making your first placement | new to recruitment

New to recruitment – making your first placement | recruitment consultancy tips

“Is there a science to making your first placement?”


Your first successful placement is a watershed moment in any aspiring recruiter’s career. But what is the anatomy of the sale? How long would an industry veteran expect to work before they made their first sale? And what steps can you learn from them to shorten your journey from rookie to recruitment expert?

The groundwork: Sourcing Candidates

If you want to start placing candidates in roles, you will first need to attract some candidates. If you’re database is looking empty or you are struggling to make your first hire, then it may be worthwhile spending more time on attracting candidates.

Our previous part of the new to recruitment guide discussed this point in detail.


Recruitment is, at the end of the day, a sales role.

While some ideological recruiters may baulk at this suggestion, the nature of the work is always sales-orientated. In fact, many of the best recruiters absolutely relish the sales environment of their work. But in this industry, a ‘sale’, is a little different. Let’s take a look at what recruitment sales is all about.

The recruitment sale

You sell candidates’ skills and aptitudes to potential employers. You are selling your client brands, ethos and workplace cultures to your candidates. And you are selling your own ability to deliver beneficial outcomes to all involved to every future client. When you start a recruitment enterprise you are going to spend a lot of time selling – however you position yourself.

There is a bit of a myth that some people are naturally gifted sellers. Sure, there are charismatic individuals who are better at closing, but a lot of selling is a trained skill. If you don’t feel yourself to be a naturally gifted closer of deals, remember these golden rules:

Selling checklist

• Nobody can sell to everyone. The people who make it look like they can are just experts at choosing the right prospects. You might think these hotshots are selling ice to polar bears. In reality, they’re just looking out for polar bears with a gin and tonic in their hand…

• Identifying a need is therefore the first step to a successful sale. Of course, now we have recruitment software tools to do that for you…

• Don’t sell the quality of the product; sell the solution to a problem. Hiring is not a luxury good, and nobody will recruit a new worker if there is no demand. On a basic level, this is obvious to us all. You might have the best brain surgeon in Britain, but they offer no added value to that construction firm. Bring this sentiment to every job order you try to fill and you will save a lot of time and effort.

• Once you have found a need, get to know your prospect. How do they usually fill a vacancy? Internal promotions or external hire? Temporary or permanent? Do they hunt for purple squirrels, or train up promising candidates once they’re onboard? All of these factors will further narrow down which of your candidates is the best match for each particular client.

How long should it take?

This is great, but how long should you expect to work at it before landing your first sale?

Smart targeting, a strong work ethic, and the right hiring tools can all help you. But most industry veterans agree that learning the ropes before you can successfully start making placements takes time.

This excellent recruiting blogs discussion may be old, but it has lots of fantastic (and still relevant) advice.

The consensus? As a rookie recruiter you should expect to work the best part of three months before making your first sale. And that’s while working within a larger firm.

If you are intent on going it alone, then you should budget for an even longer dry spell.

This is not given to demotivate you from your goals. Prepare to absorb a slow start and you will be much better placed to make it to the good times.

Collecting Sales Leads

This is a tough gig in a lean market. But the key is to go where your customers go, and talk their language. You cannot hope to find sales opportunities in places where no-one is buying.

These days, most employers are learning to rely on onilne and automated systems to find talent and make hires. This plays to your advantage as a startup, as the virtual world allows people to assess you on your outcomes rather than your appearance. You can meet them halfway with a few tech investments – and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it.

The right hiring tools can not only help you to source new sales opportunities faster than your established rivals. They can also help you add value to employers’ recruitment processes with anonymisation, rating and ranking of candidates, and an improved applicant experience.

Setting your fees

Once you have started selling, the obvious final question is “how much should I charge?”

There is no definitive answer to this question. Fees are perhaps most frequently calculated as a percentage of the annual value of the open position. But they can also be modified by such variables as location; skill requirements; industry; and difficulty of making a placement.

One thing is for certain: you should conduct thorough research before settling on your pricing. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market at either end. Nobody will pay way over the odds for your talents. But you will be viewed with skepticism if your prices are too low, too.

This article explaining recruitment consultancy fees provides a broad overview.