How much do recruiters in Hong Kong bill?

Last week, I wrote an article about how much recruiters in Singapore bill. This week, I’ll be sharing our findings on how much recruiters in Hong Kong bill.

The numbers reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career in an executive recruitment consultancy (mid to senior level recruitment) during normal market conditions. They were gathered after working in the recruitment to recruitment industry in Hong Kong for over 4 years.

Naturally, recruiters develop at different speeds and certain factors such as the practice a recruiter is covering, how many people a recruiter is managing or the type of agency they work for, create diverse results and a large range. We try to explain the variation in each section.

We also talk about how the 2019/2020 Hong Kong protests and COVID-19 has affected individual revenue at the end of the article.

Recruitment consultant with 0 – 1 years of experience

HKD $800,000 – 1,400,000

The first year in recruitment is focussed on learning the job, your niche market and building a network within it. This is arguably the make-or-break period; building a solid foundation that you can leverage to increase your revenue in the years to come is crucial.

If you’ve achieved the numbers above, you’re in a good position to build a positive trajectory for the future.

Recruitment consultant with 1 – 3 years of experience

HKD $1,200,000 – 1,800,000

Now that you have a good understanding of agency recruitment, a growing network and a track record of success, you can leverage your relationships and referrals to increase the quality and volume of your leads.

Senior recruitment consultant with 2 – 4 years of experience

HKD $1,400,000 – 2,400,000

You’ve been in the industry for a few years now and you’ve developed strong relationships with clients who come back to you for repeat business. Your candidates have had a positive experience and are referring their colleagues or friends to you. You’re getting better at matching candidates and clients and conversion rates are increasing.

Principal recruitment consultant or manager with 3 – 6 years of experience

HKD $1,800,000 – 3,600,000

A few of the clients that come back to you for repeat business are now impressed with your consistency. They release senior roles and some on an exclusive or retained basis. Your access to senior roles and the elimination of competition puts you in a good position to continue improving your numbers.

You’re also at a stage in your career where you have proven yourself as a highly capable individual contributor (IC). It’s now your decision if you want to continue your path as an IC, increasing your billings year on year, or move into a manager position.

By choosing the IC route, every day is dedicated to billing and you can get up to the higher end of the range, achieving numbers between $2,200,000 – 3,600,000.

Taking up the manager route requires more time for training and management, but by using the foundation you’ve built over the past few years, you can continue to bill between $1,800,000 to 3,000,000 whilst managing a small team of 1 – 3 recruiters.

Associate director or director with 5 – 10 + years of experience

HKD $1,200,000 – 5,000,000

As an individual contributor, provided you’re continuing to build relationships and deliver a superior service, your billings will grow. You are however getting to the point where you are operating at absolute efficiency; you have no more minutes in the day and your revenue will eventually start to plateau. You’re one of the most well-known recruiters in your niche and everyone knows your name. These numbers can be between $3,200,000 to 5,000,000.

As a people manager, you’re taking on more responsibilities and your team could be up to 5 to 10 consultants, or more. Your focus may shift from closing deals to bringing on board new clients and delegating roles to your team. You’re so busy ensuring the profitability of your team that you have much less time to close roles yourself. You could be billing between $1,200,000 to $3,200,000. Of course, the more consultants you’re managing, the less time you’ll have to bill.

The next step in your career could see you moving away from billing completely and into pure people management, although these roles are becoming less common as firms become more lean.

Outliers

The numbers above reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. There will certainly be outliers on both sides of the range for one reason or another.

Some recruiters develop extremely quickly. The highest annual billing figure we know of in the contingent agency recruitment market in Hong Kong is HKD $10 million.

Other recruiters may be working on a slower desk, market conditions might be adverse and the agency may not have a strong enough platform to achieve desired numbers.

Market conditions

The last two years have been challenging for the recruitment industry in Hong Kong to say the least.

We observed a 10 to 20% decrease in billings throughout 2019 compared to the previous year. 2019 H2 was more challenging than H1, and Q4 saw the biggest hit of all quarters in the year.

2020 started positively compared to the end of 2019, until COVID-19 started. Recruiters in Hong Kong were hit twice in the period of a year. Markets such as Technology and Insurance remain stable whilst Retail, hit twice from the 19/20 HK protests and COVID-19, have been majorly affected to the point where some Retail recruitment specialists have gone out of business.

It’s near impossible to provide an accurate figure of how much billings have declined during COVID-19 compared to 2018 given how different practices are affected more than others and the effects of the third wave have yet to be recorded, but we believe it’s somewhere between 20 – 60%.

Hong Kong vs Singapore results

One thing we noticed in the Hong Kong market is that the range tends to be more diverse than the Singapore market. We also noticed that billings tend to be slightly higher than Singapore, perhaps due to higher salary ranges or the fact that Singapore is a more saturated recruitment market.

Your agency

Whilst a major contributor to the success of a recruiter is down to their motivation and drive to be successful, your numbers can be affected by the agency you’re working with. If your agency operates a model with lower fees and higher volume, you may not be able to hit the revenue figures that a recruiter is achieving in a higher fee, middle volume model.

A recruiter that has accumulated a number of years of experience will learn this along the way and will then make a decision if they need to join a new agency to get to where they want to be.

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How much do recruiters in Singapore bill?

The recruitment industry in Singapore has grown exponentially in recent years and, despite increased market saturation, it’s easy to see why when there’s so much opportunity coupled with limited barriers to entry.

But how much do recruiters in Singapore actually bill?

In this article, we share our findings on what recruiters bill on a permanent desk within an executive recruitment consultancy (mid to senior level recruitment and a mid volume model) during normal market conditions.

The numbers in this article have been gathered after working in the recruitment to recruitment industry for over 4 years. The numbers reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. Naturally, recruiters develop at different speeds and certain factors such as the practice a recruiter is covering, how many people a recruiter is managing or the type of agency they work for, create diverse results and a large range. We try to explain the variation in each section.

We also talk about how COVID-19 has affected individual revenue at the end of the article.

Entry level recruitment consultant with 0 – 1 years of experience

SGD $100,000 – 200,000

Being a fresh recruiter is all about learning the recruitment process, your niche market and building a network within it. The first year is crucial to building a solid foundation and platform that you can leverage to increase your revenue in the years to come.

Learning the ropes is arguably one of the most challenging periods of being a recruiter. If you’ve achieved the numbers above, you’re in a good position to build a positive trajectory for the future.

Entry to mid level recruitment consultant with 1 – 3 years of experience

SGD $150,000 – 300,000

Now that you have a good understanding of recruitment, a growing foundation and a brief track record of success, you can now leverage on your relationships and referrals to increase the quality and volume of your leads.

Mid level senior consultant with 2 – 4 years of experience

SGD $200,000 – 400,000

You’ve been in the industry for a few years now and you’ve developed strong relationships with clients who come back to you for repeat business. Your candidates have had a similar experience and are referring their colleagues or friends to you. You’re getting better at matching candidates and clients and conversion rates are increasing.

Mid level principal or manager with 3 – 6 years of experience

SGD $300,000 – 600,000

A few of the clients that come back to you for repeat business are now very impressed with your consistency. They release more senior roles and some even on an exclusive or retained basis. Your access to senior level positions and the elimination of competition puts you in a good position to continue improving your numbers.

You’re also at a stage in your career where you have proven yourself as a highly capable individual contributor (IC). It’s now your decision if you want to continue your path as an IC, increasing your billings year on year, or move into a manager position.

By choosing the IC route, every day is dedicated to billing and you can get up to the higher end of the range, achieving numbers between $400,000 – 600,000.

Taking up the manager route requires more time for training and management, but by using the foundation you’ve built over the past few years, you can continue to bill between $300,000 to 400,000 whilst managing a small team of 1 – 3 recruiters.

Senior level associate director or director with 5 – 10 + years of experience

SGD $200,000 – 800,000

As an individual contributor, provided you’re continuing to build relationships and deliver a superior service, your billings will grow. You are however getting to the point where you are operating at absolute efficiency; you have no more minutes in the day and your revenue will eventually start to plateau. You’re one of the most well-known recruiters in your niche and everyone knows your name. These numbers can be between $400,000 to 800,000.

As a people manager, you’re taking on more responsibilities and your team could be up to 5 to 10 consultants, or more. Your focus may shift from closing deals to bringing on board new clients and delegating roles to your team. You’re so busy ensuring the profitability of your team that you have much less time to close roles yourself. You could be billing between $200,000 to $400,000. Of course, the more consultants you’re managing, the less time you’ll have to bill.

The next step in your career could see you even moving away from billing completely and into pure people management.

Outliers

The numbers above reflect the successful and positive trajectory of a recruiter as they develop their recruitment career. There will certainly be outliers on both sides of the range for one reason or another.

Some recruiters develop at lightning speed and have the ability to bill up to SGD $1.5 million in certain years and in good market conditions. Other recruiters may be working on a slower desk, market conditions might be adverse and the agency may not have a strong enough platform to achieve desired numbers.

Market conditions

There are certain times where market conditions are adverse and revenue will no doubt be negatively impacted.

Last year, the US-China trade war had an adverse effect on the Singapore recruitment market. It didn’t necessarily cause a decrease or any decrease in recruiter billings at all, but there certainly wasn’t a significant increase either.

This year, COVID-19, the biggest health crisis in recent years and arguably the biggest economic crisis of all time, has majorly affected and decreased recruiter billings, to the point where billings are down by 20 to 70%. Technology is doing well in relative terms, whilst the worst affected industries such as Retail saw recruiter billings decline by up to 70% during the lockdown.

It’s near impossible to provide an accurate figure of how much recruiters’ billings have declined during COVID-19 given how different practices are affected more than others and certain lockdown restrictions cause immediate changes to this figure, but we believe it’s somewhere around 30 – 50%.

Your agency

Whilst a major contributor to the success of a recruiter is down to their motivation and drive to be successful, your numbers can be affected by the agency you’re working with. If your agency operates a model with lower fees and higher volume, you may not be able to hit the revenue figures that a recruiter is achieving in a higher fee, middle volume model. A recruiter that has accumulated a number of years of experience will learn this along the way and will then make a decision if they need to join a new agency to get to where they want to be.

Make sure you subscribe below to receive the latest recruitment articles direct to your inbox because we’ll be releasing Hong Kong’s billing statistics next week.

The ultimate guide to commission schemes in recruitment

How does a commission scheme work? As a recruiter, are you making enough money with your scheme? As an agency, how competitive is your commission scheme in the market? You’re a recruitment entrepreneur starting a new business, what scheme should you use?

In this complete guide to commission schemes in recruitment, we answer these questions and much more.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  1. Two common types of commission schemes
    1. Non-discretionary
    2. Discretionary
  2. Understanding the components
    1. Qualification period
    2. Threshold
    3. Percentage tiers
    4. Deficit
    5. Payment
    6. Retaining commission
  3. What is a competitive return

1. Types of commission schemes

Non-discretionary

A non-discretionary commission scheme is black and white. The components are transparent and laid out before you join. You’ll know exactly what you’ll be earning depending on the revenue you generate for the organisation. Non-discretionary commission schemes are more common than discretionary in the recruitment market.

Discretionary

A discretionary commission scheme is when your commission is paid at the company’s discretion. Whether you’ll get paid or not depends on a number of factors; a majority of these factors are related to your own performance and perceived contribution.

More often than not, you will be paid if you perform to or above agreed targets. However, if the company as a whole is not performing, other consultants’ performances may be taken into account and this may reduce the amount of commission you receive.

A discretionary commission scheme may also be built around your perceived contribution towards a particular placement. For example, if you were involved in the process flow management and closing of a placement, but the successful candidate was identified by one of your colleagues, then the proportion of commission allocated to you could be decided by your manager, at their discretion. In this case, commission would probably be distributed between yourself and your colleague involved in the identification of the candidate. 

Discretionary schemes are less common in the recruitment market.

2. Understanding the components and how competitive they are

Qualification period

The qualification period is the time in which a recruiter’s commission is assessed.

The most common qualification period is a quarter, although some companies have a monthly or annual qualification period.

A qualification period is not related to the period that you’re paid, which is covered later in this article.

Threshold

The threshold is the amount of revenue a recruiter must generate before commission becomes payable.

A threshold is commonly calculated as a percentage multiplier of your base salary. The standard multiplier in the market is 9 x your monthly base salary for the quarter (the qualification period). For example, if you’re on 5k per month, the calculation would be 5k * 9, which equals a threshold of 45k for the quarter. Some firms offer lower thresholds, such as 7.5 x your base salary per quarter, or if you’re very lucky, 6 x your base salary per quarter.

The advantage of this calculation is that when you’re on a lower base salary, your threshold is lower and on the flip side, as your base salary increases, so does your threshold.

A threshold can also simply be a flat revenue figure rather than the percentage multiplier structure above. The standard revenue figure for this type of threshold is between SGD 30 – 60k.

The advantage of this calculation is that, as your base salary increases, your threshold remains the same. The disadvantage is that when you’re on a lower base salary, your threshold is more challenging to surpass.

A handful of firms offer a no-threshold scheme, although there is a trade off as percentage tiers (discussed next) are often lower.

Less common variations of a threshold include calculating commissionable income from your total revenue for the qualification period first, and then subtracting base salary. Whilst this still yields competitive returns, it shouldn’t be confused with a scheme that offers a threshold of simply just your base salary, as the calculation is different.

Percentage tiers

When you surpass your threshold, you’ll be eligible to collect commission on the amount above your threshold (total revenue – threshold). How much depends on the percentage pay-out of the scheme.

A majority of firms operate a tiered percentage structure. In this structure, percentages will start at a specific amount and increase in tiers as you generate more revenue. Percentages commonly start at 20 – 35% and increase in tiers until 40 to 45, and even 50% in some companies. Some firms offer above 50% but it may be extremely challenging to generate enough revenue to earn that yield.

Some firms operate a simple flat percentage structure. In this structure, you’ll earn the same percentage on any revenue you generate above your threshold.

In some rare cases, some firms offer a tiered percentage structure, but rather than the percentage being based on the revenue you generate, it may be based on other factors at the discretion of the company, such as how many clients you’ve brought in or how you’re performing in comparison to your expectations.

Deficit

Some firms have a deficit. If your firm has a deficit and you don’t achieve your sales target, you will go into a deficit. The amount by which you missed the sales target in the previous qualification period will roll over to the next qualification period. This means that you’ll have to make up for the revenue that you fell short of in the previous qualification period before earning commission.

Whilst deficits are less common these days and unfavourable for obvious reasons, there’s a reason why companies still use them and it’s important not to overlook this. Schemes with deficits offer a high risk, high reward option. You’ll find that with these schemes the threshold may be lower and percentage yields may be higher. As the firm is taking a risk in losing money based on a highly lucrative scheme, they need to protect themselves if sales targets are not met.

Certain firms wipe the deficit clean from time to time if non-revenue related performance has been strong.

Payment

Different firms write revenue on the board at different times. Revenue is commonly recognised on the start date of a candidate or when the invoice is settled by the client.

Once revenue is recognised, your commission becomes payable. Commonly the payment will be made at the start of the upcoming qualification period. For example, if you’re due $30k for placements in Q1, you’ll be paid the 30k at the start of Q2.

There are some firms who don’t relate the qualification period to the payment period. For instance, take the example of a firm who has a qualification period of a year but pays monthly. If you’ve earned 10k in Feb Q1 under the scheme, that will be payable in March, even though the qualification period concludes at the end of December.

In the market, firms often pay on a quarterly basis, a handful of firms pay on a monthly basis and some firms also pay on an annual basis.

Retaining commission

Some firms in the market retain a percentage of your commission over a qualification period or over a year. The average amount retained can range anywhere from 5 – 20% and upwards to 50%. To collect that commission, the firm will often set additional targets, the most common being to surpass your threshold for three out of four quarters of the year.

If you hit the target and collect the commission back, some firms return the same amount and others will offer interest on top of the collectable amount as a reward. If you don’t hit your target, the company retains the commission.

This mechanism is strong for retaining employees and encouraging consistent performance, however it receives mixed opinions from recruiters.

Retaining commission is a newer addition to schemes and has become more common in recent years.

3. What is a good commission scheme?

Now that we’ve looked through the various standard components of a commission scheme, what’s a good one and are you being paid enough?

When it comes down to it, a majority of commission schemes in the market, although varied in structure, end up returning a similar percentage return on your billings.

The percentage return of your billings, including base salary and commission, is considered to be competitive around 32%.

If you’re earning less than 32%, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad commission scheme. You may be working with a large global player who offers access to established relationships with clients, allowing you to maintain a strong pipeline without the pressure of business development. Although your percentage return is lower, you could be earning more money than a recruiter who’s yielding 35%, but taking home less. If that’s not the case, you might not be billing enough to hit higher percentage tiers.

If you’re earning more than 32%, you’re earning a competitive amount in the market.

In the early stages of your career, finding a platform with established relationships that has a good percentage return is the sweet spot. When you become more experienced and you’re ready to step into a new environment where the risk of starting or building a desk is higher, you’ll have the opportunity to reap the rewards with higher percentages.

5 signs it’s time to move to another recruitment agency

Some recruiters move to other agencies because they want to, some move because they have to. These two reasons are commonly referred to as pull and push factors.

Sometimes it can be tough to pin down the key motivations behind why you’re thinking about making a move, but it’s crucial to flesh these out so you can make sure that the next agency you join is the right fit for you.

In this article, we explore the 5 common signs that it’s your time to make the move.

You’ve hit a glass ceiling 

A glass ceiling occurs when a recruiter hits a point in their role or agency where they feel that growth or development is stagnant or has stalled. There are a few different reasons why a recruiter might start feeling this way.

They could be part of an agency that doesn’t have the platform, reputation or experience working at a very senior level or on the other end of the scale, a colleague may have the remit to focus on senior roles whilst you’re focussing on junior to middle. They may identify that they would prefer to focus on lower volume but senior roles in the long-term.

They may be part of a team that has grown exceptionally, which is of course a positive, but when the desk grows too big, some recruiters may feel limited to a niche area that they previously covered, whether it’s restricted by the practice itself or the geographical coverage.

Another common one is where a manager has been in their position for a while and that prevents the recruiter from advancing further in the hierarchy.

Often there are no qualms when it comes to the business itself and the recruiter might be happy in their current environment, but they have recognised that change is necessary in order to progress their careers. Sometimes this is one of the hardest decisions to make, but it’s a sign.

An issue with your manager

A recruiter’s relationship with their manager is arguably the most crucial factor influencing happiness and performance at work. A manager can play a huge part in the recruiter’s motivation levels and career development.

The interview process is the point where recruiters meet their managers and assess their suitability as a role model, mentor and leader. Can this person provide you with the knowledge, tools, motivation and direction that you need to be successful?

90 – 120 minutes of interviews with a future boss should give a good indication of this, but unfortunately it’s a limited amount of time considering that this is someone you’ll be working with for the next 2 – 5 years, or even longer. You have to take the plunge. Make that decision and analyse how things are tracking a few months or years down the line.

A good manager will lead from the front, provide direction, training and promote a healthy internal culture within the team. Recruitment can be an emotional business at times, so having a manager with a high EQ is also crucial.

Potential issues that might crop up in the future are a straightforward clash of personalities or style of recruitment, subtle favouritism within the team, a feeling that a manager has been promoted too quickly (a tricky one as everyone has to start somewhere), feeling overlooked or under promoted and lastly a specific incident that has soured the relationship.

Change is inevitable within every agency and, unfortunately, this means that managers will come and go. Recruiters who have a strong relationship with their departing manager sometimes move with them.

The first port of call to any management issues, of course, is to try and resolve the issue with the manager. Transparency and honesty are the pillars of any relationship, and this is no exception in a professional capacity. If you feel like you have exhausted all avenues trying to repair the relationship and it hasn’t worked out, then it’s time to look at either transferring desks or moving to a new agency.

Misalignment in recruitment styles

Similar to the above, hopefully the recruiter will have obtained an accurate and truthful insight into the way that their agency practices recruitment during the interview process. Most of the time recruiters can suss it out, but in a few unfortunate cases, there can be a misalignment.

Examples of misalignment in recruitment style could be a disagreement in the targets and KPIs set, if a manager has a different vision or if business is conducted in a way that is deemed to be morally questionable or unethical.

If the agency doesn’t deliver on their core values or expectations, or if any major changes are made, this may be a sign that it’s time to move on.

Shift in company culture and structure

It goes without saying that recruitment is no easy game, so company culture helps to keep motivation levels high. If there is a shift in company culture, this can drastically affect a recruiters’ drive.

Structural changes that cause a drastic shift in day-to-day operations, such as a change in reporting line or a change in hiring strategy, can count as some of the factors that shift company culture. Another one could be a change in leadership, such as the departure of an MD and the entrance of a new one that brings a new style of recruitment. Sometimes the shift can be gradual and can happen over the period of 2 to 3 years rather than immediately.

On the flip side, a change in the recruiters’ lifestyle or a life event may also create a preference for a different type of culture.

Remuneration

Money talks. It’s rarely the sole reason driving a move, but it’s still an important factor to consider.

A common sign is when there is an adverse change in commission structure or word going around in the market that your commission structure is not as attractive as others. The maturing of a recruiter and the realisation that they can make more money in other agencies may happen after 1 – 2 years in their first recruitment role.

Recognising these signs

There are a number of clues which indicate that it’s time to seek new opportunities, whether it’s for career development reasons or misalignments with your current agency. 

Some of these signs may arise immediately, but some may arise over years of tenure and the agency you once joined is no longer the same.

Whatever sign it is, it’s crucial to identify them when they start happening. You can look at the reasons and determine if the problem can be solved, which obviously saves the hassle of resigning, or if the move is needed to advance your career.

Recognising the signs will help you answer the crucial question around your reasons for leaving your current firm in interviews, as well as helping you to determine if you’re the right fit for the new agency.

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How to build a personal brand as a recruiter that generates more business

As recruiters, we have 101 things to do. Whether it’s sourcing, meeting candidates or clients, working on active deals or negotiating (the list goes on!), it may feel near impossible to fit another task into your week.

The recruitment industry was built on traditional headhunting methods but as the world becomes increasingly digital, building a personal online brand as a recruiter, which goes further than just posting job ads, has become more important than ever.

This guide shares how a recruiter can build a personal brand and use it to generate more business for their desk by investing less than 3 hours per week.

What is a personal recruiting brand?

A personal brand embodies your reputation as a recruiter. It’s everything that builds your credibility and trust in the market from your experience, to your personality and success stories.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider investing in yours:

Rise above the noise

Although recruitment is a new industry compared to others, the industry has grown exponentially in recent years. Hundreds of new recruiters enter the market each month and compete for the same business. This has only accelerated with COVID-19, with many entrepreneurial recruiters taking this as an opportunity to start their own businesses. A personal brand allows you to communicate what you can offer up and above your competitors with your target audience.

Create touch points

Your clients and candidates are browsing LinkedIn when they’re ready to hire talent or when they’re looking for new opportunities. By promoting your personal brand, you can create touch points so that your target audience becomes familiar with your name as a trusted resource in your industry, before you’re even introduced. This will increase your chance of generating a positive outcome when it comes to headhunting and business development.

Generate leads

If your personal brand is strong enough, qualified candidates and clients will reach out to you for business. People you’ve worked with in the past will also see your activity and will come back to you if they had a positive experience.

Define your brand

Start by defining how you want to be portrayed online as a recruiter. Are you an expert in your practice? Do you specialise in permanent or contracting recruitment? Are you more focused on long-term relationships over quick wins? What has your experience in recruitment taught you?

Generate a social media presence and optimise your profiles

Choose social media outlets that are appropriate to your practice. LinkedIn is one of the best options to manage your personal brand and we’ll be focussing on it a lot in this guide, but think about other outlets too. For example, if you’re working in Digital or Product Management recruitment, consider more visual platforms to build your personal brand, such as Instagram.

Optimise each profile and take advantage of the features they offer. LinkedIn has a great tool where you can feature your most impressive content, such as an update, article or podcast.

Ask your candidates and clients for recommendations on LinkedIn too. Recommendations are a powerful tool that confirm that you are who you say you are and give your audience an example of some of the success stories you’ve had on your desk. You’ll be surprised by how many people go to this section to check your credibility.

Start creating informative content

Write articles about your market

As a recruiter, you are constantly speaking to candidates and clients. There aren’t many people out there who have more knowledge about hiring activity than you. You have an opportunity to share this knowledge at scale with your candidates and clients.

Think about publishing market outlooks, career guidance or how-to’s for changing jobs, targeted at your industry. Not only does this add value, it makes you look extremely knowledgeable. With a few engagements, there is no doubt it will create leads.

Consider platforms such as LinkedIn or Medium.

In addition to writing content, you can also share industry news from other respected publications. This demonstrates to your connections that you are constantly in the loop across your industry and your name will often be front of mind.

Start a podcast

Podcasts are trending for both listeners and creators. You can start a podcast by interviewing people in your market – candidates or clients. Think about trending topics within your industry, or topics focused around career development. A podcast enables you to associate yourself with credible individuals in the industry, building engagement and trust with your audience.

An example of some recruiters who have started podcasts are Eifion Jones’ Cyber Security Unlocked podcast, James Abraham’s A New World In Commerce podcast and of course, Andrea Ross’ Talent Talk Asia podcast.

To get started with podcasts, there are many free tools out there that you can use to record your own podcasts such as using Zoom (which we all have downloaded this year!) to record the conversation. From there, you can use platforms such as Spotify, Soundcloud or iTunes to publish the audio. You can even go a step further by recording the podcasts in a video format and uploading them to YouTube, too.

Start a vlog

Videos are trending in marketing and even more so in recruitment. They create a much higher engagement rate than written social media updates and can accelerate the reach of your content in the feed. People are curious to know how you come across and what you sound like. Creating a video can help people feel more comfortable with you as they get to know you behind the photo and text.

Start a monthly vlog updating your audience about the activity in your market, the roles you’re hiring for and share updates from your company.

Spice up your job ads

“Hi All, I’m currently recruiting for this position. Please click on the job title below to view the Job Description and apply to it!” – we’ve all been guilty of using this before!

Start creating descriptions that entice and create curiosity with experienced candidates. Talk about what’s great about the role, how the candidate can develop their career and an impressive highlight of the company. Enticing visuals attract attention too.

Take it a step further and use videos in similar fashion to vlogs but for job updates. Create a short 1 minute video talking though the role, company and opportunity for the candidate.

Plan and execute

Create a content calendar and use schedulers

Organising content can become messy when planning around the 101 other tasks you need to get done in the day. Allocate 30 minutes on Fridays or the weekend to get the creative juices flowing and plan out what content you’ll be publishing for the upcoming months. Allocate another 2 hours in the week or weekend to produce the content. Create a buffer of 2 – 4 weeks so you are not always under pressure to meet deadlines if something comes up – which it often does in recruitment!

Use tools like Hootsuite, which is free, to schedule your content in the 30 minutes that you allocate so it’s all done at one time and you don’t have to worry about it throughout the week when you’re headhunting.

Learn the LinkedIn algorithm

It’s not as simple as posting content on LinkedIn and expecting results. You have to learn the LinkedIn algorithm to get your updates and articles to reach all of your network in the feed, rather than just a handful.

The key is engagement. The more engagement you get on your posts, the further they’ll go in the feed. The simple way to get more exposure on your updates is by writing or publishing high quality content rather than writing up rushed articles.

The LinkedIn algorithm also reduces your reach if you include external links. Updates without any links get the most exposure (provided they get engagement in the form of likes or reactions). Most of the time, however, you’ll want to direct people to a blog or podcast. The sweet spot is including one link to your content, rather than multiple. Sharing updates posted by your company also gains limited exposure in the feed.

Get involved on LinkedIn

Start engaging with professionals and crediting others who have posted great content or insightful updates. Get involved in discussion, start meaningful conversations and shine a light on others achievements or promotions. The more active you are on social media, the more others will engage in your content.

Analyse your results

With all of this effort, it’s important that you are getting return on your investment. A measurement can be as simple as counting how many candidates or clients reach out to you as a result of your content production, or looking at the amount of engagement you get on each article or post. You can also monitor your LinkedIn profile views to make sure the graph is increasing.

Be consistent or don’t start at all

Building a personal brand and creating content is a long-term game; you won’t see the results after publishing one or two articles. If you’re consistent, you will develop a reputation for yourself in your area of expertise. People will genuinely look forward to your content and you will start to generate more leads that convert into business because of it!

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How to change your specialism in recruitment

After spending a number of years recruiting in your specialist industry, the economy is bound to have shifted along with your personal interests. Every recruitment agency is talking about a lucrative, up and coming market and you have a passion for that sector. You’re considering changing your specialism.

Changing specialism is a common driving force behind a recruiter’s decision to seek a new opportunity. It can offer a fresh new perspective, career advancement and it might be a desk you’re personally passionate about. Hands down, the most sought-after market that recruiters want to recruit in today and over the past few years, is Technology.

A majority of recruitment agencies are open to hiring a recruiter who wants to change practice if they understand their motivations and spot their drive.

In this article, we explore how a recruiter can approach changing practice with the end goal of landing an offer.

Evaluate your current specialism

Your new market might sound exciting. A tech startup has just raised $4 million in funding and you want to be the recruiter that fills those new technical roles. Before jumping ship, it’s important to evaluate your current position by considering the implications of changing practice.

Walking away from your practice means walking away from a network you have spent time and effort building. We can sometimes take our position for granted, losing sight of the challenges along the way and forgetting how long it took to build client relationships.

Evaluate what’s driving you to change practice. It could be that you’re burnt out, that you don’t see much growth in your market or that you’re extremely passionate about the new sector.

If you have the drive to join a new desk and you accept the implications, you’re ready to move practice.

Research markets and choose a new specialism

Once you’ve evaluated your current practice, research your new practice to finalise which industry you’d like to specialise in.

If you have your heart set on one practice, start researching it by using online resources. A quick google search can give you a macro overview of your market. Researching live jobs, who is hiring and client contacts can give you a micro overview.

Seek advice by talking to your peers and business colleagues. There is no better place to research a market than by talking to the people who are already recruiting in it. If you’ve worked at one or two agencies, you’ll likely know a couple of recruiters who are covering your desired sector. Try to meet them in person, be open and honest with them so that you can pick their brain without being too intrusive. Make sure to buy them a coffee or a drink!

If you’re not sure which practice you want to join next, identify if you’re being pushed or pulled into a new sector. If you’re being pushed due to bad market conditions, consider covering the same function but in a different industry. For example, if you’re an Accounting & Finance recruiter specialising in Retail & FMCG, consider staying in your function but switching to another industry, such as Healthcare or E-Commerce.

Think about the short to long-term implications on moving to a particular practice. During COVID-19, a number of industries have been hit so hard, such as Travel, that it may take years to recover. Other markets such as E-Payments are thriving during the pandemic and growth is expected to continue post-COVID.

Take action

Once you’ve completed your preliminary research and chosen a new practice, you’re ready to take action. You have three options.

If your current recruitment agency is covering your chosen practice, the first option is to stay at your current company but request a desk transfer. The benefits of this option are that it’s a quicker process, you’ve already built a reputation as a consultant and it could be a comfortable transition.

If your current recruitment agency is not covering your chosen practice, the second option is to launch a new practice from scratch for your current company. This may be a more challenging route to consider with a lot of self-learning involved, but you’ll already be comfortable with the environment and the people you have around you.

Finally, the last option is to consider external opportunities and research new companies that cover your practice. The benefits of this option are the beauty of choice and that the new company may have a more established desk or Learning & Development team to help support the transition.

How to prepare for interviews

Whether you’re moving internally or externally, you’ll have to complete a number of interviews to secure the role. This is your opportunity to convey your thought process behind the move, your research and knowledge of the new market.

Be prepared to explain your thought process from start to end. It’s important that the interviewer understands your drivers, motivations and decision making process. Talk them through the implications of leaving your current desk and the opportunity that the new desk presents, coupled with your passion for the sector. This will help you convince the interviewer that it’s a well-thought out and calculated move.

Roll your sleeves up with your market research. You’ve already completed some research to determine whether your desired practice is right for you, but you need to go deeper. Find out who’s hiring by taking a look at LinkedIn jobs. Create a spreadsheet and include employer names, job titles and locations. Make a second spreadsheet to list up to 25 potential clients in this space. An easier way to approach this could be constructing a business plan for your new practice, printing it out and taking it with you to the interview.

To really impress your interviewer, debunk the jargon. Go back to the job descriptions, read through the roles and understand what clients look for in a candidate.

Identify competing recruiters and share additional market intel; this indicates, not only that you know your market inside out, but that you know your competition as well. If you’re entering into a highly competitive market such as Technology, you need to talk about how you’re going to position yourself and what value you will add to your clients over competing recruiters.

It’s also worth noting that changing practice may compromise any incrementation in your base salary. Every situation is different, but in most cases, it will take more time to become profitable and recruitment agencies have to budget accordingly.

Summary

Changing practice can be an emotional decision as you walk away from a market you have spent years building, but it might just offer the career advancement you need to take a step forward in your long-term ambitions.

To summarise, here is how you can change practice:

  • Evaluate your current practice; consider the implications of walking away from it
  • Research new practices and choose a practice that is right for you
  • Take action and research companies that specialise in your desired practice
  • Prepare accordingly for interviews

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3 reasons why you should join a boutique recruitment agency

If you’re about to make a decision to change jobs, you might be wondering what type of recruitment agency is going to fit you best.

This will depend on a couple of factors: what stage are you at in your career? What company culture are you looking to be a part of? What are you looking to achieve there?

A boutique can be defined as a recruitment agency that has a headcount of anywhere from 1 to 200 employees or less than 20 employees in each office. Whilst the range is vast, you can separate boutiques into local and global players. Some boutiques may have a smaller headcount and focus on a specialist practice purely on the local market, whilst others have a larger headcount and operate a number of international offices.

In this article, we explore 3 reasons why you should join a boutique recruitment agency to help determine whether it’s the right choice for you at this stage in your career. 

1. Career progression 

There are a plethora of career development opportunities available to you by joining a boutique recruitment agency.

Flat organisational structure

Boutique recruitment agencies can offer a flat, dynamic organisational structure. Due to a lower total headcount, there are often fewer layers of management hierarchy, which means there’s a great opportunity to climb the ladder quickly if you put the work in. You will be given autonomy to make your own decisions and be fully accountable for your successes.

Another huge benefit of working amongst a flat structure is getting more one-on-one time with senior leaders in the business. This can be an invaluable learning experience, especially as a junior consultant. As you climb the ladder and earn the trust of senior figures in the business, you will naturally be exposed to, and perhaps be actively involved with, strategic and business-critical decision making.

Tailored training approach

Training and development is often tailored to each individual, based on their current strengths and areas for improvement. I was fortunate enough to experience this firsthand, when I accepted my first entry-level role as a Consultant at a boutique agency in Bangkok. I received hands-on, one-on-one training from the founder of the business. My manager had single handedly built the business himself and he was 100% invested in both my success and the performance of the business overall. I took away crucial learnings from my time in that business which I still put into practice today.

Specialisation

Many boutiques choose to specialise in one or two particular areas within recruitment, as opposed to offering recruitment services across multiple industries.

Some of the larger global boutiques who can support a bigger headcount, opt to operate multiple specialist agencies under their ‘umbrella’. Take the SR Group for example, which consists of Brewer Morris (Accounting & Finance), Carter Murray (Sales & Marketing), Frazer Jones (Human Resources), Taylor Root (Legal) and SR Search (executive search arm).

What does this mean for you as a recruiter? Joining a niche, specialised business will give you the platform to become a true expert in your chosen desk. Many boutiques have long standing and exclusive relationships with clients who are hiring specifically in your space. You will be surrounded by a team of professionals who specialise in your niche, and have been doing so for years. They will be able to share the knowledge you will need to instill complete confidence in both existing and new clients.

2. Culture 

The culture of a business is so important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. It’s a crucial element to the success and longevity of a business, but also one of the hardest things to get right.

Boutiques are able to exert a level of control over the culture they implement across their business. Achieving a consistent, healthy internal culture across a small business is easier to sustain, simply because the team headcount is lower.

Working for a smaller boutique can mean stepping into a self-driven work environment. Many of the boutique firms – especially owner-operator businesses – are less likely to have internal L&D teams, so they prefer to hire experienced consultants.

The culture that suits you best will very much depend on the stage you’re at in your career, and what you’re looking to get out of your time with a particular business.

3. High earning potential 

Money can be one of the major drivers behind working in recruitment. Similar to any sales-driven role, recruiters are paid their base salary alongside commission. Put simply, the more revenue you generate, the bigger your paycheck becomes. 

Boutique recruitment agencies tend to offer transparent and highly competitive commission structures. They are able to do so because their business costs are low, which means they can be generous with how much commission they allocate to their consultants.

For a boutique recruitment agency, offering an attractive commission scheme can be a strong pull factor for a recruiter and can help to retain consultants in the long-term.

Find out if you’re on a competitive scheme in our guide to commission schemes in recruitment.

Key takeaways

If you’re moving jobs, you might be wondering if a boutique recruitment agency is the right fit for you. Consider these factors when weighing up your options: 

  • Organisational structures in boutique agencies tend to be more flexible and dynamic, which can be a huge advantage when it comes to climbing the career ladder e.g. more accessible, fast path to promotion
  • Fewer layers also gives you more access to senior leaders and figureheads in the business, which can be an invaluable learning experience
  • Boutique agencies often specialise in niche functions and industries. This serves as a great platform, providing you with the tools you need to become a true specialist and expert in your chosen patch
  • Smaller firms can often sustain a consistent, healthy internal culture due to a lower number of heads 
  • Boutiques offer competitive and definitive commission structures, with high earning potential

On the flip side, look out for my next post where I’ll be exploring 3 reasons why you should join a global recruitment agency. Subscribe below to have it delivered directly to your inbox.

My experience recruiting through both SARS and COVID-19

It may have been 17 years ago, but I still vividly recall SARS. I was the CEO of Robertson Smart, based in Singapore overseeing offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney & Dubai. We were not expecting it, and it had a profound impact on our business.  

Of course the scale and geographical spread of COVID-19 is significantly larger than SARS but it would appear that SARS has a higher mortality rate, though less infectious. Consequently, in 2003, I do recall a much higher atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, most probably due to the fact we had not experienced such an event in living memory, certainly for most of us. 

Driving home in the evening from The British Club with a young family, I recall a massive police road block across Pasir Panjang Road as the police were sealing off Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre due to a recently discovered infection cluster, just ten minutes from home. This was a whole new experience. Unsettling and disturbing. 

For us, we felt the SARS commercial impact acutely over a period of four months, starting in Feb 2003. Recruiting stalled, interviews and face to face meetings were banned. The quarantine and lockdown was applied mostly to those unfortunately infected using electronic tagging (if my memory serves me correctly), but I don’t recall a total lockdown as we have seen in many countries, including Singapore, today. 

Employees of many international organisations were warned that they would be terminated if they broke the rules. I recall the case of a very senior banker defying the rules, visiting his holiday villa in Bali despite the travel ban imposed by his employer, a US international bank, only to find himself summarily terminated upon his return. 

Even without circuit breaker legislation, the shopping malls and streets were deserted. When I flew from Singapore to Hong Kong, the plane was virtually empty and both Changi and HKI terminals seemed utterly devoid of any life whatsoever. The market simply stalled, to a point that I decided to temporarily relocate to Sydney and assist in the launch of our new brand Charterhouse. Sydney in comparison seemed to be so far removed from events in South East Asia, as to be on another planet. It certainly is not the same case today.

At the time of writing, Hong Kong is experiencing a drop in new COVID-19 cases and lockdown appears to be easing, and though Singapore is still seeing significant (though reducing) daily cases, it is clear that the situation is well under control; there is expected to be a gradual easing of commercial restrictions from the end of this week. Of course this could change rapidly. 

On the surface, the total number of stalled recruitment months would appear similar at around four, but of course the economic impact of COVID-19 is far deeper and more global in nature. Different countries will experience different challenges, but I suspect Singapore and Hong Kong will bounce back relatively quickly in comparison with many markets. There is liquidity in the market. Recruiters will soon be very much back in flavour. 

My overriding memory and lesson from SARS was the sheer speed in which recruiting came back. It was virtually instantaneous. The current placements all picked up with little or no dropoff as clients and candidates were equally in limbo, so time (for once!) was not the killer of deals. 

I see it clearly today in our business: clients are still interviewing and effectively pipelining, and all of us have our crystal balls out trying to predict just when we should flip the switch. I talk with very senior recruitment leaders most days and it is clear that the tone of calls is becoming more confident, positive and optimistic with each passing week. 

My advice to recruiters and agencies would be to gear up today. Anticipate client needs and vacancies. Reach out to the best candidates out there, many of whom are going to be extremely responsive throughout this period of temporary uncertainty. 

If your desk has gone cold, kickstart it now! 

How to write a business plan for recruitment (template included)

Writing a business plan in recruitment has always played a crucial part in the interview process for a number of recruitment agencies around the world.

A comprehensive business plan can demonstrate a recruiter’s commitment, knowledge and commercial acumen. During COVID-19, these qualities are more important than ever and we’re seeing an increase in the number of agencies asking for such a document.

Arriving at an interview armed with a comprehensive business plan before you’re even asked will no doubt set yourself apart from other recruiters.

During these challenging times, managers will need to present a business case to leadership for budget approval in order to make a hire. Your business plan will be an important element of this business case. An impressive business plan could be the difference between landing an offer today, or falling into a pipeline of other candidates or even getting rejected.

In this article, we share a step-by-step guide outlining how to create a comprehensive business plan. We walk through the key components and include examples.

At the end of the article, you can download a free recruitment business plan template which is tailored towards the key components mentioned in this article.

Length

A business plan should be packed full of relevant information but should be compressed and to the point. Avoid verbiage, stay specific and keep to 4 – 6 pages.

Introduction

Start with a title. Include your name and the company you’re writing the business plan for. A little personalisation will go a long way.

Underneath your title, outline the objective of your business plan and again personalise it towards the agency you’re interviewing with. While you have the hiring manager’s attention, this paragraph is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how comprehensive your business plan is. The aim is to capture the hiring manager’s interest so they continue to read each component:

“The objective of this business plan is to outline the value I can add to employer’s name.

In this business plan, I have highlighted my specialism, hiring activity in my market, my candidate and client strategies, my methodology, how I plan to recruit through COVID-19, my competition, my personal revenue projections over 12 months and lastly a suggested solution to reducing my cost during COVID-19.”

You can use this paragraph as a way to introduce your business plan verbally if you’ve called up a hiring manager. You can also use this extract in a cold email.

Your specialisation

This is a crucial positioning statement for your value-add. It sets out precisely where your network and experience lies and what you intend to bring to the table in your new role.

Your specialisation can be described clearly by outlining what roles you will specialise in, what industries you will target, what level of seniority you will focus on and what geographies you will cover.

For ease of reading, you can use each component as a title and use bullet points to expand upon your answers.

Taking a Technology recruiter as an example:

What roles I will specialise in:

  • Product Management permanent roles
  • UX/UI Design permanent roles

What industries I will target:

  • E-Commerce
  • Series A – C funded technology startups (high investment, high growth and high volume of roles)

What level of seniority I will focus on:

  • Mid to senior (120 – 180k salary range for Product Managers, 140 – 200k salary range for Designers)

What geographies I will cover:

  • Based in Singapore, the local market will be my core market
  • Secondary markets include Jakarta, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur due to less competition from recruiters and high volume of roles

Hiring activity trends

The hiring activity trends section provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate and portray your knowledge of the market.

The 3 important components of this section are: hiring activity over the past 3 years, hiring activity during COVID-19 and how you predict hiring activity to shift post-COVID-19 recovery.

Utilise your own knowledge of the market but back it up with research gained from reputable sources related to your market e.g. Tech in Asia, Tech Crunch, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times or The Financial Times.

You’ll want to cover how hiring activity has increased or decreased, what the drivers of growth are in your industry and what the threats and challenges are within your sector.

Candidate strategies

Moving on from market trends, this section indicates how you will acquire candidates for your desk. It offers an opportunity for you to demonstrate the experience you’ve learnt in candidate management from your previous firm, but also an opportunity for the employer to ensure that your approach aligns with theirs.

3 key components of this section include: how you will generate candidate leads, what challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome these challenges.

Taking a Front Office Banking & Financial Services recruiter as an example:

How do I plan to generate candidate leads:

  • Direct headhunting using a LinkedIn Recruiter account, this costs approximately $X amount, the key benefits being access to a high volume of InMails and enhanced search capability. This has been the sourcing tool for 60% of my previous placements

Challenges I expect to face:

  • In light of COVID-19, highly sought-after candidates may be risk-averse and may not see this as a good time to move jobs

How I will overcome these challenges:

  • I will develop relationships with these candidates for the future but I will adjust my sourcing strategy accordingly by increasing volume of direct approaches. I will also focus on great talent who have been affected by COVID-19

Client strategies

A similar section to candidate strategies but geared towards clients. Arguably more important than candidate strategies during COVID-19 as the market is currently job-short – even in the good times, strong business development capabilities in recruiters are harder to find.

This section includes 6 key components including how you plan to onboard new clients, how you plan to sustain relationships with clients for repeat business, what industries your clients are in, the challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome these challenges.

Take these bullet points as a basic example:

How I plan to onboard new clients:

  • During COVID-19, I plan to cultivate relationships by helping and consulting clients on non-recruitment related issues, such as advising clients on the current state of the market
  • I plan to generate leads by making 25 cold calls per day during the ramp-up period, to again offer support and advice where needed, and to leverage any open roles
  • A soft approach of connecting with hiring managers, HR contact and C-Level candidates on LinkedIn, to establish working relationships and eventually convert into clients

How I plan to sustain relationships with current clients and win repeat roles:

  • The most important way to sustain relationships is by offering a service that is superior to competitors. That is by being transparent, sticking to deadlines and delivering results
  • Regularly catch up with clients on a monthly basis to see how they’re doing and see if you can generate new roles
  • Keep yourself updated on company news and congratulate clients on milestones e.g. if they generate a Series C round of funding

What industries I will target clients in:

  • E-Commerce
  • Series A – B funded technology startups

Challenges I expect to face:

  • Durving COVID-19 there is less of an appetite to use agencies due to an unprecedented volume of great candidates available in the market

How I will overcome these challenges:

  • Offer free support to companies currently not using agencies, provide an impressive service and convert into paying client post-recovery

The 6th component is “examples of target clients” and this is where you can really demonstrate tangible market knowledge. Use company names, find the potential contact in each company and add your comments, such as the volume of roles you expect from that client. 5 examples should be enough to peak your hiring manager’s interest.

You can use a table to display this information with ease:

The company name Potential client contact My comments
Company name Contact name This hiring manager is at the senior end so I pick up mid-senior roles for their team. Given they’re working for a Series B, I expect to pull in about 6 roles per year from this contact

It goes without saying that you should never be tempted to use information that is proprietary to your previous employer. This information can be openly found with some basic LinkedIn research.

My methodology

Are you a recruiter that is focussed on crunching numbers? Are you a recruiter who is focussed on cultivating long-term relationships? In this section, you can include a few quick bullet points to explain how you approach recruitment. This information gives your hiring manager an indication about whether you hold similar values and whether you have similar working styles.

How you can adapt to recruiting during COVID-19

This section is a new one in response to current market conditions but can demonstrate how you are prepared to deal with current and upcoming challenges.

You can use this section as the title and include bullet points to outline how you will adapt to these market conditions. You can refer to this article if you want some tips on how to adapt to recruiting during COVID-19.

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My key competitors

Which recruiters and agencies offer the greatest competition? Demonstrating your knowledge in this area highlights that you are commercially aware outside of your core market.

Include about 5 different competitors who are directly competing in your patch. You can use the table below to display this information:

The company name The name of the recruiter in your field My comments
Company name Recruiter name This recruiter has a well-established presence in this market, however they have less of a presence in UX/UI roles, which is a market I feel I can pick up

Personal revenue and target projections

In many business plans, financial projections are of utmost importance and can demonstrate your commercial acumen. If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den, you’ll know what happens when you don’t know your numbers!

Project your personal revenue for 4 quarters. You can start your calculations by predicting the average annual salary of a candidate in your patch. You can project your average percentage fee agreed with clients and from there you can calculate your average fee. Once you have this, you can predict the amount of placements you’ll be making per month.

Make sure your revenue projections are realistic and achievable. Avoid the temptation to predict vastly optimistic revenues, especially during COVID-19. You must allow time to ramp-up and there must be a logical relationship between your historical and predicted revenues.

The plan only includes project revenue. Your historical revenue should be on your CV.

Take the below as an example:

My predicted average annual salary of candidates:

  • $140,000

My predicted average percentage fee agreed with the client:

  • 22%

My predicted average fee:

  • $30,800

My predicted average placements per month

  • 1

My projected revenue over 12 months

Year 2020 2021
Quarter Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Personal revenue ($SGD) $0 61,600 92,400 92,400
Number of placements 0 2 3 3

Underneath, you can also include the KPIs you will set yourself to guide you in achieving these numbers. For example, you can set yourself a guideline for how many CVs you need to send, how many candidate meetings you need to arrange, how many client meetings you need to arrange and so on.

My remuneration

This is not a standard component of a business plan but is included in response to COVID-19. As mentioned in my previous article, if you demonstrate your willingness to share the pain of your cost with an employer, it will go a long way.

Take the below as an example:

My last drawn salary:

  • SGD $5,000 per month

My expected salary:

  • SGD $3,000 per month during COVID-19
  • SGD $5,000 per month post-recovery

How I propose we can share the pain during COVID-19:

  • Reduce my previous drawn salary by 40%
  • Reduce the threshold of my commission scheme of 9x per quarter to 7.5x per quarter
  • Agree to return to standard remuneration once I’ve hit personal revenue of $60k per quarter

The template

To help recruiters through these challenging times, we’ve constructed a free template built around the components mentioned above, so you can create your own for when you reach out to hiring managers.

To download this template, please click this link and you’ll be redirected to the template.

Summary

This step-by-step guide should give your hiring manager a clear idea of your plan. If executed successfully, you’ve already demonstrated your commitment, knowledge and commercial acumen before even attending an interview.

The way you’ve structured your plan will give your hiring manager a very clear indication of your methodology and whether you’d fit their structure. Keep in mind that if your methodology is focused on high volume recruitment, it’s not going to work well with an executive recruitment agency.

As a next step, learn this plan inside and out. Be prepared to pitch your plan to your hiring manager and answer detailed questions surrounding each component.

Leave your interviewer with no room for concern and secure that job!

Is now a good time to start your own recruitment agency?

Singapore is 2 weeks away from the conclusion of circuit breaker and Hong Kong restrictions are gradually being relaxed. Whilst it’s too early to predict whether this slow yet positive trajectory for COVID-19 recovery will continue, is now a good time to take the plunge and start your own recruitment agency?

It could very well be. Some of the best search and recruitment firms that we know in the market today were born in the aftermath of SARS, such as Kerry Consulting. Some also launched after the global financial crisis in 2009/10, such as Argyll Scott. It is, however, important to analyse the implications of the virus in your market and region.

I’ve been involved in over 10 international recruitment startups and have learnt crucial lessons along the way. I’ve compiled a list of 7 things to think about when considering if now is a good time to start your own recruitment agency.

Timing, ramp-up and runway

A golden rule for me: never plan on collecting a single dollar in less than 180 days from launch. 

You must allow time to ramp-up, no matter how well-connected or experienced you are. Whilst you may have a strong network, it still takes time to re-engage with the market and sign terms under a new brand no one has heard of before.

This point is more relevant than ever in today’s market as you must also account for less hiring activity and drawn out interviews. The caution to hire and logistics of video calls will create longer processes.

Almost always you will bill less and spend more than you had planned, so this is why it’s important to consider if you have enough runway to make the investment.

Job supply in your market

No one can be sure about when the economy will recover from COVID-19 as there are still too many uncertainties. It is, however, important to know that your market has some level of job supply or is expecting a hiring surge post-recovery.

Some markets such as E-Commerce are performing well. Although competitive, current hiring activity and expected hiring activity post-recovery would suggest this is a good market to get started in. Other markets such as Hospitality and Travel are in decline for obvious reasons. It will take a lot longer for these industries to recover and for this reason they may not be the best markets to get started in.

Another consideration is whether your client base is dominantly regional or international. If your client base is mostly Europe or US headquartered, these regions are still in the midst of the crisis and any decision they make on resuming hiring in Asia comes from the top down. If your clients are SEA or Asia based, the case trajectory is stable and it’s likely hiring could resume faster.

There’s no doubt the first few months will be extremely challenging whatever market you choose, but post-recovery is a great opportunity for new recruitment businesses, and may just very well be the catalyst for your success!

Candidate supply in your market

Whilst it depends on the industry you’re working in, there is a surplus of great talent available in the market today, far more than normal. This is a positive for new recruitment businesses, especially when the economy recovers and hiring starts to surge.

On the other hand, the most sought-after candidates in today’s market may still be employed. These candidates will naturally be more cautious when moving jobs over the coming months, even post-recovery.

Finding recruiters for your business

Finding great recruiters to join a startup has always been very challenging and one of the biggest barriers to scaling a recruitment business.

There are recruiters available in the market today that you never imagined would be. Ever. Now is a great time to tap into a pool of very highly qualified recruitment professionals who may be more open to the risk of a startup.

Competition

A start-up in theory starts at zero so the only way is up. Your competitors are likely to be in a disrupted state due to some very tough decisions they may have had to make over the last few months.

Although disrupted, competition shouldn’t be underestimated. Some of the better recruitment brands have pulled together strongly and are powering through the current state of the market. 

Clients are also less likely to use agencies during these times due to cost savings. If they do resort to using an agency, you may find it challenging to win business over proven suppliers.

Competition is certainly something to consider but in my experience it’s not a force to be reckoned with, it’s a force you have to go up against. There’s a reason why there are over 3,000 registered agencies in Singapore.

Cost negotiation

Use the downtime to strongly negotiate lower costs when it comes to serviced offices, suppliers and other overheads.

Consider taking a flexible and creative approach to hiring staff, such as a ratchet increase of salary based on target achievement or tenure.

Government

A recession or crisis can be the best time to start a company. Governments can sometimes be more lenient when they are looking to attract businesses and create jobs. Not always the case as sometimes more restrictions can be imposed. It depends on the country but it certainly should be a consideration in your plans.

There are huge challenges and risks associated with starting your own recruitment agency during COVID-19 and it’s not for the faint-hearted. However, should you be willing to take the risk, you may reap the rewards in the years to come.

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