Who is it suited to?
The majority of people who start a recruitment businesses fall into two categories: either they are recruitment professionals who already have a background in recruitment, as well as the associated clients, contacts and knowledge of the business; or they have had a career in a certain industry, and think they have the contacts to recruit into that profession.
Which one is best? Kevyn Robins, founder of recruitment site PeopleCompare.com, says it’s better to be from a recruitment background. “People who have come from a recruitment environment will be a lot more open-minded about various revenue streams,” he says.
But Fairweather says it doesn’t matter, as long as you are aware of how much work you will need to put in to make sure you have the contacts. You can’t, she says, just start up and expect contacts to roll in the next day, so always make sure you play your contacts and knowledge to your example.
Whether you come from a recruitment background or you’ve decided on a career change, the most important skill to have in order to make your recruitment business successful is sales – because in recruitment, you are selling your candidate to the employer.
A lot of people coming from an HR background mistakenly believe they have what it takes to get into recruitment, start a business, and hate it. Without what Robins calls ‘that red streak’ of ambition, you will find it difficult to succeed in the industry.
As with all businesses, basic entrepreneurial skills are vital. When you’re running your own business, you will have to be able to manage staff, money, and respond to demands from accounts and HMRC as rapidly as possible, as well as meeting targets.
Long hours are also inevitable, so commitment to the job is essential. “During the day you’re doing the profiling and the account management,” says Robins. “You can’t actually have a conversation with potential candidates during the day in nine out of 10 cases, because they’re working. When they finish work is when they want to talk to you about a potential move, so you might be doing a 50, 60-hour week.”
Most of all, though, clients will value good service above everything else. Even if you don’t manage to fill the vacancy, both candidates and recruiters will remember you for your level of service. Without this goal in mind, there’s a good chance you will find it very difficult to retain customers.
There’s no requirement for any specific training, although industry body the REC says if you’re coming from outside the recruitment industry, doing a course might help you understand how to recognise a good CV, and how to match candidates to a client’s requirements.
Training will also help you understand the rules and regulations surrounding the industry, as well as requirements around what information you are and are not allowed to give the candidate and the hirer, as well as issues around anti-discrimination, holiday pay, and so on.
Fairweather says training could give your business real boost. “If you’re serious about this as a business opportunity, you’ve got to work out a platform from which you can sell your business as a professional recruitment service, so you really need to know what you’re talking about,” she says.
The REC offers training at all levels, from a one-day workshop in business planning to a degree in recruitment practice. Check the website for information.