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A New Year Heralds New Recruitment Firms

By January 30, 2017One Comment

*** This is a re-post of the article originally posted on 13th January 2017 but was stolen by evil space invaders. Thanks to the genius of Rob Gordon for recovering this! ***

Welcome back recruiters of New Zealand, or whoever else, or wherever else you may be. For it it is not only recruiters who read this blog you know? (Hi Mum *ahem*)

But I’ll stick to the recruitment topics, for the time being at least. It may be a bright and brand new year but you know what they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it…” Well despite repeated attempts to break this blog from initial satire, through to shock, scandal, title-tattle, complete irreverence for our auspicious calling and eventually skirting with libel, we still haven’t managed to break it yet.

So here we are: 2017. A year that, once it rumbles back into life (which in New Zealand is kind of like watching the bright colours and strange sounds emitting from a Commodore 64 while loading up R-Type) is shaping up to be a busy year for us recruiters.

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New Zealand reloading after the summer break…

It’s also that time of year where we look to change our behaviours. Last year is consigned to history. All that bad food, excessive drinking, binge watching and general couch potato-ing was last year’s you. This year’s you is going to be a better version. Much better. Like ditching the Commodore 64 for a Sega Megadrive, this year you’re going to look better, run smoother, be capable of more and…er…load games faster.

It’s also a time of year where some recruiters make that leap into the great unknown and set up their own firm for themselves. It’s a notion often likely to cross the minds of recruiters, given that to be good at what we do we must naturally be inquisitive, driven, motivated and constantly looking for new opportunities to grow. But at this time of year, when we have space away from the daily grind, time to reflect, room to make plans and quite a few festive drinks to embolden the spirit, it’s a classic time to take the plunge.

I should know. I started up Rice Consulting in a spare room back in December 2009. Funnily enough not many followed suit back in those dark and rocky economic years, but now, in the bright lights of economic strength, 2017 is heralding a fresh batch of ambitious new recruitment start-ups. I’ve already met with some, heard about a few more, and speaking with a job board this week understand they’ve been registering quite a few new accounts for new one-person recruitment firms too.

The attraction is obvious. Starting up a (Perm) recruitment business can have a low cost base, depending on how seriously you want to invest in marketing and branding etc. You doubtless already have the technology in your house. These days you probably don’t even need a spare room anymore. A company name, an email address, a job board account and you’re away!

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But there are pitfalls to be aware of. Your restraint of trade, coupled with the glacial speed of decision-making in New Zealand (often from decision-makers who will remain in the Coromandel until after Waitangi Day at least) means you should allow a good 6 months before the first payments start coming into your bank. You might also be surprised at the buying behaviours of clients who you thought you were truly partnered with in your old firm, but who were actually more wedded to the firm’s brand and PSA than to you personally.

That sense of freedom over the summer break, that time you’ve loved spending with family, is all well and good when everyone else is off to. When you’re working alone on a recruitment desk it can quickly start to feel lonely, and the family can become more of a distraction than a benefit.

Also, all those little things you took for granted…the IT support, the marketing material, the accounting support, people helping you find candidates, premium search products and even stationery…the list goes on.

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It’s also worth considering the long term plan from 2-3 years’ onwards. I’ve seen a few others start up since I did and grow businesses to 10+ recruiters and multiple offices. But I’ve seen more that never make it to being more than a solo operation. This might suit some, but are you sure it’s what you want for the long-term? It’s incredibly hard to make a move back into a larger agency environment once you’ve broken away.

There’s lessons in all of this for recruitment bosses out there too. I think once your firm reaches a certain size there’s an inevitability about this kind of thing happening to you. So be aware of it, look out for the signs, and talk openly with your staff about it. Many of the things they might be looking for are probably within your power to afford them without necessarily losing them from your business. Especially with regards the flexibility and freedom, treating them like adults and listening to their ideas for new approaches or processes.

But to those of you who have taken the plunge and set up your own firms, I salute you. I did it, it’s a great ride, and I wish you every success. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and with your eyes wide open.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.