How to generate leads for recruitment and staffing agencies

Mariya Delano
Mariya Delano
Reading time:13 m

If you’re generating outbound leads for a recruitment or staffing agency, you often feel like you’re racing against the clock. 

If you can’t get in contact with a company quickly enough, they might not only hire your competitor, but they could also fill the listing that they needed your help hiring for. Or, if you can’t get in touch with the right candidate quickly and effectively, then they could be taken off the job market with a new lucrative position. 

In the staffing and recruitment business, you’re competing not only with other agencies but also with job platforms, individual job seekers, universities and educational institutions, AI, and the economy itself. 

So, to help you stand up to market pressures, I spoke with an expert here at Belkins — Marco Pereira. Marco is one of our wonderful account managers who has supported clients in the recruitment and staffing sector, and graciously shared the insights that I’ve recorded throughout this piece.

We’ll cover the following:

  1. Different kinds of recruitment and staffing agencies
  2. Unique challenges for this industry
  3. Similarities between lead generation for recruitment and staffing versus other industries
  4. Best channels for generating leads in this market sector

Types of recruitment and staffing agencies

Before we can talk about how to generate leads for this sector, let’s align on what recruitment and staffing agencies even are. After all, there are differences between those 2 terms, and the recruitment sector can be broken down even further into specific verticals with their own unique quirks. 

Lead generation for recruitment agencies vs. staffing agencies

Both recruitment and staffing agencies provide services matching candidates to jobs, but they have slightly different needs when it comes to lead generation.

As Marco told me, these types of businesses also have subtle differences:

  • Recruitment agencies work with long-term roles, so the outreach for these agencies is more candidate-driven as they leverage networking, direct outreach, and recruitment platforms.
  • Staffing agencies hire for temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire placements, so they could have cyclical business demand which their lead generation strategy has to account for. Additionally, because they try to quickly fill open positions, these agencies need leads within markets and companies who would typically look for flexible workforce solutions.

Basically, recruiters work with high-skill positions and build longer relationships with their leads, while staffing agencies may focus on the volume of leads and target lower-paying or less technical roles.

Verticals for recruitment and staffing services 

The job market can change drastically from one industry to another.

If you’re hiring service workers for your hotel chain, you’ll likely want to partner with an agency that focuses on your local area. On the other hand, if you’re hiring developers for your Silicon Valley startup, you might want an agency with a global reach across the best tech professionals.

Because of these specific requirements, your lead generation strategy needs to account for the exact vertical that your recruitment or staffing agency serves. For instance, here are some of the sub-categories that we’ve identified here at Belkins:

  • Executive search: Specialized firms that look for high-level executives and leadership roles across industries.
  • IT & technology staffing: Find IT and technology professionals, often with a focus on tech stack and specific software familiarity. 
  • Healthcare staffing: Fill positions for the healthcare industry, with licensed nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals.
  • Engineering & technical staffing: Look for engineering and technical professionals with all appropriate licenses and qualifications.
  • Industrial & manufacturing staffing: May provide skilled or unskilled workers for both permanent and temporary industrial positions.
  • Finance & accounting staffing: Seek licensed finance and accounting candidates that comply with relevant background checks.
  • Sales & marketing staffing: May match sales and marketing candidates based on specific experience, industry focus, or tech stack.
  • Creative & digital staffing: Locate creative, design, and digital professionals with a focus on portfolios and other artistic skills.

What’s unique about generating leads for recruitment and staffing agencies

Besides the specific needs of each type of recruitment agency, these businesses have some lead generation needs in common. As Marco explained:

  1. Reaching 2 groups at once: Unlike other businesses that target just consumers or other businesses, recruitment agencies need to attract 2 audiences: employers looking to hire, and people searching for jobs. You need to use different messages and channels to reach each group.
  2. Clear value: Your agency needs to show that you can quickly find great candidates for employers and great jobs for job seekers. You should be seen as experts who understand different job markets and can provide targeted, personalized help.
  3. Quick matches: Open positions get filled, so any recruitment clients are inherently under time pressure. And if you’re a staffing agency, it’s even more important for you to work fast when matching candidates with job openings. Your outreach should highlight your ability to quickly fill positions for clients with the right people.
  4. Trust and reputation: As with any service business, your agency should build trust by showing you are reliable and really understand the unique needs of both employers and job seekers. Social proof can make a big difference, so try sharing success stories and positive feedback from your previous clients.
  5. Clear and direct messaging: Since you likely deal with a wide range of clients and job seekers, your agency needs to tailor your outreach across audience groups. Make sure you’ve personalized your messages for different industries, company sizes, and job titles.
  6. Following the rules: Recruitment agencies are often required to follow strict compliance requirements regarding worker rights, company transparency, and protecting privacy. Your lead generation also needs to respect the rules, especially when you’re handling any personal data.
  7. Using the latest tech: Your agency should stay up-to-date with technology to stay competitive. For example, you might use AI to better match candidates with jobs or leverage automated systems to stay in touch with your leads.
  8. Educating the buyer: Since the job market and industry trends can change quickly, your agency needs to stay in the loop. You might try to regularly share insights about industry changes and new opportunities to stay relevant and helpful.

If you choose to outsource your lead generation to an external provider, make sure to ask them how they’ll address all of those unique needs for you. 

For example, at Belkins, in order to generate good leads for our recruitment and staging clients we need to keep up with market trends, make sure we are targeting the right people, and think outside the box. If we know that the tech sector is experiencing layoffs and there aren’t many open jobs available, we probably won’t focus on that market for our clients. On the other hand, if we see that manufacturing jobs are getting a lot of demand, then we’d build a list of leads within that vertical.

Lead generation challenges in recruitment and staffing

As we mentioned above, recruitment and staffing agencies need to balance outreach to 2 different groups: 

  1. Companies: employers who have open positions and need to hire people
  2. Individuals: job seekers who are looking for new employment opportunities.

This double focus can make it harder to find good leads compared to other industries. As Marco told me:

“Because they have to satisfy both job seekers and employers, recruitment agencies face the tricky task of understanding and meeting the requirements of each group. For job seekers, agencies should check if their skills and experience match the relevant job openings. For employers, agencies need to offer the right kind of candidates that a company needs.”

Speed: move fast, don’t break things

Your recruitment or staffing agency needs to balance speed with effectiveness. 

While you may need to move quickly, especially for temporary or contract jobs, rushing too much can lead to mistakes. You can’t hurry to find the right candidates or employers, and making sub-par matches can damage your agency’s reputation.

On the other hand, if you move too slowly, then it might be hard to keep your candidates interested and willing to jump through hoops for potential employers. Most job seekers talk to multiple recruiters, so your candidates may also be looking at other job options and could get hired while you’re still putting all your ducks in a row.

Finally, the job market can change over time. Depending on the economy and market demands, you will be able to find more and better leads at certain times of the year than others. This fluctuation makes it less predictable and harder to get a consistent flow of high-quality leads.

Skill requirements: find a candidate who can fish

While it might be good to give a person a fish or teach them to fish, as a recruitment agency you need to find someone who already has fishing skills and experience. ;)

But this search for candidates with the right job history creates its own host of lead generation challenges.

For example, there’s typically a large number of people applying for jobs, even if they aren’t fully qualified. Your agency needs to filter through incoming applications, disqualify anyone who isn’t a good fit, and catch all applications that your clients could be interested in. But high application volume can make it hard to find the few people who are the right fit for specific roles. 

For specialized jobs, finding people with the exact skills required becomes even harder. As Marco said:

“In fields that need specific skills, like technology or healthcare, it's even more challenging to match the right people with the right jobs. Plus, so many agencies are competing for attention from the same candidates and employers that standing out is not easy.”

Having to appeal to both businesses and individuals can also get tricky. 

For example, at Belkins we normally focus on finding potential clients for recruitment agencies. This means we sometimes get individual people interested in jumping on a call because they want to be recruited, not because they are actually interested in an agency’s services. These incentives can make it hard to qualify opportunities and get our clients good meetings.

Similarities between recruitment and staffing agencies and other industries

For all of their unique characteristics, recruitment agencies also share some similarities with other industries.

In Marco’s view, the most similar industry is IT staff augmentation. As he said:

“Both industries provide flexible, scalable workforce solutions tailored to meet specific client needs, often on a project basis. This includes the ability to supply expert talent on-demand, crucial for companies looking for specialized skills that are not available in-house.
Both fields also customize their offerings to align closely with the unique goals and challenges of their clients, ensuring that the provided solutions effectively support client projects and business objectives. Besides that, talent management and retention are key. Both sectors need to keep their professionals engaged and motivated, ensuring high-quality service delivery and client satisfaction.”

Both staffing and software development services are key to helping businesses adapt to changing demands and project requirements. As such, they can have pretty similar approaches to finding leads.

Best channels for effective lead generation

We’ve talked plenty about what recruitment and staffing agencies need to consider in lead generation. But where can you even find those leads to begin with?

Email marketing & outreach

At Belkins, we’re admittedly a bit biased in favor of email outreach. 

Many job-seeking platforms list emails as the primary means of contacting both candidates and employers, so your agency needs to have a solid email marketing approach.

When companies hire, they tend to get swamped with applications, so your subject line has to stand out from the rest. Respect the reader’s time. Make sure that your messages are personal, short, and easy to understand. 

You’re likely sending out a lot of individual email communication and exchanging back-and-forth messages with job seekers and potential clients. But that high volume can cause deliverability problems, as it did for TalentEdge Staffing

TalentEdge Staffing helps US businesses of all sizes find talent across engineering, product, and design. But a lot of their emails were going to spam, affecting both their cold outreach and back-and-forth email chains with candidates who they’ve already contacted. To reach those candidates, agency employees ended up using their personal email addresses, hurting their brand and appearance of professionalism.

If you want to avoid a similar situation, make sure you’ve set up all of your email settings correctly. You could also consider investing in our email deliverability consulting service here at Belkins.

📚 Relevant reading: How to get a sales appointment via email

Paid advertising

With paid ads, you need to focus on figuring out your targeting parameters.

Research your ICP in detail, including exact markets and physical locations. Consider adapting your ad creative to match your targeting criteria, like implementing different languages or particular references.

You can also try advertising on specific job platform sites, newsletters that post job listings, or with professional associations that share vacancies. 


While specific job listings might be time-sensitive, your agency’s industry focus is not.

Create content that’s targeted to specific verticals that you service, and address their unique pain points in a helpful way. Consider partnering with an SEO or content consultant, and build an inbound engine that can complement any of your outbound lead generation efforts.


LinkedIn is the dominant professional social media platform, so your recruitment agency should leverage it for lead generation as well.

You can post helpful content with industry observations, look for listings using LinkedIn’s native jobs features, send cold outreach with Sales Navigator, pay for PPC ads, or research candidates through their profiles.

Or, you could try a more unique approach like the strategy that we implemented for Naym. Naym is a European B2B IT workforce platform, helping businesses hire and manage remote developer talent. To help them, we researched LinkedIn hashtags to find specialized conferences. We looked up field-specific conferences, found prospects who were planning to attend them, and then sent personalized outreach messages right ahead of those events.

📚 Relevant reading: How to effectively use LinkedIn for B2B lead generation


As you’ve seen from our Naym example, conferences are pretty popular in the recruitment sector. 

You can conduct the same research that we did for our LinkedIn campaign, but instead of sending digital outreach, you might attend those events yourself. Perhaps your agency can sponsor a conference to get a booth, or you can partner with event organizers to contact attendees interested in hiring (or getting hired). 

Direct networking and communities

Another lesson we learned with Naym is the importance of a face-to-face approach.

A lot of prospects for our recruitment clients wanted to attend in-person meetings. So our lead generation strategy focused on booking those in-person meetings, allowing our clients to build trust with their leads.

You might also want to look into running events or sponsoring certain industry communities. Most professional groups (even the Slack-only ones!) have a private job board or an option to post hiring announcements, and you might be able to find both clients and candidates that way.

Job and recruitment platforms

While most job platforms center the needs of job seekers, you might still be able to find business opportunities by staying up to date with recent listings, researching companies posting job openings, or benefitting from recruiter-specific features.

When to outsource your recruitment and staffing agency lead generation

Finding leads for your recruitment or staffing agency is not easy.

You need to stay updated on market trends, keep up with shifting demand, liaise both with employers and job seekers, adapt to time pressure, and build trust all at once. Conflicting needs of your different target audiences can make outreach tricky and needlessly complicate the lives of your internal sales professionals.

So, if you’re ready, consider hiring an external partner to handle lead generation for you. 

Our expertise and track record make Belkins a trusted partner for companies seeking to maximize their sales efforts and drive business growth. Here are several options and free resources that will help you get started on your outbound sales journey:

  • Hire Belkins: If you want to discuss your current business goals and how we can potentially help you achieve them, contact us.
  • Belkins’ case studies: Gain insights on how we’ve generated 4,760,850 leads and millions of dollars for businesses of all sizes. Read their stories.
  • Belkins Growth Podcast: Get to know our co-founder Michael Maximoff as he interviews professionals on market challenges, effective sales practices, and business perspectives in various industries. Listen to the Belkins Growth Podcast.
  • Belkins webinars: Become a member of our community. Subscribe to unlock access to exclusive insights.

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Mariya Delano
Mariya Delano
Content strategist & founder of Kalyna Marketing agency
Mariya is the founder of Kalyna Marketing. Beyond her client work, she is a contributor to Search Engine Land and writes a newsletter titled Attention Deficit Marketing Disorder (ADMD). Mariya is originally from Zhytomyr, Ukraine and is currently based in New York City.