When Josh Sklut graduated college, he went to work at an executive search firm—as many young grads do.
But unlike the exodus of new graduates who quickly find out that recruitment—which in and of itself is like building a business—isn’t quite for them, Sklut soared.
His career eventually turned in-house, joining powerhouse companies like Ketchum and Ernst & Young. Sklut soon sped up the ranks to become a Recruitment Director at these top firms.
To be a great recruiter, you have to be entrepreneurial by nature. It’s all about building a network from nothing and sticking your neck out there over and over again.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Sklut became an entrepreneur himself, leaving to start his own firm: Sirona Consulting.
By 2004, “I had seen the business from both sides—agency and internal. I realized I could do this for myself. I saw no advantage for working for anyone else. I had a computer, a phone, and that’s all I needed,” says Sklut.
He knew he had enough business and felt the worse case scenario was that “it wouldn’t work out and I’d get another job.” But really, Sklut was looking for the freedom to live life. As he puts it, “Nobody ever says ‘I should have spent more time at work.’”
Breaking away, starting his gig, Sklut felt secure in his freedom—but of course it didn’t come easy. Out of the gate, establishing relationships was and remains the hardest part of Sirona.
“Let’s face it: everyone knows what a recruiter does. How do you differentiate yourself?” explains Sklut.
He quickly found his biggest asset was being the “one-man search firm. This means all my clients are super important to me. That has to be the case when it’s how you’re feeding your children.”
Sklut will be the first person to admit that his industry has a bad reputation, but he think it’s because so many people forget what it’s all about. He likes to call recruiting the “2nd oldest profession.”
And what it all comes down to is simple: relationships.
“My relationships are my relationships. Whenever I make introductions, it’s the personal touch. It lets me offer a distinct advantage to my clients.”
Beyond building relationships that help compete with the mostly automated industry, Sklut benefits from owning a niche. “I focus on IT and creative technology… Basically anything to do with engineering. My specialty is the C-Suite and Senior Levels.”
Even as a one-man shop, Sklut still faces the same issues as any small business. And this year, a familiar foe came knocking at Sklut’s door: cash flow.
Sklut had recently placed the CTO at a large advertising agency and received word that it was going to be 90 days before the company could pay. But his fee was large and Sklut needed the money to cover those 90 days of business.
Sklut went on a search of his own to find a solution and stumbled upon Fundera. Soon, he was matched with the invoice financing company BlueVine. Sklut was able to get the funds to breathe easy and wait until the client paid the invoice 90 days later.
Long payment terms are the norm for the recruiting industry—but not for Sklut. With many of his top clients, he’s able to work out exclusive relationships that give him shorter terms, like 45 days.
But Sklut is thankful to have a solution for when those clients with 90 day terms come knocking. He might not need the help then, but it’s great peace of mind to know a solution exists.
So what’s next for Sklut? Well, he knows the recruiting industry just about better than anyone—and he wants to put that knowledge to good use. He’s got his eyes on starting a second company that will help recruiters work faster and smarter with technology.
“I have a team, partners, and am just taking advantage of all my years in the trenches. I’m excited for what it could do for the next generation of recruiters,” says Sklut proudly. Sklut’s new startup, Plintt, is a social network for recruiters, allowing them to connect and help each other’s businesses grow—from offering advice to fee splits.
While Sklut is still working tirelessly to help change recruiting with technology, you might say he’s already altered the industry. (At least for the people he’s worked with.) Sklut’s clients think of recruiting as a relationship and not a transaction—and for the recruiting industry as a whole, that’s a win.