit of each office’s direction. It took some time to gain some trust in my new employees, but once I realized I made some good hiring decisions and understood that the people I hired were making some good decisions, I learned to let go a bit. Besides, they are the ones who live and work in the cities and do understand the nuances that are in play. I was happy and even excited for what came next rather than dreading the workload ahead.

Assess Your Competitors

Once you decide the market is good enough to open another office, you need to assess your competition. After all, you can’t expect to be the only viable business in your industry. 

When we opened our office in South Carolina, our research found a section of “real estate” taken up by recruiting agencies. We knew if we wanted to be in business here and taken seriously, we needed to have an office in that part of the city. Without due diligence, we would not have known this, and it would have been detrimental to our business. We rented space in this section of the city which helped us be taken seriously. 

Don’t Ignore Your Already Existing Business/Office

This is the reason you can expand. The current business success allows expansion, and it would be unwise to lose sight of this. I did notice it is very easy to get caught up in the new, “shiny object” mentality and let your existing business go unchecked. I was somehow aware of this pitfall from the start, and one of the first things I did was hire a new chief operating officer to make sure that my already established business did not suffer. 

Outsource Business Tasks

It might be time to stop doing everything yourself and outsource some of your business services. You don’t need to handle all your marketing. For example, you can outsource your social media work or other marketing functions.

This path is not for everyone, but if you decide that expansion is for you, remember to put in the time to do extensive research, pay attention and assess what works quickly to avoid making the same mistakes over again. Know that you will have to learn to trust on a different level than ever before to make these offices work. Understanding that can make the difference between success and failure. 


Holly Cowden is the founder and managing partner of Star 1 Personnel.

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By Holly Cowden