Becoming a Freelance Recruiter: A Start-Up Guide

Becoming a freelance recruiter and being able to work on your own terms can be quite a rewarding experience. But where do you start? Find out more about starting a freelance recruiting career below.

Updated: August 11, 2022
Becoming a Freelance Recruiter: A Start-Up Guide

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Have you always dreamed of being your own boss? Would you enjoy more quality time with your family? Do you enjoy helping people? Are you good at making connections with others?

If you answered yes to the above questions, a freelance recruiter career may be the path to consider. 

By opting for this career path, you will gain flexibility in when, how, and where you work.

A freelance career can be financially rewarding and incredibly satisfying, as you will feel good about being able to help companies locate top talent that fits their needs and being able to match candidates with relevant job opportunities.

Ready to learn more about what a freelance recruiter is and how to become one? Keep reading below!

    What is a Freelance Recruiter?

    A freelance recruiter is considered an independent contractor who locates qualified candidates for open employment positions. 

    A freelance recruiter offers similar services to that of a full-scale recruitment agency, but they work as an individual.

    Your job as a freelance recruiter will primarily be to create job postings, locate candidates, headhunt, and perform preliminary interviews to weed out the bad seeds.

    A freelance recruiter must have the skills and capability of understanding what a recruitment company is looking for in candidates and be able to find an appropriate candidate. 

    Certain skills like empathy and the ability to communicate are necessary to be a successful freelance recruiter. 

    Negotiation skills, the ability to adapt to various situations, and analysis skills are recommended.

    Why Become a Freelance Recruiter?

    There are many reasons you should become a freelance recruiter. 

    For starters, you can be your own boss and work on your own schedule, as long as you meet the deadlines set forth by clients.

    As a freelance recruiter, you can work from anywhere you want. Whether you are at home, on the beach, or in a cabin in the mountains, you can perform your job duties as a freelance recruiter anywhere you are comfortable.

    As your own boss, you can choose who you want and don’t want to work with. You get to decide how many clients you want at one time as well as a specific industry you want to focus on recruiting for.

    Further, you can be an independent recruiter in your spare time to generate additional income for you and your family. 

    This means you can continue your 9-to-5 job and still help companies find the most qualified candidates for their open positions.

    How to Become a Freelance Recruiter

    That you know what a freelance recruiter is and does and why you may want to consider becoming one, you are probably curious as to what steps you should take to become an independent recruiter.

    1. Starting Your Freelance Recruiter Career

    To begin your freelance recruiter career, you must first make sure you have the education and expertise required. 

    Generally, companies will want recruiters to have a background in human resources or something similar.

    Although some companies may require a degree, education isn’t nearly as important to most companies as is your previous experience and capability of being able to locate suitable candidates.

    Therefore, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a degree, as it is still entirely possible to become a successful independent recruiter with only a high school diploma.

    You may also want to consider registering as a business owner. 

    This not only makes you more legit, but it also protects you in the event of any issues with the recruiting process. Plus, many companies will only work with a registered business.

    2. Getting Experience as a Recruiter

    If you lack the experience to currently go out on your own as a freelance recruiter, you may consider looking for job openings at a local staffing agency or the Human Resources department of any company.

    This will provide you with the experience you need to locate clients and source candidates. You can also build up your network so you are good to go when it is time to branch out on your own.

    It isn’t uncommon for recruiters to utilize LinkedIn as their primary method of sourcing potential candidates. 

    After a few years of working with an agency, your network on LinkedIn will grow and you can take it with you once you begin your freelance career in recruiting.

    You may want to consider targeting a specific niche for your freelance career.

    If you work at an agency, you are likely dealing with a number of different industries, but once you branch out, you will find that it is easier to land clients and source candidates if you have narrowed down a niche to focus on.

    By focusing on a specific niche, you will quickly become an expert in that industry, which will look impressive to prospective clients.

    3. Finding Good Clients (and Getting Paid)

    As a freelance recruiter, the two most important tasks you must perform are finding quality clients and sourcing qualified candidates.

    As you start your freelance recruiting career, you will unlikely be able to reach out to any clients you worked with at a previous job. This is due to the non-solicitation clauses placed in your contract.

    The good news is that there are always companies out there hiring for positions within their companies. 

    You can find these companies on LinkedIn, on job boards, in newspapers, and more.

    Look for these companies and send them a pitch of your services, which may include potential financial savings for the company that they can realize simply by outsourcing recruitment tasks.

    At the same time, you have likely built a decent social media presence over the last few years, so use that to your advantage. 

    Create a post to share with your followers that you are now freelance. If you have built a solid reputation, this post may be just enough to secure your very first client.

    Once a company decides to hire you as a freelance recruiter, you can draw up a contract and create payment terms. 

    A good rule of thumb is to charge somewhere between 15 and 25 percent of the annual salary of the candidate.

    Consider working with a lawyer to draft a contract. This helps ensure the contract is iron-clad and gives you some leverage in the event a client chooses not to pay. 

    Always refer non-paying clients to the terms outlined in your contract. Consult with an attorney if refusal to pay continues.

    4. Sourcing Good Candidates

    Attracting some of the best talent is key to being a successful freelance recruiter. 

    By locating the right candidate for a position, your client will benefit from great productivity and lower turnover. However, if you hire the wrong candidate for a position, it may not only impact your client but your business as well.

    In order to source qualified candidates, you must familiarize yourself with the qualifications of the job.

    Ideally, you should know them like the back of your hand. With this knowledge, you can begin the search for great talent.

    While you should begin your search within your existing talent pool, as you’ve already invested time and money into them, there are other ways you can source good candidates. 

    With nearly 80 percent of Americans using online resources when seeking a job, use the internet to your advantage.

    Post on online job boards, create social media ads, join relevant Facebook groups, attend career fairs, and request referrals.

    Consider investing in first-rate recruiting software, as this will make your job easier when locating the right candidate. 

    Once a client sends you a job order, you simply need to enter certain keywords into the software, and it will bring up the most qualified candidates associated with those keywords.

    5. Keeping Yourself Up to Date

    As your own boss, you don’t have someone else to take care of your paperwork, records, accounting, etc. Instead, the responsibility all falls on you.

    From getting a business bank account and hiring an accountant for your finances to obtaining the latest software and updating your website and online profiles, it is imperative that you remain current with all aspects of your business.

    Although you can take care of your finances yourself, it is often easier to have an accountant do so for you. 

    They will make sure you follow all rules and regulations, send invoices to clients, and do your taxes for you. In many cases, an accounting professional will save you money in areas you are unfamiliar with.

    You may also be interested in these articles:

    Wrap Up

    Being a freelance recruiter definitely has its ups and downs, but this particular career path can help you develop new skills and hone existing ones, change other people’s lives, and create a financially rewarding side hustle or full-time business.

    If you believe this may be the right side hustle or career for you, reach out to recruiters in the area to see if they may be interested in outsourcing some of their work. 

    First, learn a few of the best strategies for cold pitching to improve your chances of receiving business as a freelancer.


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