How to Start Doing Recruitment BD for the First Time

Even if you’re an experienced recruiter, doing business development is probably something you don’t entirely love. And if you’ve never done business development before… Oh, well, it can feel like a pretty daunting challenge. But plan your strategy well and it can be really rewarding – or even become something you enjoy doing.

The basic structure of a recruitment BD process follows 3 main stages: identifying prospects, warming them up, and reaching out. We’re bringing you a fool-proof guide to each of those sections, so BD doesn’t ever scare you again! And for some more adventurous recruiters - we have a set of top tips on making recruitment calls that will get you clients.

Identifying prospects

Research is everything in recruitment BD. You need to take your time to get the knowledge in first before you go out contacting potential clients. Why? The right amount of knowledge about prospects will allow you to help them in the exact area they’re struggling in and make the best choices for their business. You want to be able to add value to any potential prospect - so a ‘1 size fits all’ approach will not work. Here’s how to get around to digging up that information:

Map out the market – this is the term recruiters use to describe doing research on your area of expertise. What sorts of clients are you best suited to hire for? What business size? Do they have an internal recruitment team? Do they hire a lot? SMEs or enterprise? Who is hiring manager? Answering all those questions is crucial to choosing and approaching the right prospects with solutions that suit their needs.

Look for gaps in the market – you have your potential prospects chosen: Good job! Now, you want to think about what opportunities are there currently within your niche. Or can your expertise be applied to a hiring gap existing in the market at the moment? Make sure you know exactly what’s going on, so you can match the opportunities with the most fitted prospects.

Build hit lists in your CRM – Start building out prospecting hit lists in your CRM of both existing and new clients. Existing clients are the real low-hanging fruit – it’s easier to work with someone who already knows what you can do!

Warming up prospects

The biggest mistake you can make is to start cold calling through your BD hitlist as soon as you have phone numbers in front of you. Do you enjoy getting robotic calls with zero personal touch? Probably not, and your clients won’t either. The chances they listen to someone who they have never heard of before are very low. The warming-up process is all about building your reputation as an expert in your market and building awareness of that expertise.

Gather proof – Having proof of all the work you’ve done so far is crucial to making a name for yourself. Look for testimonials and tangible numbers about how your agency has reduced time-to-hire by X%. Then make sure to brag! Post these materials all over your social media to start building a reputation.

Start social selling – Social media is the heart of modern marketing. If you don’t exist on socials, you don’t exist, period. So make sure you start adding prospects on LinkedIn, commenting, liking, and sharing their content (but don’t go in too heavy, it will make you look desperate!). Put your name out there! Your business needs to have the ability to reach the correct desired audience through your online branding. Keep your social media accounts up to date and active – share relevant business-orientated material about your products and services that will help create awareness and show your relevance in that particular market.


As recruiters, we’re eager to do that one most important thing – talk to prospective clients! But before you pick up that phone, you need to ask yourself – can you really fill the role for them? Do you have any proof that you can? Have you developed your recruitment sales pitch and feel confident in what you have to say? If you’re hesitant about either one of those questions, you’re not ready to make the call yet.

When you’re certain that it’s time, here are a few things on different outreach methods to keep in mind – from one recruiter to another!

Email Outreach – Making email your first choice is a good way of introducing your value to the prospect. It gives them the chance to look you up and see what you’re all about – and if you’ve done all the previous points right, they’ll find nothing but great things! With every email, there should always be a CTA letting them know you’ll reach out on the phone to them sometime soon – which makes them more likely to listen to you when you make the call.

The dreaded call – This is the make-it or break-it moment. Calls are an essential part of business development: They allow you to build trust, bring in the human element, and give you a unique opportunity of convincing the prospect you’ll add value to their business. But make no mistake - you are unlikely to make a sale on your first call and will need to follow up on multiple occasions. That’s how the business works, so don’t get discouraged. Use each of those calls as opportunities to bring more and more value. And make sure to follow the tips from the eBook below!

Social Media Outreach – You already know social media can be a great tool to connect with prospective clients and even make sales but need to focus on building sustained and real relationships. Even if it takes longer, it brings a better long-term result. Outreach is not a one-hit game. You want to grow your relevant network and promote your brand, as well as make connections with prospective clients. Gathering information about their business will come in handy in the future.

If you take one thing out of this post, let it be that business development is a long-term commitment. It requires building and nurturing relationships, so don’t get discouraged, don’t rush into it, and be open!

Cold Calls CTA

Paul Briman

Growth Specialist Paul was a Principle Consultant in the tech sector before joining Firefish. He loves changing the way agencies recruit with software.

Subscribe to our blog and receive top content to help you reach, engage and recruit more effectively!