Talent Talk | Surviving the pandemic as a start-up agency

Last updated:
July 28, 2021
December 18, 2021
min read
Sim Samra
Table of contents

Welcome to Talent Talk. Here, you’ll find a collection of thought leadership articles from industry experts in the recruitment and HR tech space.

Whether you’re a well known established company or a young start-up, one thing is clear: growing your company and getting new clients is not easy during a pandemic.

A lot of company’s called out a ‘hiring freeze’, a lot of recruiters got laid off and almost nobody had budget left for external agencies.

In this blog, I will take you on our journey and provide you with some tips on how we survived the pandemic as a start-up agency.

But before I dive into that, I’ll explain what my agency does and how we differentiate from our competitors.

Bureau Zwart Wit is an international tech recruitment agency. We are a small team of smart senior tech recruiters focusing purely on tech recruitment. All of our clients are Dutch-based and are either growing or in need of international tech expertise.

We source, scan, interview, and recruit on an almost executive level. Our goal is to find companies the golden unicorns they’re looking for. Our sister company Your Expat Agency helps businesses to find these golden unicorn candidates across the globe and helps them to relocate, and even pick them up from the airport.

This is what the day to day of our business looked like until Covid-19 hit. With that came the restrictions on international travel, a lockdown, no budgets, etc. We saw a lot of companies change strategies or create new products. We saw a lot of recruiters turning themselves into business coaches. My game plan was clear and simple.

I hope that you can use one or more of the following points to your advantage, for now, or in the future.

Take advantage of your downtime

Focus on marketing, writing blogs, and perhaps vlogging. Ask yourself, is the company still going in the right direction? During this downtime, you can use the time to really think about your marketing efforts.

Focus on your existing portfolios

Instead of focusing on new business, see if you can help your clients in other ways, even if they don’t have the budget right now. Share their vacancies (you have a huge network anyway). Give them some advice and positive energy, without expecting anything back in return. When they have a budget again, they will call you first!

Go on virtual business dates with people

Everybody has people in their network. Now is the time to go on those coffee dates. I’ve encouraged my team to search for lost contacts on their phones and LinkedIn, and send them nice messages. People love getting an invite, and it might even get you some surprising new business opportunities!

Give and receive

Recommendations and referrals are very valuable. That is how new clients and partners see that you are trustworthy, and deliver quality. But in your busy daily routine, you probably do not have time to ask for recommendations. You are running to the next job and the next client. At my company, we used this time to reflect and ask some of our recent hires and partners to write us a recommendation. And we gave a lot of recommendations away.

Catch up with the golden unicorns

How often do you catch up with your recruited candidates? Once they have started their new journey, you’ve maybe communicated with them once or twice, but after a few months, you’ve lost track. During this pandemic, why not catch up with your recruited candidates and have a virtual coffee date with them as well? This will separate you from a lot of other recruiters in a very positive way. And who knows, maybe they will have some interesting opportunities to discuss with you as well.

Stay positive

Early on in the pandemic, I called out a ‘No Covid-19  talk’ on one of my Monday morning meetings. Yes, the world is being challenged right now, and yes it is terrible. But there are also good things happening. Share that. And give each other compliments and positive energy. Maybe put Michael Jackson’s ‘ Heal the world” in the background for that special touch…..’ Heal the world, make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race’.

Go the extra mile

Go beyond what is expected. By going the extra mile for your clients, colleagues, and candidates you can make a difference. One of our clients had 15 new employees stuck all over the world. We were halfway with the relocations when Covid-19 hit. All of these families and candidates were stuck. Our client wanted them to start in April/May. But since there were no flights arriving in Schiphol we had to be creative.

We looked up the options to ship their work laptops and prepared an onboarding kit for remote starters. By going that extra mile, all of these candidates were able to start working at their new jobs remotely and our clients loved us even more as a partner.

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