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The Ultimate Guide for Recruiting and Business Development

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

How to grow and thrive in your role as a Full Desk Recruiter.

Full Desk Recruiting 101

Full desk recruiting is essentially one recruiter working on both sides of the desk. These recruiters build up their talent pipeline and source candidates to fill positions while finding clients and acquiring job orders.

Full desk recruiters work directly with their clients and prospective job candidates. They don’t have agents to pull in clients, nor do agencies rely on other recruiters to locate candidates. Full desk recruiters manage the entire recruiting process on their own.

Full desk recruiting involves business development, candidate sourcing, recruiting, pre-screening, reference checking, negotiation of terms & closing.

As a full-desk recruiter, you will become familiar with both the client and candidate aspects. You will get to know your clients’ needs and goals, being able to present candidates even when there isn’t an open job order. Furthermore, you’ll learn to understand where and how to engage the best-qualified candidates.

A good full-desk recruiter must have both clients and candidates to succeed. You should spend a comparable amount of time networking and building connections for both.

If you spend more time acquiring job orders, you won’t have sufficient candidates to fill those openings. If you spend more time sourcing candidates, you’ll have a large talent pool and no jobs to place them in. You'll need to build up your clients and candidates simultaneously to ensure you have enough of each to foster a successful supply and demand ratio for your company.

Business Development and Landing Clients

Let's start with how to land clients through Business Development.

Build Your Brand

Usually, the first step of business development is to develop your brand. This is establishing yourself as a reputable recruiter or agency worthy of trust in sourcing job orders. Your prospective clients will be looking you up on the internet to see if they should work with you. When they search your name on Google, they would be looking for an online presence that shows them your credibility, efficacy, and reliability.

These prospective clients should be willing to trust you before they invest their time and resources. Therefore, put serious effort into building your presence online. Make sure you represent professionalism, whether it's on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Share engaging content that communicates you are devoted and knowledgeable about your fIt’s. It’s great to share others’ insights, but you should also work to produce your content. Creating blogs, videos, or graphics of insightful data or trends in your industry is a great way to showcase your expertise as a reputable recruiter.

Once you get going, you should also produce content that showcases success stories about your agency’s performance. You want to demonstrate your ability to meet clients’ needs with top-tier talent. Therefore, prospective clients will be more likely to consider you seriously. Be a storyteller of your business and its growth. Your company's success is directly connected to the people's engagement.

Research Your Market Niche

To stand out against the vast domain of recruiters, specifically as a newer company, you’ll need to have exceptional value you can use to differentiate yourself. Understand the talent pool of skill sets in your area to best determine your recruiting industry niche. You'll need an adequate supply of qualified candidates to sufficiently fill job orders in your industry. A value proposition to offer potential clients could be superior knowledge of a specific market of candidates or a unique connection to talent pools of qualified prospects compared to most of the competition.

As a startup recruiting business, your best competitive edge is the ability to understand the market and deliver outcomes, both for clients and candidates. It is vital to be hyper-focused in identifying who you serve. The first step is building an “Ideal Client Profile.” Here are some tips for newer recruiters to get started:

  • Research and compile all the companies in your industry and area with 20-200 employees. Mid-sized companies often don’t hire a full-time recruiter but could be willing to source a job order.

  • Study the top companies in your industry niche. Understanding the concentration of skill sets and talent in your industry can help you filter through job candidates and their suitability for openings you’re hoping to place.

  • Create a checklist of employers where you want to place talent. The best salespeople list companies they want to sell to and then build a strategy to engage people who can help them establish a connection.

Being a recruiter does not mean you have to be a specialist in every domain you offer. Your main strength as a recruiter should be to hire talent. Therefore, you simply need to be an expert in knowing who will be the most appropriate candidate to thrive in any particular job opening. Be enthusiastic about hiring people who will be able to fulfill the client’s needs and learn from your mistakes of candidates that didn’t work out.

Know Your Prospects

Before engaging any new prospects, you must first perform a thorough assessment of them. You will only be able to figure out how you can help them and in what manner when you understand their operations and needs adequately. Obvious as it may be, you should offer services that have value and make sense to the prospect you are approaching. The needs of one may vary from another along with their outlook and philosophy of what they look for in candidates. Thus, knowing who you are approaching is crucial. Your company must tailor its desires and demands accordingly and serve correctly.

A typical beginner’s error for full-desk recruiters is to take on the “spray & pray” strategy. They start calling every company they see online, searching for any open requirement they can fill.

Instead, you ought to learn how to connect your client search to the skill sets you are most competent in recruiting. You must discover how to target the right group of employers to be more strategic in the talent pipeline you build. Understand how to leverage your strengths and market conditions to build your business.

Do your homework before calling up a prospective client. For example, research about who they are, what they do, whether there has been any recent media coverage, etc. You have to sell your agency to them so that they will ask you for a service.

As a new recruitment entrepreneur, you must consider that your business development strategy will have to focus on how to win their trust for your long-term business goals. As you show in-depth knowledge about their company, they will understand that you have done your homework well and are much more likely to consider you for their talent needs.

Develop Your Messaging/Sales Pitch

To develop your messaging, you must ensure you engage with your prospects rather than speaking at them! If your messaging doesn’t resonate with your prospect’s most significant needs and goals, it will most likely be ignored or, worse yet, marked as spam!

Here are a few best practices you need to follow to avoid that. Remember, this is after you’ve researched them extensively and developed a value proposition to offer.

  1. Personalize your messaging! If you don’t, your messages seem like copy/paste spam outreach.

  2. Deliver different messaging and value propositions to each of your prospects.

  3. Address the values, benefits, and pains you’ve identified for each prospect.

  4. Get to the point quickly! Otherwise, you risk your messaging getting lost between irrelevant text. Have a single call to action that doesn’t require investing a significant amount of time.

Learn more about the value of recruiters for employers.

Prospecting and Closing

The most successful staffing and recruiting companies use social touches and an email cadence or sequence. Here’s a standard process used with success:

  • Day 1: Call the prospect.

  • Day 2: Call again and leave a message if you don’t get through.

  • Day 2: Follow up with an email, and reference your voicemail.

  • Day 3: Call again and leave another message.

  • Day 3: Send them an email if you have it or a LinkedIn message—and reference the voicemail again.

Look for information about company events from your prospects. Be aware of your prospective company’s focus and what projects are coming down the pipe. Look out for:

  • Upcoming projects that will require new employees

  • Rounds of hiring and firing, especially new C-level leaders

  • Financial events, like investments or mergers

  • Installed technologies or software in use

These events will help open the door and highlight the right individuals to contact and when. You can find this information by setting up Google Alerts for your company and hiring-related keywords.

Smaller staffing firms can utilize the same recruiting tools that large enterprises use to get insight into their prospects.

Be inspired by this quick story from Steve Bryerton:

“Here’s an example of a successful play from a small 3-person recruitment shop.” They sent out a short email to CIOs that they targeted from the Fortune 1000 list, saying:
“I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of projects that are either behind schedule or over-budget, and your livelihood depends on these project getting across the finish line. We’ve been doing this for over 35 years, and we can help.”
Within the first three months, because they had accurate data about the right people, they landed Farmers Insurance and two other major corporations for seven-figure deals. Boom!

Working with Clients: Communication and Results

According to Forbes contributor Scott Pollack, “Business development is all about creating long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, relationships and so on...”

Strong client and candidate relationships are built on communication. Begin your connections on the right foot by listening to understand their most essential pains and priorities.

Once you’ve established a relationship with your clients, continue to engage them respectfully for a positive customer experience. Doing the basics right, like answering your phone politely, replying promptly to emails, and returning calls, are fundamentals that aren’t always regarded.

However, your relationship goes beyond politeness. You must be willing to advise for the good of their company, even if that may contradict their proposal. It’s sometimes easier to go along with a client who wants to recruit an unnecessary role for their organization. Honesty is best if you know they’re not ready or are wasting their resources. However, you should be cautious in disputing a new client and work to earn their trust first.

With healthy relationships established, you can become a trusted advisor to your clients. Be proactive in coming up with your ideas, don’t always wait for them to ask what can be done to improve their recruitment strategy. New methods enabling them to get more from their budgets are especially appreciated in tough economic times.

Recruiting Talent

Next, explore the best methods for finding and recruiting top-tier talent.

Network to Build Talent Pool

Building talent pools for recruiting significantly affect the company's future success. If your efforts are outdated or inaccurate, they will only hinder forthcoming efforts.

Recruiters can start groups on LinkedIn or Facebook or use their recruitment software to create an internal network.

When recruiters invest their time and efforts into building and sustaining useful talent pools, they are developing forward momentum for employers. They can save on almost all of the conventional resources that go into recruiting. They also protect their clients from costs associated with vacant positions for long periods. Talent pools allow recruiters access to better quality candidates when it counts most, not when it’s too late.

To create an adequate talent pool, recruiters need to widen their traditional mindsets to include a broader range of candidates and use the data-driven application procedure to their benefit. Adding social search and dynamic contacting functions will significantly reduce the maintenance of your talent pools.

As recruiters encounter talent deficits, the need to build and grow each talent pool becomes more apparent. With the prominence of social networks like Linkedin growing evermore, use these platforms to your full advantage. Become an expert in finding, connecting, and engaging with the talent to build your candidate reservoir.

Find more insight in our article Networking to Build Meaningful Relationships.

Know Your Clients’ Ideal Candidate Profiles

Your first step is to identify the qualities essential to perform the role's responsibilities successfully – and how you plan to evaluate candidates for those.

  • Skills: What expertise and experience are needed for this position?

  • Talents: What inborn abilities and natural characteristics would help someone be successful in this position?

  • Behaviors: How should someone act in this role? What behaviors and choices will the right person exhibit?

Next, look for signs that a candidate exemplifies our top cultural attributes. These traits are the life force of company culture and are highly desired when making a hire:

  • Devotion & Diligence

  • Leadership with Action

  • Growth Attitude

  • Generosity & Unselfish

The last piece of an Ideal Candidate Profile is the job description. Here is a simple list of the usual aspects:

  • Main Goals: What are this position's 1-3 priorities or goals?

  • Measurable Results: What metrics will you use to assess this position’s success?

  • Responsibilities Breakdown: What are the typical duties for this role? This is the area for the details of the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.

Engage Candidates Effectively

Rather than reading the job description in a monotone voice, be the recruiter who vividly paints a picture of working at that new company. For instance, will the candidate have an opportunity to be a part of new cutting-edge technology or medicine? Will they make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate? These are the company attributes that job seekers want to know about.

Here are 11 unique ways for recruiters to increase candidate engagement from Fetcher:

  • Embrace Practices Most Competitors Don’t

  • Recruit Quickly

  • Craft Unique, On-Brand Copy

  • Follow Through on Promises

  • Send Newsletters for Job Seekers

  • Respect Their Time

  • Simplify the Application Process

  • Keep in Touch With Candidates

  • Share Recruitment Process Details

  • Utilize Your Current Employees

  • Add Candidates on LinkedIn

Furthermore, make a plan to stay in touch with your qualified candidates. Extenuating situations can sometimes restrict a candidate from making a significant career move. In their pursuit to grow their career, today’s candidates, especially Millennials, might decline your job offer now, but that doesn’t necessarily imply “no” permanently.

Make sure to occasionally follow up with candidates highly qualified for your industry, even if they reject to seek the opportunity you first presented. Consider adding them to your holiday card list; or sending articles of interest throughout the year. These small efforts can help them remember you and enable you to expand your talent pipeline. Perhaps a better job opportunity that they would be far more interested in later arises.

Negotiation and Closing

Before beginning any negotiation, you want your prospect to feel relaxed talking to you. Ask some appropriate ice-breaking questions that get you both on familiar ground before you enter deliberations. Don’t overthink it; discuss something you have in common and let them see that you’re a likable recruiter who’s enjoyable to work with.

When presenting the offer, deliver it as an itemized total reward package so prospects understand its full value. Include the salary, extent of any bonus, amount of any retirement fund with a monetary value of contribution, plus value of any health insurance premium, number of vacation days, company car value, personal training budget, workforce development programs, etc. Furthermore, mention any perks unrelated to monetary compensation like flexible working and casual dress code.

The solution to successful negotiation is having empathy and making an effort to understand your prospect’s needs. For instance, knowing the distinctions between their ‘must haves’ and ‘desirable’ even if they don’t know the difference, and then employing this knowledge to leverage an agreement that works for both parties.

Full-Desk Recruiting Advice

Be Active, Resilient, and Patient

You need to immerse yourself in the operation of Business Development on an everyday basis because it is not something that is a one-time thing or a short-term goal. It is a long-term and ongoing process for every business. Therefore, full desk recruiting should be in your attitude.

Ask yourself the questions that limit your company, research for new strategies and techniques that be effective, extract the obsolete tactics and approaches, find and explore the latest information available, pursue to bring the best leads for your business, and so on.

Business development is not a task or a tool but a process. The process is not achieved within a set or periodic duration. Thus, you must always carry the process in your mind while working and recruiting new talent. That said, you must withhold from expecting too much too soon as business development will take time to produce the noticeable and desired results.

Quality over Quantity

Yes, you should be approaching prospects as much as possible, but the quality of your approaches matters much more than the number you make. And the answer to having better quality engagement with your prospects? Doing your research!

Suppose you’re able to have a more engaging conversation from the very beginning because you know exactly who you’re contacting, what they do, and what their hiring difficulties may be. In that case, you’ll have a much higher chance of a conversion.

Save yourself valuable time by doing the research and homework of analyzing markets, prospective clients, and job candidates before diving into your outreach. Not only will you have much more engaging messaging, but you’ll also be more confident in your ability to help your prospects!

To thrive in today’s highly competitive recruiting field, you’ll need to be a specialized professional in your niche and able to pinpoint target opportunities that have a high chance of yielding a conversion.

Grow from Mistakes and Success

When things don’t go as planned, or worse yet, there was no plan, don’t get overly frustrated or discouraged. You can best turn that experience or interaction into a learning point to improve your methods and practices. The more mistakes you make, the more lessons you’ve learned... hopefully.

Further, use the wins and victories you achieve as motivation and education. Build off of what worked and integrate that into your whole strategy. Showcase successful job placements on your website and social media to display your credibility as a full desk recruiter. People love to see results, so make sure yours are seen!

Take the job placements you achieve and incorporate them into building your brand, the first step of Business Development. The process comes full circle.


Ultimately, remember that all things worthwhile take time and action to build. Being a full-desk recruiter can be very lucrative and gratifying, but you must put in the effort. Reputation and trust among companies and candidates aren’t formed overnight.

Nevertheless, the better your focus on your niche, the quicker you’ll be seen as a professional, and the more business you will acquire. The top full-desk recruiters ultimately get referrals based on their demonstrated track record. You’ll know you’ve made it when prominent companies and desirable talent come to YOU!

Photo credit: Getty/jacoblund

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