What it takes to start and grow a successful Recruitment Company (Part 1)

Clare Alderton, Owner and MD of A1 Locums was gracious enough to share her wisdom on growing a hugely successful recruitment agency from the very start. This blog series will cover:

Part one
1 Team dynamics
2 Individual attention
3 When to hire more?

Part two (read here)
4 Becoming a manager
5 Company success
6 Keeping up to date
7 How REC research helps

Part three
8 Maintaining community
9 Employee turn around 
10 Balancing a team
11 Pros and cons of growth

Part four
12 Industry changes
13 Clients and candidates changes
14 Promoting good practice


1 How has the expansion of the business over the years affected your team? How does management change as your team grows?

Yes, certainly it has. When I first started A1 Locums 15 years ago, I was just a sole-trader for the first 6 months, then it started growing quickly. That’s when I took on another member of staff who was only part-time, she worked for another 3 years and then we moved forwards and had another member of the team who is still with us. It just grew from there really and we are now running with a 10 strong and I think that’s probably were we will stay for a little while. We seem to be managing pretty well with four on the vets and three on the nurses. I oversee management of the team along with one senior recruiter in charge of the vet team and another senior recruiter in charge of the nurse team handling most of the day-to- day management of the team, whilst I spend a lot of my time running the business- I do a bit of both. I get more involved in the day-to-day business side of things whilst I do still stay involved with teamwork. I have a couple of clients that I look after myself and obviously I’m very much part of the vet team- it’s good to have the flexibility to do both.


2 How do you still maintain attention to individual employees as you get bigger?

Because I’m part of the team I still get involved in recruitment on a day-to-day basis and, although I have an office, I fit the majority of my day with the recruiters, I always like to keep an eye on what’s going on at all levels.

So I’ll go through staff appraisal sheets working together with the senior recruiter managers who actually carry out the appraisals. We discuss any relevant points raised, so I keep a hand in that way. I’m able to remain so hands on because we’re not a huge office, we’re not a huge team. I manage to stay involved in with all the day-to-day workings of recruitment teams that way.


3 How about the increase in responsibility per person, how does that effect the individual recruiters that work for you? At what stage do you decide we need another person?

We grow organically, really- Sophie for example has been on our vet side for around three years naturally progressed up really as she gained experience and skills for the role.

The recruitment team grew gradually, we now have resources mostly more on the vets and on the nurse side of things. As Sophie’s responsibilities grew, so too did Anne’s. Anne has been with me for twelve years and the biggest difficulty we had initially was growing her desk. Anne is fantastic at what she does, she’s absolutely amazing, but it’s very hard to make that transition from a desk of one to a team of two. Anne was very much master of her own destiny and because she is so good at recruitment I think it was hard for her to delegate and hand things over, but she’s done really well with that, learning over time.


If you're interested in progressing your recruitment career check out IRP Recruitment Training and IRP Qualifications, if you'd like to start up a business of your own try the REC's start up programme.

Watch out for updates to this series over the coming weeks!

See this article on the REC website




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