The vast majority of recruitment companies are very small businesses, many with fewer than five staff. I have spent much of my career in Intelligence Software looking for ways recruiters can be more successful and often I am drawn to looking at the barriers to growing a small agency into a big one.
It occurs to me that recruitment is a business that should be more efficient with scale. The bigger you are, the more vacancies you work on, therefore your chances of placing an individual candidate increase. In practice however, this does not seem to be the case and for most candidates, a good recruiter is as likely to be found in a small company as a big one. It is the individual skill of the recruiter that outperforms the company or recruitment process that they work in.
Most recruitment companies grow to the size of one room and then, for some reason, stop growing. From my perspective, developing recruitment software, I see this as an obvious breakdown in communication as soon as your colleagues move to a second room. A room of recruiters can work together, sharing candidates and leads but there seems to be a point where this ability to share resources breaks down and so the larger companies divisionalise and lose the majority of the benefit that could be achieved through managed collaboration.
My solution to this problem has always been around the management of information and distilling the opportunities from the vast amount of data that recruitment agencies have to deal with. The tools, however, are only powerful if the management of the business is set up to take advantage of these opportunities. Perhaps then the real barrier to growth lies with the recruitment managers and the jump they make from managing a desk to managing a team of recruiters.
I was recently speaking to Greg Savage, a man who has taken small agencies to the big league, and I asked him what he thought was the key to growing big.
Greg and I are running Recruitment Masterclasses for Recruiters and Owner/Managers of Recruitment Agencies. These are taking place in Johannesburg on the 26th May 2014, and in Cape Town on the 3rd of June 2014. For more information about these events see the web site http://www.recruiter-events.com