How One Training Provider Hired 156 People With a £10,000 Recruitment Agency Budget

March 15, 2022

Table of Contents

Cutting your recruitment budget to practically zero is the dream for most training providers. But how can you do it? Where do you start? Is it even possible?

Well, we’re here to tell you that you CAN do it, there IS a place to start and it IS possible.

This is how one training provider cut their external recruitment agency budget from £100,000 to just £10,000.

We're going to show you exactly how they did it, using nothing but common sense, a bit of tenacity, and a LOT of LinkedIn activity.

Read through our carefully curated list to find out how you can do it too.

Where to start with reducing recruitment cost...

It all starts with what has come before. Take stock of where you're at now, what talent acquisition assets (website, careers pages, social media accounts), networks and relationships you have access to?

Start with what is working and double down by increasing volume and quality. Use our contents below to jump to the section that will have the most impact for you and don't forget to download our cheat sheet for developing your Employee Value Proposition - this is key to attracting (and repelling) the right people to your teams.

LinkedIn and harnessing the power of social

The LinkedIn logo with an orange banner.


Before diving into the oblivion of zero-spend recruitment, make sure your LinkedIn business account is up and running, with quality, consistent content.

Research is the number one thing any organisation can do when it comes to taking on a drastic new strategy – they say knowledge is power after all.

Look through past posts, see what has done well, what hasn’t, and what your audience is engaged with. From there, you have some of the tools to build a solid content plan for the platform.

Premium Account

Much like Pop Eye downing his can of spinach (we’re not sure spinach comes in cans, but that’s by-the-by), super-charge your account with LinkedIn’s premium features.

An enhanced, premium account adds a careers page and you can also buy jpbposts, like a job board. If your activity is strong enough, you can also win awards, boosting your presence even further.

Once signed up with premium, you are also able to access job insights, salary checkers and InMail for outreach, which is an excellent way to inform your resourcing activities on LinkedIn.


If knowledge is power, then content and consistency are key.

A good flow of content (and therefore engagement) will lead to LinkedIn being a staple in driving recruitment, alongside your website.

A content plan enables you to add strategy to posts and allows you to publish consistent, well-thought out content with specific outcomes expected of each one.


Would you talk to a mate who repeatedly blanked you? No, and that goes for your company LinkedIn profile too. Make sure you’re engaging relevantly and regularly to get your name out there so people can see you’re a trusted voice and brand.

Working with recruitment experts, not against them

Outsourcing to specialist recruitment experts can add to your employer brand if you maintain a good relationship with them.

Hold on, didn't you say this was about minimising recruitment agency spend?

Yes, but having a knowledgeable and well-networked recruiter on hand is vital to your talent acquisition solutions. Use them sparingly and choose well - they should be deeply entrenched in the market you're hiring in, ethical and have the time to put into tasks you don't, particularly when it comes to sourcing.

Being able to headhunt or resource yourself will undoubtedly cut costs, but you must be prepared to put the time in,

Resourcing can be a love/hate relationship because it's just so time consuming to do well. In a generalist HR role it can obliterate other tasks, especially when there is never a cooling off period between growth and recruitment..

There are many pros (and some cons) to hiring a recruitment agency and weighing up the options can be difficult – don’t worry, we’ve included a list to make the process easier for you!


  • Specific knowledge about the sector
  • Candidates that only they have access to
  • They save time on the hiring process
  • Using recruiters can save you money
  • Provides an opportunity to develop your brand
  • Rebate, replacement and guarantees


  • Service can be poor with pushy recruiters
  • Engaging in more than one agency can lead to war
  • Reputation can be damaged by poor agencies
  • Recruitment agency fees are a front-loaded investment

Want to make sure you're ticking all the boxes with your employee value proposition? Download the EVP template that you can use to develop yours in order to attract the best people.

Employee engagement & speaking to current staff

Two colleagues enjoy a conversation at work.

Should I stay or should I go?

Ever had an exit interview? Well how about a ‘staying interview’? It could be just the key to streamlining your recruitment spend.

If you know something is on the radar and someone is getting itchy feet, then why not have a meeting to discuss why? It could save you the expense of replacing that person further down the line.

By looking after your current staff, you will reduce the risk of them looking to move on.

Talk the talk

Speak to the people who are with you. A lot of people leave for money, but if you have people staying with you then you really need to look after them.

A good way to do this is by boosting your internal comms, sharing news of the team like birthdays and weddings etc. It's time consuming, and if you’re an employer who has never invested in internal comms before, then it’s going to take a longer time for people to come around - but we promise it will be worth it in the end.

Sharing is caring

In this post-Covid climate, you simply can’t expect employees to leave their problems at the door and carry on as if nothing has changed.

Make space and take the time to talk to staff to let them know they are being supported. Lending a sympathetic ear costs nothing, but can make all the difference in letting a member of staff know they are valued beyond their working life.

Marketing to reduce recruitment costs

A screenshot of the Bolt LinkedIn page.

If you don’t have some sort of marketing, then you’re setting yourself up to fail. You need to be doing something, start now, get it perfect later.

Imagine if Steve Jobs had never bothered to tell anyone about the iPhone? We could still be sat playing snake and BBM’ing each other. If you have something exciting, then shout about it! That’s all marketing is.

You can make major headway in reducing recruitment spend with online reviews, by utilising the review features on Google, Facebook and Glassdoor.

The training provider was able to spread the word about their great culture and supportive team by doing this and they began attracting job seekers who proactively applied (taking some of the head-hunting pressure off the HR or Talent Acquisition team).

Make sure your reviews on Google and Facebook are not outdated. After you've appointed someone, get them to leave a review on your page. When you’re looking for a hotel or a restaurant, if no one has reviewed it in five years then it’s going to put you off. There’s no reason why reviews shouldn’t be used in the B2B sectors also.

Prospective candidates will do their research...

Refer to reduce recruitment spend

Referrals equals love

Referral schemes? That sounds complicated and time consuming… Wrong. Once your employees are fully engaged, they can be your eyes and ears when it comes to your next hire. Plus, referred candidates tend to be cheaper and faster to onboard than traditional hires.

Here’s how it works…

Explain the job requirements

Be transparent with employees when it comes to new roles, send them vacancies, and feel free to chat over some of the qualities you’re looking for – you never know who could be a friend of a friend.

The key to this is making sure your employee engagement is good. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to get people to spread the word about new vacancies.

Keep employees updated

Employees want to feel like a valued part of the process, so be sure to keep them updated with each stage of the process - not doing this may deter staff from referring in the future.

Acknowledge good referrers

Let referrers know what a valuable job they have done. Besides, they have just saved you the time and expense of looking for a candidate. Offer a mix of cash and non-cash incentives, some people may prefer public recognition as opposed to a cash bonus.

To begin with, this provider offered £500, which was then pushed up to £750 and  it was split between the referrer and the new hire. New hires had to pass their three-month review before they and the referrer received their bonus.

Redesign your website to win candidates

A screenshot of the SquaredSpace website

Before candidates apply for a job, they check out the company's website to see what that organisation is all about. So, your website is your top chance to prove just what a shiny wonderful company you are.

Show them what you have

Make the website colourful and add professional and personal elements. The website should reach across all demographics so be careful not to include any bias throughout, both in the use of images and copy.

Showing that you have a vibrant, inclusive workplace is appealing to prospective candidates and is an important factor to consider when revamping your site.

Cohesion, cohesion, cohesion

Be sure that your brand is cohesive across all of your social media channels and your website. Making sure aspects such as logos, colours and messaging are in-line with your brand is a great way to show candidates that you’re a professional organisation worthy of their time.

Check out those case studies

Prospective employees love reading case studies from existing employees. Ask for an open and honest account from people which you can then use on the website and on LinkedIn.

Gathering case studies is as simple as asking existing employees to give their experience of working for the company – this is where employee engagement is important, once again, see how it all ties in together?

Manage your reputation as a training provider

A notebook that says "Online Reputation Management"

Managing your organisation’s reputation is the cornerstone to maximising your recruitment while reducing costs. Besides, who wants to work for that place where the staff have to schedule in time to go to the toilet?!

Shout it from the rooftops!

If you’re starting from scratch and have very little about your company out there, then get busy getting people’s views out there.

Glassdoor is a great reputation management tool, although they’re quite expensive. BUT, if you can have a page that you proactively maintain and monitor, it’s a great way of getting the company profile out there.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get

After hiring someone, ask them to leave a review on Glassdoor about the interview process and induction. You can also do this with case studies.

Simply by recording people’s experience with you as a company, whether they’re employees or not, you will start to build up a trusted reputation as an organisation, which takes an interest in their people.

Keep an eye on the competition

Always be aware of what competitors are doing and how they’re portraying themselves online. Are they doing something that you could adopt? Are they doing something that really doesn’t seem to work which you should avoid? It’s important to bear these elements in mind when managing your reputation.

Think laterally to cover geographic and sector specialist competitors for talent.

Resource yourself, reduce recruitment costs

A person looks at resourcing on their laptop.

The most obvious way to streamline any recruitment spend is by sourcing people yourself. Straight off the bat this is time consuming and can be tough, which is the reason why there are specialist agencies like yours truly who are dedicated solely to finding the perfect candidates for roles.

However, once you have the likes of marketing, employee engagement, referrals and reputation handled, the process can become easier.

You also maintain full control of the candidate experience from the point of first contact through to onboarding people.


Sourcing your own candidates can be a time hoover, so it’s important that you carve out dedicated time to devote yourself to it - especially if you are balancing other responsibilities.

Schedule your time so that you have a ‘fun’ task to do once you’ve completed your resourcing. Otherwise you can fall down the rabbit hole and find yourself still searching for the elusive golden unicorn four days later!


Head hunting is a frustrating challenge to take on and you have to be prepared for a lot of nos. Allow for a set amount of time where you dedicate yourself to searching and stop when that hour or two is up. This will prevent any burnout from what can be an arduous task.

Make it a team effort by asking hiring managers to put aside some time to support you. They have a different network to you that might contain quick wins!

Get the board 'on-board'

A board meeting taking place.

For any drastic change to recruitment processes, you need to have the board ‘on-board’, so they can see your vision and give you their full support.

To get full support for any large-scale task, such as drastically cutting your recruitment spend, it’s important to have the SMT on side throughout the process.

Story-telling in three minutes

A board of directors generally only meets once a month, so time is scarce. Being able to convey your vision in three-minutes or less will help portray you in a confident and efficient light to a group of people who like to get to the point.

Make bullet points and practice your pitch at home with a timer to increase your chances of success.

Rolling in the deep

Just because directors want you to be brief in your, er, brief, doesn’t mean that they won’t go deeper and throw hard-hitting questions at you.

As well as preparing to pitch in a short period of time, be prepared to expand on points and have the essential stats and figures to hand.

Err, excuse me?

Interruptions will happen and are a nuisance for throwing you off your flow. These people are busy and time-starved and won’t hesitate to cut through your carefully curated presentation to ask (sometimes an inane) question.

The trick is to remain calm, professional and not show that you have been perturbed in anyway. Practice your pitch with a friend and ask them to intermittently interrupt so that you have the confidence to deal with it when it happens.

Win your way to top-notch candidates

Award and accreditation logos

Who doesn’t like praise for a job well done? Especially when that job has been saving your organisation thousands of pounds while hiring top-notch staff?!

On top of trying to win awards from LinkedIn for your careers page efforts, you can go for awards such as the Times Top 100 Places To Work or the Investors in People Gold award.

Being recognised as an award-winning organisation is a great way to attract top talent. Not only will it secure your reputation management, but it’s also a great promotional tool for the company to use.

Keep your eyes on the prize

Make a list of awards and categories that would benefit your company and support what you are looking to achieve, then input entry dates and costs into a calendar so that you can schedule in time to write up entries.

Excuse the pun

When writing for awards, make sure you include any and all figures that back up your work. For example, when you have reduced your recruitment spend from £100,000 to £10,000, make sure this is supported. Also, get creative with your entries, judges love it when a clever pun catches their eye!

Promote your efforts

Whether you win or are merely shortlisted, be sure to shout about your achievements for the world to see.

Include hashtags to the events on socials so that your brand is shared as a leading organisation within the industry.

As well as the website and socials, remember to include your win/shortlisting on your company’s email signatures to further promote your successes to those external to your organisation.

Want further help on how to reduce your recruitment spend? Get information straight from the experts... that's us!

We can hold your hand to build you the teams and processes you need to grow.

We get results. This might mean you outsource all of it to us, or we give you the tools you need and move on - in reality, it’s usually a mix of both.

You'll need a long term mindset to succeed by committing to a variety of methods to develop a consistent flow of great talent into your organisation. We're able to help you with all parts of the recruitment process but this involves trying things and it won’t happen overnight.

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Alex Lockey
Director | Bolt Jobs
Founder Alex Lockey is an expert in further education, learning, and skills sector. He leads cost-effective hiring solutions and is known for successful talent placements. Dynamic and driven, Alex seeks innovative solutions to solve sector hiring challenges.