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Ensure a Positive Candidate Experience When Hiring Contingent Talent Remotely

As digitization, coupled with the global pandemic, propels contingent hiring online and with more individuals relying on employer reviewer sites to evaluate businesses, delivering a positive[...]

March 10, 2021

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How Independent Recruiters Can Turn an Entrepreneurial Spirit into an Enterprise

Significant shifts in technology and sharing economics have inspired a renaissance of the entrepreneurial spirit by introducing a new element into the mix: freedom. We’re witnessing explosive growth in independent recruiters who are blazing their own trails. Yet, running one’s own business presents challenges to the uninitiated. We want to help these industrious independent recruiting professionals. Other companies will publish countless articles about refining your hiring skills, perfecting searches, enticing prospects and enhancing the candidate experience. We have, too, and these tips are important. Yet most companies in the staffing space stop short of encouraging your autonomy. Not Crowdstaffing. We want your business to grow and to work alongside you as partners. So I’d like to break down some essentials that will help you build the foundations of your own flourishing enterprise.

Rekindling the Independent and Entrepreneurial Spirit

According to the Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Index (TEA), there’s been a 77-percent increase in entrepreneurs across all global economies. In fact, about 70 percent of young professionals from 42 countries view themselves as entrepreneurs. It’s no wonder that the consultancy EY has singled out entrepreneurialism as one of the biggest drivers in business. And no matter the company, organizational leaders need quality hires. The business of people is the business of the future.

Today’s businesses are facing urgent talent acquisition challenges. Chief among these are the antiquated ways talent is sourced, assessed, engaged and supported. The struggles of traditional agencies to correlate recruiting to high performance and results further complicates matters. As my colleague Casey Enstrom wrote recently, “employers are racing to find skilled workers, yet their internal resources can’t keep pace with the job orders piling up on their desks. That’s why more companies are turning to the staffing industry for help. Even then, however, positions go unfilled and the war for talent rages on. Why? Because agency recruiters face limitations that independent recruiters have overcome.”

Modern talent acquisition involves more than hiring people with the proper qualifications, skill sets, education, and work experience -- it’s about seeking out individuals who can deliver results, share the values of the companies they serve, and champion the goals of those organizations.

Writing for HR Technologist, Rhucha Kulkarni made an astute observation about the state of modern talent acquisition in the ever-burgeoning gig economy. The war for talent, she said, is “outwitting” traditional staffing agencies and their recruiters. “From increasing restrictions on offshoring to the rise of a contingent workforce, a number of new challenges are being thrown to recruiters. They must turn to technology to be able to tap into the gig economy workforce which comprises of part-time workers, contract workers, freelancers and others. How to make the most of this unique workforce, with their unique needs, seems to be the top-priority question.”

According to the latest Bullhorn Engage conference survey, 67 percent of staffing leaders believe automation will help their recruiters by relieving them of more mundane tasks, such as scheduling and screening candidates. Of course, 33 percent also said that they intended to replace staff with technology to reduce administrative costs. Whether encouraged by the opportunities, inspired by entrepreneurial pursuits or worried about being displaced by machines, savvy recruiters are setting their sights on independence.

However, exceptional talent acquisition skills and the operational acumen required to run a business are not the same. Venturing out on your own can be a highly rewarding yet daunting undertaking. So here are some tips that can make the process easier and get you traveling in the right direction.

Laying the Foundations of Your Independent Recruiting Empire

An Eye for Details

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 authored a great business plan. You’ve designed a unique model. Based on your early marketing research, employers and candidates will be hammering down your doors. However, without managing money correctly, even the most creative businesses -- those fueled by 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.

Passionate Leadership

Nine times out of 10, organizations operate more efficiently when the owners have worked their way up through the industry hierarchy. The same principle applies to recruiting. Your staff will respect and follow your vision when they have confidence in your experience, knowledge and skills. The best leaders put aside their egos and mentor their teams. They demonstrate a “buck stops here” attitude when issues arise. Today’s professionals want to develop. They want to advance, and they hunger to learn. Your firm will soar when your leaders are prepared to guide others by example.

Passion is also a critical element of strong leadership that can’t be ignored. Creating a rich corporate culture stems from instilling shared values and a sense of belonging throughout the organization. How far are you willing to go in order to make your businesses succeed?

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 agency.


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

So what differentiates your favorite shop from another that stocks the same wares? Everything, really. It’s the whole experience that matters. Consider your own opinions of cherished venues.

  • The stores you frequent appeal to your tastes.
  • The quality of their products and delivery of their services are unbeatable.
  • Their prices are fair and commensurate – not necessarily cheap; they accurately reflect the quality of the offering.
  • The ambience is inviting and energizing.
  • The service is exemplary, and there’s a palpable sense of devotion and vigor -- that passion infuses the staff and patrons alike.

Your favorite shops are most likely unique. Something about them stands out. Successful recruiters must also distinguish themselves from their competition. Without the best service, top talent, consistent delivery, operational stability, committed team members and a unique approach that guarantees performance, clients and candidates won’t consider what you have to offer.

Enterprises that try to be all things to all customers usually fail. Their message is muddled. Their brands are confusing. Their services are diluted. The best places know their niche or play to their strengths. Strive to make what you have to offer uniquely yours. That doesn’t mean you should strive for flashy or gimmicky. Success 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.

Sunil Bagai
Sunil Bagai
Sunil is a Silicon Valley thought leader, speaker, motivator, and the visionary behind the groundbreaking Crowdstaffing ecosystem. Blending vision, technology, and business skills, he is transforming the talent acquisition landscape and the very nature of work. Prior to launching Crowdstaffing, Sunil honed his skills and experience as a business leader for companies such as IBM, EMC, and Symantec. "We need to think exponentially to mindfully architect the future of humanity, civilization, and work. When we collaborate and work together, everyone prospers."
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