Calling All Recruiters

Unstable markets and slow economic growth have not put the squeeze on the recruiting and staffing industry. Personnel staffing agencies generated revenues of $130 billion in 2006, according to Hoover’s, a multi-industry insider company. And recruiting firms were responsible for an estimated $20 billion of that, reports Connecticut market research firm Hunt-Scanlon Advisors. To stay on top of the trend, one Tampa, Florida-based agency relies on professionals who know how to combine the roles of recruiter and salesperson.

AgentHR, founded in 1998, partners with full-service recruiters who typically have three to five years’ experience–specialists who solicit their own clients, provide staffing services, and manage their own accounts. Referred to as partners, these agents split everything they earn up to $50,000 with AgentHR; whatever agents make above that is theirs to keep. But a weak job market or fourth-quarter hiring freezes could mean months between placements.

“You definitely have to have an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Lakeitha Anderson, national recruiting director for AgentHR’s North Atlanta office and one of the company’s top agents. “You’re your own boss, so you have to be the kind of person who goes out and gets business.”

The firm, which has seen profits increase by more than 50% each year over the past five years, supplies its agents with marketing materials, operational forms, and business cards, as well as access to major job boards. It is an attractive arrangement for recruiters who want to work for themselves but who don’t have the financial resources to go out on their own. With each placement bringing in 25% to 30% of a new hire’s salary, a good agent can make that initial $50,000 in three or four deals and begin clearing 100% profit.

“AgentHR looks like a franchise and it looks like an agency,” says AgentHR co-owner and chief financial officer Michelle Brennan. “Agents who are successful are motivated. They want to build something for themselves.”

Anderson, 38, who joined AgentHR in 2004, says she struggled to get herself established, initially earning about $35,000 annually–a salary that could barely support her and her teenage son, Jeremy. But after identifying a niche market in contract furniture, one in which she already had contacts, Anderson started pulling down some impressive numbers. She tripled her income in 2006, earning $111,000. Among her longstanding clients is Herman Miller, one of the world’s largest furniture-design and manufacturing companies. Anderson says she learned the value and power of leverage by reaching out to businesses within Herman Miller’s network.

With Miller’s help and the AgentHR brand behind her, Anderson became the staffing agent for companies in Atlanta; Houston; Dallas, Austin, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Denver; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. She even received a call from a client’s competitor looking to employ her services. “My clients refer me to other clients, and candidates refer me to other candidates,” she says. “Now what I do is effortless.”

Edward Cavazos, a Houston-based project manager for Office Pavilion, a furniture-supply and design company, says he calls Anderson whenever he has a position to fill. “We trust her,”