Independent recruiter or agency recruiting? How to prospect effectively...

I was reading an article today about 'how to become a great recruiter' and the differences between corporate recruiting and agency recruiting. There are many parts when one goes independent rather than working at a big corporate office in an agency setting. The first and most important fact of being an independent is that we have to get our own clients in order for us to survive. No more depending on xyz recruiter sitting next to me in the next cubicle that he can feed me job orders so I can get my 50% commission split if I run dry. Well, as an independent , you have to be good at prospecting and sales. Now, when I say prospecting I don't mean cold calling every single HR Manager in the phone book or a directory. We all know that is a waste of time and HR Managers gets dozens of e-mails from recruiters all day long.

When I say prospecting, I mean that the recruiter has to know the industry that he recruits in. I find the best way of picking up new clients is start subscribing to all trade magazines within their respective niche. Every single company belongs to some trade organization or association out there. These magazines or (now e-magazines) give you (the recruiter) very helpful insights on key personnel and key people within the company. They might even have a 'Movers and Shakers' section in which some key personnel got promoted into a General Manager or a Service Management or VP role. What do we next? Well, we can

a) ignore it - (the wrong thing to do)
b) read about it and move on (getting warmer) or
c) give them an e-mail or better yet (a phone call) to congratulate them on their new position and introduce yourself! (bingo!)

I'm sure they are in some kind of decision making position and they would welcome a friendly call or better yet market a great candidate within their industry to them. Skill marketing candidates to hiring managers takes time, but the rewards will pay off in either a) a job order or b) an exclusive relationship with them. Second step: Lets say we do win an 'invitation' that the company is hiring. What do we next?

As recruiters, I believe in working a local area and having face to face contact with the hiring manager is the key to building relationships. When you meet your clients, you see their face, agony and need that they really need to hire that exceptional person that they can't find. Secondly, if we decide to meet every single client, we form a better relationship with the company that has the potential of providing you (the recruiter) more job orders. Recruiters always think the phone should be the extension of your hand as recruiters should be on the phone all day long. I don't disagree with this philosophy but as social media , e-mail and text messaging are getting more prevalent, sometimes e-mailing a client combined with ONE or TWO follow up phone call is the right approach. (Phoning one client too many times or phoning one client five to ten times on a Monday morning) might just ruin that relationship that took 5 to 6 years to build.

I am a firm believer that everybody reads their e-mails BUT everybody doesn't have to respond to every e-mail. As recruiters, we have to acknowledge this fact. When dealing with a hiring manager - GM,. VP, CEO - I believe we (as recruiters) need to take time to nurture that fragile relationship. Calling one to many times to a hiring manager can ruin the relationship in seconds - while not calling him at the right time can make the recruiter lose that all important job order. I'm sure that a VP or GM has more on his plate than returning a recruiter call (especially when 50% of his machines in his plant are breaking down and he's responsible for loss of production of up to $5 million dollars every second that production stays down).

The best strategy that I have found if a client doesn't return my calls is the most important. We have to move on and see what else is out there! Eventually, client xyz will call back when he is less busy (or when he has something interesting to say) but while you are waiting for client xyz to respond, the 'great' recruiter will then have prospected two, three or even four more clients. The 'Great recruiter' will then have the ability to build a 'pipeline' and start recruiting candidates for not only one but two, three or even four more new clients that he got under his belt while waiting for client xyz to return your call. This is the nature of being a permanent recruiter. We don't get a steady income from contract placements - hence, our pipeline always has to be filled.

Being an independent is quite different than corporate and quite different from working at a large agency. The risks are higher, the cash flow is like a roller coaster ride but the entrepreneurial spirit and the will to survive is still there. Is this the lifestyle for everybody? For some, the answer is yes - (as the people who answer yes, live on the adrenaline rush of the recruiting world) - but for the majority of people, they are probably safer with a base salary at a corporate large recruiting house.

Views: 2404

Comment by Will Branning on September 8, 2010 at 12:00pm

Thanks for the timely reminders about the importance of regular marketing, phone follow ups and the importance of face-to-face meetings. I have been procrastinating on doing more marketing lately and need to move forward on this...
Comment by Mike Hard on September 8, 2010 at 12:52pm
Brian - nice post.

Because I see thousands of interactions between 3rd party recruiters and companies every day, the behaviors that can make a company sour on an agency become real clear, real fast.

Like you said, agency recruiters that succeed have a couple of specialties (industry, function and geography), take the time to know thier business, and then market candidates aggressively but truthfully. They aggressively court customers, but if the employer doesn't respond they have the confidence to move on. You can literally print the list of the top 20% of headhunters on BountyJobs, and all of them follow your mantra.
Comment by jerina vincent on September 25, 2012 at 12:37pm

Brian, Nice post and useful. Do u have any document or any article about Contract and permanent recruiter for a startup recruiter/agency which u can share with me.

Comment by VJ Sharma on December 28, 2012 at 3:26pm


Great post. Much appreciated.



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