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How To Build A Top Search Company

08.07.21 | Sourcing

Are you in the search business? Our CEO and Co-founder Adam Gordon interviewed Joe Mullings, founder of the Mullings Group to find out what strategies and practices he has used to build the #1 search firm in the world in his domain.

The first thing to note is that Joe is from an engineering background. For this reason, he views everything as a process and used this mindset to set up his company.

He says you should view your agency as having a manufacturing process – a supply chain. You need to have the best raw materials and the finest craftsmen to bring everything together. You need to fill your supply chain with individuals who are incredibly well trained and have areas of expertise.

Once your supply chain is a well-oiled machine you need to identify your customer.

Adam: “Who is your customer?”

Joe: “Everyone”

Everyone? Yes, everyone.

It is important to move away from focusing only on companies. You need to focus on individuals, then the company.

Well, that seems pretty crazy, right?

No. Joe makes reference to the numerous hiring managers he has following him and has placed. A hiring manager may move companies. They may go from being a candidate to a customer. Either way, they are your focus. If you build a strong relationship with the INDIVIDUAL they will take you with them.

This brings us to our second point.

You need to build a following of individuals based on your expertise. You need to underpin your business with a powerful digital strategy. Once you have established a following of individuals, the companies will come to you. I am going to rephrase that because it is so important:

The clients will come to you based on the individuals who follow you.

Joe follows this by saying that he has not approached a single client in over a decade.


Exactly what we like to hear. You should be nurturing your pipelines so that you don’t need to be out there chasing down leads or candidates. They will come to you! Adam’s firm belief is that cold calling is dead.

Here are Joe’s top tips for building a following:

  1. You need to become a domain expert
  2. You need to be a teacher and a student
  3. If you haven’t realised it already, LinkedIn is your most powerful tool. It is a completely free talent attraction tool literally sitting on your doorstep.
  4. Spend time talking about your market, where you think it’s going, what it means to the individual following you and lastly how those individuals can take all of that into consideration to enhance their career.
  5. Focus on building a following of hiring managers. They can be a candidate, a client and your best ambassador as they may have experienced your business from both ends.
  6. Frequency of contact is key. By focusing on a market and domain you can increase your frequency of contact and establish yourself as a leader.
  7. Let go of the phone call. It is still important but not the key. 10 years ago the phone call was the primary catalyst. The primary catalyst today is your digital strategy. Articles, blogs, co-branding. These work for you 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
  8. Calls are impacted by the frequency of contact. If you contact someone who has no idea who you are, they are less likely to answer. If you call someone who follows you, they perceive the value on the other end of the call as high and will make time for your call.
  9. Base your communication plan on what’s best for the INDIVIDUAL, not whats best for you. The second you start to serve yourself you lose touch with the individual. You need to understand your audience. How do they like to be contacted? email? text? social media? Platforms like Candidate.ID can track an individual’s preferences and score them accordingly.


It is a pretty bold move – focusing on the individual in the belief that the companies will come to you. But it works.

There are too many people who view recruitment as transactional. If you see yourself as transactional that is how your whole company will behave. See yourself as a partner and a mentor to your clients. Think long term.

On this note, Joe also says that before any of this can work you need to hire the right people.

To hire the best keep this in mind:

  1. You get what you pay for
  2. Hire the best athlete
  3. Be patient with your ROI
  4. Invest in developing your staff according to their strengths


Remember: Serve your team first, then the individuals, then the companies.

Watch the TalentTalk here – Employ a digital strategy to generate a following and supercharge your recruitment agency

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