How to Start a Recruiting Agency

How to Start a Recruiting Agency

How to Start a Recruiting Agency

Launching a recruiting agency can be an exciting and rewarding entrepreneurial venture. With some strategic planning and effort, you can build a successful business matching top talent with companies needing to fill key roles.

This comprehensive guide covers major steps for getting your recruiting agency up and running.

Choose a Specialty

One of the first decisions you need to make when starting a recruiting agency is choosing a specialty. Matching candidates to general job openings across various industries requires broad expertise. Specializing in a particular field or role allows you to leverage niche experience and contacts. 

Some common specialties for recruiting agencies include:

  • Information technology: Software engineering, cloud computing, cybersecurity, etc.
  • Healthcare: Doctors, nurses, technicians, administrative staff, etc.  
  • Accounting and Finance: Accountants, auditors, analysts, CFOs, etc.
  • Industrial: Engineers, skilled tradespeople, manufacturing staff, etc.
  • Executive Search: Upper management and C-suite leadership roles.

Select an area you find interesting and where you may have existing professional experience. Ensure there is significant demand to place candidates in jobs within your chosen specialty.

Define Services Offered

Determine which services your agency will provide. Most recruiting agencies offer contract/temporary staffing, but some also facilitate direct-hire permanent placements. 

With contract staffing, you contract qualified candidates to clients on a temporary or project-based assignment. This provides flexibility to both talent and employers. Direct-hire placements match candidates to full-time, permanent job openings. Many agencies offer both models.

If providing direct-hire placements, decide whether you will operate on a retained or contingent fee structure. Retained fees have clients pay an upfront fixed fee to secure search services, while contingent fees take a percentage of the placed candidate’s first-year compensation.

Build Your Talent Pipeline

An essential component of a successful recruiting business is access to qualified talent to fill client openings. Explore different options for building your candidate pipeline:

  • Leverage your industry connections and network on LinkedIn to source potential recruits.
  • Purchase resume databases to acquire talent profiles in your specialty.
  • Attend industry conferences and events to meet qualified passive candidates. 
  • Promote your agency to top performers at targeted companies through mail and email campaigns.
  • Develop relationships with trade schools, training programs, alumni associations, etc. to access emerging talent.
  • Offer referral bonuses to placed candidates who recommend new qualified talent.

Choose Business Name

Choose a Business Name and Structure

Some important early steps in formally launching your recruiting agency include choosing a business name, registering your business, and determining the legal structure:

  • Select a name that communicates your specialty, provides credibility, and is easy to find online.  
  • Register your business name and establish a legal business entity (such as an LLC).
  • Consult an accountant or lawyer to decide whether to structure as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.
  • File for necessary licensing, permits, tax IDs, and registrations to operate legally. 

Different business structures have different legal and tax implications. Carefully weigh options to choose what makes sense.

Develop Client Leads

A steady stream of new client leads willing to pay for your recruiting services is critical to earning revenue. Use both offline and online strategies to promote your agency and find opportunities:

  • Network at events, join associations and leverage personal/professional contacts. 
  • Cold call or email companies likely need talent in your specialty.
  • Create profiles on LinkedIn and other freelance marketplaces.
  • Develop a company website listing services, outlining expertise, and featuring testimonials. 
  • Distribute marketing materials like brochures and flyers showcasing capabilities.  
  • Bid on relevant talent-sourcing projects through procurement portals.
  • Run Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads targeted to potential clients.

Offer competitive rates and highlight specialized experience compared to generalist agencies. Provide custom solutions addressing each client’s unique hiring needs.

Build a Strong Foundation

With a clear specialty, talent pipeline, business structure, and initial client leads in place, focus on developing operational fundamentals for providing excellent service as you begin working with customers:

  • Leverage applicant tracking system (ATS) software to organize candidate data.
  • Develop screening processes to vet recruits’ abilities and fit. 
  • Create candidate assessment and testing capabilities around required skills.
  • Formulate binding legal contracts outlining expectations, fees, etc. for clients and recruits.
  • Implement customer relationship management (CRM) systems to manage accounts and relationships.
  • Set clear policies and service standards that recruits and clients can expect.
  • Hire strong recruiters with expertise in your specialty to source talent..

Also Check: Recruiting Passive Candidates

Deliver Consistent Value

Once placed with initial clients, strive to impress through reliable, high-caliber service: 

  • Check-in regularly with clients to ensure contractor performance meets expectations.
  • Develop long-term partnerships through co-planning workforce strategies beyond individual requisitions.  
  • Provide relevant hiring market research and salary benchmarks to inform future budgeting.
  • Survey clients often, address concerns quickly, and encourage referrals.
  • The survey asked candidates about their experience working with clients.
  • Expand recruiting capabilities and talent pipelines to support client growth over time.


By specializing, sourcing top talent, methodically building operations, and emphasizing consistent value, you can establish a thriving recruiting agency matching job seekers to exciting new roles.

With strategic planning and commitment to excellent service, over time you will earn client trust and candidate loyalty fueling sustainable growth.

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