North America – a Niche Recruitment Growth Opportunity

North America – a Niche Recruitment Growth Opportunity

As the domestic recruitment market becomes challenging for many UK businesses and our relationship with mainland Europe remains uncertain, we’ve seen more recruitment companies looking to expand internationally.

Asia and the Gulf States have become popular markets to explore, with Dubai a common first step for many in the Energy, Finance, Aviation, Aerospace and Technology sectors. Increasingly though, UK recruitment businesses are looking westwards towards North America.

North American Economy

The US economy has typically had annualised growth rates of 3.2% over the past 40 years and suffered from critical skill shortages for some time. Despite the recent upheavals on Wall Street, the U.S. economy is predicted to grow in 2019 at 3.7% according to the IMF. The UK niche recruiter models are ideally set up to exploit these opportunities, so why has there been reluctance?

Traditionally, this has been a tough market to crack for UK Recruiters due to expensive start up costs to establish U.S. operations and the complex legal and compliance systems. Unlike the UK, in the U.S. there is a three-tiered legal structure of Federal, State and Municipal Laws. The risk associated with this can be difficult to navigate, and many a UK recruiter has fallen foul of this intricate maelstrom of legislation.

Companies who successfully overcome these challenges and have plunged straight in and opened a U.S. office have had mixed fortunes. Several have experienced the combination of high operating costs and slow market penetration becoming too much of a burden on their UK business and have been forced to withdraw.

The costs of getting it wrong have been huge for some businesses. In addition to the federal, state and municipal tax challenges, there are also repercussions should you “misclassify” your workers as happened with FedEx in 2016 costing them $240m in 20 states.

How can you make it work?

In 1989, I was charged with opening a North of England office from an attic office in Bristol. Economically, the UK was diving into a recession. Working with a team of two recruiters we were successful in securing 50+ technology contractors from our southern base and on 28th January 1992 we opened our office in Knutsford, Cheshire. We were profitable from day one and expanded to bigger and greater things. Both of my start-up recruiters went on to become industry top billers and COOs.

Today the same model is being employed by several of our UK recruiter clients by establishing a North American team that targets the US & Canadian market from a UK base. Most operate U.S. Eastern Time hours from their UK offices starting work at 12-noon (GMT) and finishing around 8pm (GMT).

Those that do succeed all tend to make the expansion on the back of established relationships, which they have serviced, initially from the UK, before crossing the Atlantic. This is the path I exploited in the early noughties when I successfully led Hays IT’s expansion into mainland Europe, working with clients such as EDS, Hewlett Packard, Lloyds Banking Group, BT, Compaq, BAE Systems and many more.

Precision Global Consulting

One thing several of our successful clients all have in common is they use the services of Precision Global Consulting. (PGC).

PGC is a workforce management platform. They employ a workforce on their client’s behalf and take on the legal responsibility for those workers and making sure back office processes run like clockwork by offer a number of expert solutions;

  • Payroll and Tax Management (Federal, State & municipal, Overtime payments)
  • Contractor/Worker On-boarding in all 50 US states
  • Workplace Insurance
  • Healthcare Plan (ObamaCare Compliant, Paid Sick Leave)
  • Termination Management (all compensation and unemployment claims)
  • Compliance Management (Visas, I-9s, Business Insurances)

All of which allows your typical UK recruiter to focus on finding the contractor and totally servicing their clients talent needs.

The availability of ‘WeWork’ style co-working offices both stateside and globally has seen the cost of the traditional office set-up also reduce. Often, many of the start-up tenants become clients as well.

US Opportunity

The U.S. economy is expanding and is struggling to find the skills it needs to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the U.S. economy will need 100,000 new IT workers a year over the next decade and currently only 60,000 are entering the workforce each year.

In addition “boomers” leaving the workforce each day mean there are 3.5m new manufacturing jobs to be filled by 2025 and currently there is likely to be a 2m shortfall of jobs filled.

At present Pfizer, Boeing and Amazon are all struggling to find qualified workers and experts say they will increasingly be forced to look overseas for high-skilled workers.

Canadian Opportunity

In Canada the situation is no different. The Association of College Communities of Canada (ACCC) reports that Canada requires 260,000 construction workers over the next eight years and the Canadian Federation of Independent businesses report that there are over 300,000 job vacancies that have been vacant for four months or more. The list of high demand jobs in Canada includes all of those in the US but also Registered Nurses, Truck Drivers, Welders, Aerospace engineers, Software and Design Engineers, Pilots and Pharmacists to name just a few.

For most UK Recruiters, global expansion is now more than a dream, it is a real opportunity that might be worth considering, especially given the challenges Brexit may bring.

To find out more call either ourselves on (0370) 8790 105 or PGC if you’d like to find out more about managing workers across the U.S. and Canada at [email protected].

Future of Recruitment 2020-2030 – Your Future Starts Today

Future of Recruitment 2020-2030 – Your Future Starts Today

Over the past six to seven years I have written many blogs, many of which have proved hugely popular like Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years which has had over 30,000 readers and this years Top Recruitment Sectors for Growth in 2018 .
This blog however is probably my most important as for those of you working in the Recruitment Sector either acting as agencies, internal recruiters or HR professionals the next 15-20 year promise to be the most dynamic, volatile and revolutionary in the history of our sector.

The level of change that our industry and the “world of work” will go through is to some people incomprehensible.

As business growth coaches we are challenged when supporting our clients with their three to five year growth plans in having to predict the impact of many of these changes upon their market sectors a task we have been doing now for nearly 10 years.

If you are looking to develop your career in recruitment or sell your business in three to five years, what the world will look like and how resilient your market sector will be in five to ten years is a major consideration.

This question therefore is one we consider and reflect on weekly with our clients as more information and reports are circulated.

Our blog therefore represents our snapshot in time (Spring 2018) and could be different in six months time as revelations about the Future of the World of Work unfolds.

Recruitment Industry Agency Models

To us there are essentially three agency models, which can be blended or broken down and modified to reflect certain sectors.

• Niche recruiters
• Generalist Recruiters
• Managed Services (MSP/RPO/NV/Mast Vend)

Increasingly the market is polarising around the Niche and Managed Service models with the generalists struggling to maintain margins, market differentiation and profitability.

Niche Recruiters

The Niche model, in its various guises, leverages the numerous skills-gaps that exist in the UK and Global economies and has two drivers,

• Find the rare skilled candidates and gain a degree of exclusivity
• Sell the rare skilled candidates to the highest bidder

Niche recruiters have been the success story of the past 15-20 years and are dominated by SMEs. They leverage their status as niche sector experts and master their ability to find and secure any skill in that sector. It is fair to say most of our high growth agencies are all niche agencies.

Increasingly these niches are becoming narrower and deeper. The expression “inch wide, mile deep” has been used many times to describe them.

These agencies have become very effective at maximising their fees and making healthy returns.

Managed Service Recruiters

These operate at the opposite end of the market and work on volume and at a lower transaction price. They industrialise process and are constantly seeking productivity gains to driver down delivery costs, as well as increase their quality service thus generating extra profit.

The cost of acquisition of staff for their clients is constantly failing as they invest greater and greater sums in automation. AI and chat-bots greatly excite this sector as it gives them even further opportunities to increase productivity gains. It also raises the bar for the smaller operators as entry to this market becomes more complex and costly. That said this too might shift with automation. We will have to see.

These suppliers have become very effective at exploiting their clients employer brands as they become very effective “one-stop-shops”.

At the same time the agencies in this sector are seeing their market under attack from Clients In-sourcing strategies where In-House Teams take these contracts back inside and TUPE over the operational staff that are delivering these solutions.

Generalist Recruiters

Increasingly the directors of these businesses are moving their companies more towards operating as a collection of niche businesses under one-roof as they see their margins squeezed by the ever-aggressive Managed Services Businesses and as they struggle to provide expertise that the niche agency suppliers bring to bear.

In certain localities across the UK we see a future for these generalists if they focus on getting close to the SME business sector in their locality but in most locations I think they will struggle unless they specialise and move towards the niche model.

Key Reports

This is a dynamic landscape with new reports out each week but the key reports we focused in this blog are:

PWC – UK Economic Outlook 2017 -Workforce of the future
Forrester – The Top Emerging Technologies To Watch: 2017 To 2021, various
World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs
Frey & Osborne – Future of Employment & US & UK Labour Stats
Nesta/Pearson – The Future of Skills: Trends impacting on UK employment in 2030
Deloitte – (2016) Automation transforming UK industries
REC – The future of jobs Report
• Elon Musk – Various Interviews

Key Headlines

The world of work and the future of recruitment is going to be a highly dynamic market and there is no overwhelming consensus on the cumulative effects of change as to what the future will look like.

There is general agreement however on some elements like what are the major technological dynamics that will affect the market:

• Automation
• Augmentation
• Artificial Intelligence
• Autonomous Vehicles
• 3D Printing

It should also be noted that there are other effects, which also feed into this market dynamic and these are:

• Longevity and ageing societies
• Changing Nature of Work, flexible working, remote working
• Climate change and natural resources
• Geopolitical volatility
• Consumer ethics and privacy issues


Automation affects employment in 2 ways:

Displacement Effect

• Negatively – by directly displacing workers from tasks they were previously performing.
• Tend to be low skilled roles

Productivity Effect

• Positively – by increasing the demand for labour in other industries or jobs that arise due to automation
• Tend to be high skilled roles

An analysis by Deloitte of ONS data suggests that the impact of automation is already being felt in sectors where a high proportion of jobs have a high chance of being automated. (Taken from REC – Future of Jobs).

In the UK most of the major jobs losses between 2001-15 have been in Manufacturing 720,000 with the largest number being created in Health and Social Care 1.1m.

Interestingly Professional, Scientific and Technical appeared in the top three for both jobs lost and created. Deloitte’s analysis concluded that all of those lost had a high chance of automation whilst of those created 88% had a low chance of automation.


This is where technology is not replacing workers but supporting or augmenting their skills and performance to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.

A good example of how automation is augmenting healthcare jobs can be seen from the work of Prof. Paul Leeson of Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital and his colleagues who have developed a system that they claim could save £1.1 billions of pounds by enabling the heart diseases to be picked up much earlier.

The technology will start to be available to NHS hospitals for free this summer and Prof Paul Leeson –”Data indicates that the system had greatly outperformed his fellow heart specialists.” Of 60,000 heart scans carried out each year, 12,000 are reportedly misdiagnosed at an estimated cost of £600million.

This story appeared in a Daily Telegraph article in 3rd Jan 2018.

Artificial Intelligence

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica :

Artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from past experience. 

This will remove a whole host of repetitive jobs across business and industry as can be seen later with the role of accountants and book keepers.

The World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs report, which looks at the 2015-2020 period and predicts which sectors are likely to see the most jobs losses.

Again this report like the Deloitte report lists Manufacturing and Production jobs high up behind Office and Administrative jobs. This time it lists Education and Training and Sales Related jobs as being the least in danger of automation. Once again Professional Business and Financial Operations jobs along with Management roles featured amongst the lowest at risk of automation.

Finally the work of Frey & Osborne from Oxford Martin University has been heavily quoted by many commentators and an interactive graphic produced by Bloomberg enables readers and recruiters to enter a job type and see the likely risk of automation to the role. We’d encourage you to review key jobs that you recruit for to see their likely risk of automation over the next few years.

The link is

Bloomberg quote Frey & Osborne:

Researchers at the University of Oxford, for example, estimate ” that nearly half of all U.S. jobs may be at risk in the coming decades, with lower-paid occupations among the most vulnerable.”

Their graphic for example shows that Accountants and Auditor though well educated and well paid were at a 94% risk of their jobs being automated.

Whilst this has been questioned by many you only have to look at the accounting tools now available from Xero or Sage to understand how through AI and machine learning this can easily happen.

As one of Sage’s Top 100 Global Business Influencers I contacted their product development people to see if they had any thing they could offer me to help explain this and I am delighted to say they shared with us details on their chatbot Pegg.


“ your smart, admin assistant that lives in your mobile, so you can record your expenses anywhere, anytime, without hassle or entering paper receipts.”

“Because of clever integration, simply message Pegg with your expenses and it automatically accounts for it in Sage One.”

With bank feeds now entering all your credit card and bank account transactions directly into Sage One and with rules on how expenses from specific suppliers are handled, the whole process of book-keeping and receipting your transactions can be simplified and semi-automated. It becomes very easy to see how with further AI this whole accounting process could be fully automated in the next 5-10 years.

In the UK Carl Frey, co-director of the Oxford Martin programme on technology and employment at Oxford University, estimates that as many as 35 per cent of jobs in the UK are at risk of loss.

The message is similar.

The top ten of jobs most at risk of computerisation feature

With the top ten jobs at least risk from computerisation being

Source – Taken from REC – Future of Jobs

Again health and social care as well as sales professionals feature very strongly.

Autonomous Vehicles

Much has been said and written about this subject in recent months.

Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla totally autonomous vehicles will be on the roads in 2019 and they will be 10x safer than human drivers.

In November 2017 the UK Government announced Driverless cars will be on Britain’s roads by 2021 as a result of sweeping regulatory reforms that will put the UK in the forefront of a post-Brexit technological revolution as reported by the Guardian

And in the same months Volvo signed an agreement with Uber to supply them with tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021..

Then in December 2017 Tesla launched their new “Semi-Truck” whose power and torque are vastly superior to all diesel engined vehicles.

What this means for employment in the transportation industry who knows as many working in the sector refuse to see any significant changes in the next 10 years. This nevertheless offers a huge opportunity for a disruptive business model so lets wait and see.

However the PWC UK Economic Outlook also estimate that transportation and storage (56%), manufacturing (46%) and wholesale and retail (44%) have the highest risk of automation the overall UK economy has a 30% risk of jobs being automated.

This compares very favourably with Germany 35% and the US 38%.

Human Qualities

Some of this discrepancy between the various reports can be explained by the unique qualities that we as humans have.

The reports are generally in agreement that the following are the human qualities that are the areas that machines will have difficulty automating:

• Emotional Intelligence
• Critical thinking
• Collaboration
• Emotional Support
• Original thought
• Abstract concepts
• Conflicting concepts
• Persuasion

The future is also not all bleak as clearly there are many new jobs being created. The IDC sees 2.1m jobs being created in the US by technology augmenting workers in the world of CRM over the five years to 2021.

AI has the potential to make many jobs more productive and remove a lot of the mundane and boring elements of jobs.

A key conclusion worth noting is how to protect yourself from unemployment which is listed as education.

The World Economic Forum estimates that those with GCSE2 have a 46% risk of losing their jobs whilst those with degrees are only at a 12% risk.

What we are going to see are jobs being defragmented and the tasks that can be automated being undertaken by machines and tasks that requiring humans being consolidated into new roles.

In fact the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2016 estimates that 65% of primary school children will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet.

Future Scenarios

Part of the reason for the variation in predictions comes form the fact that there are a number of scenarios being considered.

There is a great Infographic from Salesforce, which illustrates this:

In the first scenario they call “False Alarm” new jobs emerge slows and current jobs are displaced slowly so nothing changes much. Personally I see this as the least likely of the four options.

The second scenario called “Jobs Crisis” has current jobs being displaced quickly creating unemployment and due to inertia, public sector intervention, private automation tax and heavy resistance to new technology new jobs are created slowly.

In the scenario called “New Economy” current jobs are displaced quickly and new jobs are created quickly. We would need to invest in training and retraining. For some this is exciting and dynamic but for many this would be too chaotic and could be very difficult for large parts of our society to cope with emotionally. This scenario if too rapid could see violent responses from some sections as well as huge increase in mental health issues for society.

The final scenarios “Labour Shortage” characterised by investment in training would see new roles created fast but traditional jobs displaced slowly. This would impact UK economic growth and could be catastrophic in the long run on our global competitiveness.

Personally I believe “Labour Shortage” and “New Economy” are the most likely scenarios and believe we will spend time potentially in both of these over the next 10-15 years.

Impact on Recruitment Process

As well as the sectors in which we supply and operate all this new technology will also impact the process of recruitment itself.

Source – Taken from REC – Future of Jobs

• AI – Will Increasingly be used to identify and sift candidates, for screening, compliance and skill verification
• Video Interviewing – Will become common as it removes geographic boundaries and speeds up the process
• Collaborative hiring – Tools to enable individuals to collaborate objectively in the process whilst operating in different geographic locations and time zones will become common, particularly amongst multi-nationals.
• Gamification – Technology to enable candidate testing during process
• New Resourcing Platforms – New ways of working to deliver efficiencies

All of these process changes and more will increasingly be used in the next 10-15 years. In many cases they will require high levels of capital investment taking them out of range of the SME Niche and Generalist Recruiters further adding ammunition to the armoury of the large MSP/RPO Recruiters enabling them to further penetrate the large corporate markets and drive down costs and increase profits.

In addition large corporates may choose to use these tools to insource these large contracts and deliver the efficiencies back into their own businesses.

The Consequences for future of recruitment

Threats to the future of your Recruitment Agency

If we reflect on the evidence that has been presented so far what we can conclude is that as well as destroying traditional job roles and job families the new technology will create new job roles and new job families of jobs.

As we have seen large numbers of roles are likely to disappear in transportation, manufacturing and wholesale/retail sectors. In addition some of the professional sectors will see many menial and semi-skilled roles automated. A lot of these roles will be the creation and preparation of data.

At the same time jobs will be created in health and social care sectors, education as well as highly skilled roles in the high tech, scientific, technical and professional sectors. Many of the professional, technical and scientific roles will be in the interpretation of data where there is often no clear right or wrong answer and it requires a careful balance.

The “Job-Crisis Scenario” discussed above presents a huge threat to recruitment agency businesses large or small with traditional jobs displaced quickly and new jobs created slowly. In this case we would see large-scale unemployment, which would be good for no one or any economy.

Another threat for many agencies would be huge market disruption that prevented consultants tracking where the skills-gaps were or being able to service them. It would also prevent employers businesses being able to plan and predict their future and would make recruitment highly volatile and uncertain which in turn would disrupt growth and economic expansion.

A highly dynamic situation where skills-gaps were created and disappeared too quickly would make the conditions almost impossible for niche consultants to develop their skills and deliver a high quality and reliable service to employers.

Finally another threat to all recruitment agencies would be if the dynamic changes disrupted long-standing customer relationships removing continuity and allowing their competitors to move in.

Opportunities in the future for your Recruitment Agency

In the opposite scenario “Labour Shortage”, where new jobs emerge quickly and current jobs are displaced slowly the opportunities for niche agencies to benefit will be huge. Significant opportunities would also exist for generalist or Managed Service Recruiters as well.

Also The “New Economy” scenarios would also create sizeable opportunities for recruitment agencies to thrive through servicing their clients needs by continuing to leverage their skills and expertise either as a niche recruiter, generalist or Managed Service Recruiter.

In-house recruiters in both scenarios would have a key role to play/

In situations where these skills gaps are created rapidly then highly skilled expert recruiters who know their niches well or have strategies to recruit at volume should prosper.

Such a dynamic market is likely to create situations where agencies with less agility or expertise could see their customer relationships disrupted or lost to agencies that are better able to respond to the rapidly changing market conditions.

It proffers the opportunities for some agencies, (niche, generalist or MSP/RPO) to strike up Strategic Partnerships with some employers who seek continuity of service and supply.

Finally it also creates a huge opportunity for all agencies to offer consultancy to employers on how to create new roles that can easily be resourced and build resilient resourcing strategies that help businesses deliver ambitious growth plans.

It does call for a different type of selling however. Agencies will need to learn “consultancy sales” skills as well as strategic relationship sales skills.

It may require different sales professionals to the ones currently employed by some agencies which some might find extremely challenging.


No one knows what will actually happen and to a degree there is still time for us to avoid many of these pitfalls and maximise the opportunities that this new industrial revolution will create for us as the recruitment community as well as society as a whole.

One thing however is certain and in the words of Bob Dylan,

The times they are a changing.

As recruitment agency owners, directors and talent leaders one thing you would be wise to do is not ignore what is happening and wait for the future to become clearer before acting.

The reason….because it may never be clear.

We are moving into a world of constant and dynamic change.

My advice to all our clients is monitor, observe and where you feel there is a clear shift respond to opportunities or mitigate any risks to your business.

This may mean:

• Diversify your niche sectors.
• Move form being a local generalist to being more niche focused.
• Recruit consultants who are more responsive to their clients and the market.
• Seek out employees that are more flexible and innovative.
• Build resilient client relationships.
• Review your business operating model.
• Reduce your office network.
• Change your CRM/Mid-office technology platform.
• Review your consultant recruitment and training strategy.

It may also mean in the medium term moving away form sectors such as:

• Logistics
• Warehousing
• Manufacturing
• Low/semi skilled temps

It could mean exploring sectors such as:

• Hi-Tech
• Health and Social Care
• Education
• Technical/Professional

The recruitment agencies that thrive and prosper in the next 15-20 years and therefore the entrepreneurs who go on to succeed will be the “fittest”.

To paraphrase Charles Darwin –

Those entrepreneurs whose businesses that “have the closest” market “fit, are therefore the ones that will leave the most copies of themselves in successive generations” and are the ones that will survive.

Tips on scaling up your recruitment business (part two)

Tips on Scaling up your Recruitment Business (part two)


The second biggest challenge recruitment business owners experience is when they decide to appoint a manager and relinquish direct control of their sales team.

This can be a challenging and extremely stressful time, like leaving someone else to bring up one of your children. Many of us who have gone through this process are keen to not be controlling like the managers we have worked for in the past and give our new appointees the freedom to manage in their own style but at the same time if the sales go backwards this can be very worrying.

Typically many directors and business owners fail at their first attempt at this.

Often this is because the new manager has not been prepared for the role. They have received no training and frequently there is an assumption on the part of the owner/director that if the owner could do it then the manager can too.

This is the most common mistake I see as a coach. Sadly this is rarely the case, as often the new manager does not have the same abilities, drive, passion and commitment to the role as the owner/director.

In addition owners and directors do not recognize that their role has changed as well. They have a tendency to step back totally from running the business without properly preparing their manager.

The first step to resolving this situation is to understand that your role as the owner/director has changed from being the team manager of business to being a coach yourself. Like modern sport managers who have themselves become coaches, Warren Gatland, Eddie Jones, Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola, Jorgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are all coaches first and foremost and you too must be a coach too.

You may find it helpful to accept that your role is to guide your new protégé through their first few months. They are likely to be very inexperienced and do not know all the challenges of managing your business. Very often they do not initially think like a manager but as a consultant. They too make the mistake of assuming their consultants think and see the world like they do. So everyone is learning.

As the owner/director you still need to keep a handle on the businesses KPIs but instead of intervening directly you have to work with your manager to make the corrective actions. It may help to have them analyse the KPIs themselves and come to you with the conclusions so you together can decide what challenges need addressing and discuss a corrective action plan.

Often I run workshops with newly appointed managers and directors where we have the managers’ review the key performance figures of the business. In the most recent workshop managers and team leaders came to the session with the following data:

Best Quarter Ever (X date till Y date) Last Quarter Last 30 Days
CV Sends
Total Sales £
Average Fee £


By making the comparisons themselves prior to the session, in every case the managers were able to self-diagnose their issues and self-correct their teams performance by making adjustments to where their teams focus needed to be.

Each manager then conducted the implementation of the corrective actions after the workshop with their team members. Not every manager succeeded in getting the desired response from every member of their team but that is another story.

The secret as a director/owner is to work through your managers and to have your managers ask the questions that you would do. The skill is to ask the right questions, often these will be rhetorical and designed to get the manager to analyse the business KPIs themselves.

Clearly if you do not record this sort of information historically you will find this approach more challenging but the principle remains the same.

Investing in some coaching training for yourself and perhaps your managers is essential if you want to transition this period with minimal impact upon your businesses bottom line. Coaching is about guiding the other person. The GROW coaching model is a great starting point. This breaks the coaching down into four elements:

  1. Goal   – Agree with your manager the outcomes you wish to achieve. What does “good look like”.
  2. Reality           – investigate with your manager through asking questions to understand where the business is and what are the issues.
  3. Options – explore with permissive language patterns what options the manager has to remedy the issues. It is helpful to avoid “telling” the manager what to do.
  4. Way forward – Use SMART goals to gain commitment and ALWAYS have your manager write them down. People are 65% likely to commit to them.


A good lesson to remember as the owner/director is that delegation is not abdication. By that I mean you are still responsible for directing the business though you are now responsible for managing through another person.

You need to continue to think for your manager as well as anticipate the problems and pitfalls that they are not aware of. It is rare that businesses owners can recruit a highly experienced manager from outside the company who can transition into this role with minimal impact on the performance.

Typically businesses promote from within and often the first port of call is your top biller who sadly may not necessarily have the qualities and attributes to manage.

It is extremely rare for newly appointed managers to be successful without themselves receiving training in the basic fundamentals of management. We at the Recruitment Training Group, offer a four-to-five day future leaders training programme.

Our courses are bespoke but typically cover what we all regard as the bear essentials a new manager needs:

  • Leader Behaviour: Focus on            Self-awareness and development: Introduction to leadership – An assessment of current leadership style, appraisal of style, and identification of tools and processes to assist them with improvement in style to become a more effective leader.
  • 2 Leader Performance: Focus on delivering results: Developing Performance – measuring performance, assessment of where managers are now and how they want to develop and how they want to develop their teams. Also Time Management – A Key part of a billing managers role is to become experts at managing their own time and that of their teams. We explore this and help guys develop and implement their own framework.
  • 3 Team Performance: Focus on team deliverables and behaviour: Input/Outputs – what needs to be achieved, agreeing targets, minimum standards, competencies and KPI’s, activities – behaviours – results. Communication and motivation, how to give feedback, constructively discuss difficult subjects, managing under performance, clarification of what under performance is related to competencies and KPIs.  Team building stages and Developing Team Talent. Team Meetings – purpose, inputs/outputs, frequency, agenda, chairing meetings
  • 4 Leading High Performing Teams: Focus on alignment, responsiveness and adaptability to change: Inspirational Leadership, Team Values, Aligning Team Vision with Company Objectives, Strategic Planning, Agreeing Strategic Team Goals aligned to shared Vision and Values, Targets, KPI’s and Competencies and Monitoring Tools. Leading Teams through Rapid Development/Growth, responding to internal and external factors and driving change through the business.  Types and stages of change, helping others adapt.  The Leadership skills needed for identifying the need for and defining the nature of change and managing change.
  • 5 People Development Focus on Developing Individuals: The benefits of nurturing talent – systematic approach to people development, identifying skills’ gaps, selecting the right way to develop someone, identifying individual learning styles. Coaching: the benefits of coaching, what is it, structuring a coaching session; coaching techniques and skills
  • 6 Resourcing for Teams Focus on selecting the right people: Hiring the best – competency based interviewing, UK Legislative Framework, Ensuring Recruitment ‘Best Practice’ process, Hiring and on-boarding.

We will also work on an action plan for delegates to take back to your desks to aid effective implementation.

Whatever route you choose there are trainers and coaches out there that can help you and I would encourage you to find one and work with them as you grow your business.

The extra cost of an experienced coach/trainer is rarely more than one permanent placement or 10% of your monthly temp/contract GP. The cost of failure is often 10-20 times that amount so it is usually money well spent.



Tips on Scaling up your Recruitment business (Part One)

Tips on Scaling up your Recruitment business (Part One)

Often the biggest challenges new recruitment entrepreneurs have are growing their business from being the top biller to billing manager and then on from billing manager to managing/directing through managers/team leaders.

These are the two big hurdles at which many recruitment leaders fail.

If truth be told it’s probably at these hurdles that we receive the most calls for assistance to support business owners make the step. Part of the challenge is that often business owners have to change themselves, their attitudes, behaviours and their leadership/management approaches and it’s very hard to be objective. Hence why a qualified coach is essential. Every manager is different and every business is unique but here are a few tips if you are planning to make that move.

Top Biller to Manager

This is the first hurdle new recruitment business owners face and it comes usually in the first 2-3 years of their existence. There is no universal panacea as often every business is different due to many reasons including:

  • Niche vs. Generalist Models (see blog)
  • Directors “take-out” & levels of profit/surplus
  • One or more founding directors
  • Temp/Perm/Contract proportions
  • Market Sector
  • Previous Management experience

Whatever your starting point there are solutions to all of these challenges, which are tried and tested, that can help you make the step up.

Continuity of Revenues

One of the secrets is to develop a strategy that ensures continuity of revenues and therefore profit. It is important that the pressure on new staff to deliver is not business critical in the first three to four months. We have written a blog on this called – Are you overpaying consultants and impacting profitability and growth? Where we discuss how you should spend the proportions of gross profit between earnings, general business costs/overheads and surplus.

Before recruiting people we recommend you create a surplus to fund the new starters for their first six months that way you and they are not under pressure for them to generate funds too soon and you too are not putting the business at risk.

It is also important that your personal fees are secure for the first few months of a new starters time in the business otherwise this puts added pressure on the business and can mean you have little time to support your new starter. Even experienced recruiters will require some support to bed in and you will have to adjust to performance managing people weekly.

Depending upon your market sector and whether they are temp/perm or contract, typically new starters with previous recruitment experience will take 3-6 months to get their personal fees (paid) to a level where they are covering their costs.

Some may come with an existing pipeline, which sometimes shortens this, but make sure you check out their restrictive covenants, as you don’t want to find yourself being jointly sued in any legal claim for breach of contract by their previous employer.

Obviously raw trainees take even longer to bill. At Selling Success have considerable experience supporting new starters via our Rookie Academy product, which many of our clients have purchased in full. Typically we can get people billing inside 4-6 months and up to £10,000 GP per month inside their first nine months. Every formula for achieving this is different depending upon market sector, temp/perm/contract, niche or generalist recruiter but again there are guiding principles which we can talk you through if you would like to contact us.

Temporarily Remove Commission Thresholds

Another tip is to remove all thresholds and standard requirements for the first 4-6 months and bring them in gradually. Yes you pay commission on all revenues at the beginning but this incentivises consultants to bring revenue forward rather than push it back. In turn this helps with cash flow and builds confidence. It is our experience that this is a WIN/WIN and leads to extra effort and focus from new recruits. It sees them go flat out from the first off. This is especially useful we find with temp and contract consultants.

Otherwise there is an incentive for people to hold back sales where they are cumulatively below thresholds and make it land in one big month to ensure they get “some commission”. This can be bad for the business and also not a good habit to encourage.

Use Structured Day Plans

When you recruit new staff they can become a drain on your time. To prevent this we recommend using a structured day plan for the office and your sales team, including you, is a great way to manage new starters to ensure they do not consume your time and significantly reduce your own productivity. Experienced recruitment consultants should be used to this but trainees will typically need their daily routine setting up with you either the night before or first thing.

A great book to read on this is Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager. In this he talks about goal setting, praising and reprimands. Using his formula if you do your “goal setting/set-ups” first thing, “praising” at lunch and “reprimands/wash-ups” at the end of the day this is a good basic structure.

Naturally you must plan for some interruptions outside these times but there are strategies we can teach you to manage these interruptions including negotiating people into one of the three sessions we highlighted. Over time by learning to manage and coach your staff you will be able to keep these interruptions to a minimum and therefore not impact your own productivity.

Whilst your team is small we recommend you also keep your non-recruitment activities to a minimum during core hours and do your “management” activities as far as possible outside these hours. Using a back-office provider like Simplicity-in-Business will help with payroll issues.

You are the main role model for your recruiters. They will take their lead from you and as one of my clients loves to say “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” therefore be focused and lead your people from the front. Never expect them to do anything you wouldn’t.

Agreed Daily Activity Targets and Outputs


When you employ staff you need to have agreed daily activity targets and outputs. With young Millennial recruiters (those born 1992-2000) having boundaries and consequences is essential to ensure their productivity, focus and motivation. We have written a blog on this topic too called Millennial Recruiters need flexibility with boundaries and consequences.

This will also give you a few tips on how to handle this issue but its key to have these agreed daily in your daily “goal-setting/set-ups”.

Again on the basis of “Monkey-See, Monkey-Do” you too need to be seen to participating on activities alongside your consultant.

This is the Twenty-first Century and the days of “Do as I say, not as I do!” are gone!! This is not always possible if the bank manager calls for example or the landlord but you need to uphold the principle as best you can.

Work your Consultants Jobs with them

This is a great way to learn so much. You will learn how your consultants think, their attention to detail, their strengths and their weaknesses. If you adopt a collaborative coaching leadership style then your people will follow you. You will engender loyalty and commitment. It’s also difficult for people to leave early when the boss is working their job alongside them and staying late!

A word of caution when you first do this you may learn loads of issues with your consultant’s that you are not happy with. Try and avoid the temptation to correct everything at once. Work on the critical skills that need developing to start with and then progress to the ones that have a lesser impact on the recruitment process.

Sometimes it maybe that working this way you discover that your consultant is not at the level you need and conclude that they are not right for your business.

You must be the judge of that and react accordingly. Either way this is a great technique when your business is small.

Encourage them to have a Sales/BD Strategy for their desk

Always ensure both experienced and trainee consultants have a quarterly plan/strategy for developing their desk. Work with them to develop it. Typically ensure they include many of the following:

  • Target Clients
    • Key clients they wish to open up
  • Candidate Sourcing strategies
    • Ensure a steady stream of placeable candidates/workers
  • Activity Targets for
    • New candidate registrations, , Candidate Referencing
    • New Manager Additions, Lead Generation, Client Visits
    • “Out-Reach” Activities, Spec-in CVs, E-shots, Mailers
    • CV Stripping
  • Daily, Weekly and monthly Milestones


It should also include anticipated outcomes and projection for interviews/bookings and sales.

Work with your consultant to develop targets that stretch them but also make sure they are achievable.

A very important part of this is that they attach a personal goal at the end of this quarter, a reward for achieving a significant target.

This can be an activity like a day at a health spa, golfing, corporate hospitality at a sports event or it can be an item that they want like an iPad, Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones, Mulberry Handbag. It needs to be compelling for them.

Encourage them to have a picture of it on their desk. It also helps if you contribute to it or even agree to buy it.

There is a whole load of psychology on why this works and why it helps build resilience in most consultants, which we can go through over the phone if you want an immediate response or at a later date in another blog but this approach works.

There are many more techniques and tips to help recruit and build a successful business such as, recruiting the right type of person for your business, creating clear promotion pathways, performance management frameworks, personal development plans not to mention leadership and management training for you as the business owner but these are a few.

If you want a personal chat about the issues you have please call us on 07552 555858 or email us on [email protected]