Making the Leap from Corporate Recruiting to Starting Your Own Firm

QUESTION: I am an experienced corporate recruiter, and I am making the jump and starting my own recruiting firm which will be a sole proprietorship.  I would love to know what you would consider the most critical things to focus on with the launch of my new business and what some of the common mistakes are to avoid.  My biggest challenge as I have made this leap has been that I have never been on the agency side, so I am new to business development.  I would love to hear the advice you have to offer.  – Chelsea  

ANSWER: As soon as I started reading this question, Chelsea, I said to myself, “Her biggest challenge is going to be business development,” because you are trained to be a really good recruiter.  It does not mean you will not be a really good business developer.  It means – and I do not know you, so this is no judgment whatsoever – you might think that the business is going to come to you.  If you put up a website and do all the right things and provide really good service, clients will come to you.  Not when you are new.  Nobody knows who you are.

You might be able to leverage some of the companies you have been a contract recruiter for or an internal recruiter for, and I have known people that have done that in a really good way to get their companies up and running.  I would be targeting probably a minimum of 20 conversations per week, 4 per day, minimum.  Actually when I was doing new business development I would shoot for 30 to 35 conversations with hiring managers, not Human Resources. Human Resources is where recruiters go to die.   

Chelsea, you might want to come to one of our intensives because we will give you a ton of stuff. Go here to see when and where we are hosting our next live event.  We will give you a ton of stuff, especially on the business development side to get you going, where I can go into these details in a bunch of different directions.  But you want to expose yourself to 20 to 30 companies a week. 

The great news is the economy is wonderful right now.  There are a bunch of people hiring.  Then you are really going to hone your skills.  

I would also start tracking metrics the right way.  I would do things in blocks of time, meaning do not show up to your desk, return emails, check the sale at Macy’s, wait for Amazon Prime Day so you can save money.  Your orientation as a recruiter, and I do not know what your accountability structure was, you might want to spend all day looking at LinkedIn profiles.  

Maybe not initially, but I would be wanting to outsource research relatively quickly so that you are in a mode where you are contacting candidates because for you to be successful, around about, let me just say $200,000 to 250,000 in your first year – I do not know what your target is – is probably about 2 first time interviews per week, meaning you are setting up meetings that actually take place and that is 2 of them per week.  That has got to be your focal point.  

So then your question is – What do I need to do every week, every week, to arrange 2 interviews?  Because if you arrange 2 interviews it is probably about, in this economy, $250,000 in revenue.  One interview might be $100,000 or $125,000 in revenue.  Very surface level, I do not know what your numbers are or what they will be, but giving you a nice ballpark, that is what it would look like.  

That is where I see the biggest mistakes is that people focus on placements, and they do not focus on activity.  You might take a great search today, in the end of August, probably not money in the bank until November, right, between the interview process, the closing process, the notice period, 30 days for the check, November or December.  So how do you know you are doing the right thing?  You are going to get paid in November or December.  How do you know you are doing the right thing now?  It is – Am I arranging 2 interviews every week?  

Those are some of the initial tips I would give you.  To summarize it, minimum 20 to 30 contacts per week, plus 2 interviews per week.  If you do that, you will be off to a great start, and then refine your technique.  You should definitely go to the 2-Day Intensive. You asked a great question.  

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