10 Steps For Starting a Recruitment Agency


Whether you’re new to recruitment or looking to go on your own, starting a company is never an easy task. Luckily recruitment has lots of great services and tools to make life easier and let you focus on what you do best: recruiting!

STEP 1 - Determine what type of recruitment you want to provide

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As a start-up you want to choose a niche. Choose whether you want to focus on a particular industry: (IT Professionals, Lawyers, Builders) or perhaps focus on a particular type of recruitment: permanent, temporary or perhaps executive search? Pick something that you have an interest in and that you add value to, whether that is your industry knowledge or perhaps your list of contacts.

TIP: According to Recruitment Buzz  the industries tipped for highest recruitment growth in 2017 are:

1. IT and Technology
2. Engineering
3. Construction
4. Oil Gas and Energy
5. Accounting & Finance 



Business is a competition. You need to be able to find a reason why someone will choose your agency over the competition. Assess the competition, look for their weak spots and work out what you can do better than them. You need to differentiate on one of the 4 Ps - Product, Price, Place or Promotion.


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 If you haven’t done recruitment before it’s not for the faint hearted. Long-hours and high energy usually leads to a roller coaster of emotions. However the rewards can be massive!

If you don’t have much recruitment experience then either:   

a) Consider gaining experience by working at another agency first 


b) Find a business partner with lots of recruiting experience


 Start up Costs

Unlike many other start-ups the initial costs for starting a recruitment agency doesn’t have to be that expensive. Many people start working from home or a small space in a shared office such as Regus. Other costs to think about are: staff, corporate insurance, laptop, marketing, recruitment software, and other business expenses. Work out if you’ve got the funds. If not there are plenty of options for funding with companies such as TBOS specialising in funding for recruitment agencies. 


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 Whilst some people just rely on lawyers, any savvy business owner would also be aware of the laws themselves. On the exciting list of ‘must reads’ are: Employment Agencies Act 1973,  Employment Business Regulation 2003 &  GDPR.  Other legislation may vary depending on your sector. There’s a nice overview at GOV.UK.


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It’s time to put pen to paper and start registering your company.

  • Choose a name and set up a limited company - You can spend hours online using Companies House – Name Availability Checker
  • Choose a website domain - It’s arguably more important than the company name! Again, use tools to see what’s available, such as GoDaddy Domain Search
    (Buying the .COM extension is a must have, but you can also buy a few extra extensions for usually very little money. CO, .ORG, .UK and even .LONDON are now available).
  • Open a business bank account - All the main banks have business banking, many with different perks including free travel insurance and free fees for the first year.
  • Take out insurance -  As a minimum you will need Public Liability Insurance (protection against compensation claims), Professional Indemnity Insurance (protection for your services or advic
    e) and Employers’ Liability Insurance (keep your employees safe).
  • Get VAT registered (assuming your turnover is going to be more than £85,000)
  • Find an Accountant to keep the books above board.

TIP: Many recruitment agencies have very similar names. Try to steer away from the norm and avoid buzz words such as ‘Talent’, ‘Search’ or ‘Recruit’. Choose something catchy or meaningful. Your name doesn’t have to describe what you do; think Amazon, Deloitte, Waitrose


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Depending on the type of recruitment you will offer, location can be important. If you want to be a high-street recruiter you will need to be somewhere that candidates can easily get to. If you are going into a niche or focusing on executive search you can realistically work from anywhere. With advances in technology this is becoming more and more accepted with many employers now even adopting video calls for interviews. If you can’t afford a fancy office in a prime location don’t worry – just invest in the technology so you can provide a professional service from anywhere.


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  • Make a list of potential clients (either by location or industry). These might be people you already know or details you’ve obtained from an internet search.
  • Do your homework before making contact with people. First impressions count!
  • Find candidates. A recruitment agency is nothing without candidates. Use tools such as Voyager’s iResearch to find candidates from multiple platforms in one click.
  • Produce your marketing materials. Create a logo & design your website. Did you know that creating a website is no longer just for techies? Tools such as Wix make it really simple, just choose one of the templates and drag in images and text to make the website your own.
  • Decide on your pricing structure. Are you going to charge a commission percentage or perhaps go for a flat rate fee? Be prepared to be competitive on price when you start up (remember it’s one of the P's). 
  • TIP: Typical commission rates range between 10% - 30% (depending on the demand for the role). Flat fees can start as low as £600 +VAT but this is usuallyjust for a shortlist of suitable candidates via online job board searches.


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Must-have tools from day one include: Recruitment Software / Recruitment CRM – many software packages specialise in only one recruitment type (perm, contract or temp) whereas Voyager Infinity provides an adaptable solution allowing you to diversify into other areas as you grow.

Top 6 questions to ask any recruitment software supplier are:

  • Is it cloud based?
  • Can I access it from my mobile?
  • Does it integrate with job boards?
  • Does it automatically synchronise my emails?
  • Are there reports & dashboards so I can quickly see how my business is doing?
  • Will it automate my tasks and act as my own personal assistant?
  • Job Posting Sites – unless you are focusing on one industry where there is one main job board (such as CW Jobs for IT), most people go for a job board aggregator such as Logic Melon or Broadbean 
  • Back-Office Systems – you can either do it yourself with tools such as Sage 50 or QuickBooks. Alternatively you can out-source the head-ache of back-office and use a Bureau such as Mazars or TBOS

 TIP: Trying to save money by not investing in the right technology is a false economy! You’re more likely to make mistakes, damage relationships with clients & have a data breach resulting in hefty fines.  Technology truly is an investment to help your company grow, it’s not just a cost.

Once you’ve been trading for a few months and have started bringing in some placements you could look to expand your tool set with:

  • Online Timesheets – Add a USP and make timesheet management easy for candidate & clients with TimesheetPortal 
  • Cloud Telephone System – Provide a professional business presence even when you are on the go with Online telephony systems such as CloudCall 
  • Email Marketing System – Send targeted mailshots using systems such as MailChimp with advanced with professional designs, click analytics and mobile compatibility it will help your business grow.


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SENIOR RECRUITER: Hire people with lots of experience and industry contacts.  They will not only be a top biller but a leader and mentor for others in the team.  Keep these people happy to avoid them going elsewhere or starting on their own.Hire experienced recruiters to win new business and make placements, then more junior staff to learn the ropes and conduct the administrative tasks. As you look to grow the company build in teams of 4:

RECRUITER NUMBER 1: Hire people with some industry experience and good recruitment skills.  The revune they gerate should cover their overheads by at least 1.5X.  they should be hungry to earn more and want to become a Senior Recruiter.

RECRUITER NUMBER 2: This person should be in direct competition with Recruiter Number 1. They should have cleartargets and should always be able to see who is making high fees.  they 

JUNIOR RECRUITER: This person could be new to the industry, perhaps it's even their first job.  They should do the majority of the admin work; phone calls, arranging interviews & paperwork. Most importantly they are there to learn. If they are still doing the admin job within 6 months they have failed and recruitment is not for them. They should be making key contacts in the industry and maintaining those relationships all the time. When you get to 10 staff you may want to think about specialist roles such as marketing and finance. Until then you will have to split these activities between yourself and other staff.

And the magical Bonus step – Ask around for personal referrals.

Whilst the barrier to setting up a Recruitment Agency may seem low, getting it wrong can be very costly and so look deeper than the website, especially when it comes to selecting a Recruitment CRM.

Clearly we’d love for you to get in touch and book a demo, but feel free to ask for a reference customers to talk with.





To find out how Voyager can help support your business for growth in 2019, complete the form below for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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