Employment agencies: A recruiting agency, also referred to as a staffing or temporary agency, searches for, interviews, and screens applicants for job placement— temporary, permanent, or both. A staffing agency may also focus only on a specific industry niche, such as executive or nurse recruitment. The successful start of a recruiting agency involves a solid business plan, a background in recruitment strategies, knowledge of laws about licensing, hiring and taxes, and a marketing plan for gaining clients.
Determine the recruitment services you want to provide. Decide if you want to focus on a specific industry—such as builders, lawyers, or IT professionals—or multiple. Afterwards, decide if you’re going to put candidates on a contract (temporary or part-time), direct hire employment (full-time), or both.
- Study the structure of other recruitment agencies to understand the benefits and challenges of the various agency types to help you decide the best focus for you. For example, you might decide to fill only temporary job openings across many different industries.
Identify a recruitment niche within your chosen industry. Be specific about the area of recruiting for which you wish to focus, such as executive recruiting for the banking industry. Whatever your choice, make sure you have interest in the niche, as well as some sort of value (such as a list of contacts or industry knowledge).
- Make a list of all of the niches in your industry of choice and compare your experience and contacts in each to help you make your decision.
Develop your recruiting experience through hands-on experience. Work for a recruitment firm before starting your own agency and get a feel for the focus you’re most comfortable with. If your goal is to recruit for a specific industry, consider working in that industry first.
- For example, work for a recruitment firm for lawyers if you are interested in law or have a relevant degree. Get a feel for the kind of law you’re most comfortable with to help you narrow down the focus for your own business.
Invest in recruitment education programs and materials. Purchase training materials, sign-up for a recruiting webinars, or watch recruiter training videos. Gaining a solid understanding of recruitment strategies and industry standards is necessary to select your focus and develop skills within your niche.
- Search for local recruitment courses near you if you prefer face-to-face training.
- Research the trainers and industry experts that take part in your chosen courses or webinars to ensure they are applicable to your interests.
Consider a business partner to compensate for any lack of experience or knowledge. After getting some experience and training, ask yourself how comfortable you are working on your own. If you’re still not confident, ask contacts within the industry you plan to focus on if they know of potential partners.
- For example, if you are experienced in recruitment but not in running a business, find someone who is familiar with running a business (or both).
- Search databases like Business Partners for potential partners in your area.
Select a location for your recruiting agency. Whether this means working from your home or an office setting, determine your location. To increase visibility and access for both clients and job applicants, choose a professional and centrally accessible location. But bear in mind that you can still place candidates at businesses in locations that are not physically close to you.
- Determine the small business tax deductions you are eligible for after deciding on your location. For example, if you work from home, you can likely claim office costs, including rent.
- Estimate the space you will need to conduct your operation and don’t pay for anything more than that.
Familiarize yourself with laws related to recruiting agencies in your jurisdiction. It’s important to look at laws in the region you are based, as well as the other locations that you plan to place candidates at employers. Write each law down and any problems or roadblocks they might create for your business so you can devise appropriate solutions. Be sure to:
- Become familiar with equal opportunity employment laws and restrictions about how to avoid discriminatory practices in advertising job openings.
- Conduct research on the amount and due dates of payroll and income taxes.
Calculate the costs of running your business per month and day. Predict monthly cash flow and factor in overhead, recruitment staff, employee benefits, insurance, marketing, and other business expenses. From here, use this information to calculate the daily cost of running your business and determine if you have the funds.
- Remember that you are responsible for paying temporary workers out of your own pocket until clients pay, which can be anywhere from 45 to 60 days past the date of a given invoice.
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Obtain a business license if necessary. Contact your local government agency to determine if you need a business license. If you do, ask for the relevant forms, which are likely basic forms in addition to specific permits related to your business. Fill out the forms and send them back via mail or online. Filing fees are usually $50 to $400, sometimes with the addition of a $25 processing fee.
- Keep in mind that a business license is not the same as forming an LLC or corporation.
Apply for a small business grant or loan. If you don’t have the funds to cover all of the start-up costs and some extra funding would help, consider a grant or loan. Visit Grants.gov (https://www.grants.gov/) for a database of business grants around the world. Contact the banks in your area and inquire about business loans and interest rates.
- Don’t hesitate to switch banks for a better rate or to open up a separate account.
Take out public liability, professional indemnity, and employers’ liability insurance. Contact local insurance companies and inquire about small business packages with these 3 types of insurance, which are the minimum that you should have for your recruiting agency. These insurances will protect against compensation claims, protect your advice or services, and keep your employees safe, respectively.
- Check your region’s laws about workers’ compensation insurance (medical, disability, and injury costs) and general liability insurance (damage to property or injury to people). Even if they’re not required, consider investing in them.
Assess the competition and market climate. Determine if a demand exists for your selected niche. Call businesses in the area that you plan to market to and ask about the demand for candidates. If the market is already saturated, consider changing your focus, partnering with an existing agency, or opening the agency in a different geographic location.
- Ask local businesses how much they are paying for recruitment services, what would make them change services, and what they look for in a recruitment agency.
- Differentiate your business from others in one of “The Four Ps:” Price, Product, Promotion, or Place. For example, offering a lower price point or unique promotional offer is one way of standing out from competitors.
Create a recruiting agency marketing plan. Start with a list of potential clients. These may be your own personal contacts, a list of companies in a particular industry, or a general list you have obtained from an Internet search. Decide on the marketing approach, such contacting prospective clients by mailing letters, sending e-mails, and/or following up with phone calls.
- Place advertisements in newspapers, business magazines, and online job sites to recruit job applicants.
- Produce marketing materials, such as a logo for office documents, a company newsletter to send to prospective clients, and company business cards.
Select a name and create a limited liability company (LLC). Choose a name that follows that LLC rules of your state or region. Afterwards, file out the formal paperwork—typically referred to as articles of organization—and pay the $100 to $800 filing fee to the state or regional agency that handles business filings.
- Create an LLC operating agreement to determine who manages the LLC and how to deal with profits. This is not required, but recommended.
Create a “.com” website domain. When selecting a domain, avoid using hyphens and use a “.com” extension whenever possible. Remember that your URL defines your brand as it’s the first thing visitors see—it’s arguably more important than your business name! Take your time to decide on the right one.
- Register a free domain using HostGator or Bluehost, or pay through services like GoDaddy.com or NameCheap.com.
Design your website or hire a professional to do so. If you have web design experience or are up to learn how to use a content management system like WordPress, you can create one for little to no money. Of course, hiring a professional is also an option—just be sure to select a person with experience in design and SEO for recruiting agencies.
- Be sure to create a mobile-enabled site—this is important for catering to mobile users, which will likely be a big chunk of your traffic.
Open up a small business account at your bank. In order to open a business account, you need a business ID. You might be able to use your Social Security number, but most banks require an ID—in the U.S., this is in the form of an Employer Identification Number (EIN) provided by the IRS. You also need applicable documents, such as LLC file articles and your business license.
- Gather the personal information of everyone who is going to use the account.
- Provide proof of your business name, which you should have from your LLC registration.
Hire recruitment staff by placing job ads on classifieds. If you’re having trouble with the workload, place job ads on classified sites to recruit staff to assist you with recruitment tasks. Hire administrative staff to answer the phones, compose office communications, and handle mailings. Consider hiring experienced recruitment staff to contact potential clients, and to interview and assess job applicants.
- Inquire about potential employees to your contacts in the recruitment agency whenever possible.
Perform a credit check on potential clients. Don’t let the excitement of clients overshadow the importance of credit checks—clients that don’t pay will ruin your payroll and profit. Obtain the business information of each client and run it through a credit agency. Keep an eye out for cash advances, minimum payments, and co-signing for other debt.
- Register for a small business plan at a credit agency if you haven’t already.
Utilize an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Microsoft Office might work for smaller businesses, but it will only get you so far—invest in an ATS to track and optimize the recruitment process. Popular systems include Recruiterflow, RecruitCRM, PCRecruiter, Crelate, Big Biller, JobAdder, and Bullhorn.
- Compare available systems in terms of their costs and features—choose the one that suits your business’ needs best.
Create a payroll processing system. Have each worker fill out a W-4 form so that you can calculate each workers’ filing status and allowances. Keep an updated database of wages and hours. Payroll software like QuickBooks and AME Accounting software are popular choices.
- Be sure that you understand the regulations and laws in your region that govern vacation pay, overtime, and statutory holiday pay—you must send this information to the applicable government agencies.
- Consider hiring a payroll administrator—either in-house or outsourced.