Starting Your Own Recruiting Firm? Use This Checklist to Do It Right

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According to the American Staffing Association, there are about 20,000 staffing and recruiting companies in the US operating a combined total of 39,000 offices. Where there’s this much competition, there’s opportunity, right?

There’s no shortage of recruiting firms, and for better or worse, there are no (or very few) barriers to entry in this space. Essentially anyone with an internet connection can jump into the fray.

The good news is that you only need to speak with a handful of job seekers to learn that the vast majority of existing firms aren’t very good at what they do. That leaves a pretty big gap in the market on which a professional with the desire and willingness to put in the hard work can capitalize — like I did eight years ago when I started my own firm.

If you find yourself fantasizing about self-employment; being your own boss; and working with whom you want, when you want, how you want, then making the decision to start a recruitment agency might be a great choice for you. It’s even better if you have a background in sales/business development and understand how companies hire people to achieve their business objectives.

7 Things You Need for a Successful Recruiting Firm Launch

It’s not as hard as it may seem to get started. Want to make sure you’re on the right track? If you have everything laid out below, you are probably ready to go. If not, maybe take a step back and do some more planning.

For more expert recruiting insights, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

You’ve Researched and Selected Your Vertical Focus

Whether it’s sales, technology, finance, retail, manufacturing, consumer goods, or something else entirely, your specific industry focus will be the most important decision you make. In many ways, your success as a recruiter depends on building a network of clients (hiring managers) and talent (candidates); the more specific and vertically focused you can be, the better.

Having trouble deciding where to focus? Browse the job boards and see what kinds of positions companies are hiring for. Pay particular attention to the sponsored jobs; employers are paying to advertise these roles, which means candidates are in especially high demand.

✅ You Have an Active LinkedIn Account

Think of LinkedIn the same way the folks who work on Wall Street think of their trading software: They couldn’t do their jobs without it. Before you start your recruiting business, get to at least 500 connections  on LinkedIn.  You’re going to need a robust network to succeed in this line of work.

You’ve Purchased and Set Up Your Candidate Tracking Software

More commonly referred to as an applicant tracking system (ATS), this software is how you’ll keep track of your job orders and candidates. A good ATS will have search functionality built in, so you can find candidates from past searches for new ones, as well as a pipeline tool to track who has been submitted and who is interviewing where and when. Personally, I recommend CATS.

You Have a Bookkeeping System (Like Quickbooks)

You’re going to need a way to send out invoices to ensure you get paid for your placements. I personally prefer Quickbooks because of its user-friendly interface and mobile app, as well as the variety of add-on products you can purchase as you expand.

You’re Set Up on G Suite

As an independent recruiter, you’ll spend a large part of your day scheduling interviews and meetings in your calendar and the calendars of your clients. Invest in something like G Suite for this purpose. You’ll get a branded email address, plus access to Google Calendar and the ecosystem of third-party apps that integrate seamlessly.

You’ve Adopted an Always-on Mentality

Without a doubt the most important thing you’ll need to prepare for when starting your own recruiting firm is the impact the business will have on your lifestyle. You’ll need to  embrace an always-on mentality. Work never stops in this field. If you’re someone who likes to shut down after 8-10 hours of work in a day, this might not be the best path for you to take.

The good news? You can leave the office any time you want. The bad news? You may need to talk a call on a Sunday morning. The honest truth: You won’t mind at all, because you’ll know that each activity is a step closer to a placement or money in the bank.

You’ve Received Proper Training

I can’t stress this enough! If you’ve been working for a reputable recruiting or staffing firm and have learned the ins and outs of the business from someone who knows what they are doing (and has a track record to prove it), you are probably in good shape. If not, you’ll want to get a crash course in how all of this works. An experienced recruiting coach can help get you on the right track, but the real test will be when you put what you’ve learned to work for yourself.

Scott Weiss is the founder of Top Biller and the president at Makena Partners.

Read more in Recruitment Agencies

Scott Weiss is the founder of Top Biller, a training and coaching program designed to help anybody start and grow their own recruiting agency. Scott has 15+ years of experience in the recruiting and staffing industry and is the president at Makena Partners, a technology recruiting firm in the Seattle area Scott started in 2012.