Starting a staffing agency is a great choice for a small business, and although you could have a Human Resources degree, it is not a must to promote work opportunities in your community. If you are experienced in a certain industry while being a people-person with great management skills, then you have a leg up on any professional manager with starting your own niche work agency.
There are more and more emerging industries that demand qualified professionals on an ad-hoc basis. And the standard formal recruiting processes are not cut out for getting people to work on contingent schedules.
By managing your own staffing agency from home (or small office), you can cater a better service to companies that are looking for staff from the industry that you thoroughly know. And understanding the specific skills needed for the niche is a major strength for recruiters when communicating with both workers and employers.
It is a misconception that the best job agency is a large job agency with a huge contact list and a large number of clients. Actually what matters the most according to Jerome Young, a Forbes contributor on recruiting, is talent quality over quantity:
“A boutique recruiting firm with a modest client list has a huge talent pool from which to select the ideal candidates for each position and will most likely initiate a targeted search to find the right candidate vs. just looking in their database. ” he writes.
This is what makes the industry insiders the best staffing agents – they are easily able to identify qualified candidates and assess their skills.
Getting ready to start a staffing agency
If you would like to open a staffing firm in the near future, you should start with some market research and getting to know the field. Participate in community events, or host a Facebook group of your own. Get to know the people looking for work in your field, and network with the companies who may be interested in a convenient staffing service.
Don’t forget to check out your competition—how are these people finding their gigs right now and what could be done better.
Matt Lowney, CEO of Practice Recruiters states that good competition research is the key to success:
“I think staffing firms are so entrenched in the daily operation of their own business that they don’t take the time to understand the competitive landscape. Are your competitors dropping the ball with other clients? What are they doing to build a business and break into new accounts you’d like to be in?”
Solve a real problem for your clients
Good research gives you insights on what could be the value that you should offer for the industry—what is better, faster or easier with your staffing agency vs. without your services.
For example, the most common complaint among clients who rely on temporary staffing agencies is… well, reliability! When a worker is not driven to keep a job, they are unlikely to prioritize business needs above their own and may come in late or not show up at all.
Here you can offer to absorb some of the hassles and take care of the unreliable employees on the behalf of your client. You can take a considerable burden off their shoulders by setting up a good recruitment procedure, shift reminders and being available to re-source additional workers last moment.
Categorize your industry contacts between temp workers, freelancers, and full-time professionals.
You can implement automatic notifications for your community for new and existing jobs (and Zelos can help you with this!) – and take care of all temp and contingent workers so your client doesn’t have to.
If you are worried about having a small network, keep in mind that it is not about how many people you know but the quality of who you know.
Opening a staffing agency from home
The joys and challenges of remote work becoming a standard will extend beyond the pandemic. The good news is that it is now absolutely OK to start a staffing agency with no money down since you can skip the overhead costs renting a front office entails.
To keep things professional, you can create your own office corner where you can focus as you interview potential clients and job candidates over Zoom. Investing in a quality microphone and webcam is likely to pay off, as well as upgrading your internet connection and sprucing up your background. If your main job is people management, you definitely want to make sure your own setup is up to the standards.
Know the legal requirements
Make sure to get acquainted with your local labour and business laws first. The details vary according to location and may require some time to process, which is why it is better to start with these legal details as soon as you decide on the name of your agency.
Once you are an official business, you can start promoting your staffing agency among your community and contacts. It is always good to have a site and social media presence to give yourself some credibility, but it is best if you have some testimonials and referrals. The words of former employers and industry friends can convince some of their contacts to hire your services.
You will spend a lot of time networking in your industry, according to recruiting site People 2.0:
“There will likely be one or two big events in the sector that are considered high value. Make it a point to go to a few networking events, trade shows, expos, and summits every year (virtual or otherwise), so you can meet new people in the industry, keep up with new developments, and stay in the know. This will not only enable you to remain relevant with your expertise but it’s also an excellent way to recruit new candidates and build relationships with potential new clients, too.”
Put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes and design a customer journey that goes from the first contact to post-recruitment. You can use a CRM tool to organize all of your activities and make sure that every one of your clients receives the same quality of service. Keep your clients informed of what and when things are happening during the recruitment process. Good service is a priceless added value that can help you to get even more clients by word of mouth.
Decide where your role as a staffing consultant begins and ends. Raul Esqueda, the writer for The Staffing Stream, suggests adding a final training stage to your recruitment process:
“You can distinguish your agency by securing discounted rates for training courses that job seekers can complete. Partner with local business and skills training programs to negotiate reduced rates for job seekers who apply with your agency. An alternative is offering to pay a percentage of a training course after candidates complete six months of work.”
Let’s say you are dedicated to finding temp workers for the hospitality industry. Beyond recruiting waiters and waitresses for a restaurant, you can go the extra mile and design a self-training course in which they learn the allergens existing in the menu and the overall restaurant organization.
You can set it up according to every restaurant you consult, and verify that every waiter directed to them finishes the self-training before their first service hour. Going the extra mile requires almost no investment beyond time, it is something that adds value to your recruitment and keeps the business profitable.
Best practices for online staffing agencies
To make your agency stand out from the competition online, recruitment firm Pacific Staffing suggests working on making your job advertisements clear and easy to understand:
“Rather than just listing out all the requirements in your job description, explain what a day would be like in the position. It’s hard, for instance, to know when a job requires “strong communication skills” what that actually entails. So explain that the person hired would be required to give presentations on a regular basis, author company reports, and develop and build relationships across departments,” they suggest.
If your agency deals with contingent work, you will want to make standard processes as automatic as possible. Facilitating a single gig should not take you the same time and resources as sourcing a full-time employment opportunity. Consider pooling your talent network online beyond the old-fashioned spreadsheet of contacts. You can find many apps you can use for your agency in this article, but keep in mind that constancy and organization are key no matter the digital tool you choose. Group your contacts by location, skills or availability and you will be able to contact suitable candidates instantly. This will be very appreciated by clients needing on-demand workers, according to KB Staffing:
“Managers save time by monitoring the flow of business and calling in help as needed instead of sitting down to pore agonizingly over weekly schedules that have to take into account the likely staff needs of the company as well as the individual needs of the employees,” they write.
Do not relegate the power of the Internet to only advertising your services. From forums to Facebook groups, make sure to bookmark the sites where you can find potential new candidates or share interesting insights about the industry. Try to engage people and make connections, and do not worry too much about getting a certain number of likes. The key thing is to position your business as one that knows the industry inside and out.
By focusing on what you know, you can crack into the recruitment industry with your own staffing agency. Beyond money, invest time, knowledge and industry experience into designing a talent sourcing community fit the needs of your clients and the profile of your candidates.