start a recruitment enterprise

New to recruitment – where to start? | recruitment consultancy tips

“I want to start a recruitment enterprise. Where do I begin?”

This is a typical question, and the answers are fairly established.

In this guide, we will examine what it takes to start recruiting and answer some of the key questions. What are the core competencies of a successful recruiter? How can I establish my niche? Will I need a high-tech applicant tracking system from day one? How much should I be charging for a successful placement?


People find their way into the recruiting profession from a huge variety of starting points. Perhaps the most common stories are the sideways move from HR, or those seeking a sales role with a difference.

Whatever your starting point, recruitment is an incredibly exciting, rewarding, and surprisingly accessible choice of profession. And, as recruitment technology lowers barriers of entry to the industry, the 2020’s could be a golden age for entrepreneurs.

Getting started

First things first, you need an enterprise. We can simplify this stage by splitting the task into two distinct fields: setting up a company, and branding it. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of up-front capital: both exercises cost more in effort than they do in cash.

How much does it cost to start a new company? If you use the companies house online form then registering a business costs just £12 and takes a couple of days.

Lastly, we need a working environment – be it physical or virtual. We’ll cover these options in the second part of our guide.

Building a brand

Once you have registered your company, you can turn your attention to branding. To begin, you might want to ask yourself a few questions.

Who are you? What is your mission? How will you communicate that mission to your ideal customers? Who even is your ideal customer?

It is important to remember that branding your business is more than an exercise in vanity. The answers to these questions will drive the decision-making of your entire enterprise.

There is already a world of reading material on branding out there. This article is as good a starting point as any.

Finding your niche

As part of your branding exercise, you will want to identify your ideal customer, AKA: your niche.

The best way to establish a niche in recruitment is always with transferable skills. Maybe you started out in real estate. Your time with former colleagues means you instantly know who is suited to the role, and who will struggle.

Perhaps you have moved across from a role in a specialist field such as engineering or biochemistry. In these limited fields of expertise, perhaps you already have a broad network of contacts throughout the industry. This is a huge advantage for you if you wish to focus on passive candidates. That is: those who don’t even realise they are looking for a new job until the perfect role is offered to them by an intuitive recruiter, such as yourself.

But what if I don’t have a proven skill set? Many entrepreneurs are fresh out of university and ready to go. With loan payments stacking up, young professionals often want to crack on with a chosen career, rather than train up within someone else’s organisation.

Starting without transferable skills

It’s a tougher road to walk, but not impossible. If this is you, then the best advice is to keep your ear to the ground and remember that innovation is almost universally rewarded. Who knows – you might already possess skills that you never imagined could assist you in the world of recruiting.

Consider the following. You’re a social media whizz, and you have learned ways to cultivate engagement effortlessly. This in itself is a transferable skill – but what if you didn’t even need to complete the “transferable” step? Turn a legion of loyal social media followers into a database of eager candidates as soon as they hit working age, and you have a product to bring to the market. Your personal brand attracts candidates; your ability to sell wins clients. Plus, using social media in recruitment is an efficient way of improving your margins.

Or maybe you devour Big Tech developments as a personal passion. Enthusiasm for a subject grows into knowledge. You may be surprised at how quickly a little learning can mark you as an expert in a field. This is especially true in areas of knowledge that are relatively new.

Here’s how background understanding of a topic can translate into “finding your niche” in recruiting. Emerging fields often demand what is known as purple squirrel candidates. That is: candidates with such a diverse (and often contradictory) set of attributes that they simply do not exist. You’ve probably seen those humourous take-downs of employers who require 10 years’ experience within a field only five years old.

Your background knowledge lends itself to sifting through candidates and selecting the most suitable match. When you understand your chosen field, then you know which of your candidates is a realistic prospect – even if they’re not perfect.

Market Research

Lastly, it pays to get a measure of the market. Recruiting is an intensely competitive market; opportunities are finite and hotly contested. Specialising in placements to the music or gaming industries may seem exciting, but are those sustainable markets for your startup? As recruiters consider the post-lockdown future, some of the biggest wins may be in less glamourous corners of the market. Health and elderly care, logistics, and e-commerce are all growth industries – and among the first to restart their hiring programmes. A little smart targeting can sustain your startup in its early stages. And these early successes will provide the capital needed to diversify into your true areas of interest down the line.

Start a recruitment enterprise: tidying up

That’s probably enough for one day, so this marks the end of the first part of the startup guide.

In the next section, we will look at some of the practical problems facing us when we start a recruitment enterprise. We’ll be talking office space, applicant tracking systems, and customer relationship management. Your next step until then? Use this link to claim 14 days free software access. We’ll be talking about the benefits of software-based recruiting in the next section.

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