In the second of BE Offices’ new regular feature focusing on popular small business enterprises we take a look at recruitment consultants; the state of the industry and the challenges faced
What do they do?
Recruitment consultants are brought in by firms to help them fill a specific role, create a recruitment strategy or expand the company.
They can do this through a number of means, from creating and posting adverts on traditional job sites to more advanced psychometric testing and headhunting.
Their job doesn’t just stop there – they can create interview questions and scenarios, do background checks on candidates and provide advice on salary negotiations.
Recruitment consultants will often spend a long period with the client to get to know the business inside out. This will help them to craft a recruitment package that will deliver the best results for that client, whether that’s a traditional newspaper advert or a social media campaign.
Many recruitment consultants focus on a specific industry such as IT or engineering, or on a geographic location, such as finding candidates for offices in the Middle East or Europe.
As there tends to be a focus on industry or location, those looking to start a recruitment consultancy business will have experience in these areas usually.
It means they will have a good understanding of the skills required in the industry or the hiring practices of a certain country or region.
You’ll also need a good contacts book as finding the right person can be a matter of networking and knowing who’s at which company and who might be willing to switch jobs. You’ll need very good people skills along with excellent communication skills, especially in the art of persuasion.
On top of this, you’ll also need good sales and negotiation skills, as part of the job is finding the right deal between the potential employer and employee.
To set up, invest in a good website, hire a small team and look into getting some nice offices with a bit of start-up cash.
Being a member of an industry body like Institute of Recruiters or Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) can help provide you with the right credentials.
The challenges faced
Like many consultancy roles, you’re very much at the beck and call of the client, which can mean long hours. It can also mean lots of travel to spend time embedded with the clients, which can affect work life balance.
As with many small businesses, finding the right people is also hard with many of the best already in high paying roles with larger companies.
The recruitment industry is also facing a shift with many companies opting to do it themselves due to the perceived low cost of advertising online. It’s your job as a recruitment consultant to convince them that they need to hire an external firm – and that you can complete the whole process in a speedy manner.
There’s also a move – from some thought leaders – away from seeking candidates through job advertising, to attracting the right people by spending time and money improving your brand. Recruitment consultants can be part of this, but it’s often seen as more a marketers’ job.
Finally, you also need to give the client a measureable return on investment. This can be hard as they can argue they could have found the same candidate themselves. You need to show your working essentially and then measure not just the new employee’s success but also the company’s overall success because of the hires you’ve made.
The industry facts
We take a look at the facts behind the UK industry…
• The value of the recruitment industry to the UK economy is £35.1 billion per year, according to the REC
• There are 9,565 recruitment agencies with an annual turnover of more than £250,000 operating in the UK
• The industry employs around 90,000 people in the UK.
• The top three sectors in which recruiters make permanent placements are professional and managerial, technical and engineering, and secretarial and clerical
• The top three sectors in which recruiters make temporary placements are industrial, accounting/financial, and secretarial/clerical
• Salaries for recruitment consultants range from between £16,000 to £60,000
• The average recruitment consultant works 37 per week
Case study: Asoria Group – picking a niche and running with it
As mentioned above, finding your area of expertise is important for making your recruitment consultancy stand out. And while many focus on sector or location, Asoria picked something different. The two founding members had a different goal – to become a recruitment consultancy for the green sector.
In 2010, Mathew Churchward and Patrick Wall were working for a major recruitment agency. But they wanted to go it alone. Sat around a kitchen table they decided to set up The Green Recruitment Company.
The aim was to be the leading supplier of recruitment solutions to the international green economy. With such a clear focus – and an in-depth knowledge of the sector – they stood out from the crowd immediately. It took just two years before they were opening their Beijing office.
To cope with the growing demand for their services, they established the Asoria Group, which also incorporates The Property Recruitment Company, Digital Recruitment Company and Life Science Recruitment Company.
The group has grown from two men to a multi-award winning international recruitment group, with offices in London, Dubai and Beijing.
It shows that with the right idea, plenty of experience and a bit of elbow grease and commitment, you too can set up a successful recruitment consultancy in a competitive industry.