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What is recruitment?

Starting your own recruitment agency is a polarising subject for debate within the world of recruitment. When is the right time, what do I need to consider and what will success look like?. To answer all these questions and more, Mark Hopkins joined us this week to share his journey and answer the question,  What does it really take to run an agency?.

Mark started out with an educational background in aircraft engineering.  He then transitioned into engineering recruitment and discusses his initial thoughts about the industry.  Mark says “from anyone on the outside looking in on recruitment, where you think it’s just filling jobs. The reality, in agency recruitment, 80%-90% is finding the jobs to fill”. Reflecting on the change in how you secure jobs, having been through two recessions.  Mark tells us, “you’re picking up the phone 50-60 times more than you ever did before”.

We then asked Mark about his move from employee to a business owner, he says, “there are two parts to that answer – when I realised I wanted to be doing this for myself – and then when I realised I could do this for myself”. A key consideration before making this move was anchored in his exposure to new business, he says, “I didn’t think I had enough exposure to real, raw new business – that was one of my weak areas and I needed to work out how to deal with that”.


It’s a people to people business!

Day one of starting your own business, Mark tells us, “BD, email, find candidates – just build that database”.  Mark goes on to say,  “I planned for not making money for 6-months and I made money in the first 6 weeks”.

In addition, we pivot onto the subject of why Mark set-up his own agency. He responded, in his experience of an overly corporate world, “I always used to get into trouble for the blogs I used to put on LinkedIn. I received a written warning for a blog that I wrote” and driven by the recruitment industry as a “people to people business, so why are we not being people!”

Most importantly, focusing on the values of his own business, he tells us, “the biggest one I felt in recruitment, that I felt was missing the most, was trust. The only way to gain trust is to demonstrate capability”. As a final comment, Mark says, “when you add all these elements together, that’s just being human. It’s just being a normal professional human!”


If that wasn’t enough, you’ll hear Mark talks about:

  • Selling the concept of recruitment
  • The benefits of working for a smaller recruitment agency
  • Considerations for setting-up your own company  
  • Setting up an agency versus staying a freelance consultant
  • Transitioning relationships and changing your frame of reference
  • Procurement – friend or foe? 
  • What video is a powerful business development tool 
  • Learnings from the first 12-months of running your own business


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Thank you to our fabulous sponsor EnterpriseAlumni