Going from a Solo Recruiter to Recruiting Firm the Right Way

QUESTION: Mike, I am ready to grow my office and start hiring recruiters.  What should be the first steps?  – Alex, Tulsa, OK  

ANSWER: I am reading between the lines of “ready to start growing” here, meaning you do not have recruiters already.  I am just highlighting in your question the word “start.”  Hiring recruiters is a process that I cannot go into in great depth here.  If that is something you want to really get into and you want to start doing it the right way, send us a note at Info@TheRecruiterU.com.  We can talk to you about one of our live events or owner programs that really talk about the whole system of hiring, onboarding, ETC, but I will give you as much as I can in a few minutes here.

How to grow a recruiting firm and start hiring recruiters

The first question I always ask people that want to start growing an office is WHY? Hopefully you are looking for more freedom, and some leverage.  If you are ready to start growing an office it is an incremental process.  The big mistake that I think most of us, if not all of us, were taught, especially if you have been in the business a long time, when hiring recruiters is to go find someone and train them on how to market, how to recruit, how to prep, close, debrief, industry vernacular, all that.  We kind of ram it down their throat in a few weeks.

The first thing I would do is define a role.  The term I use is recruiting coordinator or search associate, which are the same.  Essentially, I would hire someone to recruit on your desk.  If possible, if you have the cashflow, hire two, even if you are only thinking about one because one might not make it, especially if you do not do it the right way.  

When you interview candidates for this role, document an interview process so that you can repeat it over and over again. When you have a systematic interview process, you tend to find and identify similar type of people.  My goal in an interview process was to make the candidate as comfortable as possible in order to get them out of interview mode.

I would just try to create a conversation, but I would be probing for what made them tick, where they excelled, especially in the absence of direct supervision or management.  Then, I would want to find out what was going on in their career, just like a “regular recruiter.”  What is going on in your career that makes the timing of this meeting appropriate?  What was it about recruiting or my ad or what they heard, that inspired them to want to talk to me more?  The interview process is the beginning of the process to start to set and manage expectations.  This business is an acquired taste. I explain what the vision could be and outline a career path.

New recruiters started on my desk and then they migrated into some marketing and eventually had their own desk. It was the most effective way to do it, and very, very low turnover compared to the rest of the industry.  If you think about them starting as a recruiting coordinator/search associate working on your desk, and then after a period of time based on hitting some key benchmarks, promoting them into doing some marketing.  Then working with them in tandem to make sure that does not go awry.  There is going to be a point of transition when they will actually transition off your desk into their own.  Ultimately, this could be as soon as 1 to 2 years after you hire them. You could begin building a team underneath them.  That is true, true, true, true leverage.

Once you bring them on, you want to have a defined system for onboarding them and have some tools to train them on.  The key is you do not have to train them on a lot.  I spent the first day getting them really, really comfortable in how to be able to approach a candidate, do a baseline assessment of a candidate, and then I would review that every day with them.  

The key is, when you do this, you want to block out time every morning to coach and train them for about a half hour to 45 minutes.  The other key thing where I see owners make a lot of mistakes is do not let the new hire interrupt you all day long because then neither one of you is going to get a lot done.  So you want to say, “I will meet with you at 8:15.  We are going to wrap this up at 9:00.  Do not bother me until 11:45 unless your hair is on fire.  I do not want to hear that you had a good call.  I do not want to hear that you have a resume coming in until 11:45.  Nothing you can do this morning is going to be that important that it requires my interruption.  You might get some questions from candidates and you do not know how to respond to them.  Totally cool, save them for 11:45.”  It will be difficult for them to stay on track if you start hiring and you then start allowing interruptions, it is hard enough for most recruiters to stay on track anyway.  You need to block your time and protect your time.

Virtual training summit for recruiting firm owners

That is the advice I would give you to get started. 

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