Starting your own business is hard, and recruitment is no different. You have to be certain the recruiting industry is the right choice for you. And you need to be prepared to learn a lot, very quickly.
At the beginning, you feel confident because you’ve got the people, the ideas, the contacts and the means. You open your doors to the world, sure in your knowledge that you’re the best dang recruitment company on Earth, and whamo. Your business falls flat on its face.
Where did you go wrong? Were your contacts not as good as you thought they were? Was the market simply not ready for your consultancy? It could be both of those things, but more likely than not, you were doing something wrong.
Don’t worry, we’ve all made mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and move on. But if you’re aware of what some of those mistakes are before you make them, you could save yourself a lot of time, money and stress.
Here’s a handy list of the most common mistakes new recruiters make:
1. You’re naive about your clients
You might be the best recruiter who’s ever lived. You might have so much confidence you believe they should be building monuments to you on Capitol Hill. But you’ll never get anywhere if you misjudge your position with your clients.
All too frequently, less-experienced recruiters get blasé about their client base. Don’t assume you have loyal clients for life who won’t go looking for a better offer. And definitely don’t assume they won’t cheat on you with a rival agency.
Clients may well be loyal to you or to your brand, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be doing their own searches or looking to other agencies to see if they can get a better deal. First and foremost, clients are consumers. You need to be mentally prepared for them to jump ship if they find what they’re looking for elsewhere.
2. You demand perfection
We should always strive for perfection in our work, right? Well, yes, but you don’t want to become too consumed by that search for perfection.
If you aim to be a company that only caters to top talent, you run the risk of sabotaging your own client base with a too-stringent screening policy. Your goal should not be to scan someone’s resume and toss it because it lacks certain buzzwords or is too light on experience. Recruiters should look for the positives in anyone who walks through their door. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
See what you can work with in every candidate. For example, you might be able to sell a client as a great prospect for growth if they fall slightly short of the ideal criteria. You need standards, but if you apply them too stringently, you’ll be left with a tiny client list.
3. You’re too cheap
If you’re just starting out, it may seem sensible to do the recruitment equivalent of an opening sale — cut your prices lower than your competitors to bring in more clients. But this isn’t always the best idea. In fact, being cheap has the potential to result in catastrophe.
First, the discount you’re offering will hit your profits. Second, recruitment is an oversaturated market already. If you start undercutting, someone else will come along and undercut you. All of which leads to point number three: It’s unsustainable.
Unless you’re willing to initiate a race to the bottom, set your prices according to what value your clients will derive, not just what other low-rate agencies are offering.
4. You move too slowly
While you want to make sure clients are the right fit without diving in too quickly, recruitment is one of the most competitive markets on Earth. For every opening you’re chasing or every employee you’re desperately trying to headhunt, a trillion other agencies are doing the same, only faster.
Speed is of the essence in this game. If you’re not one for adrenaline, then you’re probably in the wrong line of work.
5. You’re too stingy with your costs
For any new business, monthly costs are a source of obsession, constant worry and brain-busting headaches. But if you cut costs at the expense of building your bottom line and expanding your client base, you’ll go nowhere. Focus on the top line and leave the worrying to someone else.
Starting a new recruitment business is always a scary prospect, but one with the potential to bring great rewards. Make sure you leave the naivety at home, don’t become obsessed with costs or perfection and keep your momentum going, and you should do fine.
Have you recently started a new consultancy? What trials and tribulations did you face and what nuggets of wisdom did you gain? Let us know in the comments below!
Adam Smith works for Talent Puzzle, a recruitment agency recommendation site that deals with a variety of generalist and specialist recruitment agencies to pair the right employer with the right agency. For more advice for recruiters, check out their blog.