Growing a Recruitment Desk in HK – Employee Stories

What is Building a Desk within Recruitment?

In recruitment, a desk is the hiring function or team within the agency.  To build a desk means you’re in charge of starting a team. Account management, people development and business development are key responsibilities that fall under the team manager when expanding the function.

The terms “hot desk” and “cold desk” used to describe teams equates to the size of the database already available in the company. A hot desk means the recruitment agency already has a large existing network of clients and candidates in that sector. Starting a cold desk means you’ll be starting from scratch, building the client and candidates from ground up.

In this episode of Links Employees Stories, we introduce you to Victor Tsang, our recruitment manager for information technology. Victor’s been with Links for close to a year and has successfully built our IT recruitment team. Here’s his story of joining Links International, a boutique recruitment agency.

Benefits of Boutique Recruitment Agency

First things first, what is boutique recruitment? A boutique recruitment agency is a subcategory of executive search firms. Smaller in footprint, boutique firms provides highly specialised recruitment services. Clients going to a boutique firm can expect recruiters to have a professional understanding and knowledge of the function and/or industry they cater for.

Victor had previously worked for large and mid-sized recruitment firms, helping them grow their already established tech team. He decided to join Links International for the opportunity to take more ownership and build his own portfolio. As an expanding HR outsourcing solutions provider of 20 years with recruitment services capabilities, we provided the perfect platform for career growth.

Building an IT Recruitment Desk in HK

Unlike a large firm, a boutique agency allows you to build the team from the ground up. Like many experienced headhunters after working under different structures, Victor wanted to start his own IT desk with control over the function’s structure. Starting a cold recruitment desk also gave him the flexibility to explore new areas of the function.

Advantages of building a recruitment desk from scratch:

  • Total ownership of projects
  • The choice of which clients and candidates to engage with
  • Ability to determine and negotiate rates and fees with clients
  • Build your dedicated team of consultants
  • Flexibility to structure recruitment processes and protocols

Meanwhile, the challenges of starting a team entirely from scratch are also evident. Starting a cold desk means extra hours building the foundation of the team. Extra business development efforts and time connecting with candidates are necessary to secure the business. 

In Victor’s case, the additional challenges were welcomed. The key was that it allowed him to grow, sharpening his skills as a recruiter while developing his personal brand. Hiring in the IT industry also helps as Hong Kong is gradually catching up with other markets in terms of the technological revolution, growing the demand for talent in tech.

At Links, Victor had additional support. As a company with 20 years of expertise in HR,  Links provided a strong backbone, giving him the freedom to explore different realms. And the best part was, it allowed Victor to engage with a wider portfolio of clients.

“Every recruiter should have the mentality to seek for continuous growth in their career by identifying opportunities and trends in the market, taking full ownership on business decisions and performance, a supportive platform is what makes it worth it.”

Victor Tsang -Recruitment Manager for IT

A Plan to Grow Your Recruitment Desk

Working at Links has been one of the toughest experiences for Victor. From the political movement in 2019 to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, Hong Kong’s economy has seen an evident impact. However, this has also led him to grow the most. Taking from his experience, here’s his advice for anyone looking to start their own recruitment desk.

You cannot always rely on a booming economy to get you where you need. Aside from meeting your targets, building your own recruitment function means looking at the bigger picture and putting together a team that will stand the test of time. As a rule of thumb, here are some essential areas to look out for.


Expectation is one of the key things to keep in mind when starting a cold desk. Not only do you need to set clear goals for yourself but also communicate realistic expectations to the team.

An advantage of boutique recruitment agencies is that seasoned recruiters have more freedom to take on projects at their own pace and approach. Managers and leaders need to be mindful of more junior members of the team, setting clear guidelines and expectations so they have a platform to cultivate their own methodology.


As a leader of the team your subordinates will be one of your main responsibilities outside of your sales and business development efforts. Keeping the team in check and motivated will help you in the long run. Unlike large firms where turnover is high, teams in boutique recruitment agencies are more geared towards a platform of  loyalty and interconnection, allowing consultants to soak up a wealth of understanding in their given field.

Qualities for Success

There are certain people who thrive in the recruitment industry. They’re armed with a winning mentality that leads them towards success as a recruiter. These people are usually self-driven, ambitious, and highly adaptable.

It’s especially important for anyone starting a desk in recruitment to have these qualities since they will have to rely on themselves to come up with many of the solutions. Recruitment managers should also cultivate these qualities in their subordinates, inspiring them to be go-getters.

Starting from scratch can be challenging and even daunting.  The results of doing so however, is rewarding. If you’re interested in starting your own recruitment desk or joining an already established team, head over to our website for more information!

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