Buy or build a recruitment website

So you’ve now taken the leap and have set up your own recruitment business, or are about to launch your recruitment startup and this is when your thoughts need to turn to some of the more practical elements associated with a new business. One of the key considerations, once you’ve decided on a company name, incorporated the business, identified and engaged a reputable funding provider (like RFS) is to consider your route to market.

These days, one of the foundation elements in developing that route to market is the creation of a company website. For many startup businesses these typically start off as lightweight online brochures, with a core system for advertising vacancies and accepting applications or enquiries. But the key consideration is whether to build this yourself or outsource and buy your website from external providers like marketing agencies.

Here are the five key considerations for buying or building a website.

Do you have the skills internally?

Developing a website yourself is easier than ever these days with services like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress. They’re all self-service tools that allow people to point, click and drag and with relatively little effort or skills, using the included templates on offer, a reasonable business website can be created. But what about adding and managing jobs? Or accepting applications? Or creating a news feed? Or integrating your newly-created social media accounts? Or how do you buy your domain name and link it to your website?

As you can see there are lots of additional skills-related questions you should ask before you dive in and create your web presence.

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Do you have the time required?

When you’re launching a new business, you should be 100% focused on doing the things that will make a difference to your bottom line. In many cases, that should be all about sales and focusing on activities that drive sales. Designing, creating and populating a website all take time… and that’s after you’ve got to grips with whatever software or platform you’ve elected to use. That time could arguably be put to better use if you outsource creation of your website, although of course that will come with its own challenges of finding, briefing, managing and paying for that outsourced support.

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Don’t forget about post-launch

Even after you launch the site, you’ll still have to consider backups, security, maintenance, improvements, etc. – and every one of these activities can be a distraction for a fledgling startup. Depending on the platform you’ve chosen or the system you’ve adopted, ongoing advertising of jobs, posting news and adding content to your website can vary in the amount of time and skill required. The more advanced systems that can help streamlines these processes, are often also more complicated to set up initially.

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Think about costs

Although self-building your own website may seem like the lower cost option, there’s the cost of your time in creating and supporting your website. Would your time be better focused elsewhere – ie on actual sales?! Pricing for business users on WordPress starts around £7 per month, Wix starts around £8.50 per month, on Squarespace from £15 per month. On a positive note, all of these services also include the cost of your domain name for the first year too. Of course, if you’re more IT literate then you could self-host as well as self-build and this could lower the overall monetary costs, but this may require more of your time to manage.

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Weigh up the risks

Weighing up the risks of build vs buy comes down to focus more than anything. In the early days of launching a new recruitment business, it’s absolutely critical that you focus on the things that will make a difference to your business. Outsourcing the creation of your website doesn’t have to cost the earth, especially if you engage niche providers, freelancers or other people with the skills, time and resources to do what you ask of them. The risk of not engaging others to build your website means your available time which should be spent on sales and building / growing your business, will now also need to accommodate your website work too.

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Ten other website things you need to think about and questions you need to ask.

  1. Domain name – this is what you want your web address to be. Is it available? Can you register it? If you’re only focused on the UK then a .co.uk domain name is probably more appropriate than a .com one.
  2. Content – who’s going to write the content? Will you have a ‘news’ section and if so, can you commit to updating this regularly? What are your writing skills like? Do you need external help with this?
  3. Images – a full text website will be quite a dull thing to look at, so you’ll naturally want to include some suitable images to support your fledgling brand. You need to make sure that you have the legal right (copyright) to use the images you choose, so royalty free stock photography libraries like Pexels and Pixabay will certainly help here.
  4. SEO – Optimising each page of your website so that it is indexed and ranks well in search engines is critically important in the medium to long term. Do you have the knowledge or skills to do this? Many of the self-build services offer some basic tools, but a level of understanding of SEO is really needed to get the most out of this activity.
  5. Posting jobs – what’s the mechanism for doing this? And how will people apply? What happens to filled or expired jobs too… do they get de-listed or removed from the site automatically or is this something you’ll need to manually manage?
  6. Social media – you’ll want a social media presence, but you need to commit to maintaining it too. Basic social media activities involve just broadcasting your jobs, but how will you develop this and take it to the next level and really start engaging with your network? Your social media accounts should also be linked to your website too (and your email signatures).
  7. Promotion – how are you going to attract people to your website? Yes, you need a website to start with, but then you need to attract people to it. Make sure you include your web address in all your marketing activities and communications e.g. on your email signature, on your adverts, on any merchandise you order, etc.
  8. Contact forms – will you encourage people to contact you through the website? It makes sense to open this communication channel, but what will your forms look like? Don’t ask too many mandatory questions and put people off contacting you. And it’s good practice to set up an auto-responder so that people know their enquiry has been received.
  9. GDPR – as a recruitment agency, you’re almost certainly going to be processing personal data in some way so it’s essential that you be fully GDPR compliant. Check out this handy Guide to GDPR from the official body, the ICO. In brief, you need to make sure you have a suitable privacy policy that governs how you process, use and retain personal data. Your policy should be easily available from your website too.
  10. Security – Once you’ve created and published your website it’s important that you remain vigilant against any security breaches. Not only could a security breach be a GDPR infraction that potentially exposes personal information but could lead to your site being compromised or e-vandalised. Regular security updates, audits and site maintenance will be critical to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

So whilst we can’t say decisively whether building or buying a website is the best option for you – as everyone’s different after all – we hope we’ve given you enough food for thought and helped you ask the questions you need to in order to reach your own decision.