Who to hire when looking to grow your recruitment business


So, you have decided to hire someone for your small recruitment business. Perhaps it’s your first hire and you are uncertain of what to do next. The question is, should you recruit someone with or without recruitment experience? This blog considers the pros and cons of both options.




You’ve decided the time is right to hire another pair of hands for your recruitment business. Do you hire admin support, a 180 or 360? Do you bring in someone on a freelance/1099 type of basis, or as a fully-fledged employee? 

There are few straightforward right/wrong answers when considering these matters, so we’ve picked out some of the potential pros and cons for you.

Recruitment experience or not?

Fundamentally, the question of hiring someone with experience in recruitment is often one of budget – an experienced recruiter is likely to want a higher salary and that can be a big hurdle to overcome for a solopreneur looking to grow. That said, an experienced recruiter may come with clients, some skill and know-how. At the very least, they know what they are letting themselves in for with a career in recruitment.

Many owners of smaller recruitment businesses are only going to have the budget for someone without recruitment experience. If considering this profile, it is probably going to be advantageous if they have either some experience or at least an interest in the sector into which they will be recruiting. Probably the greatest risk when hiring is taking on someone without recruitment and sector experience – they are going to need training in both. In this case, have you considered who will do the training and when, where and how?

If you cannot provide a rookie with quality training, you may be consigning your business and them to failure. On this point, it may be worth noting that we provide our franchise partners and their teams with comprehensive induction and ongoing training.


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On the payroll or freelance?

Freelancing works for some recruiters, and it may be an option which allows you to engage with experienced recruiters. If pursuing this option, you will need a pretty compelling offer in terms of tools and resources to engage a good recruiter – what can you offer to enable them to bill enough with you to justify their leap of faith? Perhaps you could look at our RFP offer and see how yours compares.

And while it may be easy to engage and disengage a freelancer, they may find it similarly easy to disengage from you. They may be harder to manage or less compliant.

Our advice is that if you can, take the route of employing a fully paid-up member of your team – get them on the payroll and build your business.

180, 360, or admin?

Again, budget may very well be a factor here, with a 360 being the highest salary and admin probably being the lowest. Thereafter, much is going to depend on your own strengths and weaknesses and choosing a new member of staff who will complement your skills and perhaps fill in where you are weak.

If you are poor at administration, then admin support may be a good option for you. While they may not directly contribute fee income, they may make you more productive, therefore boosting turnover. Perhaps they could assume additional responsibilities such as social media. Part-time employment may be an option with admin support, but the fact remains that as a solo flyer, you’re probably not generating that much admin and appointing someone in an admin role may be something of an indulgence. Our recommendation would be to get training on time management, use automation and simply get organised. Save on admin support costs until you have four or five desks.

There are many advantages to hiring a good 360 consultant. The key is to interview and select well. Assuming they are going to be launching a new desk with high targets, only hire if they can demonstrate generating new business and building a desk from a low base. Can they work in a small/startup business? It is one thing launching a desk for a large corporate recruitment consultancy with a big brand and lots of resources, it’s quite another doing that for an independent recruiter like you.

Hiring someone without recruitment experience as a 360 is a big risk. And as previously mentioned, a 360 consultant is probably going to demand a higher basic salary.

On balance, therefore, our recommendation would be to hire a 180. The biggest challenge most new hires falter at is BD; the thing most business owners enjoy most is the client side of the business – a 180 will concentrate on candidate sourcing and fulfilment, freeing you up to do what you probably do best. Their role is fee earning activity, so revenues grow. The basic salary of a 180 is likely to be lower than that of a 360.

The real beauty of hiring a 180 is that the good ones develop and grow. Over time, many start doing more on the client side, and become more like a 270. They learn the market and the role, and the nuts and bolts of recruitment in a job which carries less risk for both parties than a 360. Your next 360, may well be a 180 whom you develop over time.



Pitfalls to avoid

Think twice before hiring a friend. Rob Barklamb, International Franchise Director at Reed, explains: “In a previous role, I would have first meetings with franchisees I ‘inherited’ from colleagues. I would begin by asking them to talk me through the history of their business. I heard this many times: ‘I started and got going and made some good placements, so I decided to hire. It was hard to attract anyone, so I hired my friend – we’d worked together before. He/she really struggled in recruitment and so I had to fire them in the end. We’re not friends anymore.”

Our advice – don’t hire a friend unless you are sure your friendship can survive things going wrong.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to hire someone better than you. This can be hard, but a hiring model where you always must be the best and be the smartest person in the room may inhibit your business’ opportunities to grow, unless you really are very, very good!


  • In summary: Hire when the metrics and bank balance tell you it is time to do so.

  • A fully signed-up employee is preferable to a freelancer in most instances.

  • A 180 is probably your best option over an admin assistant or 360.

Finally, we would add that Reed Franchise Partnerships provide the tools, infrastructure and resources which make our partners’ businesses more attractive prospects to potential employees. In addition to this, we provide superb training for all new hires. 

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