3 Ideas and Strategies for Business Development in Recruitment

  By Top Echelon  |    Monday November 12, 2019

Category: Expert Advice, Productivity, Recruiting


What does business development mean in recruitment? Well, speaking in obvious terms, it means more placements. Sounds rather simple, does it not?

However, it is not that simple. Because once again, if it was simple and easy, then everybody would be doing it. And clearly, not everybody can be a successful agency recruiter.

In a previous blog post, we already established that the most important key to recruitment success is the quality of the job orders that you’re working. If you’re working the right job orders (i.e., placeable orders), then your chances for success increase dramatically. However, if you’re not working the right job orders, then your chances for success drop dramatically. Quality is king.

So we have that on the one hand. On the other hand, we have the fact that marketing is critical for an agency’s recruitment business development strategy. However, it’s not just about where you market or how much you market. More importantly, it’s about HOW you market. Tie all of this together, and the bottom line is that how you market should result in an abundance of high-quality job orders.

The more high-quality job orders you have, the more placements you will make. And once again, more placements are the desired outcome.

With all of this in mind, below are three ideas and strategies for business development in recruitment:


#1—Focusing on quantity to achieve quality


At first glance, this seems rather counter-intuitive. If you want quality, should you not focus on quality? The answer: because you can’t focus on quality until you have quantity. After all, how do you know which job orders are quality orders if you can’t compare and contrast them with job orders that are not quality orders?

Recruiting industry trainer Jon Bartos calls this the “Starving Man Principle.” I supposed you could also call it the “Starving Woman Principle.” How about if we just call it the “Starving Person Principle.” According to Bartos, here’s how it works:

“A starving man will eat a moldy loaf of bread. Why? He’s starving. He’ll eat just about anything. However, the more food he has to eat, the more particular he will become. The principle works the same with recruiters. The more job orders you have to work on, the more selective you can be about the ones you choose to work on.”

This makes complete sense. A recruiter who is starving for job orders will work any job order that you throw at them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a quality order or not. They’ll take it and run, hopeful it will turn into a placement, and more importantly, a placement fee. However, if the quality of the job order is poor, then all they’re doing is embarking upon a “wild goose chase.” And you don’t get placement checks for wild geese.

It’s all a matter of leverage. If you only have a few job orders, then you have no leverage. Then you’ll be working those order, no matter how bad they are. However, if you have 20 or 30 job orders (or more), then you have leverage. In other words, you have the luxury to be selective. You can pick and choose to only work the quality job orders and forget about the other ones, which probably won’t turn into placements, anyway.


Why work on something that’s not going anywhere? Great question. The answer is you should not work on something that’s not going anywhere.


#2—Generating more business with existing clients


When you’re talking about marketing and business development ideas for recruitment, recruiters almost always gravitate toward generating business with new clients. That’s all fine and good. However, by doing that exclusively, they’re neglecting what could be a very lucrative form of revenue: more business with existing clients.

After all, there’s a limit to the number of accounts that one recruiter can service. There’s what is called a “point of diminishing returns.” You might bill $300K annually through four clients and you might even bill $600K annually by doubling your client base to eight. However, does that mean you’re going to bill $900K by adding another four clients to the mix? Probably not, since you more than likely don’t possess the bandwidth. (You do have to sleep, after all.)

One of the better business development ideas for recruitment is to add contract staffing to your agency’s business model. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. First, your clients are probably hiring contractors already. They’re just not using you to do it. Second, contract placements typically happen more quickly than direct hire placements. Third, contract staffing generates recurring revenue each month that can balance out the highs and lows of direct hire work.


#3—Providing value other than candidates and placements


When you’re making marketing calls to prospective clients, you’re almost certainty espousing about your agency’s services in the areas of sourcing, talent acquisition, recruiting, etc. But what else are you talking about? What else should you be talking about?

The answer is that you should be talking about market intelligence. You should be providing information, data, and analysis that the hiring manager on the other end of the phone does not have. At the end of the day (and at the beginning and in the middle), everything comes down to value. As a recruiter and as a recruiting agency, you must provide value to your clients. A prospective client will not turn into an actual client if you don’t convince the decision maker within the organization that you can provide tremendous amounts of value. And that value should include market intelligence that they can not obtain anywhere else.

That’s how you get new business, and that’s how you get quality job orders. And getting quality job orders is how you enjoy sustainable levels of success in the profession.

Once again, everything begins and ends with quality job orders. You want to maximize your business development efforts, then you need quality job orders. The good news is that there are numerous ways that you can attain such job orders, including the three mentioned above.

The bottom line is that you want to work on searches that have a high probability of ending in a placement fee. This is especially the case with contingency searches. If you’re working a contingency search and that search does not have a high probability of ending in a placement fee, then what the heck are you doing? At that point, recruiting becomes more of a hobby than it is a profession. You might as well make model airplanes. (Although I feel that I must point out at this juncture, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making model airplanes.)

Consequently, a great place to start in regards to business development for your recruitment firm is to look closely at your current job orders. What are the chances that you’ll fill the order successfully? What if you present a candidate that is exactly who the client is looking for? Will it be a slam-dunk placement? What are the chances that the client will ultimately hire someone from within the organization?

These are all great questions to ask . . . and they’re all necessary questions to answer.



Editor's Note:

Founded in 1988 in Canton, Ohio, Top Echelon’s mission statement is “to provide quality recruiting solutions customers use and love.” Top Echelon started solely as a split placement network, but it has expanded over the years, growing with its customers and creating new products and services to meet the needs of those customers. Top Echelon helps recruiters make more placements through its two main products and services: Top Echelon Network, the leading split network of recruiters, and Big Biller recruitment software for applicant tracking. Visit www.topechelon.com to get started today!

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