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10 Traits of Successful Recruitment Agencies

10 Traits of Successful Recruitment Agencies

Written by Haydn Morgans

Last edited May 5, 2023

10 Traits of Successful Recruitment Agencies

Every recruitment agency is different, which makes it impossible to apply a ‘one size fits all’ model for success. However, from working with businesses for over 40 years, there are certain similarities that the most successful agencies, no matter what their size, possess. Leading Chartered Accountants, Raffingers, have written this article for us the top 10 traits of a successful recruitment agency. Raffingers specialise in delivering financial and strategic advice to recruitment businesses.


Every recruitment agency is different, which makes it impossible to apply a ‘one size fits all’ model for success. However, from working with businesses for over 40 years, there are certain similarities that the most successful agencies, no matter what their size, possess.

1. Clear Vision and Strategy

Probably the most successful agencies we work with have a clear ‘reason for why they exist’. This does not have to be a complicated statement, but writing down your vision gives the whole firm a focus, gets everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal. So, what is your vision? Is it to be a trusted recruitment supplier in a niche market, is it to be the happiest place to work in recruitment, is it to deliver the best customer service to clients or to always deliver high calibre candidates? Having a clear vision that your whole team is aware of will help you focus. New opportunities may present themselves, but with a clear vision you will not be distracted and will achieve your goals much quicker.

2. Clear Future Plans

10 year and three-year plans are essential. What do you want to achieve? Is it to increase turnover, hire more people, be a leader in your market? Ensure you have an ambitious, but realistic 10-year plan that the whole team is aware of. Having ambition helps to instil enthusiasm in the team and means everyone is on the journey together. Once you have a ten-year plan, confirm what you need to do in the next three years to get you on the right path.

3. Effective Management

Management teams that are consistent and know and ‘live’ the company’s core values and vision are integral to business success. These managers will lead the team and help foster a culture that attracts and retains employees. Remember, people leave managers, not businesses. The successful business owners and directors we work with also know their strengths and weaknesses. Many are not experts in marketing or technology and so they surround themselves with people who are. This also means they are productive with their time and utilising everyone’s strengths.

4. Recruitment and Retention of Employees

Hiring the right employees with the right skills is crucial for long-term growth. It is advisable to take the attitude, ‘hire slow, fire fast’. In reality, this is not always feasible but hiring slow and taking the time to understand the skills and ‘values’ of potential employees is important for long-term success. This is where your core values are so important, it is possible to influence someone’s beliefs about your company, but you cannot change someone’s values. Therefore, make sure you are hiring the people with the right attitude and drive to take your business forward. For those ‘star’ recruiters you also need incentives and perks in place to keep them. What stops your employees going to another recruitment firm? Consider Enterprise Management Incentives to get more of your team to commit to the agency, or simply speak to your team and listen to what drives them, this can help inform your benefit strategy.

5. Technology

Is your technology fit for purpose? Not only is out-dated technology frustrating to work with, but it can hold you back. The most successful agencies have a budget for technology and take time every 12-18 months to review and consider improvements. Investing in the right technology can help you save time, improve communication with candidates and clients and be more productive. Maybe introduce a suggestion box in your office and encourage your team to post their recommendations.

Some of the technology we recommend for agencies is outlined in our Best in Class Business Technology document.

6. Streamlined Processes

Regularly reviewing and improving your processes is recommended to run an efficient agency. Try putting yourself in your candidates or clients’ shoes and review their journey with your business – what are the touch points, is it a ‘nice’ experience? As agencies grow we find many implement ‘quick fixes’ to problems, which in the long-run create complicated and time-consuming processes. When in doubt, abide by the rule ‘keep it simple’ and review your processes to ensure they are being carried out in the most productive way.

7. Marketing

Your vision is so important because not only will it focus your team, but also your marketing. Having a consistent and clear message will help you to target your marketing communications and grow your brand. Furthermore, the agencies that experience the quickest growth are those that recognise marketing is not a function of one person or team, but the whole team. Those that encourage their team to be active on social media, such as LinkedIn, and position themselves as leaders in their field (through blogs, articles, videos etc) are more likely to gain traction and grow.

8. Know your Clients

Understanding your clients and your target market means you can deliver not only the most relevant candidates, but also a great client experience. Make sure your recruiters are asking key questions to your clients and challenging them, truly understanding what your client’s requirements are will allow you to approach them with quality candidates – not someone too experienced that may get bored, or to inexperienced who would not work out long-term.

9. Financial Literacy

You do not need to be an accounting expert to run a successful agency, but you do need to be able to interpret the figures and understand when the time is right to grow. With cloud accounting it is getting easier to produce management accounts and dashboards to give you a snapshot of your key metrics and how your business is performing now and in the future. Just make sure that these are reviewed monthly so that trends, opportunities and issues are spotted immediately. As part of this process you also need to have control of your costs and cash flow. Make sure, at least annually, you are reviewing your overheads – negotiating better deals where possible and cutting unnecessary expenses.

10. Become experts

To achieve true success in the competitive recruitment market, our most successful agencies are those that have become the ‘go-to’ agency for their sector or field. This has been achieved by keeping up-to-date with changes in the market, encouraging the team to be thought leaders online and always investing in training and courses to keep themselves and their team ahead. Agencies with a strong brand are those that have specialised and become renowned for a niche. These are some great traits that can help create consistency and sustainable growth in your agency.

For further business growth advice, contact Partner and Recruitment Sector Specialist Lee Manning at Raffingers are specialist accountants and advisors for the recruitment sector, helping agencies of all sizes achieve their ambitions.

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