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How to Run a Recruitment Agency in South Africa

Discover ways you can improve how you run your recruitment agency.

Running a successful recruitment business in South Africa can be difficult, as it is a competitive industry. You are competing against other recruitment agencies, some of which have been operating for decades.

You also need to keep in mind that companies also have internal recruitment processes, so you need to make sure you improve your value proposition to attract and retain clients.

Improving Your Agency

A great new tool for recruiters to use is LinkedIn recruiter. Some of the benefits are that you can search through the 500 million-plus users. Jobs that you post get seen by people with the appropriate skills within the area you are searching, and their system also allows you to build databases and create folders, reminders, and to-do lists.

Ensuring that you have a niche market you cater to will aid in reaching the right market segment. Some examples of this could be specialising in information technology, engineering, or mining. Examples of roles could be high-paying executive positions or you could choose to be the best recruiter for personal assistants and secretaries. Whatever niche you choose, make sure that you either have experience within this field or can become a specialist.

With a recruitment agency, your main ‘inventory’ is your client base. These are the clients you hire and the clients who hire employees from you. Managing your inventory means managing your database correctly and an excel spreadsheet may not be the best method. You should look for an effective customer relationship management software.

Analysing competition and market research

You can learn a lot about your competitors by visiting their websites. Some competitors you can research are Quest and Key Recruitment. Things to look out for include the following:

  • How do they present themselves?
  • Do they have a specialty they focus on?
  • What are their fees compared to yours?
  • Do they have an easy, seamless online experience?
  • How are they advertising their business?

Your Growth Potential

Every industry has suffered the impacts of the pandemic, and these effects are still being felt. In South Africa, candidates need to work hard to be offered a position, and recruitment agencies need to improve their talent acquisition processes to sustain their own footing and competitive advantage.

To grow, you need to transform your talent management decisions, and of course, encourage and embrace the move to digitisation. It is a cut-throat industry, so to achieve your full potential, you need to find ways to increase your productivity, refine your decision making process and contribute to the South African economy as a whole.

Some interesting industry insights

Boost Your Marketing Processes

Attending business networking events is crucial to boost brand awareness. There are several business networking forums in South Africa.

Likewise, to compete successfully in this industry you need an online marketing strategy that will increase your ROI (return on investment). Here are some tips to market your business online.:

Make sure that your website and social media pages are optimised for search engines. A great tool to use for this is SEMrush.

Of course, you’ll need to create engaging content on your social channels that highlights what you can do for applicants and clients. Try to engage people with articles related to certain employment opportunities and posts which encourage people to ask questions and share their opinions about certain jobs or aspects within a business.

Use your social channels as a tool to inform and educate people. Job seekers love connecting with companies that offer them something valuable. Think about producing blog content that is relevant for job applicants (how to navigate interviews) or content for employers (what to look for and how to improve a working environment).

Financing Options

If you have family or friends that can invest in your agency, consider approaching them with an offer to own shares in your business, or you can agree to a loan repayment with interest.

Angel investors are individuals who invest in other people's businesses. You can use resources such as the South African Angel Investment Forum to find potential angel investors.

Exiting Your Business - Preparation

There are multiple reasons a business owner may want to sell their business, and each business will have different strategies and processes in place, depending on their assets.

You may want to sell the entirety of your business or bring in a partner to handle the day-to-day operation while you assist with the bigger strategy by sitting on a board. Selling a recruitment agency can be challenging because your income is relative to the number of people you recruit and this can often change.

However, if you have managed to secure contracts to hire employees for large companies regularly, this would make your business very attractive to potential buyers.

Always remember that if you are considering an exit, you need to prepare for it in advance. Hiring a business broker will be a great benefit.

Megan Kelly

About the author

Megan is Head of Content Marketing at She is a B2B Content Strategist and Copywriter. She has produced multiple articles that rank on the first page of Google SERPS, and loves creating people-first content.