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The essentials for building out a new desk in the USA

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Building out a new desk comes with its set of unique challenges. Whether it’s a new territory, vertical, or counterpart to an existing perm or contract division, there are a lot of things that you need to consider. 

There aren’t many agencies that are restricted to one specific geography, and expansion seems to be on everyone’s mind! However, a lot of recruiters are confronted with the harsh reality of building out a new desk, and experience levels become redundant if you don’t have “the basics” nailed down.

The current recruitment landscape

There is a common trend of UK-based recruiters branching out to the USA, due to the amount of opportunity available both financially and from a career progression perspective. 

The USA market is less saturated, holding around 30% fewer recruiters and with higher contingent and search fees. If we look at the USA as a case study for building out a new desk, there are some key steps that you can take to ensure that building a desk in the American market is a success.

Pool and utilise the resources that you already have, strategically!

When building a new desk for the USA market, you must utilise the connections and resources that you already have. Here are some ideas:

  • Current clients who have USA ties: Whether it’s a client you have an existing relationship with (terms signed or candidates placed) or you’re actively in conversations with them to get to that stage, start expanding your efforts into the USA. With current clients, ask for introductions to USA counterparts to make the business development process easier. Warm introductions are so much easier!
  • Other consultants in the business: Team work makes the dream work. Who in the business can help you with their client base who may have roots over in the USA? Introductions are key.
  • LinkedIn: Your network is your net-worth. Who are you connected with on LinkedIn that could potentially help you with USA expansion? Are you actively posting on LinkedIn and making an effort to create a personal brand for yourself?

Understand the current trends in the market

Trends are continuously changing, and what is trending within the UK markets won’t necessarily be mirrored across the pond. It’s time to start reading and digesting USA-based content. 

Whether this is through LinkedIn articles, simply asking your network about current trends or doing research online, start to build a picture of what is trending and why. For example, trends can be largely influenced by the current state of the economy - so this can be a great place to start to build your knowledge base.

Understand the nuances of USA culture (especially when cold calling)

Although cold calling is something that hiring managers and talent teams will be receptive to in the USA, it isn’t as prominent as cold calling in the UK. What we mean by this is to win business in the USA, you have to be more creative (and slower) with your business development efforts. 

The USA gets a lot of cold sales calls, as well as scam calls. This instils a certain level of fear into clients and candidates because it’s ingrained to ignore or shut off a cold call. So, your approach has to be different. For example, e-mail outreach and booking calls in can give you a much higher success rate.

Calling the same hiring manager week after week hoping to get a different result isn’t going to work. Instead, the USA market is more receptive to techniques such as videos, in-person meetings, and tailored events where they can build a relationship with you first. Recruitment in the USA is less transactional than what we’re used to within UK markets, so you have to have patience but also understand the nuances of American culture.

TIP: Key Phrases to remember

CV = Resume

Contractor = Consultant

Recruiter = Headhunter 

Look at what the restrictions of the market are

Every market has its own set of restrictions, and geographies are the exact same. In a nutshell, get to grips with the legalities that you must follow to protect yourself as well as your clients and candidates once you start doing business over there. 

How do contracts compare? What things are non-negotiable (or potentially illegal) in the USA? Don’t assume that you know the restrictions based on what you’ve heard, do your research first. A great way to do this is by seeking professional legal advice to ensure that all of your paperwork is USA-compliant before you start doing business over there.

Finally, clue yourself up on basic legal knowledge for candidates and clients. If they hire internationally, what are the visa requirements? What are the fees? Knowing this basic level of information can position you as knowledgeable within your market and help you stay ahead of the competition.

Set goals and track your progress from day #1

Without data, you’re just shooting in the dark. Set goals specific to this new desk that you’re building out and figure out what you want to achieve. It’s also important to be realistic, especially (for example) if you’re the first person within the organisation to start branching out into a new geography.

Tracking your progress will not just enable you to see what is and isn’t working, but it’ll also give you motivation on the days that are undoubtedly going to be harder than others. Be kind to yourself - review your goals and data regularly, and collate them into a centralised place (or use your CRM/a tool to support this).  

Have a focussed target client pool, grow steadily and organically

With business development, especially when building a new desk, it can be easy to be distracted by the hundreds of companies that you could potentially work with. Sometimes, working in a new market can distract us and see things through rose-tinted glasses, giving us this new-found confidence that we’ll be able to conquer this new geography instantly. 

Now, we would rather not rain on your parade - but having a target of 15-20 companies that are researched and have evidence where you could be successful will give you much better results than trying to tackle absolutely everywhere. Grow steadily, grow organically, and don’t rush.

AVOID: Rushing

Good things take time. Rushing your business development efforts won’t give you any better results. 

Know what your value proposition is

It’s important when building out any kind of desk to understand what your vision, values and purpose are, both from an organisational perspective and a personal perspective. 

Particularly within the US market, differentiation is key. What else are you bringing to the table? What groups, events, or initiatives do you run? What makes your service better? Understanding what you can offer and how that is a benefit to the client is key.

AVOID: Skipping the basics or cutting corners for a “quick deal”

There are going to be clients where you know you can work with them to score a “quick deal” but the reality is that they aren’t completely aligned to you or the organisation you work for. Cutting corners for the sake of a quick result simply isn’t worth it. Stick to the basics, find clients who respect you and have a similar shared goal, and watch your desk grow

What's next

In the dynamic landscape of expanding desks in the USA, success lies in strategic adaptation. From leveraging resources and understanding trends to navigating cultural nuances and setting realistic goals, this guide equips recruiters with the essentials. Avoiding common pitfalls and emphasizing the importance of a compelling value proposition, the journey to a thriving desk is paved with informed decisions. Embark on this transformative journey, armed with knowledge and confidence, and watch your recruitment desk flourish in the competitive US market.

To harness the full potential of video in recruitment, we encourage you to explore Hinterview solutions, which provide a comprehensive toolkit for video outreach and talent delivery. Don't limit your recruitment efforts when video can revolutionise the way you engage with clients and candidates.

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