One of the most difficult tasks for a recruiter is attracting new business. Between the networking, cold calls, and rejection, it can often be a discouraging and daunting process. Sharon Ball, VP of PSR Associates, Lisa Reitz, recruiter at Automationtechies, and Tatiana Becker, owner of NIAH, had great advice to offer recruiters new to business development. With over 50 collective years of recruiting experience, they understand the intricacies of attracting and retaining new clients.

Pinpoint Your Ideal Client

The first step to successfully attracting new business is to understand what your ideal client looks like. This requires you to take stock of your previous successes. You can start to understand your ideal client by answering the following questions:

  • What industry have you been most successful in and why? Get granular. If you recruit in tech, take note of which sectors you work best with.

  • What numbers can you point to as an example of your success? Being able to point to deliverables is key when converting potential clients.

  • What size company do you work best with? How many openings do they have on average?

  • What price points have worked in the past? Finding the pricing “sweet spot” is necessary to converting business.

  • What similarities can you find? What traits do your past clients share? What is the common denominator?

Answering these questions is the first step to understanding your ideal client. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to pinpoint the type of company that will be willing to work with you.

Interact with the Industry

Building and maintaining relationships is the key. We have sales leaders that serve on various boards and committees. Those relationships parlay into leads that grant access to clients.

- Sharon Ball

Sharon and her team understand the importance of getting out into the community and interacting with industry professionals. When you are actively exploring the intricacies of a particular industry, you’ll be able to speak to the specific challenges it faces. Joining industry groups and attending community meetups can lead to valuable resources and relationships, granting you the opportunity to both understand the industry and network with professionals. This understanding paints you as both a recruiter and a resource, because you can offer clients industry-specific help in addition to your general recruiting services. Try to find industry-specific publications to follow as well as more general recruiting blogs.

Maintain a Network

We have really strong word of mouth, a really strong network and community. So we often get referrals from current clients, or people in our network that we know that are active in the recruiting space.

- Tatiana Becker

Maintaining an active network of professional relationships is vital to a recruiter’s success. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult than it may seem, because it requires a lot of planning and care for your network to avoid running cold. Here are some ways you can maintain the network that you’ve worked hard to build:

  • Understand the individual - Take notes, remember names and small factoids about individual people. They’ll appreciate your attention to detail when you reach out.

  • Share content - Pass along helpful articles and industry news you think your connections might find helpful. Build yourself as a professional resource and you’ll stay fresh in their mind.

  • Be specific - Inform your network on how you can specifically help them, even in slower times. It demonstrates an understanding of their challenges, and offers you as the solution.

  • Be thankful - If someone in your network helps you out in any way with new business or a referral, offer to take them out for a cup of coffee or lunch. They’ll appreciate the gesture and associate the referral with a positive experience.

  • Don’t lose touch - Light touches and small check ups are paramount to maintaining an active network. Schedule reminders for yourself to reach out or set up automated emails through your recruitment software. Take advantage of the tools you have at your disposal.

Make Cold Calling More Effective

There’s also cold calling as well...We might read an article that sounds interesting and then cold call into a company to try and see if there’s something we can help with, like staffing a particular job opening they need filled quickly.

- Sharon Ball

It’s generally accepted that cold calls have about a 2% success rate. With a number like that, it’s no wonder why some recruiters have abandoned cold calls altogether. However, with careful research and planning, they can be an effective way to generate new business.

  • Research - Before calling your potential client, you must understand them. Browse job boards to see what positions they have open. Take the time to read about them on their website or in different publications. Try to get an understanding of their company culture and the type of person that would fit their roster.

  • Plan - Develop a script for cold calls so you’ll never be at a loss for words. Follow it the best you can, but also know that people can tell when you’re just reading words off of a piece of paper. A script should serve to guide you, not lead you.

  • Practice - When you demonstrate a clear understanding of their challenges and offer a solution within the first few minutes on the call, you should see more success. Don’t let a lack of preparation cause you to stumble through your words.

  • Listen - Avoid the monologue and start a dialogue. Ask questions and show that you are earnestly looking to offer help and not just looking for a sale.

  • Smile - Believe it or not, you can hear a smile through the phone. Tone has a huge effect on a cold call, so going in with positive energy and smile will place you in the right context.

Instill a Sense of Urgency

In order for me to actually get somebody to look at a resume, to move forward with a candidate, et cetera, there needs to be a sense of urgency.

- Lisa Reitz

According to Robert Half, 57% of job seekers will lose interest in a job if they believe that the process is taking too long. The promise of a quick time-to-fill will motivate the client to work with you. Here are a few ways to instill that sense of urgency:

  • Offer a timeline - A timeline will inform the client when to expect submittals and potential interviews. It also gives you a deadline, which will help you from dragging your feet as well.

  • Focus on Deliverables - Deliverables are measurable outputs produced from a process. In other words, they are your recruiting statistics. Use them as proof that a quick time-to-fill is important to you, and offer numbers on the success rate of your previous project. Doing so will demonstrate your value in a tangible way.

  • Discuss expectations - Having a conversation about expectations is a way for both parties to start on the same page. How many candidates should they be expected to screen; how many should you be expected to present? How involved does the client want to be? Get everything out on the table from the start so you can both focus on what needs to get done.

Stay Positive

Don’t give up, because you can make tons of calls and reach out and people won’t respond at all. And then you get a phone call from somebody who may have heard from you two or three years ago and you just remembered. Just because it feels like you’re making no progress today, doesn’t mean that you aren’t at least dropping a seed somewhere that may grow.

- Lisa Reitz

It’s important advice to hear. Rejection is part and parcel of being a recruiter, but that doesn’t make it any less discouraging. You will fail, but persistence will eventually lead to success. You have to find ways to not let rejection weigh on you. Lisa added a bit about the importance of a positive attitude.

Oh and another thing I do is listen to uplifting podcasts in the morning, because this job can be discouraging, so if you come in with a “rah-rah” attitude, it can help get you through the day.

- Lisa Reitz

Keep Learning

I can’t wait to read what others have to say!

- Lisa Reitz

By reading this article, you have proven that you’re willing to learn, and that’s the final piece of advice: keep learning. In your career, there’s always room for improvement. Find where your business development skills fall short and find a way to improve them. Attend webinars and seminars to learn from other industry professionals and ask questions of your seniors. Staying humble is the sign of a true professional.

Business development isn’t easy, but it is necessary to your recruitment firms success. With careful planning and research, you can identify potential customers. Keep your head high when rejection strikes, keep learning what you can, and stay focused on relationships and the tangibles that you can deliver as a recruiter.


Ms. Ball’s experience in the IT industry stretches over 18 years, beginning with an IT recruiting business she founded. The experience gave her the knowledge needed to understand technical recruiting and the importance of building lasting client relationships. She applied those lessons to her position at the Epitec Group where she eventually rose to Chief Operating Officer. Most recently, Ms. Ball is the VP & Director of Recruiting at PSR Associates.
Sharon Ball, Vice President, PSR Associates

Over the past 5 years, Tatiana has dedicated herself to building and refining a system that leverages her entire team to find the right candidates for roles, and the right roles for candidates. She looks at every single candidate with whom NIAH work’s, leveraging her 14 years of recruiting experience to match them with a select few of our 500+ roles. NIAH believes in a high-touch, white-glove approach.
Tatiana Becker, Owner, NIAH

Lisa has been with Automationtechies since 2004; starting first as a Candidate Researcher before being promoted to Candidate Sourcing Manager and then to Recruiter. She works with candidates from all areas of automation and strives to place them in their best possible job. Lisa enjoys working with candidates from diverse backgrounds within automation, from programmers to sales and everything in between.
Lisa Reitz, Recruiter, Automationtechies

Industry, Tips & Tricks