In the UK alone, 2000+ recruitment agencies register themselves each year. In fact, if you search ‘recruitment agencies near me’ from any city globally on Google, expect to find at least 50 options in a 10kms radius. However, only 10% of recruitment businesses scale beyond a 15 members team and continue on the growth trajectory. Like most services-oriented businesses, recruitment is easy to start but harder to scale. With huge dependency on people and stiff competition, recruitment businesses by and large remain small sized.
I have been a part of two recruitment businesses where they have hit a scale of 1000+ employees. I was fortunate twice, to be a part of the first few employees that these businesses hired in their new office and in a new country. I was able to witness how recruitment businesses that have scaled massively would create processes, functions, teams and culture that amplifies their growth continuously.
If you are facing the scale issue in your recruitment business, here are some reasons that might be leading to it, and some ideas on how to overcome them
One of the concepts that are widely popular in product and internet startups but I have hardly seen getting used in recruitment businesses is Task Relevant Maturity (TRM). It sounds very basic but often gets missed out by management, more so in services set up. TRM came to light from the book High Output Management by Andy Grove (Co-founder & CEO of Intel)
TRM helps the management to break down the list of tasks that are required to be a successful recruiter. For example: If your rockstar 360 consultant TRM ratings are as follows, let’s call her Amy:
As a leader, you must look into tasks where Amy’s Task maturity is not great. It can happen partly because she is busy doing other things that she considers more important or it may be the case that she doesn’t enjoy doing these tasks as much. As business leaders, we need to ensure that Amy gets to do more of those tasks where she is the best in your business and she enjoys it at the same time.
To solve this, either you can enable Amy to delegate tasks like Sourcing and first reach-outs to other colleagues or empower her with technology that makes it easier for her to do these tasks.
A high performing culture in a recruitment business would promote delegation and usage of new-age technology like: Longlist.io, Sourcebreaker and Herefish
Ensures that the boring and repetitive work of your recruiters is taken away. So they can focus on tasks where they have high TRM and yield high value to the business.
You can learn more about the TRM concept in the following: Link
Identify your speciality in the early days and stick to it like glue. It will always be tempting to pick up that operations manager role when you are looking for tech jobs with your client. You must learn to say no to jobs that are not in your area of expertise. The two businesses that I have been a part of are no exception to the rule. Their clients and candidates valued them as the best in class recruitment agency in the particular domain. Once your clients start recognising you as an expert, opportunities to grow with your clients in global locations open up. It could be an interesting exercise to go on the website of different recruitment businesses to observe how they position themselves.
Specialisation is not just a marketing gimmick for your candidates and clients. In a manufacturing setup, Economies of scale can only be achieved by a company when production becomes efficient. Increasing production and lowering costs results in economies of scale because the costs are spread out over a larger number of goods.
In recruitment it’s not any different, it will streamline the entire recruitment funnel for your team. From collecting new data to utilising existing data, asking in-depth questions from your candidates and clients, having predictable funnel numbers for your business is only possible if you stick to your domain.
When I started my recruiting career with Huxley Associates and then with K2 Partnering, I was given the following scripts and templates for the following tasks:
Initially, it felt like too much schooling, but soon I realised that the reason why companies like Huxley Associates and K2 Partnering grown so successfully is that they have a process in place to train every new recruit. Whether the new recruit is in the head office based in London or in the newest office in Asia. To be able to create a process and replicate it across offices is one formula that has worked successfully for Sthree and several other recruitment businesses as they grew and scaled to an enormous size in the last few decades.
With the right tools, mindset and by creating the right culture, more recruitment businesses can go global and hit the real scale.
PS: I found some interesting tips shared by James Blackwell too on the scaling of recruitment business