What is it?
“You can’t go into recruitment thinking it’s just a job,” says Kevyn Robins, founder of online recruitment business, PeopleCompare.co.uk. Robins should know: having been in the industry for nearly 14 years and just started his second recruitment business, he is keen to emphasise that while there is money to be made in the industry, those who want to run their own agency must be aware that in recruitment, you are dealing with people’s lives.
“At the end of the day, it’s a really big decision for a 35, 40-year-old guy with a couple of kids. You’re saying to him, leave your job you’ve been in for five or six years, because I’ve got this opportunity for you. You’ve got to care, and you’ve got to be passionate about it,” he says.
And if you don’t have the passion, someone else will: recruitment is an industry worth almost £27bn, which places over 1.3 million temporary workers and more than 787,000 permanent employees in work each year.
Recruitment companies are used by a wide range of businesses – from small businesses looking for temporary cover for their receptionist to big corporations with an annual intake of 1,000 people or more which can’t physically deliver that many new employees on their own.
Recruitment agencies also operate across almost every sector of the economy, from doctors and supply teachers right through to cleaners and industrial placements. In fact, it seems the only thing clients of recruitment agencies do have in common is urgency. According to Anne Fairweather, external relations manager at industry body the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), one of the main reasons clients use agencies is for speed. “They want someone as soon as possible, usually yesterday,” she says.
Clearly, then, if you’re passionate and you’re confident you can deliver results on time, there’s money to be made in the recruitment industry. Of course, there’s always the economic downturn to consider. The jobs market reported a dramatic slowdown during 2008, with an extra 70,000 redundancies.
That said, as in most industries, if you have a solid business proposition, it should just be a matter of weathering the economic storm. “I wouldn’t say we’re recession-proof or we’re credit crunch proof, but the job still needs doing,” says Robins. Fairweather is more cautious: “Pick wisely if you are setting up in the current environment, but there are still possibilities there,” she says.