How Small Recruitment Agencies Can Beat Larger Firms

By Dave Nerz

boerboel-672749_1280-300Big recruitment agencies have some real advantages. But with size come some traits and characteristics that are not always as positive as they may seem. Small recruitment agencies have some distinct advantages also, but a strategy must be put in place to exercise these strengths in order to outposition the big firms. Here are some thoughts on how small can beat big…


  1. Recognize the advantages small recruitment agencies have and make the most of these advantages.
  2. Learn how to minimize the big agency advantages.
  3. Put a plan in place and work your plan.

Advantages for Small Recruitment Agencies to Leverage:

  • Information. Being close to the customer has advantages. Small companies have a natural advantage in this area. Get close to your customer and keep the flow of information into your agency moving both ways.
  • Time/Speed. Big companies have a difficult time doing anything quickly. Small companies can do more in the first hours of the day then a giant competitor can do in a week.
  • Focus. Big companies must spread their attention to the whole of the market. Small independents can focus on one segment and become expert. While the big agency must increase scope to remain in a growth mode, small recruitment agencies can remain focused on the customer.
  • Innovation. Big companies need to have endless meetings to get everyone aligned around the smallest changes and shifts. Being nimble and flexible have great advantages to your customers. They want weekly billing…you can do it. They want daily reporting…you can do it. These small requests can rarely be handled with ease by the big agency.
  • Scale. Big companies need big markets. Find the things that big agencies are unwilling to learn, do or service and do them with excellence. You will create a market with little or no competition from the big guys.

Be aware of big agency strengths and do what is needed to minimize those strengths. Have a specific plan in place to combat each area of strength. Be prepared for when the big agency attacks your small business. Understand your response before the attack happens. Whenever possible, band together with like-minded small businesses so that in spite of your unique size you are a part of something bigger. There are many associations and recruitment networks that will allow you to operate as a small business but gain the advantage of being part of something larger.

Big is not always best! And as the story goes…David can beat Goliath when prepared and armed with the right tools.

Independent Recruiter Blog

Five great quotes for recruiters

By Liz Carey

IMG_9872I recently read a blog about the five best quotes for recruiters. It included thoughts from Apple founder Steve Jobs to Chinese philosopher Confucius that could be applied to the recruiting world. It inspired me to create my own list of five of my favorite quotes, and how they can be applied to the recruiting world.

1. The harder you work, the Luckier you get. – Plato
Recruitment is a tough business, and it takes a lot more work than just posting a job order and crossing your fingers. Success takes time, effort and perseverance – not only in getting job orders from clients by building a solid relationship over time, but gaining trust and a good reputation among candidates by providing them with timely feedback and coaching. Sometimes, the recruitment business requires a lot more from you than you’d expect. For example, an NPA member recently shared that over her years of recruiting, she has heard her clients say many candidates are technically qualified, but when it comes to phone screenings and interviews, many miss the mark. Candidates were not doing basic things like answering the question “tell me about yourself” effectively, or asking the employer questions about the company or role. So this recruiter did lots of reading and research and compiled a six-page document that she gives to candidates as a “cheat sheet,” including things such as 15 questions that may be asked of candidates, like “what’s your management style?” and “what should this position pay?”. Her candidate prep starts from the first call, and she gives coaching throughout the hiring process, which ultimately saves her time by sending in candidates that are prepped and ready to go. By putting in a little extra legwork on the candidate’s behalf, and getting the candidates on the same page as her clients, it has made this recruiter very successful.

2. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky
I’m a hockey nut, so I love this quote, and I was reminded of it on a recent Healthcare trading group call, when a member pointed out that the recruiters should look at ways to maximize opportunities with their current clients and focus on all their customer’s needs. For example, a healthcare recruiter may primarily make nursing placements with a major hospital client, but it doesn’t hurt to ask that client if they have placement needs in IT, administrative or clerical. While you may not specialize in these areas, you can partner up with another firm who does – remember, half of a placement fee is better than none at all! And you may become a one-stop-shop for your client, ultimately leading to more job orders in the end!

3. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. – Warren Buffett
Veronica Scrimshaw of NPA headquarters recently wrote a blog titled: Recruiting Resources: Expense or Investment?, which said that while it’s important to pay attention to expenses, business owners need to realize that not all expenses are equal. Some business expenses, such as recruiter training and development, firm marketing and branding, and technology, have a significant return on investment. One example of a specific expense-turned-investment within our network is echoed by many members – the value of going to a regional meeting or global conference far exceeds the cost of attending it. Time and time again we hear of new partnerships and deals made because of recruiters meeting face-to-face at these events. When it’s time to consider expenses, think of the possible outcome and whether it ultimately could be considered an investment.

4. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.
– Henry David Thoreau, “Life without Principle”
While job order reqs focus on experience or qualifications needed, we hear of many recruiters’ clients turning down candidates who have the right skills – such as a specific degree or certification, or the required number of years of experience in the industry — but aren’t quite the right “fit.” Hiring managers and employers can’t afford to hire the wrong person only to have them leave or get let go because they aren’t a fit with the company’s culture. Companies want candidates who will grow with the company, so many have the mindset: skills can be taught, personality can’t. Those who love what they do are apt to have more drive, adaptability and ambition, than those just looking for a paycheck – and those are the types of candidates your clients want. Look beyond the resume – during your phone or in-person screening, try to get a feel for the candidate’s personality, goals and ambition.

5. Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. – Winston Churchill
Recruitment is an ever-evolving business. Some of our members have been in it long enough where they remember the days where job orders were sent to your trading partners by mail, and connecting with people was done face-to-face or over the phone. Now, recruitment can be done via social media or even texting, and interviews over Skype. As a recruiter, it’s important to not be so “stuck in your ways” that you’re not able to adapt to wherever the industry is heading. While it’s not a requirement to download every new social media app that comes out to your phone, it is important to be flexible and willing to learn. That might mean taking a webinar so you learn how to brand yourself and your firm on LinkedIn, or it might be getting educated and branching into a new industry if you see hiring in your niche declining, or it may just be listening to your peers’ advice on how to get more clients or best practices – it’s important to always keep an open mind and be willing to learn.

Are there any quotes — recruitment oriented or otherwise — that you live by?

button to subscribe to NPA blog

3 Ways to Use Snapchat for Recruitment

By Veronica Scrimshaw

buzzrecruiter-snapchat-img-875x547Today’s guest blogger is Sam Ajam of Founded in 2006, creates design and marketing buzz that serves the recruiting and staffing industry nationwide. Based in Silicon Valley and run by BizzwithBuzz, Inc, specializes in using the latest graphic design, web marketing tools, and technology to boost your brand’s web presence and outshine the competition. At, they always put the client first. offers top notch customer service, one-on-one consultations, and custom solutions in web design, graphic design, search engine optimization (SEO), web and interactive marketing, social media branding and content writing solutions.

At BuzzRecruiter, their motto is Connect, Communicate, and Compete – they are committed to helping recruiters connect with clients and top talent, communicate with them through savvy design and marketing communications, and compete to place those top candidates with leading companies in a variety of industries. Recruitment is an active process and they can help you hone your public image for the best results. is proud to serve the NPAworldwide organization and its affiliated customers. To learn more, please visit

Snapchat is a recruiting gold mine, yet recruiters still have been slow to recognize it as a valuable tool. With over 200 million monthly users sending 700 million images (or “stories”) per day, it churns out more image traffic than even Facebook. If you want to recruit the current largest employee pool—Millennials—Snapchat is the place to do it. Unsure of how to get started? Try using Snapchat these ways for maximum return for little effort.

Tell a (Snapchat) Story

We all know that storytelling is a key aspect of any successful marketing campaign. Why should attracting employees be any different? You are marketing your company to prospects, after all. Create a Snapchat story, which is a series of videos and photos that are visible to followers for 24 hours. Use your story to showcase what makes your company unique, from your company’s softball team to break time activities. Show your followers why you love working there (and chances are they will, too).

Feature an Employee Takeover

Are you on the hunt for a perfect marketing manager? Have a current member of your marketing team hijack your Snapchat account for the day. Give prospects a chance to see what it would really be like to be a member of the team by posting daily work tasks—even the best places around to stop for lunch. This is a win-win situation: it makes current members of your team feel valued and showcases your company as an attractive place to work.

Think Beyond Recruiting (and onto Onboarding)

Snapchat provides a valuable opportunity to illustrate your company culture. Go beyond the initial recruitment process and send snapchats to interviewees after the interview is over. Whether it is a video thanking them for their time or an image of decision makers poring over resumes, the extra gesture sets the tone that your company is a fun place to work.

Have you been using Snapchat for recruitment? What are your favorite methods for engaging recruits?

button to subscribe to NPA blog

Can Recruitment Agencies be Inclusive?

By Veronica Scrimshaw

Scott-King-2016This post is from guest blogger Scott King of Kings Resources in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Scott is a longtime member of NPAworldwide and is currently serving on our board of directors. Kings Resources specializes in the placement of contract and direct-hire information technology professionals.

I am a 24-year agency recruitment veteran. I have held sales and management roles within my industry, and I have always found this work challenging and rewarding. Having worked for recruitment agencies of all sizes, I can never remember a period where our differentiator in the market can be to work with – not against – each other. Why do I think now that this is more relevant than say 10 years ago?

  1. Technology has made our industry vulnerable, with clients finding many ways to secure candidates without our specialised help.
  2. Clients spend money on talent acquisition, involving strategies and methods to find and stay in contact with the best candidates. Many ex-agency recruiters are now talent acquisition specialists or internal recruiters.
  3. The competition in our industry is high and this has led to a reduction of fees in our market…along with pressure from clients engaging a range of procurement initiatives to reduce our fees.
  4. Long-term arrangements – I think for many recruitment agencies, the potential to win new business becomes harder given many clients are choosing long-term arrangements with fewer suppliers, thus reducing our potential client base.

So how can recruitment agencies grow and have a significant differentiator in this ever-changing market?

I have found that an inclusive perspective on our industry has been beneficial. I am a keen supporter of working with other agencies to ensure the best result for our businesses, clients and candidates. By this, I mean sharing roles and candidates…and splitting fees during the process. Half of a $20,000 fee is better than no fee.

How have I done this?

I joined NPAworldwide, a global fee splitting network consisting of 500 like-minded agencies. There are other formal and informal networks within our industry, but NPAWorldwide is one of the oldest and most respected within our market. The many partners are all ethical and operate quite inclusively.

I became inclusive with my clients, contractors and candidates. I am upfront about our margins so they know we are not charging exorbitant fees. I also feel being inclusive ensures longer relationships for all parties.

Sharing work with other agencies has seen the following changes in my business:

  • Working in many varied sectors
  • Responding quicker with good candidates
  • Not relying on generic searching and advertising to be my only source of candidates
  • Delivering quality
  • Growing my market by sharing with other agencies who may have the client or candidate relationship
  • Maintaining long term relationships with my clients and candidates

Most of all, my business maintains its specialisation – the agency recruiter’s ability to fill the role – the core reason clients use us.

In summary being more inclusive could help your business to grow in this ever-changing market.

image of button for free checklist to evaluate split placement networks

Recruiting Resources: Expense or Investment?

By Veronica Scrimshaw

plant-seedling-300There are plenty of recruiting resources that firm owners can purchase. As business owners, it’s smart to pay attention to expenses, but sometimes that can be a short-sighted strategy when it comes to growing your business. While it’s true that everything that requires you to spend money qualifies as an expense, all expenses may not be equal. The key is for recruitment firm owners to understand the difference between an expense and an investment. Here are a few areas to consider:

Recruiter Training and Development

Recruitment firm owners who want to focus on growth know that it is important to develop strong people in addition to building the business. Yet, training and development — including face-to-face meetings and conferences — is often viewed as an expense. We tell our members all the time that if recruiters learn just ONE tip at a meeting or conference that generates a placement or saves some money, the costs of attending will be more than covered. If additional training in sales, negotiating, technology use, marketing, social media, or interviewing would generate new or additional revenue, it’s likely an investment. Training and development initiatives can also assist in reducing recruiter turnover, which reduces the expense of replacement.

Recruitment Firm Marketing and Branding

Marketing can be viewed as a “fluffy” or “nice-to-do” activity, but savvy owners know that it is critical to long-term growth and success. If your website is not mobile-friendly, for example, it’s likely that job seekers are having a difficult time finding you in a search. If they do stumble upon your site, it’s possible they’re leaving before they ever convert to an applicant or candidate. It may be time to shift some resources to inbound marketing, using your website to attract candidates and clients to your firm. If marketing is directly responsible for additional placements or new clients, or creates credibility for your business, it’s an investment, not an expense.

Recruitment Technology

Appropriate recruitment technology tools can automate activities that are non-revenue-generating. This allows recruitment firm owners and their employees to spend more time on activities that DO create revenue. While technology costs are not always insignificant (especially for products that require a monthly per-seat license), these recruiting resources can be some of the most important for your business. Some of the recruitment technology tools you might need could include an ATS, payroll processing software, cloud-based subscriptions to office applications, LinkedIn services, and more. Can you recoup the cost of your technology expenditures or reap a financial benefit from their use? If so, this should be viewed as an investment.

There are probably other expense-vs.-investment considerations in your office. If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, read this post from Entrepreneur. What else can you add to my list above? Do you agree or disagree?

button to subscribe to NPA blog

Split Placement Story: “Efficiency Equals Money”

By Sarah Gawrys

additionIn a network, independent and boutique agencies look to add value to their clients and candidates by positioning themselves as global recruiters covering all specialties without losing their culture or personal service. When you are electing to involve another recruiter on a search, the efficiency you both show will always close deals. Here is a story of a brand new Sydney based member reaching out to another member.  They are both generalist recruiters, both looking to service their client and candidate as best possible.

The firm with the position joined NPAworldwide near the end of December of this past year. The owner and one of her recruiters had attended an open lunch meeting as a way to meet some of the members prior to joining. Right after Christmas break, this owner was already working the system to find a recruiter to match up to her client’s needs. Sparing no time, it was a matter of calling the other firm, and they proved to be very welcoming and friendly. The client required a Client Services Officer for their Financial Planning business in Western Sydney. They had advertised the position themselves but hadn’t had much success. After briefing the other recruiter on the role and giving all pertinent details that they would need to properly source a candidate, the search was on. As this was a first split experience, it was unknown how important this search would be to the other recruiter or what kind of results would be returned.

The very next day the recruiter already sent over an excellent candidate along with her reference check! The firm was amazed at this efficiency and extra step that was taken. The candidate met with the client on January 14th. They loved her. She subsequently had another interview and psychometric testing and the client offered her the role on January 22nd with an immediate start date. Both were so excited.  The firm would have never found this passive candidate with out the split partner’s help. The efficiency of delivering a strong candidate that was ready to make a career move made all the difference in this split.

In March, the client had already paid their invoice and the split fee sent to the other recruiter and the network; all in the space of two and a half weeks. What really seemed to click was the collaborative nature of working together to help place a great candidate. With both trading partners putting the focus on efficiency instead of letting time lag, everyone was on board from the start to end. The turnaround time was very quick and the mutual respect had been extremely refreshing.

If you have been wondering what the return on investment could be when joining a network or splitting with another firm, this is an excellent example of how a firm’s revenue grew in just over two weeks.


Job Seeker Tips: Writing Thank You Notes

By Veronica Scrimshaw

coffee-cup-desk-pen-300Today’s guest blogger is Nick Hutchison, business development intern for NPAworldwide. Nick is a junior at Davenport University studying business and marketing. We are happy to have him on the team!

After recently attending an etiquette training session as a team building experience with NPAworldwide, we had many takeaways. The most important takeaway for me was the importance of a thank you note. Thank you notes can happen in many fashions; email, handwritten, etc. The importance of a thank you note is best described by this survey infographic from CareerBuilder:


Some of the highlights from the infographic are:

  • 22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank you note after the interview
  • 86% said it shows a lack a follow-through
  • 56% said it indicates that the candidate isn’t really serious about the position
  • 89% said it is okay to send a thank you note in the form of an email

Thank you notes from both candidates and employers can make all the difference in the hiring process.  Following are some job seeker tips for writing thank you notes:

  • Send the note on the same day as the interview
  • Keep notes brief, 2-4 sentences
  • Send after every interview, not just the first interview
  • Mention a key topic from the interview
  • Make each note personal

To improve the candidate experience, here are some tips for thank you notes from employers:

  • Send a “thank you for your time” note after a candidate is chosen
  • Offer where to look for new opportunities within your organization
  • State the position the email is in reference to

Whether you are a job seeker or an employer, it’s important to write thank you notes. Be timely and follow the job seeker tips above for the best results! Do you have any other job seeker tips you can share?

button to subscribe to NPA blog

Hot Recruitment Sectors

By Veronica Scrimshaw

image of hot markets for global recruitersWe’ve seen a nice uptick in business this year, so for today’s post I thought I’d share some of the hot recruitment sectors we’re seeing.

For starters, total placement activity for NPAworldwide has increased approximately 25% compared to a year ago. This is the first year of combined data since merging with the National Banking Network in 2014, so it’s not surprising to see the growth. This is especially true since accounting / banking / financial services recruitment activity is up more than 350% compared to a year ago. The NBN network specialized exclusively in these recruitment sectors.

In addition to the growth in the accounting / banking / financial services space, we have also seen a 32% uptick in manufacturing / mining / construction / supply chain recruitment activity. Activity in the chemical process recruitment sector is down approximately 20% compared to last year, due to volatility in the price of crude oil.

A snapshot of job titles includes the following:

  • Tax Partner
  • Controller
  • Family Office Tax Partner
  • Accounting Manager
  • Senior Auditor
  • Staff Auditor
  • Plant Manager
  • Director of Manufacturing
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Supply Area Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Safety Manager
  • Operations Manager

Looking at the data even further shows that there has been significant growth in salaries as well, such as:

  • 300% increase in placements between US $60,000 – $70,000 per year
  • 25% increase in placements between US $70,000 – $80,000 per year
  • More than 200% increase in placements between US $90,000 – $100,000 per year
  • 5% increase in placements at US $100,000 or more annually

Regionally, we are also seeing increased placement activity:

  • Placements by Canadian members are up 43% from a year ago
  • Placement by members in Australia / New Zealand have increased 60% year-over-year
  • Placements by US members are ahead of last year by 55%

What are the hot recruitment sectors in your part of the world? Are you seeing an overall increase in total placements or candidate salaries? Geographic sectors? Please share in the comments below! We’ll be conducting our twice-annual business barometer in the coming weeks; watch for results sometime in August.

image of button for free checklist to evaluate split placement networks

How the Best Bosses Impact A Career

By Dave Nerz

image of young boss with business teamAs we move through our careers, the bosses we have shape us. As your career progresses, you will learn from good bosses as well as bad. Our styles, methods and flaws are likely a reflection of how bosses made us think and work. Sometimes your relationship with a boss causes you to stay with an employer and in other cases it can drive you to search for a new career. Let me share with you my Mount Rushmore of the best bosses.

The Motivator/Results Boss – Kenny

One of my first bosses was Kenny Sanders. He was both inspirational – in almost a cheerleader kind of way – and at the same time a results-focused freak. He was like the player Jerry Maguire represented in the movie, with a “show me the money!” approach to the business world. While my current employees would have preferred me to adopt more of the cheerleader components of Kenny, I think the results focus had a more lasting impact. I remember Kenny (by the way who has a boss that actually goes by Kenny?) always had us clearly focused on the numbers and the deals we were doing.

The Risk Taker/Empowering Boss – Bill

Still early in my career, I was hired as a sales manager by a boss. He was the consummate risk taker. Bill always had a bet going with someone about something. In fact, when he hired me he was breaking a company guideline on how to fill an open position based on seniority and process. He wanted me and didn’t care what the HR department had laid out as the “proper” way to do things. He pointed his reports in a direction and then let us do our work. He hated to be surprised by things and although he was quiet and reserved in most instances, maybe not one to share much unless asked, he expected full disclosure from his direct reports. No holding back. I saw my fellow direct reports try to work him and hold back details…it was the downfall of many. The best thing you could do is step into his office and say “I made a mistake, let me tell you what happened” and let it loose. He would get mad and reinforce your mistake but when it was over, it was over. Mistakes did not get repeated.

The General – Dave

Dave was always at war. With corporate, with the distribution channel, with customers and with his staff. He was a win-lose guy. He wanted to win and everyone else needed to lose. He sent people on “missions” and into “battle.” He was not ex-military, but it sure felt that way. He demanded perfection and complete loyalty from employees. He supported employees to the ends of the earth, right or wrong, he was there 100% of the time. While he was fun to work for because everything was so clearly black or white, I learned a great lesson from him. When he is gone you need to remain comfortable with how you worked and what you did even for a new boss, perhaps less directive and less supportive. So it was a business is a balancing act. You cannot always win; you need to find more win-win options and exercise the win-lose scenarios less frequently.

The Coach – Manny

As you mature in your career and in business, sometimes you need someone to hear you out and offer ideas. Manny was a great listener and could offer feedback on the many options in front of you. He never needed his way, just offered advice. Always told you when you did good things, was willing to work with you on any ugly task or situation side-by-side, and was gentle on you when mistakes were clearly made. He made you want to do more, take more chances and to take on the ugliest of challenges. Never demanding, but rather a good reminder of what was required and when it was due.

So through your relationship with a boss, you are picking up leadership traits, styles and perhaps learning to do things a certain way. The best bosses can be making you better. The bad ones could be taking you down a path that will require correction in the future, perhaps even a search for a new career. Be aware and take the best and leave the rest behind.

Anyone willing to share their Mount Rushmore of best bosses or worst bosses?

image of button for free checklist to evaluate split placement networks

How to “Break In” to a Recruitment Network

By Liz Carey

people-woman-coffee-meeting-largeNew recruiters come into a recruitment network to expand their reach, build their revenues, and to better serve clients and candidates. But If you’ve never been in a split network, what’s the learning curve? How does it work? How long will it take to get that first split placement fee in your pocket? Where do you start?

Here’s how a recently new NPAworldwide member closed her first deal. First, she reached out to the network’s headquarters, asking if there’s anyone we suggest she connect with, as a financial services / accounting / banking industry recruiter in the greater New York City area. Staff sent her several names and phone numbers, and she reached out. 

Second, she attended a new member community call that the network held. The call was hosted by a longtime member who shared his tips on how to make more splits. She also attended another network call on how to procure international business from your existing clients.

Third, she was responsive to two other NY-based members who reached out to her and who have a very similar focus on the financial service and hedge fund space. These two recruiters invited her to lunch in Manhattan, where they both work, so they could meet face-to-face and discuss their success on NPAworldwide and how they can help her optimize the power of the NPA network, according to one of the recruiters.

“I believe this was a pivotal point in defining our relationship and success going forward,” he said. “Following our in person lunch, we summarized some immediate action points and agreed to send each other some open requirements.”

One such role was a Senior Compliance Officer in the hedge fund sector based in San Francisco that he had been working on for four months and was unable to fill.

Within a week, the new NPA recruiter that he reached out to sent him a great candidate, which his client wanted to interview right away. The phone interview went well, and the candidate was invited for an in-person interview the next week with the hiring manager and two partners. They made an offer, and the candidate started last month at a $150,000 salary. With a placement fee of 20%, the two recruiters split a $30,000 commission.

So within 3 weeks of joining NPA, this new recruiter had her first deal closed. She and the other NY-based recruiter now have two additional requirements that are in varying stages of success. She said one of the things that makes the partnerships successful is that the two recruiters who reached out to her are very quick to get her feedback. Openness and transparency shows a level of trust that can reassure a new member that recruiting isn’t always a dog eat dog world.  

“That’s a tribute to their professionalism and the strength of their relationships and it makes my team and I want to work on their assignments,” she said. “Anyone in this business for any length of time knows that is not always the case with partners or clients and it is appreciated and it’s the stuff long lasting relationships are made of.”

This deal not only shows the power of the network, but the power of folks who take the time to reach out to a new person and introduce themselves. Your first placement will happen, and it’s in your hands to reach out to likeminded members to facilitate the process.image of explore membership button

Your connection to premier independent recruiting firms across 6 continents

Site Designed and Hosted by The Imagination Factory

Some images ©

© 2016 - NPAworldwide