3 Ways Small Recruiting Firms Can Be Agile

This little red rider is our CEO’s Vespa. It’s usually parked in front of our office in the VIP spot (that’s about 2×3 feet) right in front of our office doors. When questioned about his scooter, and he is questioned quite a bit since we are based in New England with all its wonderful weather, his response is usually the same:

“It’s compact, speedy and agile. It’s awesome.”

It’s a great description of our own business (we’re definitely still a start up) and many of our customers’ businesses as well since we have clients as small as one-person firms. A lot of businesses are in a hurry to grow into behemoths, and while everyone wants to be the next Apple or Google, there are advantages of being a smaller company. Agility, as touted by our CEO about his Vespa, is one of the main benefits of being small. So how can you take advantage of being a smaller recruiting firm?

1. Idea to Execution in Hours

Large companies move slower. There are a lot of checks and balances, due-diligence, and egos to take into consideration when making large changes. A small business usually doesn’t have those limitations. Decision-makers are on hand to take an idea and run with it so campaigns are often set live within hours, rather than the days it might take to go from brainstorming to proposal to approval to execution.

One of our clients saw that their data quality score was below what they would have liked. Since a high data quality score is the root of good analytics, they wanted it to be a priority to get fixed. So incredibly, they put an all-hands-on-deck effort to fix the errors we helped flag. In a matter of a month, they went from 60% to nearly data-error free.

Could a large firm do something like this? It would take a herculean effort. A small firm can make things happen and reap the benefits faster than their big brothers.

2. A Limited Data Set to Sift Through

If you’ve got a drawer full of black and white socks, you’ll choose the pair you need in half a second. If you’ve got every color in the rainbow you’ll find yourself taking longer and longer to make a decision. This “paralysis by analysis” is well documented in The Paradox of Choice by psychologist Barry Schwartz.

Large recruiting firms often have so much historical “Big Data” that they find it difficult to parse the noise from the metrics that actually matter. As a smaller firm, especially if you’re just starting your business, you have the luxury of picking and choosing what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to pay attention to.

Simple way to put this idea into practice: track which Activity Ratios historically translate to Placements made. Do Calls:Placements matter more than Emails:Placements? In other words, does higher call volume matter or higher email volume? One should win out (usually calls) and you can eliminate tracking Emails sent as a KPI.

Here are the top 5 KPI for Recruiters, by the way.

3. Switch Focus to What Works

As most will attest, the largest benefit of being a small company is the ability to quickly switch directions. If something works in Marketing, Sales, or whatever else, those lessons can be applied across the board rapidly. If a recruiter has a killer month, his/her methodology can be quickly taught to the team. The ability to switch focus and fail quickly is the best advantage your small firm has.

Let’s say you run an efficiency report (simplistically, Bookings divided by Total Activities in a given period of time) on your clients and you see this:

Turns out Walgreen was middle-of-the-pack in total bookings, but a stand out in efficiency. What if you switched your best efforts to work on this client? With that efficiency, increased effort should result in a slew of placements being made on Walgreen. This is basically low-hanging fruit, and it’s hard to imagine larger companies being able to take advantage of this sort of information quickly. Meanwhile, a smaller firm can make the switch that same day.

Don’t be in a hurry to grow up so fast. Enjoy the benefits that come with being a smaller firm.

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Samuel Clemens
Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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