Independent recruiters are on the rise, and this movement is creating tremendous wealth potential for the professionals getting involved. It makes sense to me. With the expansion of the gig economy and the boost in freelancing, 2016 seems to have ushered in the era of the micropreneur. The influential consultancy EY believes so. In its Megatrends 2015 report, it predicted a growing movement toward entrepreneurialism. The majority of people inspiring this shift are Millennials — 70 percent of those polled across 42 countries. They’ve become disillusioned by income inequality, a lack of security and the waning opportunities they find in traditional corporate cultures. They want to forge their own successes. They want freedom, growth and flexibility. They want control. Launching a recruitment business provides substantial benefits to these new entrepreneurs — along with a fair amount of challenges. Let’s explore the tremendous advantages that await, coupled with some best practices for ensuring long-term gains.

Millennials — A Generation of Entrepreneurs

Although they’re mistaken for being lazy or selfish, Millennials are industrious, team-oriented, creative, innovative workers. The problem is that the traditional corporate job has lost its appeal and authoritative influence to them. If you read the blogs and online publications run by Gen Y professionals, you quickly uncover this theme.

  • Millennials are diligent and hardworking. They will give their all to roles that recognize them, develop their skills and recognize their contributions. Too often, though, they feel that they’re building empires for executives who value profits and personal bonuses over staff.
  • They don’t want their futures determined by their parents’ generations any longer — the same people, Millennials perceive, who left them with a broken economy and faulty social system.
  • Micromanagement makes them less productive. Countless studies demonstrate that remote talent achieve more at home in half the time.
  • Gen Y grew up with technology. They grasp the processes and possibilities. They are the pioneers at the cusp of a digital revolution, yet their ideas are often suppressed. They want to be heard and allowed to flourish.
  • Millennials inherently understand how to utilize social platforms to build a brand. They also tap into these networks for support, mentorship and to outsource the skills needed to create thriving business opportunities.
  • Despite all the talk of wanting to learn and grow, Millennials will tell you that they want to be compensated fairly for the work they provide. Most of them lament that they’ve been treated as glorified interns or fungible commodities.

A World of Opportunities Await Independent Recruiters

For those filled with the entrepreneurial spirit, I believe it’s the perfect time to become an independent recruitment professional. Employers are racing to find skilled workers, yet their internal resources can’t keep pace with the job orders piling up on their desks. The strongest corporate recruiters, through no fault of their own, remain limited in scope because they represent a single organization. In a lot of ways, according to industry experts, the same issues are starting to impact traditional staffing agencies. Greg Savage, a recruitment thought leader, explained why the agency business model has become “grotesquely dysfunctional.”

“Clients, naively thinking they get a better service because they get agencies to compete, actually get a far worse service because they are actively encouraging recruiters to work on speed, instead of quality. Recruiters suffer because even if we want to, we can’t really ‘partner’ or ‘consult’, or ‘value-add’, and in the end we only fill one out of five jobs, if we are lucky, destroying profit in many cases, and the careers of recruiters too, who simply burn out, chasing rainbows.”

Independent recruiters have a decided advantage here. Because they work across a variety of clients, they have a broader knowledge of business cultures, organizational needs, industries, in-demand skills and the functional roles of their talent. Corporate or agency recruiters are often assigned to one client, which provides them insight to a single industry and employment brand, with a narrow list of job categories to support. Beyond that, they’re usually given a subscription to a couple of job boards where they seek out active candidates.

As we know from LinkedIn reports, the active talent pool makes up only 25 percent of the available candidate marketplace. Independent recruiters excel at marketing positions to passive candidates — the most sought after group of talent, who represent the remaining 75 percent of potential workers.

Independent recruiters rely on more creative sourcing tools, applications and techniques that emphasize engagement and interaction. They bring a wealth of past industry and organizational experience to the process. They have worked with a variety of hiring managers across industries and job categories, enhancing their knowledge of real-world job needs, position requirements and applications. Yet despite the world of possibilities stretched out before entrepreneurial recruiters, running a business brings its own set of complexities and responsibilities. Here are some solid tips to make sure your efforts pay off.

Every Detail Matters

To create an exceptional experience for clients and candidates, recruiters should focus on the same level of detail as any other thriving, customer-centric enterprise.

  • Be professional, engaging, responsive and attentive to the needs of your clients and candidates.
  • Create compelling job descriptions that remain simple yet include all the details necessary to ensure an optimal match.
  • Return calls, emails or social media communications promptly.
  • Keep clients and candidates informed of progress at all times, through every stage of the hiring process.
  • Ensure that the candidates submitted match the job profile. Just as diners sour over an incorrect order, clients and talent will become equally disappointed if the job or individual are blatantly incompatible.
  • Communicate clearly and ensure that your interactions — whether digital or vocal — embody the brand you want to promote.
  • Maintain your physical and virtual office spaces (e.g., social media, blogs, websites) so that they best represent your image. Everything should look updated, crisp, compelling, functional and tidy.

Financial Competency

You’ve got a great business plan. You’ve designed a unique model. Based on your early marketing research, employers and candidates will be banging down your doors. However, without managing money correctly, even the most creative businesses — fueled by exceptional and visionary leaders, and staffed with highly skilled talent — can tank. For entrepreneurial recruiters, financial considerations are imperative.

  • Keep track of your operating costs, payroll, profits, losses, taxes, expenses and other overhead. Use a system, not just a spreadsheet. Accounting software doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Programs such as Quicken, QuickBooks or Sage can make a big difference.
  • Determining a worker’s compensation and a markup isn’t giving you the entire picture of rates. Use a transparent and methodical approach. There are a lot of statutory costs involved in bill rates, beyond your marketing and profits. A wise plan is to determine all statutories before tacking on profits. These include FUTA, FICA, SUTA, taxes, employer mandated health, paid sick leave, disability and more. Bear in mind that these percentages vary by state and city.
  • Create a database of all statutory costs for the regions you support. Make certain to update them at least once a year.
  • By understanding these costs, you achieve greater visibility into your revenues. A lot of agencies propose markups because they seem “standard.” However, before you submit your 38 percent markup, you’ll want to know precisely what that entails. Let’s say the statutory costs total 35 percent. That leaves just three percent to cover your general and administrative expenses, recruiting costs and profit.


Many Millennials who express frustration with traditional corporate environments cite incompatible or exclusionary business cultures as a primary issue. For the young entrepreneur starting his or her recruiting company, creating a vibrant and rich employment culture is no less important.

As a business leader, your team members must believe that they can conquer any obstacle, solve any challenge and deliver the best service possible. Candidates must sense that they’re placing their career choices in the hands of experts — people who advocate for them and work tirelessly to find them an ideal position. Your emotional investment into the mission cements those attitudes and ultimately reflects the character of your firm. It’s also what attracts talent, staff and clients to your doors.


In this fiercely competitive market, no industry is immune to change. Labor demands continue to change. The skills needed for today’s businesses have changed. A new, younger breed of worker has entered the workforce. Everything about talent and staffing is dynamic. Outpacing your competitors requires innovating new ways to discover, source, engage and connect with top talent.

Your recruiting business should continuously study industry trends — in recruiting and in the client sectors you serve. Watch for lulls and forecast evolving needs. Examine and refine your methods, sources, systems and tools at least every two years to make sure that you’re adapting and remaining relevant.

Stand Out

What characteristics define your favorite eateries, coffee houses or retailers? The quality is exceptional, the prices are commensurate, the atmosphere is inviting and energizing, the service is exemplary and there’s a palpable sense of passion infusing the staff and patrons alike. Successful recruiters must also distinguish themselves from their competition. Clients and candidates won’t consider what you have to offer without the best service, top talent, consistent delivery, operational stability, committed team members and an approach that guarantees performance.

The best entrepreneurs know their niche. Strive to make what you have to offer unique. That doesn’t mean flashy or gimmicky. It involves creating a brand that embraces your values, capitalizes on your strengths, emphasizes your specialties and caters to a core base — the right people and the right business cultures.