About Menu Block-2Stay
- Our Team
Our Team Menu Block-2
Our Team Menu Block-3Stay
Membership Menu Block-2
Membership Menu Block-3Stay
- Qualifications & Training
Qualification Menu Block-2
Qualification Menu Block-3Stay
Resource Menu Block-3Stay
- National Register
- Get Involved
Get Involved Menu Block-3Stay
Market Place Menu Block-2
Market Place Menu Block-3Stay
- Ask the Experts
Ask The Exper Menu Block
Ask The Exper Menu Block2
Ask The Exper Menu Block1Stay
Posted: alamb associates | 13.07.2012
This is a problem most recruitment company owners face as some point in the life-cycle of their business: what do I do when demand drops in my chosen market?
You have essentially asked if diversification is a sensible option to better ensure business growth. But before you create another division within your business you must first research whether or not an opportunity exists, and moreover, whether or not an opportunity exists with the resources you have at your disposal. Diversification can work to spread your liabilities as you are no longer reliant on the buoyancy of a single market, but at the same time it could result in an erosion of your brand, a drop in service levels and poor returns on investment.
In terms of adopting a diversification strategy, I have seen a number of recruitment agencies take this approach in light of recent market conditions. For example, a recruitment firm specialising in accountants and actuarial staff has managed to successfully branch out in to the wider financial and private banking market. Equally, a firm such as yours could consider venturing into a related market such as change management/management consultancy. It is all about ensuring that clients understand the value-add you can bring to the table by hiring in related sectors, but you need to ensure that you have the right calibre of staff operating in this new market without spreading existing staff too thinly as otherwise your core business will suffer. If you feel this could be the case you need to factor in the cost of hiring in the correct expertise, and ask yourself the extent to which the cost of doing so, alongside training staff to become profitable, is worth the initial expenditure if you are facing tough economic times. If I were you I would start by taking a long, hard look at your business as it is now, operating within a single sector. There are always areas to improve, without resorting to diversification.
Firstly, look at your value proposition; the part of your business that stands out from the crowd. What is it about your agency that makes you special? Is it your staff, your network, your brand?
You then need to look at how you communicate with your chosen market. Perhaps you only use phone and email. If that is the case I would look into leveraging things like social media and events. These marketing apparatuses can build trust with your clients and guard against the unreasonable terms you made reference to in your question.
I would also make time to evaluate your current candidate sourcing methodology. When you supply the best candidates on a consistent basis you start to be able to dictate the invoicing terms. There is indeed an abundance of high quality candidates in the market but many who are perfectly qualified for the financial sector are deciding to enter other industries through a lack of opportunities. This means it is not only a matter of selling the job role any longer; it is also a matter of selling the industry.
On a final note, diversifying is not the only manner of opening up a new revenue stream. As recruiters there are opportunities for us to get involved in the entire human resources function of a business i.e. training and assessment. There may be other ways that you can add value to your clients.
Posted: Gavinchase | 27.06.2012
Since this is my first answer on the IOR site I thought I would choose a question that focuses on one of the biggest challenges for a startup recruitment business – its staff.
Start by asking yourself why would a successful individual would want to leave their current employers to join a startup business? The answer to this lies in a full understanding of what consultants want from a job. It goes without saying that every consultant has different motivations for success but there are underlying needs, wants and desires that can be tapped into. The nature of being the best means that you forever strive to better your current situation, which means there will always be something your company can offer that the target employee does not have. Something to bear in mind is that in times of economic austerity many companies apply rigid headcount policies, regardless of team performance. Such policies have frequently been identified as the catalyst for staff to break free from the shackles of ‘corporate’ business in search of a more entrepreneurial vision. You should position yourself to take advantage of this situation.
Clear Vision with Realistic Milestones
The next step is to create a clear vision with realistic milestones that the best consultants can relate to. This means communicating your vision for the business to your staff in a story that ties in with the growth of your business. Letting your staff know that if they produce certain results they will garner specific rewards is imperative. This means going above and beyond target related remuneration. The best employees treat their work as more than simply a job, which means you should talk to them about how their work can develop to realise personal aspirations if they achieve set goals. Whether it means heading up a division or buying that specific car or house they are striving for, you have to make sure an easy to understand journey to success is laid before them.
Methods of Identifying the Best Talent
The first thing to consider here is that working in a small office you have to make sure you get on with your staff. This probably means spending sufficient time with them to build rapport and understanding. The hiring process for a startup must be extremely well thought-out. Ultimately your gut feeling is usually right, but that decision must always be backed up with objective data. The consultants that you plan to hire will be not only the mechanism by which your business generates revenues, but will also act as figureheads for your brand. This is make or break, so you must make sure you initial hires fit in perfectly with the image you want to portray: this is not the time for compromise.
Incentivise and Reward
Linked closely with the idea of creating realistic milestones is the matter of incentivising your staff. The best staff do not necessarily always require the biggest pay package. At Caritas, one of my most recent startup ventures, Debbie Smith, MD, decided to guarantee her first 10 hires’ earnings for the first 3-6 months of their employment. This made the consultants’ transitions from their previous employment much easier. Debbie also introduced a performance related equity scheme whereby if consultants produced positive sales results their share in the business would increase alongside their drive to succeed.
Posted: ndforrest | 12.07.2012
This question is unsurprisingly at the very heart of what the Institute of Recruiters (IOR) is trying to achieve and is probably best answered by the like of Azmat Mohammed, Director General of the IOR. That said, I do have some strong beliefs on where to focus our energy.
In my eyes the solution to improving the recruitment industry’s reputation is two-fold: 1) to provide all recruiters with a thorough education as regards the functions and practices of recruitment and 2) to provide professional support and training to all recruitment agencies from the likes of government and trade bodies (like the IOR).
The underlying message of my first point is that the profession of a recruitment consultant is a highly sophisticated role when executed well. The methodology behind this education is up for grabs but it has to become paramount amoungst all recruitment business leaders. A good starting point would be to iterate how Human Capital, as a resource, is arguably the most important aspect of business because without it you have nothing. As such, recruiters need to understand how their job relates to the wider complexion of a business.
Once educated, recruiters will be able to better communicate with clients and other members of the wider population about the complexity and significance of their job roles, thus changing attitudes.
My second point relies on the government and recruitment related institutions working together, which is arguably where we have fallen down thus far. These powerful bodies need to collaborate to set minimum professional standards, such that the individuals and organisations outside of the industry are assured of the quality of services accredited agencies provide. Furthermore, I like to think of every recruiter as an ambassador for the industry; hence if we improve the skill sets of our recruiters we will improve the image of recruitment.
The IOR has made in-roads on this point having struck a deal with the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL). The outcome of this deal is the ‘Train the Trainer’ solution, whereby world-class training qualifications will be delivered to recruitment and HR practitioners. This is a good start.
Another project that the IOR are spearheading to provide professional support is a training needs and analysis model produced in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire’s Innovation in Society Unit. Many of you will be aware of the National Occupational Standard for Recruitment scheme, but in its current form, the scheme has no way for recruitment businesses to measure how good their consultants are against the standards. This latest initiative should work to change all that.
On a more micro level, I would encourage individuals across the industry to engage with the institutions I have mentioned in this piece. Returning to the notion of you acting as an ambassador for the industry, you might want to look into contributing to publications, events or social media communities that are concerned with altering public perception of the recruitment industry.
Posted: tchase | 12.07.2012
Firstly, congratulations on the growth of your business. It is always heartening to hear success stories across the recruitment industry.
In answer to your question, the key thing is knowing how to scale your operation effectively whilst maintaining service quality. The balance here is key: it would be foolhardy to turn down business, but the high standards of service quality that have got you this far, and which are presenting you with the opportunity to grow, must be your priority.
Before taking on any new clients make sure you can service the clients you currently have, because just as soon as they can recommend your business, they can also denounce it. The next step is to bring clarity and structure to your business offering. This means getting your corporate values down on paper, circulated throughout the organisation and constantly reiterated internally whether via team meetings or specific training programmes. Your staff have to be reminded of what makes them and the organisation unique as part of an on-going programme, which in turn will work to maintain their high service levels.
Over the coming months and years you will need to take on more staff to deal with the higher volume of work. I do not want to spend too long on how to perfect your internal recruitment process (we’ll save that for another day) but in this instance I would like to stress the importance of cultural fit. Avoid taking a short-termist approach to fill headcount, this will only come back to haunt you in the medium to long term. Instead ensure that you have outlined exactly the sort of skills set and personality types that will help your business thrive before you commence the interview process. Also, if your business is based on quality service, then this has to be at the centre of any new hire’s character.
Once you are confident that you have the processes, the values and the staff in place to take on more clients it then becomes a matter of selecting the right clients to work with. As a business leader your time is more precious than most, meaning the clients you choose to work with have to be worth your time and effort. Think about how your business partnerships will help your agency grow apart from just generating revenue: are they open to referrals? Is your clients’ business also growing? Will they enhance your brand through association?
Technology can also be a great help in today’s business world. Customer Relation Management (CRM) systems, which can help to automate your sales and marketing contact with clients might be worth investing in. CRMs are proven to enhance relations with your existing clients, which can lead higher placement numbers. These result from your anticipating client needs based on historic trends, identifying which of your clients are more profitable thus warranting more attention and increased efficiency in terms of service.
Posted: Paul Mudd | 13.07.2012
This is a very apt question for the present-day recruitment market as the movement of consultant staff between agencies is at an especially low level through concerns over job security. This makes having a resourcing plan for talent outside of the recruitment industry a sensible option.
A recruitment strategy that looks further afield to find talent will also result in a much more diverse workforce. In many cases those who have no recruitment experience will be able to offer a fresh skills set that could add considerable value to your business. For example, by bringing together individuals from different vocational backgrounds your business may be able to increase its market share thanks to the ability of your diverse workforce to communicate with a broader range of clients.
One of the most important parts of your resourcing plan should be the audit of your existing team’s expertise to identify potential gaps that those with transferable skills could fill. Equally, you must identify the cost/risks associated with training those without experience.
If you remain confident to seek lateral hires you must formulate an induction scheme to fully assimilate your new workforce. Perhaps a training academy involving psychometric tests to ascertain whether the values and skills of potential recruits match well with your business.
In terms of the key skills and aptitudes you should seek in a candidate with no recruitment experience I would consider the following:
- Strong work ethic
- Ambition and desire
- Exemplary networking skills
- Strong client relationship abilities
- Candidate care
- Target-driven, results-orientated
- Team player
Of course, you have to use your discretion to judge the relative importance of these qualities dependent on the job role open.
As well as learning to recognize the qualities that make a good consultant hire, there are a number of mentalities that must be avoided. The main one to bear in mind is a pre-formed idea of how to sell, or at least narrow-mindedness in terms of sales practices and techniques. Hiring from outside recruitment you have to be sure you can stamp your own sales style on your consultants.
All this is very much easier said than done, but perhaps the best way to unearth these qualities is to conduct competency based interviews. Moreover, requesting analogous situations to the ones your consultants typically face will work to sort the wheat from the chaff. One particular colleague of mine, David McLean-Reid, CEO of Eden Brown, testifies that in these circumstances the ultimate check is something he terms the ‘pub-test’. If he can hold your attention in conversation for up to an hour over a pint or two then he will almost certainly be able to do the same with clients. Whether or not this works for you…there is only one way to find out…
The truth of the matter is that if you look at some of the biggest names in recruitment, many came across as lateral hires as they found that their transferrable skills provided a ‘hand in glove fit’ to the requirements of the role.
Posted: rbsolutionsltd | 12.07.2012
You will be unsurprised to know that there is sadly no magic revenue number that indicates when you should and should not hire staff. Your recruitment strategy will always be dependent upon a multitude of factors and I will use this answer to explore three of the most important considerations to take into account when looking to make more recruits.
Firstly, you have to set realistic targets – how many staff are you going to take on per month? In one of my startup recruitment businesses, which operates in the same sector as you, we have decided upon a 1 hire per month strategy (a more modest hiring plan than yours) and it is working well. Why? because we have taken the market conditions into account. In IT you are looking at a market dominated by an extraordinarily high demand for staff, whilst also experiencing a shortage of skills. This means you have to be absolutely certain that you have a sustainable flow of candidates ready to fill the roles before you start making hires. Without this flow it will be impossible to attract the right caliber of consultants. The best consultants want to know that you can provide them with the best platform possible to achieve, hence why getting your candidate resourcing strategy right is so important.
Moreover, you have to be sure that you are balancing your current business development and operational duties with your hiring commitments. Remember, the reason your business has been a success to date is the quality of your recruitment work for your clients and this should remain your focus. A high employee attrition rate in a business’ infancy can potentially be very damaging to not only your revenue but also your company brand. It might be worth making your first hire an internal recruiter who you can delegate a portion of the recruitment responsibilities to, but this is dependent upon cost.
The third consideration I would like to bring to your attention is that of how to go about attracting suitable consultant hires. I go into a lot more depth in my first ‘Ask the Expert’ response (in answer to GavinChase on 27.06.2012) on the matter, covering ideas on shaping your role’s proposition, identifying the best talent and how to communicate your business’ vision. Only once you have this part of your hiring strategy fully established should you look to engage with external consultants.
There is no single financial indicator of when to start your company’s first major expansion, but one thing is for sure; before jumping in to the hiring game you must ensure that there is a watertight strategy in place to balance running your current business efficiently while developing its size through consultant hires.
Posted: davebarber | 27.06.2012
Ensuring that the supply of available candidates matches the demands of clients is perhaps the most important thing to get right for any young recruitment agency because this is what drives your business forward. Moreover, the candidates that you have on your books are as much a reflection of your business as your consultants are when they attend their interviews, and as such, are integral to the development of your reputation. Subsequently, it is not just about attracting as many candidates as possible – it is about attracting the right candidates.
How do you go about finding the right candidates? This is all down to networking in the right circles and communities. When all is said and done, canvassing for candidates on a face-to-face basis is the most effective format. This entails attending industry events as well as hosting your own. These events do not have to be grand (or expensive) expos, they can be intimate affairs, with only a handful of invites. I remember hosting my own a number of years ago when I first set up Alexander Mann, and they worked well to enhance my reputation as they became a showcase for what my business and I could offer on a personal level.
It is this personal edge that will make all the difference in the midst of these market conditions. In this market it is difficult for the recruiter who is trying to coax candidates out of their current positions; businesses are accused of ‘hoarding’ staff, employees are reluctant to move through risk of not keeping their jobs and falling numbers of companies are expecting to expand their workforce. This is why you have to position yourself as the business that understands these conditions, but can offer a solution on an individual basis.
One of the most effective candidate canvassing schemes I have used regularly over my career are referral mechanisms. Depending very much on the style of approach that your business most warrants, i.e. volume versus tailored, you can send messages to key contacts of yours asking them for referrals to recommended candidates in return for vouchers or something to that end. If you are all about volume then quite large mailshots will be good, yet if you need a more targeted approach, the events that I spoke of above can be a great way to introduce your incentive scheme.
Job boards are a difficult format on which to express this personal touch. However, you mention LinkedIn, and this is a great platform on which to communicate and provide evidence for your placement achievements. Potential candidates need to be exposed to these success stories, or they will never move. You may be using LinkedIn already, but I cannot stress enough the opportunity the platform provides.
Of all my recruitment businesses I would have to recommend Webrecruit as the best example of an agency utilising LinkedIn to its fullest effect. The first thing Webrecruit’s consultants do is profile their current candidate list. In doing so they check for which groups they are members of and contribute to, which companies they follow and which connections they have in common. This way you will come to inhabit the same online communities, where if you contribute regularly enough your potential candidates will get to know you, and on the flip-side you will gain a better understanding of their employment drivers. This means that when you eventually come to contact your candidates directly they will be all the more open to your advances.
Posted: ior | 08.10.2012
Cold calling is a fantastic way to make initial contact with your target market, but if you feel it is not your strength then it may leave a less-than-perfect first impression with individuals on the other end of the phone. I would not completely do away with sales calls however, as connecting with potential clients in this fashion adds a human dimension to your business and enables deeper connections to form. Here are a couple of suggestions for strategies alongside making those calls…
Social media is perhaps the best way to inflate your brand perception without incurring costs - the only expenditure being your time. A staggering 92% of companies used social media to recruit last year, yet only 36% of managers found a personality fit from online platforms. It is clear that your target market is spending time on social media yet it is not quite fulfilling all their needs. This is where you can make an impact. I would recommend focusing on two social media platforms to begin with, LinkedIn and Twitter, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you do not want to spread yourself too thin, and secondly because they are integrated, which means you can automatically send updates to your Twitter profile from your LinkedIn account.
In your case I would recommend sending at least 2 personal Twitter and LinkedIn updates every day. You then have to work out who the most influential people and organisations are within your chosen sectors and attempt to make contact by referencing them in your updates. Another fundamental tactic is to join the most popular groups on LinkedIn which these influential people and organisations inhabit and make valuable contributions. Eventually you will find these people will start navigating towards you, attracted by your expertise.
The path to success with social media is hard fought. It takes time, patience and constant management, but if you are confident in your expertise and can communicate in the language of your target market you will see returns.
Current Client Recommendations
The relationships that you already have with your existing clients are arguably the most valuable thing you possess as a business owner. If you have good relationships with clients within your chosen sector then asking for referrals is perfectly acceptable. Before your next client ensure that you set referrals as an agenda item and send this across to your client in advance. That way not only will they be more open to making recommendations, but they will also have had time to think about who would be best.
Depending on the nature of your business and clients a referral incentivisation scheme can also work, where clients receive something like shopping or dinner vouchers in return for referring other clients.
Industry events are one of the best ways meet new clients. Finding out which are the best events to attend can be difficult, but similar to client referrals, asking which events your current clients are likely to attend, and for what purposes, is the best place to start.
Networking is integral to a fledgling business like yours, as putting yourself out there is the only way to get more clients. If you are worried about attending alone, go with a client. They could even provide you with the introductions to other industry players you might not have been able to make.
Alongside industry events, why not run your own small events? If you book a small client dinner and ask each client to bring along another contact from his or her sector (not their firm) then you will have access to a whole new pool of potential clients who you can meet in person without having to make those cold calls! Similarly you could run a seminar, or invite a speaker in to talk to selected clients and their guests. Just remember to leave time in the diary for ample networking.
Posted: terryabra | 31.08.2012
The simple answer to this question is yes. Having a database of candidates categorized and profiled according to your clients’ varying demands is what you should be aiming for.
A 48-hour time frame is no time to leave yourself for presenting selected candidates to your clients. Now that you have seen the format of the RFPs you can better anticipate what kind of IT staffing requirements the government have. You say that your candidates have been working in similar roles and have relevant experience, but, as you undoubtedly know, there are far more qualities that go under the microscope before a client makes a hire. Perhaps it might be a good idea to start up conversations once again with the government departments to find out exactly what the most important factors are in guiding their recruitment decisions …is it wage expectation? Personality type? Qualifications? This will enable you to better categorize your candidate base.
When you have a better idea of what kind of candidates your clients want you will have a better idea of where to find them. The candidate canvassing techniques that you implement will be dependent on the profiles of the candidates that you want to source. If the government are typically hiring from other public bodies then you should be targeting these institutions. If the government are hiring for specific projects, target public bodies or companies that work in an industry relating to the project. The Olympic Games are a great example, as they led to the creation of hundreds of IT contractor jobs.
What makes your position slightly more challenging is the UK’s political backdrop. While you try to grow your public sector recruitment business, government initiatives and policies are working to shrink the very sector you operate in. On the plus side, with a lower demand from the government you will face less competition from other agencies in the RFP process, but at the same time you will have to up your game to convince the HR departments you work with that your candidates can provide them with an opportunity to produce efficiency savings. The biggest concern for the government right now is cutting the deficit of this country…if you can communicate how your candidates can aid in this process you are on to a winner.
Posted: MRKAssociates | 10.07.2012
Starting with your enquiry regarding the economic climate, we are all aware of its stagnanation. The UK remains in a recession after several growth stimulus packages from the government and it continues to be difficult to garner investment from the banks. However, confidence across industry can still be found amoungst business leaders. Investec’s latest ‘Entrepreneur Confidence Index’ shows that 87% of the country’s business owners expect revenue to grow by the end of the year. My recruitment portfolio has also seen significant growth in the past 18 months, and I believe this is all down to smart business management.
Firstly, you are completely right to be building a niche recruitment brand. In my experience this is the best way to increase your market share. The large and diversified recruitment businesses, like Adecco and Manpower, are extremely difficult to compete with if your service offering is of any resemblance to theirs. Being such established institutions, the candidate base they have to call upon and the reputations they hold mean you have to be seen as a specialist. Keeping it niche is the first step and will make it easier to attract the right staff.
The next thing to consider is your business plan. You need to set yourself realistic targets and have full confidence that you know how to reach them. You have clearly worked out that taking on more staff is the best way to achieve your next growth phase, but you have to be certain that the timing is right. For more information on this please see my response to ‘rbsolutionsltd’ dated 12.07.2012.
Getting the look and feel of your office right is essential. Your office has to create an impression of modernity and professionalism. This is often undervalued by businesses. The environment in which you pitch to clients and interview potential new hires and candidates has a real influence on their future decisions as regards your business. Your offices do not have to look like the interior of Google’s HQ, but keeping them smart is imperative.
The business indicators that you are after do not come in the form of financial figures (that differs for every business) or even consideration of the wider economic climate (you can succeed in business no matter how the economy is behaving) – they come with the understanding that your business can provide the best platform possible for any new hires to succeed. I have backed 4 startups this year and remain confident that each will see significant growth in their first year of business because we have refined the branding and service offering, brought in highly driven and capable management who can substantiate their business plans and positioned them in the right locations.
Posted: annastella | 13.09.2012
There are several sources for this kind of information:
1) A number of the most reputable agencies that operate within the financial services market release market reports and insights on a regular basis. These are accessible from their websites or blogs.
2) Most publically listed recruitment companies have their annual reports available to download from the ‘Investor’ sections on their websites. These reports will often contain useful market overviews. If you target the ones that operate in the financial services sector you should be able to find what you need.
3) The social media profiles of these same publically listed companies and insightful agencies that I mention above are usually well-tended to and can provide you with very up-to-date information of the financial services market. If you search LinkedIn for ‘financial services recruitment’ you will find a selection of groups that will contain useful insights on the market. Moreover, you will able to engage with the experts from the industry within the group.
4) The recruitment industry’s publications are very good at keeping up-to-speed with the financial services market. A simple key-word search on their websites will list all the most recent articles on the market. Some of the publications that I find most useful are listed below:
i) Staffing Industry Analysts
5) A number of advisory bodies within the fields of consultancy, accountancy and asset management produce staffing publications. This is perhaps the most detailed literature on the market so you will be unsurprised to learn that these reports are likely to come with a fee. If you are a young business with a small budget it is still worth purchasing these reports on at least an annual basis.