It’s Year 3 and, in theory, you should be feeling like an established recruitment business now rather than a start-up. The early days of taking the plunge should feel like an almost distant memory now. If everything has gone to plan, you’ll have built a solid reputation or brand of your own, your bottom line is looking healthy, your placement rate is acceptable (hopefully more than acceptable) and your work life balance is, well, balanced. If that is not the case and you’re suffering with a ‘Third Year Itch’ then here is a handy list of things to check in with while you might have been heads down in the day-to-day, rather than looking around for how things really are: Processes How are your processes looking? As smooth as silky chocolate or clunky and laborious? Are you just doing something because that’s the way you’ve always done it or, at the time, you couldn’t find a better way? There are probably some improvements you can make, you just can’t see the wood for the trees. Step back a moment and see which processes take up too much of your time. If you can’t find a resolution ask in your network. Head for LinkedIn or Twitter, people are incredibly helpful and keen to share knowledge. You can get answers here without needing to do the legwork yourself. Staff Culture and Engagement Even if you haven’t grown to a level that requires extra staff it’s worth checking in with your own engagement. How connected are you and motivated by the work you do? What working culture have you created for yourself and the team around you? You may have started with all best intentions but bad habits creep in and it is too easy to keep going with them. Are your staff really engaged with your mission, do they even know what goals you have for the business? Avoid the third year itch by investing some time to reconnect with and communicate those goals and see what, if any, culture shifts are needed. Partnerships/ Value adds It really is all about the value add these days. In a crowded market place of recruiters and candidates, you need to stand out. To achieve this you need to get clear on what makes you different. Maybe you’ve partnered with a career coaching business and offer sessions for candidates, or perhaps you are trained to deliver behavioural questionnaires and reports to share with both candidate and client. You could skill test everyone that walks through your door to look at their transferable skills as well as their background. Whichever companies you partner with or added value you provide, be proud to talk about it. And if you don’t partner with anyone then I urge you to look into it. Tech Are you still using the same recruitment technology as you did in Year 1 of your start up? If it was a spreadsheet and phone then it’s time to invest in a more up to date platform. There are so many recruitment CRMs out there it can be hard to pick through and find the most suitable for you. Again ask for recommendations from your network and take advantage of demos on offer. Look for systems that you can access on the go or from home if necessary, like Voyager’s Infinity product or Evolve from FCP Internet. Your CRM should integrate with job posting tools, if you use them, and skills testing software like ISV’s system. My advice would be don’t compromise on your recruitment technology, you use it every day so it must be fit for purpose. Plus candidate sourcing is ever changing. Your CRM must be able to help you find those hidden gems and ensure the experience they have with you is a positive one. Stay up to date. Events and Learning The world of recruitment, in many ways, stays the same year on year. Clients are demanding, consultants move around, candidates will always be tricky but you still love the buzz you get from placing the right person, in the right role. Arguably though, the industry is ever changing too. Social media tools, how to reach candidates, sourcing techniques and the like are constantly evolving. It is vital to stay on top of your game with these. The recruitment industry calendar is chock-a-block with events throughout the year that can keep you up to speed. My recommendations include those run by UK Recruiter, Recruitment International’s events of course, the usual industry conferences including the Recruitment Agency Expo , and the annual TEAM conference. Look for events with a focus on learning including ones with seminars and training zones that you and your team can make the most of. The main thing to remember is that you’re in year 3. Congratulations! Given that 8 out of 10 businesses fail (according to Bloomberg) you have done exceptionally well to make it this far. You’ve beaten the odds so keep going, keep checking in with your growth strategy and planning the next stage of your journey. ***** ISV.Online is the leading supplier of skills testing software and services to the UK Recruitment Industry. Used by 9 of the top 10 UK agencies, by number of offices, and 7 of the top 10, by revenue, ISV.Online offers candidate skills assessment and evaluation software and online training tools, allowing agencies and in-house HR/recruitment teams to validate the skills of potential candidates and existing employees across a wide range of areas.