Writing a business plan in recruitment has always played a crucial part in the interview process for a number of recruitment agencies around the world.

A comprehensive business plan can demonstrate a recruiter’s commitment, knowledge and commercial acumen. During COVID-19, these qualities are more important than ever and we’re seeing an increase in the number of agencies asking for such a document.

Last week, I published an article about how recruiters who have been affected by COVID-19 can find a role today. In the article, I mentioned that arriving at an interview armed with a comprehensive business plan before you’re even asked will no doubt set yourself apart from other recruiters.

During these challenging times, managers will need to present a business case to leadership for budget approval in order to make a hire. Your business plan will be an important element of this business case. An impressive business plan could be the difference between landing an offer today, or falling into a pipeline of other candidates or even getting rejected.

In this article, we share a step-by-step guide outlining how to create a comprehensive business plan. We walk through the key components and include examples.

At the end of the article, you can download a free recruitment business plan template which is tailored towards the key components mentioned in this article.

Length

A business plan should be packed full of relevant information but should be compressed and to the point. Avoid verbiage, stay specific and keep to 4 – 6 pages.

Introduction

Start with a title. Include your name and the company you’re writing the business plan for. A little personalisation will go a long way.

Underneath your title, outline the objective of your business plan and again personalise it towards the agency you’re interviewing with. While you have the hiring manager’s attention, this paragraph is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how comprehensive your business plan is. The aim is to capture the hiring manager’s interest so they continue to read each component:

“The objective of this business plan is to outline the value I can add to employer’s name.

In this business plan, I have highlighted my specialism, hiring activity in my market, my candidate and client strategies, my methodology, how I plan to recruit through COVID-19, my competition, my personal revenue projections over 12 months and lastly a suggested solution to reducing my cost during COVID-19.”

You can use this paragraph as a way to introduce your business plan verbally if you’ve called up a hiring manager. You can also use this extract in a cold email.

Your specialisation

This is a crucial positioning statement for your value-add. It sets out precisely where your network and experience lies and what you intend to bring to the table in your new role.

Your specialisation can be described clearly by outlining what roles you will specialise in, what industries you will target, what level of seniority you will focus on and what geographies you will cover.

For ease of reading, you can use each component as a title and use bullet points to expand upon your answers.

Taking a Technology recruiter as an example:

What roles I will specialise in:

  • Product Management permanent roles
  • UX/UI Design permanent roles

What industries I will target:

  • E-Commerce
  • Series A – C funded technology startups (high investment, high growth and high volume of roles)

What level of seniority I will focus on:

  • Mid to senior (120 – 180k salary range for Product Managers, 140 – 200k salary range for Designers)

What geographies I will cover:

  • Based in Singapore, the local market will be my core market
  • Secondary markets include Jakarta, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur due to less competition from recruiters and high volume of roles

Hiring activity trends

The hiring activity trends section provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate and portray your knowledge of the market.

The 3 important components of this section are: hiring activity over the past 3 years, hiring activity during COVID-19 and how you predict hiring activity to shift post-COVID-19 recovery.

Utilise your own knowledge of the market but back it up with research gained from reputable sources related to your market e.g. Tech in Asia, Tech Crunch, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times or The Financial Times.

You’ll want to cover how hiring activity has increased or decreased, what the drivers of growth are in your industry and what the threats and challenges are within your sector.

Candidate strategies

Moving on from market trends, this section indicates how you will acquire candidates for your desk. It offers an opportunity for you to demonstrate the experience you’ve learnt in candidate management from your previous firm, but also an opportunity for the employer to ensure that your approach aligns with theirs.

3 key components of this section include: how you will generate candidate leads, what challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome these challenges.

Taking a Front Office Banking & Financial Services recruiter as an example:

How do I plan to generate candidate leads:

  • Direct headhunting using a LinkedIn Recruiter account, this costs approximately $X amount, the key benefits being access to a high volume of InMails and enhanced search capability. This has been the sourcing tool for 60% of my previous placements

Challenges I expect to face:

  • In light of COVID-19, highly sought-after candidates may be risk-averse and may not see this as a good time to move jobs

How I will overcome these challenges:

  • I will develop relationships with these candidates for the future but I will adjust my sourcing strategy accordingly by increasing volume of direct approaches. I will also focus on great talent who have been affected by COVID-19

Client strategies

A similar section to candidate strategies but geared towards clients. Arguably more important than candidate strategies during COVID-19 as the market is currently job-short – even in the good times, strong business development capabilities in recruiters are harder to find.

This section includes 6 key components including how you plan to onboard new clients, how you plan to sustain relationships with clients for repeat business, what industries your clients are in, the challenges you expect to face and how you will overcome these challenges.

Take these bullet points as a basic example:

How I plan to onboard new clients:

  • During COVID-19, I plan to cultivate relationships by helping and consulting clients on non-recruitment related issues, such as advising clients on the current state of the market
  • I plan to generate leads by making 25 cold calls per day during the ramp-up period, to again offer support and advice where needed, and to leverage any open roles
  • A soft approach of connecting with hiring managers, HR contact and C-Level candidates on LinkedIn, to establish working relationships and eventually convert into clients

How I plan to sustain relationships with current clients and win repeat roles:

  • The most important way to sustain relationships is by offering a service that is superior to competitors. That is by being transparent, sticking to deadlines and delivering results
  • Regularly catch up with clients on a monthly basis to see how they’re doing and see if you can generate new roles
  • Keep yourself updated on company news and congratulate clients on milestones e.g. if they generate a Series C round of funding

What industries I will target clients in:

  • E-Commerce
  • Series A – B funded technology startups

Challenges I expect to face:

  • Durving COVID-19 there is less of an appetite to use agencies due to an unprecedented volume of great candidates available in the market

How I will overcome these challenges:

  • Offer free support to companies currently not using agencies, provide an impressive service and convert into paying client post-recovery

The 6th component is “examples of target clients” and this is where you can really demonstrate tangible market knowledge. Use company names, find the potential contact in each company and add your comments, such as the volume of roles you expect from that client. 5 examples should be enough to peak your hiring manager’s interest.

You can use a table to display this information with ease:

The company namePotential client contactMy comments
Company nameContact nameThis hiring manager is at the senior end so I pick up mid-senior roles for their team. Given they’re working for a Series B, I expect to pull in about 6 roles per year from this contact

It goes without saying that you should never be tempted to use information that is proprietary to your previous employer. This information can be openly found with some basic LinkedIn research.

My methodology

Are you a recruiter that is focussed on crunching numbers? Are you a recruiter who is focussed on cultivating long-term relationships? In this section, you can include a few quick bullet points to explain how you approach recruitment. This information gives your hiring manager an indication about whether you hold similar values and whether you have similar working styles.

How you can adapt to recruiting during COVID-19

This section is a new one in response to current market conditions but can demonstrate how you are prepared to deal with current and upcoming challenges.

You can use this section as the title and include bullet points to outline how you will adapt to these market conditions. You can refer to this article if you want some tips on how to adapt to recruiting during COVID-19.

My key competitors

Which recruiters and agencies offer the greatest competition? Demonstrating your knowledge in this area highlights that you are commercially aware outside of your core market.

Include about 5 different competitors who are directly competing in your patch. You can use the table below to display this information:

The company nameThe name of the recruiter in your fieldMy comments
Company nameRecruiter nameThis recruiter has a well-established presence in this market, however they have less of a presence in UX/UI roles, which is a market I feel I can pick up

Personal revenue and target projections

In many business plans, financial projections are of utmost importance and can demonstrate your commercial acumen. If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den, you’ll know what happens when you don’t know your numbers!

Project your personal revenue for 4 quarters. You can start your calculations by predicting the average annual salary of a candidate in your patch. You can project your average percentage fee agreed with clients and from there you can calculate your average fee. Once you have this, you can predict the amount of placements you’ll be making per month.

Make sure your revenue projections are realistic and achievable. Avoid the temptation to predict vastly optimistic revenues, especially during COVID-19. You must allow time to ramp-up and there must be a logical relationship between your historical and predicted revenues.

The plan only includes project revenue. Your historical revenue should be on your CV.

Take the below as an example:

My predicted average annual salary of candidates:

  • $140,000

My predicted average percentage fee agreed with the client:

  • 22%

My predicted average fee:

  • $30,800

My predicted average placements per month

  • 1

My protected revenue over 12 months

Year20202021
QuarterQ2Q3Q4Q1
Personal revenue ($SGD)$061,60092,40092,400
Number of placements0233

Underneath, you can also include the KPIs you will set yourself to guide you in achieving these numbers. For example, you can set yourself a guideline for how many CVs you need to send, how many candidate meetings you need to arrange, how many client meetings you need to arrange and so on.

My remuneration

This is not a standard component of a business plan but is included in response to COVID-19. As mentioned in my previous article, if you demonstrate your willingness to share the pain of your cost with an employer, it will go a long way.

Take the below as an example:

My last drawn salary:

  • SGD $5,000 per month

My expected salary:

  • SGD $3,000 per month during COVID-19
  • SGD $5,000 per month post-recovery

How I propose we can share the pain during COVID-19:

  • Reduce my previous drawn salary by 40%
  • Reduce the threshold of my commission scheme of 9x per quarter to 7.5x per quarter
  • Agree to return to standard remuneration once I’ve hit personal revenue of $60k per quarter

The template

To help recruiters through these challenging times, we’ve constructed a free template built around the components mentioned above, so you can create your own for when you reach out to hiring managers.

To download this template, please enter your email below, click download business plan and you’ll be redirected to the template.

Summary

This step-by-step guide should give your hiring manager a clear idea of your plan. If executed successfully, you’ve already demonstrated your commitment, knowledge and commercial acumen before even attending an interview.

The way you’ve structured your plan will give your hiring manager a very clear indication of your methodology and whether you’d fit their structure. Keep in mind that if your methodology is focused on high volume recruitment, it’s not going to work well with an executive recruitment agency.

As a next step, learn this plan inside and out. Be prepared to pitch your plan to your hiring manager and answer detailed questions surrounding each component.

Leave your interviewer with no room for concern and secure that job!

If you’re looking for more tips on how to land a new recruitment job during COVID-19, check out this step-by-step guide I published last week.

Subscribe for an exclusive article coming next week outlining which markets are COVID-proof and which markets are expecting growth post-recovery.