Recruiter - Jan/Feb 2021

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INCORPORATING Recruitment Matters

+ SPECIAL REPORT Reboot, rebuild & reset 2021 Adaptabilit an Adaptability Ada and nd class drives the e ffirms irms making this year’s yea ar’s HOT 10 100 00 SKIL SKILLSLLSDRIVEN DRI IVEN WORK WORK

Ma Managing anaging talent tale ent risk in the e future THE E LAS LAST ST WORD WO ORD

{Award winner} Ryan Adams leads from the front

Ala Alan an F Furley: urley: dea aling with with dealing the eb boom oom and db ust bust cycle e iin n 2021

Signifying success

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authentic ‫ޖޝܧ‬șHQ WܼN adjective 1. of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine, credible.

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05 AMS CEO looks beyond pandemic for agile future David Leigh is looking forward to talking about workforce dexterity rather than Covid and Brexit 06 RPO/MSP challenge to traditional recruitment Elite Leaders’ John O’Sullivan on surfing the wave of recovery 07 Making mental health real in recruitment The new non-profit organisation’s drive to change how mental health is viewed in the recruitment sector 08 Contracts & Deals

INCORPORATING Recruitment Matters

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INTERACTION Viewpoint Rhona Driggs, Empresaria Group Soundbites


18 Profile: Ryan Adams



10 Workplace



Guy Hayward on the culture of kindness, and Mike Beesley on the power of innovation and the need for change Insight Talent Intuition highlights the need for a skills-driven workforce for the future Tech & Tools The latest recruitment technology and services

Founder and CEO of IT recruiter Signify Technology has certainly made his mark with his recent industry wins 22 THE BIG STORY: HOT 1OO Recruitment firms that have made it on the list measuring the highest gross profit per head/employee have shown class rather than temporary form 31 SPECIAL REPORT: Reboot, rebuild & reset Surviving the torrid business conditions means rethinking recruitment

22 E COMMUNITY 45 Social 47 My brilliant recruitment career: Sarah Ellwood

48 Movers & Shakers 49 Recruiter contacts 50 The Last Word:


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Alan Furley


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The UK group of companies and LLPs trading as RSM is a member of the RSM network. RSM is the trading name used by the members of the RSM network. Each member of the RSM network is an independent accounting and consulting firm each of which practises in its own right. The RSM network is not itself a separate legal entity of any description in any jurisdiction. The RSM network is administered by RSM International Limited, a company registered in England and Wales (company number 4040598) whose registered office is at 50 Cannon Street, London EC4N 6JJ. The brand and trademark RSM and other intellectual property rights used by members of the network are owned by RSM International Association, an association governed by article 60 et seq of the Civil Code of Switzerland whose seat is in Zug.

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hat is the start to a new year without committing to ‘do better’ in your life, whether it’s in exercise, learning a new skill or vowing to drop a bad habit and develop a good one? 2021 brings with more promise and yet more baggage than many a year has in living memory. So, forget the resolutions, but put your mind to ‘rethinking, rebuilding, rebooting and resetting’ in this already demanding 12-month cycle. Our Special Report focuses on revitalising your mindset and your business, and offers a peek at what other people are thinking about right now. You’ll find business “Put your mind to insight relevant to our recruitment industry, ‘rethinking, and also a couple of wild rebuilding, corporate cards – rebooting and namely culture and resetting’ in this purpose – that make not only useful but enjoyable already demanding cycle” reading. This issue is especially packed full of good stuff – consider it a holiday hamper of reading! We’ve got our fabulous Recruiter HOT 100, a contribution from the brilliant Alison Ettridge of Talent Intuition about skills and figuring out what we need and don’t need, and of course, an introduction to a golden adult-child of recruitment, Mr Ryan Adams of Signify Technology. Ryan won our two leader of the year awards in 2020 – congratulations Ryan! Let’s ask Ryan, a transplanted Londoner, to share some of his gorgeous weather. Happy new year!

AMS chief looks beyond Covid for more agile future BY DEEDEE DOKE

WITH A REBRANDING of the company formerly known as Alexander Mann Solutions behind him, the CEO of global talent solutions provider AMS says what he is “most looking forward to” now is a shift to conversations beyond world circumstances over the past 10 months. “Yes,” said David Leigh in an exclusive conversation with Recruiter. “The thing I’m most looking forward to is a world in which we’re not talking about Covid. Covid has just been such a significant part of the context of the way we’ve operated during almost my entire time in the business.” Leigh joined AMS as CEO in 2019. When Covid struck, the recruitment process outsourcing company was already on a progressive journey toward its approach of ‘workforce dexterity’, “and what Covid has done is, it’s accelerated the pace of those things. Organisations were looking for ways in which they could be as agile as possible, individuals were already looking to ensure that they had careers that were more flexible over time and created more agility in the way that individuals like to work. What this pandemic has done is accelerated all of that. And there will be real benefits of that, I think, for organisations and individuals, their careers, and their learning & development”, he said. Some AMS clients have accelerated hiring while others have turned off or slowed down their hiring. “As you know, large organisations never stop hiring externally,” Leigh said. “Even when they’re making redundancies, they’re still hiring externally, but we’ve seen a lot more of a focus on internal hiring and more sophisticated ways of matching people internally with the right roles for them. That’s included creating more development opportunities and learning opportunities, and that’s the second big trend that we’ve seen. “And the third thing we’ve seen,” he continued, “is y amounts extraordinary

DeeDee Doke, Editor

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AS OF 13 JAN 2021

of volatility. So, in some sectors, just extraordinary needs at short term”, such as clients in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. With such volatility, Leigh said, “we’ve needed to be responsive very, very quickly. As a strategic partner, one of the most important things we can do is flex up and flex down as long as our clients need us to do so, and so that’s how we spent last year, making sure we were able to do that. That required us to become much more agile internally in the way that we move people around our organisation”. Not only have AMS been hiring digital and technology skills for their clients, the company are upskilling its own offering. “We’ve definitely been focusing more on hiring digital and technology skills for our clients, and therefore having people who are most familiar with those parts of the market has been important to us,” Leigh said. This thinking, he added, was behind the acquisition of recruiter The Up Group in December. “We bought what we believe is one of the best digital and technology search businesses in the world.” As such, innovation is an instrumental state of mind and practice for AMS going forward through projects such as a virtual internship programme and a possible foray into a virtual onboarding project. “We’ve been very focused on innovation which I believe will be critically important to differentiating what we do in the months and years to come,” he said. “We’ve accelerated the pace of that. And for me it’s about looking beyond Covid.” For instance, to launch the new brand, AMS held a global virtual kick-off, which all of its employees around the world could attend. “That’s a small innovation,” he said. “But it’s an illustration of the things that we need to do in order to look beyond Covid, and actually make the best of the environment in which we’re operating.”


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RPO/MSP is ‘big challenge’ to contingent recruitment BY DEEDEE DOKE

RECRUITMENT PROCESS OUTSOURCING (RPO) and managed service provision (MSP) as means of serving clients who need staff are posing “the first big sensible challenge” to contingent recruitment as demand for these services grows, says John O’Sullivan, serial recruitment entrepreneur and founder of advisory consultancy Elite Leaders. Speaking to Recruiter, O’Sullivan said that he has seen recruiters increasingly attracted to delivering these steadily increasing offshoots of traditional recruitment, and that his organisation is providing expertise and guidance to clients about “how to do RPO ‘light’, how do you get sticky revenues, how do you develop sticky relationships with clients – so actually showing them, rather than just saying, ‘Hey, go down and adapt’. “And now we’re hopefully showing clients how to surf the wave of recovery, because it’s going to come.” He added: “This means less competition – that’s the good news. The bad news is, they’re [competitors] probably going to be pretty good!”

Of RPO/MSP, O’Sullivan continued: “I think this is the first big sensible challenge to the crazy business model that contingent recruitment is. And I think it’s here to stay. I think the emergence of RPO/MSP – like project work and deep, embedded relationships with clients – is absolutely coming to the fore.” Among the experts working with Elite are a specialist team that help companies who want to enter the RPO/MSP arena, “to go and win RPO projects with them, and they’ve been winning them, hand over fist. This is about how you adapt to this new world order”. O’Sullivan was speaking to Recruiter in connection with the reboot and reset of Elite this year (see Special Report, pp31-42). Sid Barnes, previously of Adecco, is now CEO, and Tara Ricks, previously of Randstad UK, is COO. O’Sullivan is rounding out the executive board as chairman (see p42). Trends in developing recruitment business owners also include teaching consultative sales techniques, reflecting a changing sector that employs fewer recruiters in a trimmed-down and more demanding business environment. “And what’s really important is, we’re all on this massively steep learning curve about how to manage teams remotely. You know – 24/7. And that really comes down to the umbrella of culture, doesn’t it?” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to manage remotely and how to ensure you retain your culture when you’re managing remotely. No one’s written the book on that yet frankly.”


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Making mental health real in recruitment BY DEEDEE DOKE

(above, right) is calling on recruitment businesses to sign up to the Awareness to Action Pledge, which is “for organisations who want to take the first steps toward positive action and cultural change when addressing mental health in workplace”. Signing the pledge gives recruitment businesses of any size “a simple and achievable roadmap towards making change”, D’Ambrosio said. Awareness to Action is uniquely for the recruitment industry, she said. Speaking to Recruiter, D’Ambrosio said she believes that the industry “will get a better grip on the reality of mental health [in recruitment] this year

through understanding and viewing it in the same way we view physical health”. She continued: “2021 is the year we can normalise more conversations than ever before, knowing that mental health issues affect every one of us daily, whether we’re new to the industry, a high-performing recruiter or running a recruitment business. This year, I hope that supporting mental health becomes a more prominent topic in the board room than ever before.”

Sample statistics from the MHIR Survey Report, see our Special Report from pp32-36. Contact MHIR at


“SHIFTING THE CONVERSATION from awareness to action” will be the core focus for Mental Health in Recruitment (MHIR) in 2021, as the non-profit organisation launches a drive to change to how mental health is viewed and supported in the sector’s work. Following the publication in December of MHIR’s first research survey results, founder Rhonda D’Ambrosio

Asked what she considered to be the current collective state of mental health and its awareness in recruitment, D’Ambrosio said: “We can say with some certainty that the global pandemic has brought wellbeing to the forefront of more business conversations than ever before... it’s opened people’s eyes to the reality of common mental health disorders. The challenge now is how we respond to support ourselves and our people.” D’Ambrosio is self-funding MHIR. She is transformation director with wellbeing solutions consulting and microlearning specialist ebenable.

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CONTRACTS & DEALS The MCG Group The MCG Group has acquired Ipswich-based Poppy Nursing and Care Services. Poppy Nursing Services supplies nurses and carers to hospital trusts and care homes across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and the wider UK. The MCG Group is a collection of recruitment firms, previously known as the McGinley Group.

Alexander Mann Solutions Global talent acquisition and management firm Alexander Mann Solutions has acquired digital executive search, networking and advisory firm The Up Group in a move aimed at delivering a broad range of strategic digital leadership resourcing solutions.

CY Executive Resourcing Worcester-based finance and accounting recruitment firm CY Executive Resourcing has completed a management buy-out. Former CEO Cynthia Parker sold the business for an undisclosed sum to fellow directors: Vural Aglamaz, former deputy CEO, and former business directors Kurt Rimell-Lejeune and Andrew Vaughan.

The NRG Group Engineering, well integrity and project management recruitment specialist The NRG Group has acquired a majority stake in Aberdeen-based well engineering and drilling recruiter McGregor Consultants.

Abatec Recruitment The management team at North Somerset-based Abatec Recruitment has carried out a management buy-out. Managing director Richard Buchanan has been joined by fellow director Rob Dyer in leading the deal and acquired 100% shareholding of the business.

Gattaca a Special list recruitment solution Specialist solutions group Gattaca has announced a multi-year strategic recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partnership with G.Network, a fullfibre internet service provider. Gattaca will manage the recruitment of G.Network employees, including an expected 1,250 new jobs.


Sanderson Solutions Group Sanderson Solutions Group has acquired UK recruiter Highams and three further trading divisions of the Nakama Group. Highams, along with Nakama UK, Nakama Hong Kong and Nakama Singapore, have been sold for an undisclosed fee, growing Sanderson’s team by around 15%. Highams, a Surrey-based recruitment agency and part of the Nakama Group, places

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business and technology transformation professionals in the financial services industry. It will retain its 30+ year brand name. Nakama UK will move into the core Sanderson business, while the Hong Kong and Singapore teams help expand Sanderson’s international footprint, a press statement said. The acquisition will bring the total Sanderson workforce up to just over 250 people.

GatenbySanderson Executive recruiter GatenbySanderson is supporting charity Future First to recruit a new programme innovations director. The successful candidate will work in the North and the Midlands, extending the charity’s outreach to more schools and pupils.

More contract news at

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Search 16 million CVs and advertise jobs in all sectors!



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The Workplace BY GUY HAYWARD


Stigma reduction through internal events that encourage talking, helping people to call out inappropriate language. There’s loads we can do: the TED talk by Amy Edmondson on ‘Building a psychologically safe workplace’ is a strong 11 minutes and of course there are numerous webinars on workplace resilience. Psychologist Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) have produced a wonderful short video series on the topic ‘Build Resilience in the Face of Adversity’. It takes about 20 minutes to watch nine short videos and introduces coping mechanisms on how to get through adversity, and importantly how to support others. I’m part of our Mental Health Support Network at work and Toni who leads our group has enabled open and free conversation on culture, training and what tools are available to help with all feelings associated with mental health and being in lockdown. Interestingly, of the 19 members in our network there are only two men… This is something we need to change. Men have lower levels of life satisfaction than women, according to the government’s National Wellbeing survey; only 35% of men are referred to NHS talking therapy; there are

“Maybe it is the year that every business develops a culture that removes the stigma of asking for help” three times as many men as women die by suicide; and the example list goes on and on. Ask our male friends and colleagues if they are OK – a very simple question. The first email I received this morning following Boris’s announcement was from our Network to the business, asking if anyone needed some support. Their message? Being away from friends, family, colleagues and people in general can create a basis for anxiety. They wanted the business to know that we are here to look after each other or at the very least for people to know there is someone there. I think we should all be doing this. I, for one, no longer must rely on Paul asking me the question... ●

WE MUST NOT forget each other and the people we work with. And with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of Lockdown Mark III, during the first quarter of 2021 (and beyond), this is going to be oh so very important. We really mustn’t forget. Care and kindness has been talked about many times – and indeed I’ve written about it many times – but to start 2021 with the same message feels right. Why? Because I believe it is the most important: showing we care and that we want to look after each other. There will be some lonely people. If I reflect on how I felt in lockdown, it’s a feeling I want to avoid again. The isolation, the entrapment, the suffocation and anxiety associated with being alone (even though my wife and children were ever present). When founder and board director Paul Goodman asked me how I was, it meant a huge amount. I have thanked him more than once, not just because of the question but because of how he made me feel. If you are thinking about asking your colleagues and friends how they are, go ahead and do it. Maybe it is the year that every business develops a culture that removes the stigma of asking for help.

GUY HAYWARD – redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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THE POWER OF INNOVATION AND THE NEED FOR CHANGE IN THEIR BOOK Radical Uncertainty, former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King and leading economist John Kay argue that the difference between risk and uncertainty is a much greater one than we currently thought. As 2021 begins and the full impact of the pandemic on the recruitment industry is set to hit, this is something we are increasingly appreciating. King and Kay present a formidable case for the fact that we are hemmed in only by our own perceptions of a ‘knowable’ future, that estimations on probability and risk can give us false understanding of our power to make predictions – and, therefore, decisions. So, instead of guessing to fill gaps in our knowledge we need to work together as an industry to develop strategies that allow us to be resilient to unpredictable events – which means admitting that none of us knows what the future actually holds. Yes, we must take care of each other, regain markets and get things moving again by managing those things that we can control. But, if we are to recover from this in a way that will make a genuinely robust future society and economy, it’s much bigger, braver thinking that we must foster and cultivate from this moment on. History shows us this to be true, and it is upon this kind of logic that entrepreneurs – and most of the best recruitment leaders I’ve met – tend to thrive. For example, in the mid-1800s whales had been driven to the edge of extinction. Numbers bounced back after the invention of the drill, which allowed humans to find cleaner, cheaper oil than the blubber being used to power most households and workplaces. It was the death of a young man’s father in an air disaster in 1934 that created the drive for him to doggedly pursue the idea of an indestructible recording device that became known as the ‘Black Box’. This has gone on to save lives of countless flyers by providing critical data as to why planes crash and allow engineers to fix these problems. And not even Steve Jobs could have originally predicted that music would be the catalyst for the creation of handheld computers, which ultimately catapulted technology that has allowed us all to work from home in the way we are currently. But it was indeed the advent

Mike Beesley Co-founder of TIMESTWO Investments of the iPod – “music in your pocket” – that arguably kickstarted the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Yet this kind of unpredictability and understanding of innovation is still not effectively built in to how we manage our lives and society at large. On 9 August 2007, the French bank BNP Paribas announced it was suspending transactions in three of its funds. Within days the global financial crisis was well underway, with the Lehman Brothers failure peaking at the height of the crash in 2008. This latter-day ‘Great Recession’ was, in my lifetime and many others, the most difficult period of being in business – compared in real terms to the 20th century’s Great Depression. Now, as this pandemic is showing us, we are not learning our lessons quick enough – if at all. Nearly a year ago, the phrase the ‘new normal’ was being bandied about like it meant something. It doesn’t. Normal is gone. There is now and there is new – and this crisis shows that we’re kidding ourselves if we think it was ever any different. I believe this is why innovators and entrepreneurs are so important to us right now. They can show us how humanity can move forward to embrace this unpredictability, finding opportunity and benefits for all. Something I hope will become the ‘new normal’ for real as we navigate this together. ●

“Normal is gone. There is now and there is new – and this crisis shows that we’re kidding ourselves if we think it was ever any different”

↗ MIKE BEESLEY is co-founder of TIMESTWO Investments. He is also a serial entrepreneur and investor


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THE FUTURE OF WORK IS SKILLS-DRIVEN The disruption of 2020 has demonstrated that the future of work will be skills-driven. Instead of looking for a person in a place to do a role, let’s look through the lens of the work that needs to be done and how to best meet that need BY ALISON ETTRIDGE

alent risk was the number one risk to business growth named by CEOs in 2020. It now surpasses even climate change, environmental risk and cyber security as a concern. Although we’re still experiencing mass disruption, the global pandemic has helped us to think differently about how we might manage talent risk in the future. For organisations that have switched to remote working the talent pool is suddenly global. For those who are going through rapid transformation, upskilling and reskilling employees has become a priority. Reinventing ourselves through learning new skills will be an ongoing part of working life for all of us. Research from The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows that nine in 10 of us must learn new skills, meaning that lifelong learning is something that we need to embrace both personally and as managers.


Looking through a skills lens not at a job description What new skills do we need to cultivate in our workforces? New technology and the changing nature of our economy are driving a change in the demand for skills. Automation and AI are leading others to become obsolete. The skills our economy needs to grow over the next decade according to the CBI are: basic digital skills critical thinking and information processing skills


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leadership and management interpersonal and advanced communication skills STEM knowledge. So, rather than being specific job roles or titles, we begin to look at where we need to develop the workforce through a skills lens. However, most organisations are still using job titles and job descriptions to describe what they want. Which may mean they can’t find what they’re looking for in the new ecosystem of work. In the new ecosystem of work, businesses need to be global as well as local, remote as well as physical. In a skill-driven market they’ll need to base their people strategy on skills supply and demand – rather than on people or jobs in a location. If we don’t have a full understanding of skills, we are making our organisations less resilient, more vulnerable and open to recruitment challenges. Plus, we might be overlooking or discarding people who have the skill we need but we can’t untangle it from the rest of their current role. There’s a major hurdle here. The way skills are described by employers and candidates across markets and industries vary massively so that it’s often impossible to navigate through the information to find the skill we’re looking for. These skills are bundled up

into job descriptions and person specifications meaning it’s hard for recruiters to decouple an individual from the work being done. The way we look for skills which are buried in profiles, as described by individuals all over the world, also makes it difficult to get a really clear picture of the skills supply chain. The skills supply chain looks at skills supply and demand to help companies plan for the future.

Same name different skill set As an example, take ‘financial analysis’. People with this skill in London are typically traders and investment bankers. People with this skill in the UK but outside London are more likely to be accountants. Same skill but the nature of the company, the industry, the job being done and the location mean it’s not like for like. Likewise, what is the difference between sourcing and sourcing? It depends on the job you do, who you do it for and where you do it. Easy, right? Well, no. Sourcing in the world of talent acquisition is about identifying sources of talent to engage and build a


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order to look through a skills lens. However, many of these still fall short. Many are based on job vacancy data, which is looking at skills demand and not supply. Some include categories on education data, which is looking at what’s being learnt, not what employers need, and plenty have a bias towards blue collar occupations and lower-level hard skills which are easier to quantify. In the fast-moving world that we live in, a skills taxonomy needs to be updated frequently and built to include soft skills and transferable skills which we know are now highly valued.

Decoupling people from the job In a future in which skills will be decoupled from the person doing a job, it’s essential that we understand the work that needs to be done and the skills required to carry it out – without bundling it up into a traditional job profile. This is a discussion we’ve been having long before Covid-19. But the global pandemic has accelerated that conversation and the need for businesses to understand skills supply and demand. Creating a skills taxonomy is one tactic many companies have tried in

Cultivating a renewable workforce Having a solid understanding of the skills you have internally, and what’s available externally, is the foundation of building a renewable workforce in which employees are reskilled and upskilled according to organisational needs. Other nice and specialist skills can be sourced through flexible and hybrid resourcing models that bring the right skills into the business as and when they’re needed. Employees should be treated by organisations as ‘renewable resources in which they invest’. The UK’s recovery will be driven by people – but we need to equip them well. To reskill and upskill employees, we need to view the whole picture through a skills lens. We need to join the dots between business and people strategy, and skills development. ●

relationship with, with a view to hiring them. Sourcing in the world of procurement is about sourcing and then using suppliers to gather all the materials you need for your products, services, and indirect costs. Are they the same skill? In short – no. Are they cross-transferable – maybe? You have to consider the skill, the job title, the function, the make-up of the surrounding industries and companies and then language differences to get a really good understanding of the skill set.

ALISON ETTRIDGE is CEO at Talent Intuition



New skills development is rapid. Keeping an eye on new skills and new terminology for describing them is a challenge. Having access to some form of external data based on demand for skills will ensure you can stay up to date with the latest trends.


There is no doubt that we will need to upskill and reskill people as a normal part of their career development. A quarter of our skills become obsolete every year so acquiring new skills based on organisational need should become part of talent management and workforce planning.


If you’re working on or within an organisation-wide skills taxonomy, be thoughtful about the criteria on which you’re basing it. Using job vacancy or education data doesn’t give a future focused or demandbased view of skills.


Decoupling people from roles brings a new lens to talent planning. In the new world of work where the talent pool is bigger and more diverse, break down the role and consider what needs to be done rather than who and where a role should be.


Cultivating a skills-based renewable workforce will improve the career prospects of your employees. Plus, it will make your business more resilient, more agile and more competitive. View your business through a skills lens by applying big external data to understand skills supply and demand for your organisation. WWW.RECRUITER.CO.UK 13

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TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICES Getting the message across

Turning employees into candidates Identifying opportunities for redeploying staff should be at the top of the talent management team’s agenda as firms try to recover from the global pandemic as efficiently as possible. SmartRecruiters wants to improve internal mobility which, it claims, represents only around a third of hires. It is launching the Internal Mobility solution, which sits within its cloud-based talent acquisition suite and uses data science to map an internal candidate’s skills and match them to open jobs or projects within the company. Organisations can create a branded portal where jobs can be posted. The dedicated space allows employees to build candidate profiles, as well as apply for internal jobs, while a dashboard helps to surface their profiles to the resourcing team. SmartRecruiters is headquartered in the US with offices around the world, including the UK. It can also help companies when they experience a hiring surge and become a valuable tool for retaining top talent, making internal opportunities more visible.

According to research firm Gartner, SMS open and response rates are as high as 98% and 45% respectively, compared to email at 20% and 6%. Bullhorn is making it easy for recruiters to take advantage of this and better manage SMS campaigns, as well as engage with candidates via its new Bullhorn Messaging platform. It is powered by TextUs text messaging technology and can be combined with Bullhorn’s Herefish automated recruitment and candidate engagement platform. It provides facilities for scheduled and broadcast messages with built-in advanced reporting to determine the level of candidate engagement. It also enables recruitment teams to collaborate, and automatically updates the Bullhorn applicant tracking system.


A look at some AI services with recruiters and employers in mind

Better parsing equals better matching Parsing may be an invisible process to many recruiters, but it is vital in the age of digital recruiting. It can be the difference between the best candidate being matched with a job. Parsing, matching and data specialist RChilli, whose clients include ATS developers, job boards and companies that need the ability to parse large amounts of CVs or jobs, has introduced version 3.1 of its job description parser. It extracts data from a job description and saves it in pre-defined attributes (turning it into structured data) that can ultimately help to find better matches against candidate profiles. The latest version is able to parse job descriptions in multiple languages and offers additional new fields including related skills, ontology and language. It also applies deep learning technology to extract data more accurately and can extract job details from job feeds.

Integrating with simplified recruitment processes End-to-end talent acquisition software provider Jobvite wants to further simplify the hiring process by expanding its integration with LinkedIn’s Recruiter System Connect (RSC). The upcoming Unified Search feature enables recruiters to select the most qualified candidates by sourcing top talent from both the LinkedIn network and Jobvite records using a single search. Using Recommended Matches, recruiters can post a new job requisition in Jobvite and source from a pipeline of LinkedIn recommended candidates who best match the job. Another feature, Apply Connect, allows recruiters to automatically post jobs to LinkedIn and receive all applications back to Jobvite.


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A robotic finger on the pulse RoboRecruiter, whose solutions are based around robotic process automation (RPA), which, in short, automates business processes, is always looking for ways to improve hiring at scale. With this in mind, it has added a live dashboard to its recruitment solution that provides insight on candidate engagement. RoboPulse offers an interactive and live view on how candidates are interacting with RoboRecruiter campaigns. Responses are updated within seconds of the candidate interaction. The company claims there is no need to manually retrieve reports, so the recruitment team can react quickly to important incoming candidate data and efficiently. It also allows recruiters to view the most qualified candidates first, by location, skills, experience or qualifications, and allows two-way SMS communication to candidates, including sending follow-up campaigns direct from the RoboPulse dashboard.


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Preparing for the future Covid and the acceleration of change BY RHONA DRIGGS

s one would expect, Covid-19 has had a very significant impact on the staffing industry as clients have looked to manage the impact on their own businesses through reductions in external staffing spend and hiring freezes. At Empresaria, while our focus over the past months has been to protect our teams, our clients and our candidates, and ensuring business continuity, the pandemic has been a trigger for the acceleration of a number of initiatives that will ensure the Group is better positioned for the future, as we taken the opportunity to accelerate the pace of change within the Group, and to evolve and improve our operating practices. Our Stronger Together initiative, launched in May 2019, has proved invaluable in the current pandemic. With a more unified Group there has been greater collaboration and support between businesses, and this culture has helped us


RHONA DRIGGS is CEO, Empresaria Group


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respond more quickly and more effectively than we might have been able to in the past. The pandemic has also stress-tested our ability to deliver effectively under adverse circumstances. We managed the move to remote working without any significant issues or any adverse impact to our service and delivery, including in our Offshore Recruitment Services sector where we moved hundreds of staff in India from office to home working over a very short space of time. This stands us in good stead for the future and gives us flexibility in managing the return to offices. We have used the time to focus on improving our operating practices. For example, in a number of our temp recruitment-focused businesses we have evolved our operations to a more sales and delivery-centric model, also known as the 180 model. This will enable our team members to be more focused on developing deeper strategic client relationships and candidate engagement and create greater ability to scale than in the traditional 360 model. Additionally, we’ve protected our investments in technology, including in our front office system. The use of a common platform will increase our ability to drive cross-selling and to generate meaningful business intelligence from across the Group while providing a robust global candidate database to deliver quality talent to our clients quickly and effectively. This pandemic has created professional and personal challenges for everyone. I would like to thank all of our Empresaria team for their unity and perseverance during these unprecedented times. I am confident that the changes we have implemented will result in a business that is more agile, resilient and prepared for the future. ●


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L ET TERS IR35 CHANGES NEED TO KEEP RECRUITERS RELEVANT In response to your story ‘Lords Committee slams Norman and government over IR35 legislation’ (8 December 2020), with the new date for IR35 set for April 2021, agencies who have had an awful time over the last 12 months are now faced again with trying to make it work. This will in effect mean that companies will run short staffed and only use agencies in worst case scenarios – certainly for the short term – unless there is a massive upturn, which is looking unlikely, with Covid and Brexit. For agencies, the only way that this can work is using zero-hour contracts for the few and scarce companies that still use them after they’ve laid off large amounts of their workforce in response to cost-cutting measures needed to fight the pandemic. We were already trying to make the changes needed to make lemonade from the initial IR35 date of March 2020; then the Covid-19 virus hit and 2020 pretty much signalled the end of this sector – and with little to no help from government it seems. My company has lost all work contracts and lost 99.9% of our year-on-year turnover. We’ve had to lay off all our staff this year. So any changes to IR35 to keep us relevant and help to secure jobs are good as far as I’m concerned. Richard Walton, director, RWConsultants

“If you could create and hire for just one game-changing role in 2021, what would it be and what would that person’s responsibilities be?” MATT GOODMAN CO-FOUN D ER A N D D I REC TOR , AURICOE

“I believe that the game-changing role in 2021 for forwardthinking organisations is Director of Values. This position involves: reassessing existing company values to reflect the organisation’s culture, diversity and environment; and creating a values-led recruitment framework to align company values with the core values of existing employees and new hires. When individual and company values align, people gain purpose. Shared goals, increased engagement and maximum productivity are the result. The Director of Values will ensure that the company values are lived and breathed, becoming the heartbeat that drives business.”


“This is a pretty tricky question, but to indulge a fantasy for a while, then I would definitely hire my Second Self! The ‘second self’ would do my routine work (negotiations with clients, team management, control of all processes), and I would completely immerse myself in the development of the company and implementing our main goal – to conquer the world of IT recruiting. Like many other leaders, I would love the ability to clone myself and so manage to do twice as many things, but I’m sure if it were possible, we would have moved mountains with the ‘second self’!


“The ongoing Covid pandemic has caused millions of individuals to lose their jobs over the past year, therefore it has become extremely important for individuals to carve out new careers for themselves. Customer service is one of our primary focuses and thanks to the developments in technology, we would consider creating a Customer Service Analyst role within the company. The employee’s responsibilities would be gathering data and carrying out research to gain a clearer perception of the success of our existing operations and how we may be able to improve by adapting new strategies into the campaign.”


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Founder and CEO of Signify Technology Ryan Adams has a mission to place the right Scala programmers with the right employers – using the best recruiters BY DEAN GURDEN

s this year’s recipient of the Recruiter Awards ‘Agency Recruitment Leader of the Year’ and the Recruiter Investing in Talent Awards ‘Most Inspiring Leader of the Year’ accolades, Signify Technology founder and CEO Ryan Adams has certainly made his mark on the industry. But ask him why he became a recruiter in the first place and he’ll admit to falling into the profession like many others. “I’d love to tell you I grew up wanting to do this, but that isn’t really the truth,” he says. “I actually wanted to be a footballer and did manage to play a lot of semi-professional football for a variety of clubs in South London. I never managed to become a full-on professional, but it did teach me a lot about building teamwork and relationships, as well as the value of always pushing yourself to be better.” It was while at one of the clubs that he met someone who was to inspire and help him on his current path. “I admired the way they looked and




came across,” says Adams. “So one day I simply asked, ‘How do I become like you, because you look like you’re doing really well in life?’. Of course, he turned out to be a recruiter.” The individual introduced Adams to the industry and to international staffing company SThree in 2007. He hasn’t looked back since. “I grew up on a council estate and I’ll admit I didn’t have the best education,” he says. “But the thing I love about recruitment most is that, no matter what your background is, you can be as successful as you want because your career is ultimately in your own hands. Recruitment is one of those industries where it doesn’t matter if you have a degree or where you grew up, people will take you on if you work hard and are tenacious. I love recruitment and can’t think of doing anything else now. I genuinely love getting out of bed in the morning and still have the feeling that it’s my first day.” So how is a boy from South London now working in California? Having

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been blown away by the state on an incentive trip while working for ConSol Partners, he requested a transfer to its head office in Los Angeles. “They said ‘No’ because I was doing really well in London,” he says. “I always resented it and decided that one day I was going to live here. It was one of my goals that I made happen. And it’s definitely living up to expectations. My wife and kids love it here too. The weather’s great and you’re near to both the beach and the mountains.”

People first Signify’s website proudly declares that ‘Behind each piece of technology changing the world, is a person – it’s our mission to introduce them to the companies that need them the most’. I ask Adams about the underlying philosophy behind the software engineering recruitment company. “Our main USP is that we’re a niche specialist,” he says. “My philosophy was really simple when setting up Signify: do one thing and do it well. We’ve focused on becoming as well-known as possible in our market and, four years in, I truly believe we’ve done that.” Adams likes to see Signify as a new breed of recruitment agency; one that’s always innovating, but retaining an old-school approach of building real relationships and communities. With Scala programmers making up the lion’s share of its clients, Adams admits it’s still not the biggest market in the world – at the moment. “It may not be Java or .NET, but it’s growing,” he says. “A lot of Java developers are now transitioning to using Scala and we’ve placed people in over 20 countries so far.” With 30 staff dispersed over four offices in London (HQ) and

“Behind each piece of technology changing the world, is a person – it’s our mission to introduce them to the companies that need them the most” WWW.RECRUITER.CO.UK 19

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Manchester in the UK, and Los Angeles in California and Austin in Texas, Adams cites teamwork as the foundation of Signify’s success. “It’s all about having a clear vision and strategy that every single person believes in,” he says. “And then it’s just about finding a team of genuinely nice people that can all work together harmoniously. I see a lot of recruitment companies where it is ‘dog eat dog’, and everyone’s competing and stepping on each other’s toes. “I like to think we have a really strong team of people that are all working towards one common interest, which is making our company better. I also think this needs to happen from the top down, so it’s up to me as a leader and a manager to set a good example.” For Adams, this involves a recognition of the fact that everyone’s different. “It’s about finding out from people at the very beginning how they like to be managed, what their personal goals are and how can I help them achieve those goals. As a leader I spend a lot of time analysing how I can get the best out of each person and making sure that we’re working together well. To that end, we have a lot of team-bonding events, whether that’s company-wide incentive trips, taking part in sponsored runs or even setting things up like our Signify Health League Table (see box, right).

Covid challenge Health, both physical and mental, is a big deal for Adams. As for all businesses large and small, 2020 was a tough year. “Yes, it’s been a really difficult period for the business, the recruitment

“I like to think we have a really strong team of people that are all working towards one common interest, which is making our company better” 20 RECRUITER

industry and for me personally,” says Adams. “I’m relatively young and have never worked through a pandemic before or even a global recession. For the last four years, our business has always done really well. It’s been relatively plain sailing. We’ve always grown and increased our numbers, both by month, quarter and year, and we’ve grown 100% year on year.” But like all of us, Adams confesses to being blindsided by the pandemic. “I’ll admit I wasn’t fully prepared for it,” he says. But then there are some things you can never prepare for. Adams lost his mum, Delia, in April to Covid-19. She was only 54. “I’m a very strong-willed person and I guess I’ve never been through any real adversity in my work or personal history,” he says, “but to lose my Mum a few weeks into lockdown while also trying to manage my business was really tough. I’ll be honest, I completely lost all my motivation for a while and didn’t want to talk to or see anyone. But even at my lowest, I did try to keep leading from the front.” Adams cites a series of external speakers booked to give company-wide talks via Zoom as a real help to both himself and Signify’s employees. “We had people do talks on mental health, stress management, resilience, etc” he says. “And we also signed up to an app called EveryMind, which is all about promoting good mental health and wellbeing. The lockdowns have been

Managing morale We’ve probably all had the January blues, when the return to work after the Christmas festivities and the prospect of a long month before getting paid can bring us down. Signify CEO Ryan Adams decided he needed to do something to alleviate those feelings among his staff, so he established Signify’s Health League Table. “It was during one of those bleak Januarys when I started thinking about how I could try and get everyone working towards creating a healthier, happier working environment,” says Adams. “I wanted to promote eating well, exercising more and practising mindfulness, so I came up with the Health League Table.” Staff essentially earn points by contributing towards the aforementioned goals and generally being aware of their mental health. And at the end of each month prizes are awarded to those with the most points, which range from massages, facials, extra leave days, workout gear or vouchers to use on Amazon. “The philosophy behind it was simply to get everyone through January, but the response has been phenomenal,” says Adams. “We’re now healthier than we’ve ever been and everyone’s lost weight. What started as something temporary has become a permanent thing. And it’s inspired us all to sign up to the endurance event Tough Mudder and do lots of 5k and 10k runs to raise money for charities.”

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hard, but we have end-of-week Zoom get-togethers like a lot of other businesses, and quizzes and online fancy dress parties. I think everyone’s felt supported and we’ve tried to pivot as a business to make sure that nobody felt alone or isolated.”

Real diversity The more you speak to Adams the more you realise how much he cares about supporting his staff. And in a recruitment industry traditionally dominated by men, he’s quick to point out that Signify has an almost 50-50 gender split and a healthy level of diversity as well, including himself.

“I don’t like talking about it too much,” he says, “but I personally think that being a black CEO and founder of a black-owned business is a real rarity in the technology sector. And with everything that’s happening in the world today with the Black Lives Matter protests and the like, it matters to me that we are a truly diverse business. It was part of my business plan from the very start.” As for the future, Adams has his sights set squarely on continuing to grow the business and moving into new territories. “We intend to take over the world one Scala

placement at a time,” he says. “But we also need to try and have fun while doing that. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that life’s short and you never know when the end is near. You got to really love what you’re doing and enjoy it.” And as for winning the two Recruiter awards, Adams couldn’t be more chuffed. “In a year where I’ve faced so much upset, it’s meant the world to me and couldn’t have come at a better time,” he says. “We all need a pat on the back sometimes and I only wish my mum was still here to see it. But I know she’s looking down on me now and is really proud.”●


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‘CLASS’ IS PERMANENT Times were tough for business well before the Covid pandemic, but the latest HOT 100 of recruitment firms, compiled by Agile Intelligence on behalf of Recruiter, shows the importance of considering more than just temporary ‘form’ B Y S U E D O D D, D I R E C T O R O F A G I L E I N T E L L I G E N C E


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IN 2020, ADAPTABILITY has been key to survival and for some, the key to success. Flexibility, responsiveness and pro-activeness have driven many companies onwards in the ongoing Covid-led environment. This environment has been compounded by the rollercoaster news feeds on a Brexit trade deal. Forward visibility has been reduced to something akin to a 1950s London ‘peasouper’. However, as ever, this 2020 HOT 100 reflects past performance – in either 2019 or early 2020 – with few firms’ accounting period straying into the Covid-affected months. As the old sporting saying goes, ‘Form is temporary, but class is permanent’. And the recruiters that made the 2020 HOT 100, based mainly upon their 2019 profitability and often serial constituents over the years, offer a benchmark as they continue to battle with Covid’s impact. Furthermore, online forums, blogs and meetings held throughout 2020 show that the efforts of many to take care of their

staff sta t ff, co contr contractors ntract ntr ac a ctors an a and nd d temp ttemps em m have been bee n a sh shini shining hini ining ng lightt of o go g good practice. Taken Tak en n as a w whole, hole, the he figures a app appear ear to o sh show w a weak weaker ea per pe performance erfor fo mance man nce tha th than n ffor or several years. But Bu B ut mo u m most stt company co pan com pany y accounts a reflect the th e ca c calendar len en ndar ye year ar 2 2019, one of the mos mo m most ost politically poli litic tic call al y volatile v in living mem m memory. em mory o .E Even v a ven as a benchmark for re rrec recruiters ecru ruiterrs 2019 20 is outside the norm, sskewed ke ewed wed d by y th the h challenges of the Bre Brexit rexit xit sst story, tory or which caused roller rol ro rollercoaster lerrcoa ast s demand for temporary staff sta ff. This i situation was exemplified by b y the h m monthly gross domestic pro p product odu d duc (GDP) figures – a nationwide in inv nven en inventory build-up, which was then unw nw nw unwound, not just once but twice in t one year. the Despite these uncertainties and challenges, the reporting year 2019/20, almost entirely pre-Covid, saw modest, selective expansion in headcount from recruiters, as the labour market remained tight and skills shortages prevailed. However, caution remained and, indeed, hardened in the second half of the year in response to an increasingly paralysed economy. Evidence in the following analysis suggests that smaller companies – making up most of the HOT 100 – outperformed larger peers during this period. So, what are the stand-out messages this report sends? Which companies derive most ‘added value’ from their own employees (before

Covid impact on this HOT 100 The need for adaptability has been equally true for the production team of the HOT 100 itself, as Companies House provided a three-month filing extension to companies. Inevitably, fewer accounts had been filed when this report went to press, so some companies will lose their ranking this year. But many companies, and also first-time entrants, had filed early or provided advance copies of their accounts, enabling the integrity of the HOT 100 to be preserved. We are grateful to the recruitment community that have helped to make this possible.

Flexibility, responsiveness and pro-activeness have driven many firms onwards in the ongoing Covidled environment allocating overheads) yet still nurture the right atmosphere to encourage a profitable and sustainable sales approach? The 2020 HOT 100 table (overleaf) helps to answer these questions.

Key findings 2020 HOT 100 group sales turnover rose 4.4%, a little lower than the wider UK recruitment industry sales turnover growth of 5.2% reported for calendar 2019 by the Office of National Statistics. Like for like, comparing this group against their own figures for the previous year: The 2020 HOT 100 companies collectively reported a sales increase from their previous year in latest available accounts of 4.4% to around £20.6bn. HOT 100 combined gross profit (GP) reached £4.3bn, a gain of 1.6% versus their prior year. HOT 100 companies’ in-house headcount rose 3.3% to total 42,345 employees. Productivity (GP per employee) for this group of HOT 100 companies fell by 1.6% over the year to an aggregated average £102,474, declining 4.6% versus last year’s HOT 100 group average. A simple average of each of the GP/head (GPH) figures, neutralising the weighted skew of the larger employers across both years,




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SSec ecto torr coverage

Gross prof previous it (£m) year

GGro ross ss pro latest pyerofifitt ar (£m)

PPar aren entt g rouupp (where gdro if name) ferent

GGro ross ss pro er head/epmrofifittpper latest ye ployee ar (£) GGro ross sspr pr er head/emoofifit t pper previous ployee year (£) CCoommppan any/ trading ny/ ame







People Source Consulting







LA International Computer Consultants



IT professionals: national security and defence, public sector, international sector




Red Commerce



IT, technology, SAP, contract, perm, executive search







Legal: broad range international & domestic law firms, companies & banks




Ellis Recruitment Group*



Oracle professionals in E-Business suite, cloud apps, fusion middleware, BI apps, core tech, Stack, retail




Trilogy Consultants International



Technology (cloud, cyber, data) & business change & transformation, mainly into FS, pharma & utilities




NES Global Talent (now part of NES Fircroft)



Technical/engineering into energy, construction, chemical, life sciences, manufacturing, mining, IT




Green Park Interim & Executive



Public sector, retail, HR, charities, finance, IT, transformation, interims, executive search, D&I




Parity Recruitment Division



IT/technology/professional resources: especially in government, utilities, health




Rullion Engineering



Engineering and infrastructure




Falcon Green



Construction & engineering







Accounting & finance, compliance, BI/data analytics, ERP, life sciences, procurement, property, HR




Oil Consultants



Oil & gas, primarily niche technical skills




Odgers Group



Interim management, executive search

Parity Group




Marlin Green



IT: SAP, business intelligence and big data




Walker Hamill



Accountancy & finance, private equity, debt & structured finance, corporate strategy and M&A




Dartmouth Partners




TRS Staffing Solutions














Stott and May Holdings




WA Consultants










Engineering, construction, oil & gas, renewable, nuclear, petroleum & energy, technical



M&A, private equity, graduate, strategy, corporate banking, corporate finance advisory



Engineering & design professionals into EPC: offshore wind, oil & gas, infrastructure project services

PSD Group



Exec & management/accountancy, finance, compliance, risk, customer contact, digital & marketing, HR, tech

The SR Group



Legal, compliance, risk, HR, marketing, digital, tax, treasury & corporate finance

Fluor Corporation




IT, finance & engineering professionals



IT & finance: cyber, sales, data/analytics, infrastructure/cloud, software dev & architecture, change




Next Ventures Group



IT: SAP, data, business apps, development & integration, cloud & infrastructure




Eximius Group



Law, finance, operations, risk, technology, secretarial




Law Morgan (t/a Morgan Law)



Healthcare, central & local government, charities/NPF, education, housing associations




Resourcing Group



Built environment, public sector




Rullion IT Plus







Sanderson Solutions Group (formerly RSG)



IT, business change, corporate services and government







Oil & gas, energy professionals




Amoria Bond



IT development & operating systems; engineering




Intellectual Capital Resources





Setsquare Recruitment

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment



Technology, including software, semiconductors, electronics, engineering, IT, sales & marketing







Cornwallis Elt



IT, change, transformation & digital skills into financial services, digital & media, legal & professional




CD Sales Recruitment



IT: software sales,sales engineers, professional services




MRL Group



Semiconductors, software & infrastructure, capital equipment, automotive, energy & storage, finance




William Alexander Recruitment



Technology & business change




Oakleaf Partnership



HR mainly into financial services, IT & technology, media & marketing industries




Harvey Nash Group



Technology, board level, IT outsourcing, recruitment solutions




Goodman Masson



Accounting & finance, NHS hospitals & public sector, banking





GCS Recruitment Specialists



Technology, engineering incl web & app development, digital transformation, BI & data analytics




Prime People



Built environment, energy & environmental; technology, digital & data analytics, construction, engineering

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment





EWI Recruitment



Technical staff into engineering & infrastructure







Executives in health, education, housing, central & local government, NFP, technology/change, regulation

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment





Austin Fraser



IT and life sciences




ERSG Holdings



Energy industry: offshore and onshore wind, power generation, marine and the built environment







Accountancy/finance, legal, engineering, IT, retail, sales & marketing, energy, HR, procurement, property





Phaidon Group



Banking & financial services, engineering & infrastructure, life sciences, procurement, technology




Signify Technology



IT: Scala language & functional programming: placing data and software engineers with Scala


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* Formerly Oracle Consultants




– Unchanged

N New

20/01/2021 17:20

Gross prof previous it (£m) year


Technical Resources



Technical staff into telecoms & construction



G2V Recruitment Group



Technical/IT, engineering, construction, life sciences, energy, public sector including town planning

Sector coverag e

Gross pro latest ye fit ar (£m)


Parent g (where droup if fere ndam if fee)rent n nt ame)

Gross pr head/emofit per previous ployee year (£) Company/ trading n ame


51 52


Gross pro head/em fit per latest ye ployee ar (£)








IT, project management, business change, digital, cyber-security & related areas





Orbis Consultants



Technology candidates in digital, technology, data & financial services




Caritas Recruitment

nGAGE Specialist Recruitmentd



Social care into public, voluntary & private sectors





NGAGE Proactive Technical Recruitment

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment



STEM: engineering into automation, aviation and logistics




Orion Electrotech



Technical services: professional engineering/technical, gas, manufacturing, construction





The Oyster Partnership



Development & regeneration, real estate finance, FM, M&E, general practice, property services




Orion Engineering Services



Energy including oil & gas, life sciences, construction & infrastructure, mining, marine, rail, IT, finance, office




Eames Consulting Group



Accounting & finance, change, compliance, risk, technology into insurance & financial services




First Call Contract Services



Warehouse & logistics, food production & processing, recycling & waste, print, aviation, cleaning





Oscar Associates (UK)



Technology, IT, digital, energy




CMA Financial Recruitment



Accounting & finance, executive, HR





Source Group International



Life sciences: pharmaceuticals & biotech, medical devices; technology: cyber, data, development, cloud





Butler Rose Recruitment



Accountancy & finance, procurement & supply chain, change & transformation





The Portfolio Group



Payroll, procurement, HR & reward and credit control



Office, accounts & commercial staff



Cyber-security, BI, data & analytics, cloud & infrastructure, quant development & analytics, development

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment





Forrest Recruitment





Henlow Recruitment Group





Allegis Group



Accounting, finance, professional, engineering, scientific, technology, search IT: design & development, business intelligence, Big Data, data science, infrastructure

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment











SThree Group



STEM specialists covering technology, banking & finance, energy, engineering and life sciences







Finance systems, finance transformation, EPM, BI, ERP




Optimus Search



Software development & embedded, net, dev ops, life sciences




Angela Mortimer



Executive and office support, EA, PA, secretarial, admin, reception




Spencer Ogden



Technical engineering professionals & mid/senior level into energy, utilities and built environment




Robert Walters



Accounting, finance, banking, engineering, legal, HR, IT, sales, marketing, support, supply chain, procurement




Eden Brown



Built environment, public sector




Carrington West



Built environment: including highways, town planning and utilities





Gravitas Recruitment Group



IT: commercial, digital & public sector




Hyper Recruitment Solutions



Science & technology skillsets primarily into pharma, life sciences and biotechnology




Futureheads Recruitment



Digital media, change, data analytics, marketing/digital, executive





CPS Group (UK)



IT, ERP, engineering Healthcare

nGAGE Specialist Recruitment





Mayday Healthcare






Synergize Consulting



ICT into defence, Homeland Security, public sector, education, healthcare, public safety/criminal justice




Harrington Starr



Fintech, tech sales, change, security and data





Darwin Recruitment



Digital and data





Cognitive Group



Technology/IT: Microsoft intelligent cloud and business apps




Coyle Personnel



Construction, medical, rail, energy, technology, public sector, hospitality, office, industrial, logistics





Annapurna HR



HR, IT/technology and business change & transformation




SEC Recruitment



Life sciences and IT







Fin/accounting, construction/property, IT, health/social care, life sciences, education, legal, marketing, HR





Impellam Group



Multi-sector professional & STEM; education, office, industrial, catering, logistics, managed services





Hydrogen Group



Technology, financial crime & compliance, business transformation, legal, energy, life sciences





Staffing Match (SM Global Consultancy)



Industrial & drivers into retail, food preparation, warehouse/logistics/distribution





Sellick Partnership



Financial & accountancy, legal





Outsource UK



Technology, change and engineering





NonStop Consulting



Pharmaceuticals, medical devices, chemical, care, education, technical, digital, and finance





Trinnovo Group



Digital, life sciences, banking & insurance





Quest Employment



Industrial, commercial, drivers

100 N



InterQuest Holdings



Information security, analytics, digital, telecoms & technology




– Unchanged

Hot 100_Recruiter FEB 2021_Recruiter.indd 25

N New

RDL Corporation


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H O T 1 0 0 C O M P A N I E S B Y G R O S S M A R G I N B A N D (in accounting year)

25 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019





0 less than 10%

10% to 15%

15% to 20%

20% to 30%

30% to 40%

40% to 50%

more than 50%

Gross market band range Source: Company accounts

Margin trends Gross margin is the GP (or net fees) as a percentage of sales turnover. The mix of business between temporary and permanent placements influences the level of GM, as does the trend in temporary pricing and employment-related costs. With larger contract business being competitive compared with SME or ad hoc placements, the type of business and delivery model/cost structure play a crucial 26 RECRUITER

part in determining both temporary margin and bottom-line profitability. The GM breakdown is examined in more detail in the table below. Overall GM shed 60 basis points to average 21% (21.6%) across the 2020 HOT 100. However, excluding the seven largest earners, while this reduces the average GM as the business mix shifts slightly towards more

temp/contract for the remaining 93 companies, the latter do then post a slight rise in their average margin to 18.9%. The spread of margin has also shifted, with a drop in the 10-15% band of predominantly temp/ contract recruiters and gains among the middlemargin bands of 20-50%, which typically reflect a much higher permanent presence.

stood at £116,334 – nevertheless still 4.1% below the 2019 HOT 100. If all seven recruiters with GP exceeding £100m are excluded, the headcount growth rate almost doubles and the GP gain reaches 6.9%, enabling a reversal of the drop in productivity to produce modest growth. This points to a year of consolidation by the larger recruiters. HOT 100 average gross margin (GM) eroded by 60 basis points versus their prior year to 21% versus 21.6% – mainly attributable to the uncertain business climate and a shift in mix towards temporary placements and managed service or recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) supply. Excluding those seven largest recruiters, the remaining 93 averaged a slight rise in GM, albeit at a much reduced 18.9% versus 18.8% prior year. Incremental growth analysis: This HOT 100 group in their past financial year added just £70m in net fees with an additional 1,362 staff at an incremental GM of 8.1%, making an incremental £51,205 additional GPH. Both these ratios are startlingly lower than previous years, and the incremental GPH has plummeted. This drop signals a sizeable shift in the balance towards more temporary than permanent business. This shift is well evidenced by excluding those seven largest earners – the incremental margin of the remaining 93 averages 22.2% and their GPH rises to more than £126,000. Entry-level GPH (ranked 100) to the 2020 HOT 100 dropped sharply to £84,075, the lowest for several years and £7,384 below the previous year’s threshold for the ‘cut’, which was at £91,459. Individual productivity growth was also again measured to offer a more rounded perspective on performance and was a little less volatile than last year, ranging

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Agile Intelligence Agile Intelligence has compiled the HOT 100 Report on Recruiter’s behalf to determine which companies are best at leveraging their intellectual assets. Rigorously measuring the GP (net fees) per employee indicates how effectively an organisation uses the skills of all its own people to generate a profitable return for stakeholders. All in-house employees (excluding temporary workers or contractors) are included in the calculation – not just fee-earners; this is a standard senior management Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Notwithstanding wild cards, companies emerging strongly from this analysis, especially if featuring regularly, are primarily those that operate the most productive organisation, balancing the need for good, well-trained and directed, and motivated staff against the need to minimise costs.

from +60.5% to -29.5%, with 55 companies out of the 100 reporting some growth. Individual growth in net fees was seen at 71 companies, versus last year’s 85. The dream combination of expanding productivity simultaneously with increasing their internal headcount was achieved by 33% of HOT 100 companies. This proportion compares poorly with last year’s strengthened 42% but is broadly in line with the previous two years.

Company trends

Contract-type profile The HOT 10 profile this year comprises only one – SSQ – ‘nearly pure’ permanent recruiter while the remaining nine have either a contract-heavy mix or almost entirely contracting business mix. Across the whole of the HOT 100, there are three ‘nearly pure’ permanent recruiters included within the 15 companies with a predominantly permanent business

4.4% sales increase from their previous year

21% of HOT 100 companies employ at least 200 staff

Size profile Overall, 21% of HOT 100 companies employ at least 200 staff – a similar pattern to that of the past few years. Only a further 17% employ between 100 and 200 staff. There were also fewer very small firms. These figures suggest a fairly similar spread to recent years. The average size of the 2020 HOT 100 member again increased, to 423 employees, including an additional large employer (Impellam), not included last year. Excluding the seven largest, where group accounts have been used, the average size drops to 112 staff per company for the remaining 93 recruiters. Among the large corporate groups in the HOT 100, fewer have been listed by subsidiary operating company this year, partly owing to fewer group divisional disclosures, less transparency and the timing of accounts filings.

Sector Profile Across the HOT 100 there are 39

The bar for HOT 100 success this year fell by almost £7,500 to £84,075 GPH, yet the range from first place to 100th widened even further. Across the HOT 100, recruitment companies expanding their workforce held strong. However, only just over half of companies increased GPH. Of the 33 companies achieving the ‘dream combo’ of expanding workforce and rising productivity, firms employing below 50 employees were slightly under-represented at just 10, middle-sized companies employing 50 to 200 employees were fairly represented at 15, while larger recruiters exceeding 200 employees again outpunched with eight constituents. Six companies are included in both the top 10 of the HOT 100 and the productivity growth top 20,

including Trilogy and NES Global Talent. [Editor’s note: In September 2020, NES Global Talent merged with Fircroft Group to become NES Fircroft.] The following reported only slight changes in headcount but still achieved remarkable GPH productivity gains: Ellis Recruitment Group (formerly Oracle Consultants), Red Commerce and People Source.

model. At the other end of the scale, there are 14 companies with an extremely high proportion of their business from contract or temporary placements. A further 14 have a very high percentage contract/temp mix.


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IT companies, 23 Professionals, 18 Technical recruiters, nine Public Sector, six STEM (combined with either IT or Technical but separated here for the first time), and five in the category of Office/ Industrial/Trades. In the top 20, representation stands at seven Professionals listed, of which one made the HOT 10. Seven IT staffing companies are listed in the top 20, with six of these ranked in the HOT 10 while the top 20 balance comprises just one Public Sector firm (Professional – Executive level) and five Technical recruiters (two in the HOT 10). Drilling down to the HOT 10 by sector, all constituents are highly specialised recruiters. Technology/IT has dominated for the first time, with six constituents. In addition, there are two technical, one professional and one company with a more-than-average presence in executive-level Public Sector/Not for Profit. Because of accounts timings this year, there is one notable omission – Sheffield Haworth.

Outlook In any normal year, we would assume that the increased headcount of 2019 in the recruitment industry would have generated a rise in productivity in 2020, to be reflected in the next

The year 2021 may prove, then, to be one of two halves for economic growth HOT 100. But Covid shocks through 2020 have taken a substantial toll. The subsequent calendar-year 2020 shortfall in industry revenue (sales) is now estimated at around 15% following declines of up to 70% at the height of the first lockdown, with many companies downsizing, merging or exiting altogether. Through a shift in business mix, the GM will likely drop even further, leading to greater proportionate decline in GP than sales revenue. However, all of this will be masked by the furlough scheme, which fuels concerns for unemployment once government subsidies are lifted. In addition, although a Brexit deal has now been struck, 2021 is unlikely to begin on a positive note. But it is reasonable to factor in some recovery as economies reopen. The year 2021 may prove, then, to be one of two halves for economic growth, but it is unknown how

33% of HOT 100 companies expanded productivity simultaneously with increasing their internal headcount

different recovery will appear from the pre-Covid model. Remote working, work-life balance, technology shifts, scientific surges, greater interest in STEM, local versus regional, transport demand, consumer buying patterns, structural unemployment – all are forecast to have changed permanently. Within this shift lies an opportunity for societies to come back better, cleaner and more efficient. There is little doubt that recruiters will be up for the challenge, and uniquely placed to find the talent needed to meet it. ●

Methodology The data has been rigorously filtered by turnover, gross profit and employee numbers. The companies featured in this edition employ over 42,000 in-house staff and generate above £20.6bn of industry sales revenue, while very many more were evaluated as part of the overall analysis. Latest available accounts have been used – dated 2019 or 2020 – several companies are normally excluded due to filed accounts timing. Companies 28 RECRUITER

filing abbreviated accounts and not providing their full figures separately are excluded. Increasingly, as the recruitment industry becomes more global, group accounts are now often used for UK corporations — examples would be Hays, Harvey Nash, Robert Walters, Page Group, SThree, Impellam and several IT and technical recruiters. Companies operating primarily overseas have been excluded, although UK

technical specialists placing talent worldwide are included. Overseas-based groups eg. Adecco or Randstad may be included, using either their UK divisional breakdown, or UK operating companies if filed transparently. Manpower UK and Reed are excluded from the analysis due to different accounting disclosures which invalidate comparisons. Companies combining temporary employees in their employee count are effectively

excluded as this grossly underestimates productivity. The most specialist of search or ‘headhunters’ are omitted for a variety of reasons – incomplete disclosure, overseas business, incompatibility and a shortage of data for peer group comparison. Disclaimer: while every effort has been made to ensure accurate reporting and analysis no guarantees are made regarding the information portrayed in this document.

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Suppor ng recruiters in the bounce back p2 B I G TALKI N G POI N T

How to nurture the posi ves in 2021 p4 Issue 90 Recruitment JanuaryFebruary 2021 Ma ers


EU staff and Right to Work checks p6 B E H I N D TH E SCE N E S

Working towards diversity and inclusion p7

Covid-19 support

Temps to be included in vaccine roll-out


rontline agency health staff to receive vaccine as a priority following interven on by the REC, but other key workers need protec on too. Earlier in January, following successful lobbying by the REC, NHS England issued guidance to Trusts instruc ng them to include agency staff in their vaccine plans. REC members had reported that agency workers in the NHS were being excluded from lists to receive the vaccine because they were not direct employees. In December, the REC wrote to the Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately MP, to seek assurance that all NHS Trusts will priori se agency staff alongside other frontline NHS workers. NHS England is now telling Trusts to “priori se frontline staff at high risk of acquiring infec on… including temporary, locum or bank staff”. It further announced that hospital hubs will be the default provider for the vaccina on of all health and social care staff from Monday 11 January. Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said: “We're pleased

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NHS England listened to us when we said frontline agency staff were at risk of falling through a gap in vaccine provision. It shouldn’t ma er what kind of contract they’re on, agency staff are pu ng their own health at risk to serve the na on and need protec on.” However, it is essen al that key workers in other areas such as educa on, logis cs, non-clinical NHS roles and other essen al services receive the vaccine as well. In a le er to the Minister for Covid Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi MP, the REC called for the government to think more broadly about who should be priori sed for the vaccine. “We are in another worrying phase of the pandemic. Temporary staff across many sectors, not just healthcare, are crucial in making sure essen al goods and services remain available to us. This includes teachers, drivers, retail assistants, and non-clinical NHS employees. These individuals put themselves in harm’s way to keep the country going and deserve protec on via the vaccine,” said Shoesmith.

Keep up to date with how we're supporঞng members on the REC's Covid Hub.

Making great work happen

Financial support As a third na onal lockdown was announced, the REC wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to urge more ac on to support businesses. This includes delaying IR35, support for the self-employed, and reducing the cost of furlough and employers Na onal Insurance contribu ons. This will help businesses retain staff and hire where possible. Neil Carberry, Chief Execu ve of the REC, said: “Businesses go into this lockdown with cashflows under extreme pressure. Financial support such as the furlough scheme has helped a lot. But more opportuni es to protect jobs must be seized. The government must focus support not just on the firms which need to close, but also the businesses that supply them which will be badly impacted. That includes recruiters who have been instrumental in helping businesses back on their feet quickly a er the last lockdown.” 13/01/2021 15:26

Leading the industry

the view... We'll bounce back if we sঞck together, says

Neil Carberry,

REC Chief Execuঞve


appy new year! These words have never carried more meaning than a[er the year we've had. Yet there are many reasons to feel posiঞve as we go into 2021. As vaccines roll out, an end to the pandemic is in sight. We're going to bounce back. It won't be automaঞc. We'll need to bring our A-game as business leaders. But the REC will by the industry's side all the way. I've always said recruiters are a resilient bunch. What more proof do we need than 2020? I've been inspired by REC members across the UK who have adapted to rapidly changing condiঞons, pivoঞng their business models to make it through. I'm proud the REC has been able to support such incredible work with up-to-the minute advice and guidance. We've also been working closely with other sectors to get key support, like the furlough scheme, put together. It was a telling moment when the Chancellor thanked us from the “Get in touch podium when he announced it. with your This is one of the REC's account unique strengths. We’re the only manager or recruitment industry body with go online to the influence the sector needs arrange your across the whole of government. 2021 renewal” But we're about a lot more than that. We're your source of advice to navigate not only Covid, but sector changes, new technology and the range of regulatory issues we face, from trade to immigraঞon, tax to union campaigning. As part of that, we're starঞng a major campaign to communicate the added value recruitment has for clients and – importantly – wider UK society. Watch this space! In 2021 the REC will be invesঞng in improved support for recruiters in crucial business decisions on the path to recovery. Technology, transacঞons, client and candidate expectaঞons – the REC aims to give your decision-making process a head start. We've always got your back, in good ঞmes and bad. Come with us on the journey in 2021. There's an exciঞng future and we'll build it together. If you want to keep up to speed with all things recruitment then follow me on Twi er @RECNeil



2021: the year of labour market Ornella Nsio, Campaigns & Government Relaঞons Manager


ver the coming months the UK labour market is set to see some of the biggest legislaঞve changes of recent years. In April the long awaited IR35 reforms are set to be implemented in the private sector, although we are sঞll calling for this to be delayed given all the challenges facing businesses right now. With it will come big changes to labour supply chains and the nature of self-employment itself. But IR35 is not the only thing on the horizon recruiters need to be on top of. The Employment Bill, which was announced in the Queen's speech in December 2019, is expected to be published soon. The Bill was created to “protect and enhance” workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU and it is set to make as many waves in the labour market as IR35 has. Included in the Bill are proposals that, if made law, would: • create a single enforcement body to protect vulnerable workers and support business compliance • make flexible working the default for all new jobs – the responsibility will be on businesses to prove that a job can't be done flexibly • give workers on flexible and zero-hours a right to request a more stable contact a[er 26 weeks' service • extend parental leave for those with children in neo-natal care • introduce a week’s leave for unpaid carers • require that workers receive their ঞps in full • extend redundancy protecঞon to cover employees who are pregnant. Beyond the potenঞal legislaঞve changes coming in from the Employment Bill, there are of course new Naঞonal Minimum Wage and Living Wage rates for recruiters to get to grips with. Not to menঞon the new immigraঞon system and Brexit. While the labour market was front page news for most of the 2020, it looks like 2021 will conঞnue the trend. The REC will be running webinars and publishing guidance to help keep members prepare for all the new changes happening in 2021.

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Leading the industry

the intelligence... Resilient recruiters find success despite difficult mes

Recruitment ac vity resulted in the industry adding

£42.3 billion

By Josh Prenঞce, Researcher The past two years have seen a great deal of economic disrup on and uncertainty, primarily due to Brexit and then the impact of Covid-19. It has certainly not been an easy period for recruiters. But our new UK recruitment industry status report 2019/20 shows that the sector has con nued to prove its resilience and value throughout this difficult period. We’ve helped millions of people and businesses… Of course, the industry’s primary func on and goal is to support workers, businesses and the economy by placing people into jobs. Recruiters placed over one million people into permanent posi ons in 2019. They also placed 985,000 temporary workers into assignments every day. The industry itself supported 119,000 employees in around 31,000 recruitment enterprises. Recruiters really do make great work happen – helping people achieve their life goals, support families, and make a meaningful contribu on to the country. … and we’ve contributed billions to the economy Staffing businesses also succeeded in keeping their clients happy through 2019. That was in spite of the historically ght labour market and skills shortages in many sectors. And all this successful recruitment ac vity resulted in the industry adding £42.3 billion to the economy – around 2.1% of UK direct Gross Value Added (GVA). That’s more than the

en re arts, recrea on and entertainment sector.


million Recruiters placed over one million people into permanent posiঞons in 2019

to the economy

As expected, Covid has hit us hard… Having gone into 2020 in this strong posi on, the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the economy and the labour market. As we have seen throughout the past 12 months, business confidence has plummeted. Hiring plans were delayed or cancelled altogether, and many people and businesses have been forced to rely on government support schemes. This decline in ac vity has meant a significant reduc on in revenues and economic contribu on for the recruitment industry. The REC es mates that the direct GVA of the industry decreased by 22% between 2019 and 2020. The number of permanent placements and temporary workers on assignment

every day fell by an es mated 19% and 30%, respec vely. …but we’ll bounce back this year However, the industry is strong and resilient. Many agencies have already made changes to their business strategy and learnt lessons from this crisis. Many have decided to focus on temporary recruitment or sectors that are experiencing high demand. Recruiters are using this me as an opportunity to build closer rela onships with clients and candidates. Many are reducing their office costs or storing up cash reserves in case of further lockdowns. Recruitment is a diverse and adaptable industry, and these changes will put the sector in a good posi on to bounce back in 2021.

Despite the ght labour market and consistent skills shortages, business sa sfac on with recruiters remained high throughout 2019 Sa sfac on with agencies

Sa sfac on with candidates presented by agencies







Neither saঞsfied nor dissaঞsfied



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13/01/2021 15:27

Nurturing pockets of growth

big talking point

How recruiters can build a posiঞve 2021 A

s we come into a new year, current unemployment and redundancy numbers are sobering. But the REC’s Jobs Recovery Tracker shows there is hope to be found in many places and sectors. It’s down to the recruitment industry to carry that torch – suppor ng those businesses that can, to create jobs. Helping people who have lost work to transi on into new roles will also play a big part in the jobs recovery, as will encouraging young people (perhaps hardest hit by the pandemic) to prepare for their working future. Is it the regions’ turn to shine? The Covid bounceback is not all about London. Although the capital can o en skew sen ment on how the na on is performing, Ma hew Mee, Director, Workforce Intelligence at Emsi UK (the REC’s partner on the Jobs Recovery Tracker), talks of a “London lag”. And while employer demand there is returning much more slowly, there’s a more posi ve picture elsewhere.


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The North-West and Wales were leading the way in November’s tracker, with jobs pos ngs up 36.8% and 33.4% respec vely since March. The South-West led the pack in the first week of December. Even in areas where growth remains challenging, there are bright pockets. Take West Midlands, for example, where job pos ngs remain down on March. Susie Ankre , Director, Plum Personnel refers to a Solihull bubble, protected by work on HS2 and the job crea on being fuelled by investment around it. Recruiters can act on that to build confidence in the wider region.

All eyes on the growth industries Similarly, while the outlook for jobs in hospitality remains tough, energy, IT and healthcare are examples of areas where recruiters have seen demand grow or remain steady. For Ricky Mar n, founder of life sciences recruitment firm Hyper Recruitment Solu ons, the pandemic has made it hard to finalise his next three-

year plan for the business, which he started wri ng in February 2020. While some clients have pressed the pause bu on on their long-term innova on plans, which has had a knockon effect on recruitment, the business has been kept busy by suppor ng those involved in vaccine development and Covid screening programmes. The immediacy of how the company is helping the UK through the pandemic only highlights what Mar n sees as the purpose of his company: to change lives through recruitment. And although his growth might be more difficult to plot, it doesn’t stop him being ambi ous. “When this all started, I said to everyone, our primary objec ve was not to survive, but to thrive.

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“It’s given me the opportunity to see how we can do things differently. We’re looking at the business, our structure, asking ourselves what type of business we are”

“It’s given me the opportunity to see how we can do things differently. We’re looking at the business, our structure, asking ourselves what type of business we are, how we can maximise the opportunity we have now in a way that gives ourselves a footprint to catapult growth in the future.” In the mean me, he expects his consultants to be making more calls than they would in a normal marketplace, to support clients even if they’re not currently recrui ng. The company is working on projects with a number of them on how they can recruit be er. He’s working with others on modelling future talent needs and how life sciences

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can close skills gaps by working with transferable skills. “The posi ve for life sciences right now is that people are seeing it as a sector that is busy, that has growth opportuni es, and more people are thinking it would be nice to be in it. That however involves compromise both from clients and the candidates about what they’re asking for.” How do we support transi on? But some people won’t be switching industry by choice. The pandemic has hastened trends that will see some jobs die out, while new ones are created. Recruiters will be on the frontline of helping people into new roles in growth industries. How successful they are will go a long way to determining the extent of the jobs crisis. The REC has recently joined forces with the Ins tute of Employability Professionals to help provide recruiters working with or on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions with addi onal support and training. There is so much work to be done in this area and that too offers growth poten al within the industry. Recruitment professionals will be proving their value to the UK’s economy at the same me as developing new skills that will be called on as the labour market con nues to change. In many cases, transi on will require looking beyond obvious matches on skills, which offers recruiters a chance to rethink how they do things. One company, Auricoe, is already pushing for a more values-led approach with an online pla orm that will match a candidate’s deep-seated beliefs to a list of compa ble employers. Founder and Director Ma Goodman believes it could be a good star ng point for those unsure of where to look for jobs. He adds that companies benefit by ge ng candidates genuinely aligned with their purpose – rather than those telling prospec ve employers what they think they want to hear at interview, based on the corporate values listed in a job ad or on their websites. By opening the conversa on on values, skills become a secondary priority. And with the rise of remote working, it’s now even more

crucial to build on shared goals and purpose to drive employee engagement and business success. According to his business partner Gerry Ashison, this approach also creates a more level-playing field for young people. “It will enable organisa ons to see their poten al, even though they may not be a perfect match on skills. They are the candidates that could be rejected by AI, but if they believe in a company’s purpose, they could really fly up the ladder.” Suppor ng poten al But to help more young people realise their poten al, more recruiters need to get involved before they even know what kind of job they want to apply for. Research before the pandemic struck suggested that a young person who has four or more encounters with an employer is 86% less likely to be unemployed or not in educa on and training, and can earn up to 18% more during their career. The effects of Covid-19 have only served to heighten the need for such interven on. Through its Future of Jobs Ambassadors, the REC has long supported the importance of building a bridge between educa on and the world of work. Now it has partnered with The Careers & Enterprise Company to highlight the opportuni es to do so. “Schools and colleges have priori sed careers educa on as a key response to the pandemic,” said the CEC’s Senior Stakeholder Manager James Innes, speaking as part of a Future of Jobs seminar. “Recruiters have so much to offer, both strategically and inspira onally.” Recruiters gave examples of how valuable support could be provided, even virtually – through virtual coffee mornings, talks, fairs and even work experience. But in among the enthusiasm to help, Innes also issued a warning: “Don’t just focus on immediate leavers – the younger cohort will feel the ramifica ons of the pandemic for years to come.” The same could be said for the UK’s economy, but recruiters now have the ability to shape something posi ve out of the turmoil. January - February 2021 Recruitment Ma ers


13/01/2021 15:28

Immigraঞon changes

legal update

Right to Work checks for EU ciঞzens By Bunmi Adefuye, Senior Solicitor REC


n 1 January, the new immigra on system came into effect. It means changes to the way employers hire people from overseas. But there is a transi on period. Un l 30 June, EU ci zens can be retained and recruited as normal. The big change will come on 1 July when a worker will no longer be able to rely on EU ci zenship for their right to work. This is where recruiters really need to know their responsibili es around Right to Work (RtW) checks. What’s the situa on now? From 1 January to 30 June 2021, regardless of when they arrived in the UK, employers do not have to repeat RtW checks for EU na onals they already employ. What’s important is that you have evidence of a compliant RtW in accordance with the Home Office guidance.

ICO confirms the number one cause of a data breach is you! By Carole Howard – Head of Sales and Distribu on, Beyond Encryp on. 6

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Demonstra ng that you checked a European passport or ID will s ll be sufficient to avoid blame if a worker is found to be working illegally. Employers can use the online checking service to perform a RtW check without seeing the original documents. The statutory excuse is crucial because it will protect an employer from receiving a fine arising from employing someone who is working illegally. During this period EU na onals can and should apply for se led or pre-se led status. Big changes come into effect from July From 1 July 2021, new RtW checks will need to be done for all new candidates that are recruited. A European passport or ID card alone will no longer do, except in the case of Irish ci zens. The candidate must have applied for se led or pre-se led status and have provided evidence of that. If they miss the deadline to apply for se led or pre-se led status (30 June 2021), they will not have the right to work in the UK. Candidates that arrive in the UK from 1 July

At the end of October, the Informa on Commissioners Office (ICO) released its latest security incident report. Given the challenges businesses and their employees have been facing in 2020, its findings should come as no surprise. And as businesses con nue to adapt to new, and predominantly digital, working environments it acts as a warning to those that don’t employ technology to secure sensi ve outbound email data. The primary cause of a data breach – both cyber and non-cyber – during the quarter ending June of this year was human error: an email and/or a achments being sent to the wrong person. The 266 such incidents outstripped those associated with

2021 should have applied for and been granted a visa under the new immigra on system. EU ci zens, with the excep on of Irish ci zens, will have to apply under UK’s Points Based Immigra on System. RtW checks from this me will need to be undertaken in line with the new Home Office guidance which we expect to be published soon. Finally, employers must always consider the Equality Act 2010. Although having the right to work in the UK is required by law, employers should not make hiring decisions or have selec on processes that could poten ally give rise to unlawful race discrimina on. As always, the REC legal team is here to answer any ques ons you have.

well-publicised phishing emails by some 44%. Given that there is also a fear of recrimina on among employees who inadvertently make these errors, the true figures may well be much higher – a real concern for any compliance officer within a firm. Luckily, the ICO gives us the answer: it tells us that a sender must iden fy the recipient before sending their email. Beyond Encryp ons’ Mailock system does exactly as the ICO demands, using encryp on and iden ty verifica on at its core. Mailock is the secure email soluঞon that the REC recommends to its member firms. Register here for a 14-day free trial

13/01/2021 15:28


Carmen Watson, Pertemps D&I has never been so criঞcal to our industry. It’s

crucial to the UK’s economic recovery, and for those hardest hit by the pandemic. Plus recruiters want to be seen as important in helping clients achieve their strategic objec ves – and many clients now have this as their number one on their agenda. There is no point having unrealisঞc targets. We take a simple approach, working very closely with clients and focusing on three basic ques ons: what’s the current challenge, what does good look like and what can we jointly commit to. It’s all about communica on and ac on – ensuring the client’s workforce mirrors the local

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community in which they operate. You need to train and support your consultants so they know what’s expected of them. It’s where the next big challenge lies, as recruiters’ involvement can’t stop at the placement. The added value we can offer is to ensure clients genuinely understand the concept of inclusivity, otherwise the successful candidates don’t stay and you’re back to square one. We need to expand into progression and reten on. It sঞll has to be about finding the best person for the job, but how do you know you’ve got them unless you pull from the widest possible talent pool?


What I know

Behind the scenes with REC Professionals on diversity and inclusion

Graham Brown, Forces

Recruitment Services Why do ex-military personnel make good hires?

The values drilled into them: loyalty, integrity, a can do a tude, leadership, management. Taking a topical example, they are what makes it possible to build seven Nigh ngale hospitals in 10 days.

So why can it be challenging to get a job on civvy street?

It’s easy to match skills when you’re talking about engineering, logis cs and leadership, and military qualifica ons can now be mapped across to their civilian equivalents. But an infantryman, without a trade skill, can find it all

a bit bewildering – they need help to see what they can bring to a new role. A lot of it boils down to joining the dots on transferable skills. On the employer side, those who get it, get it. But there’s a big educa on piece needed to help buy-in become much more mainstream. I’m a firm believer that behaviours should be a bigger factor in hires, than always just looking for the closest match on skills. It might take a few months to train someone up in exactly what you require, but the grounding they’ve had and the behaviours they demonstrate can make them the best hire for the long term.

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REC Obituary

Chris ne Li le

21 February 1955 – 30 August 2020 By Sue Smith


hris ne Li le, who was instrumental in crea ng the Recruitment & Employment Confedera on, has died aged 65 – a year a er being diagnosed with mul ple myeloma. Her career in the recruitment industry began in 1975 when she joined the Federa on of Recruitment & Employment Services (FRES) as secretary to the Secretary-General. By 1993 she had progressed to become Chief Execu ve of the organisa on. She was well known and respected in Westminster and Brussels for her lobbying abili es and throughout the industry, working relessly to bring professional knowledge as well as prac cal advice on changing laws and regula ons affec ng a wide ranging membership of recruitment companies. In 2000 the REC was born through a merger of FRES and the Ins tute of Employment Consultants (IEC), the body offering voca onal qualifica ons and individual membership, of which I was then the Chief Execu ve. Chris ne and I, with our respec ve teams and boards, had worked increasingly closely over the preceding few years, forming the basis of the merger. Once the REC was established with new leadership, Chris ne and I worked together as Li lesmith for a few years before she went on to be Director of Hillingdon Community Trust. Here she demonstrated her compassion and commitment to helping those around her – the role fi ed perfectly with her personality. She was passionate

Recruitment Ma ers


The official magazine of The Recruitment & Employment Confedera on Dorset House, 1st Floor, 27-45 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NT Tel: 020 7009 2100

Recruitment Ma ers January - February 2021

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about improving the community and was involved in distribu ng a substan al grant suppor ng many diverse projects in the Hillingdon Borough. Chris ne was the only daughter of Tom and Doris Li le and, along with her brother Arthur, was brought up in Ya endon, Berkshire. She was educated at St Bartholomew’s Girls’ Grammar School and the French Ins tute before star ng her working life in London where she met her husband, Bryan Ke lewell. Their daughter, Holly, was born in 1992. Once re red, Chris ne was an ac ve member of her local community, including being a Parish Councillor, a member of Pangbourne Choral Society and a Trustee of Newbury & District Cancer Care. On a personal level she was a keen and generous gardener, with the enviable ability to cite La n names for prac cally all garden plants, sharing that knowledge freely along with the many plants she grew and gave away. She travelled widely with Bryan and, when Holly was studying in Uruguay, Chris ne joined her and they travelled together there, in Chile and Argen na. Kind, vibrant and courageous with a sharp intellect and wit, Chris ne will be sadly missed by her family and her many friends of which I am grateful to have been one. Membership Department: Membership: 020 7009 2100, Customer Services: 020 7009 2100 Publishers: Redac ve Publishing Ltd, Level 5, 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL Tel: 020 7880 6200. www.redac Editorial: Editor Pip Brooking Produc on Editor: Vanessa Townsend Producঞon: Produc on Execu ve: Rachel Young rachel.young@redac Tel: 020 7880 6209 Prinঞng: Printed by Precision Colour Prin ng © 2021 Recruitment Ma ers. Although every effort is made to ensure accuracy, neither REC, Redac ve Publishing Ltd nor the authors can accept liability for errors or omissions. Views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the REC or Redac ve Publishing Ltd. No responsibility can be accepted for unsolicited manuscripts or transparencies. No reproduc on in whole or part without wri en permission.

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How is your recruitment business going to win over the ongoing pandemic? BEAT THE ONGOING UNCERTAINTIES.

Connect with Akhilesh Pandey to know how he has been helping recruitment businesses to Reboot, Reset and Rebuild throughout the crisis.


Special Report



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2021: The year of the start-up? By Alex Arnot

EDITOR’S COMMENT Welcome to our Special Report: Rethink. Reboot. Reset. A few familiar and some not-so-familiar experts share their thoughts on what is likely to come our way in 2021 and what to watch out for: how recruiters fared in the Brexit deal, what the M&A picture looks like and how 2021 could be the year of the start-up. We also explore how a new organisation with relevance to many has burst into bloom this month and how another is experiencing a reinvention, to continue with our theme. As one interviewee told me that last spring could have spelled the end of a fairly long-running business. Instead, he stated: “We said, ‘No… let’s do something different’, and boom, off it’s gone!” Let us light your fire for a passionate and revitalising 2021.

DeeDee Doke Editor Recruiter/

ood riddance 2020. Welcome 2021. It is time to open our minds to potential new opportunities and revenue lines in 2021. For example, there are now many reasons why members of your team might be looking to go out on their own and set up their own business in 2021. So what do you do, especially if they have been a loyal and successful member of your team for the past few years? Do you try to turn them around? Potentially. But what if that is not what they want? If they do stay, it is unlikely they are doing so for the right reasons, and it’s unlikely to be a long-term successful solution. Immediately after the last big financial shock, more start-ups launched in


2008-09 than at any previous point in history. Anyone who has spent time on LinkedIn over the past six months will have already seen this trend starting up again. And 2021 will see this accelerate. I believe it will be the year of the start-up. If you have a quality member of your team considering starting up, rather than letting them go or threatening legal action, instead why not create an incubator environment where you invest in them rather than lose them? Support them, provide office space if necessary (you may have some of that spare due to the current environment), allow them to use your existing CRM/processes and even a share of your support team etc. Or you could offer them the chance to launch a start-up for you on the same basis, giving them an equity stake in that new

2021 is here, and businesses that have survived the calamitous circumstances of 2020 must rethink, reset and reboot their operations, strategy and vision to take them forward. Take on board the following words of wisdom from these unrivalled business experts COMPILED BY DEEDEE DOKE


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of employees say they are regularly monitored for mental health and wellbeing

ALEX ARNOT is founder of MyNonExec and board adviser to more than 30 recruitment companies ⦁

How to think about culture in 2021 By Professor Damian Hughes ou already know that culture is the single most powerful force driving your group’s performance. The real question is, how does it work? How do you make your group’s culture better? How do you fix one that needs improving? The answer, as with so many other big questions, lies in the ‘how we think about it’. Traditionally, culture is seen as ‘the soft stuff ’ – a special set of characteristics that groups possess. The problem with this approach is: there’s no ‘how’. This is the reason why culture-building can often seem so


mysterious and frustrating. There are no solutions, no plans and no process. There is a better way. It’s called a behavioural model of culture. Here’s how it works. Stop thinking in terms of ‘values’ and ‘mission’ and ‘competencies,’ and start thinking about your group’s culture as a continuous set of three fundamental signals: 1. Everyone knows how to behave – this ensures transparency and removes ambiguity 2. We measure and share accurate information about these behaviours – this provides us with a constant means of orientation 3. We do this with safety and respect – we address the behaviour and not the person. Seen through this lens, culture is not about soft stuff — it’s about behaviour. Your group’s culture doesn’t depend on who you are; it depends on what you do. Culture isn’t magic, it’s about tuning into a series of small moments that send powerful messages: we understand how to behave here; we are psychologically safe to make mistakes; we are headed in this direction.

Professor Damian Hughes is an international speaker and bestselling author


business. This could be a better solution than losing them altogether. In return you can take an equity stake and charge a fee for the use of these facilities that can either build up against an increased equity stake in their company or that they pay back once they start making revenues. With 2021 likely being the year of the start-up – the timing for you to rethink could be right now.


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Special Report

Finding purpose in 2021


By Becky Willan

of business owners and directors believe more and more recruitment firms understand the benefits of caring for their workforce’s mental health and want to make a difference. 32% of the workforce feel the same way

aving a clear and well-understood purpose encourages business leaders to think expansively about their future, rather than getting stuck in a constant cycle of short-term thinking. Purpose provides long-term direction and a roadmap out of pre-pandemic ways of doing things, enabling brands to start thinking about how they want to set up for the future.


1 Building back better

When it comes to business, the pandemic has challenged everything. Even for those fortunate businesses not

The Brexit Deal: a mixed bag for recruiters By Neil Carberry e have a deal. Like most business voices, the REC welcomed that fact on Christmas eve. It means we avoid a potentially disastrous cliff-edge, and goods keep flowing – if not entirely smoothly. It's a start – a platform we now need to build on. Being struck so late in the year, the deal is not as deep or wide-ranging as businesses had hoped. That's especially true for services which make up 80% of our economy. For



recruiters, the deal is a mixed bag. and more certainty and support are deserved. Key points for recruiters: Access to EU markets: One of our biggest fears was that, without a deal, recruiters would have to set up an office in an EU country to do business there. That would have been impossible for many. But the deal is reassuringly clear that this won't be the case. Travel mobility: Recruiters will be able to travel to the EU on

in a fight for survival, the last year has forced adaptation to the extreme. The traditional corporate structure has been well and truly dismantled, and 2021 will be a time to build back – and some companies will build back better. For those who do build back with purpose at their heart, the rewards in terms of setting up for the future will be great.

2 The activist CEO

Rockstar CEOs will be replaced by activist CEOs, businesss leaders who are passionate about an issue or simply intent on leaving a positive mark on the planet. They aren’t afraid to stand for something, and to have their voice heard. We expect to see a

business for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, generally without needing a visa. Certain activities are restricted though, so recruiters need to consider those carefully. Non-tariff barriers: Some may be allowed under the deal in certain circumstances, such as restrictions on placing agency workers across borders and qualification

requirements. In truth, EU Member States will differ from each other in how services rules apply, so you will need to be clear on how you will operate in each country. Data protection: It’s not confirmed that the EU sees the UK’s data protection regime as equivalent to their own. That’s a problem for recruiters who, perhaps without thinking twice, send and receive vast amounts of personal data to and from the EU. For now, the deal allows for data to continue to flow as normal for up to six months until when an agreement must be reached. This has bought us more time, which recruiters should use wisely. Keep up with plans

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fresh boldness among CEOs and brands when it comes to activism, as a result of the pandemic. Businesses that have managed to evolve in ways they could not have imagined pre-2020 are emboldened.


‘Cancel culture’ isn’t an internet phenomenon that will go away; it reflects citizens’ rising expectations around the world and the increased scrutiny that brands and businesses will face this year. The events of 2020 mark a critical shift in people’s understanding of the role businesses play in society, and consumers expect them to lead by example. But as some brands rush to join the conversation before they’ve put in real plans and concrete action, we’ll continue to see more backlash against anything that suggests ‘purpose-washing’. We


of senior leaders say they have mental health first-aiders in place

employees believe that promoting mental health is done as a PR or ‘tick box’ exercise SOURCE: M ENTAL HEALT H IN RECRUIT M ENT SURVEY REP ORT, DECEM BER 2020: 2, 200 RESP ONSES

Increased scrutiny and backlash from consumers

on alternative mechanisms for data sharing to avoid disruption if an agreement can't be reached. Data adequacy remains a key priority for the UK-EU relationship going forward. Mutual recognition of professional qualifications: No provision. As it stands, UK professionals must comply with qualification requirements in each EU

1 in 4

expect ‘purpose fails’ to be publicly denounced more intensely this year.

sitting firmly on the board 4 Sustainability

If the 2000s saw the emergence of the CTO (chief technology officer) and the 2010s the creation of the CCO (chief customer officer) – then the 20s will be marked by the arrival of the CSO (chief sustainability officer) as the new most important voice at the executive table. We’ve seen the CSO’s rising influence and importance at board level in recent years, and in 2021 we will see sustainability and purpose more fully integrated into the DNA of organisations and being led from the top down.

alliance over the 5 Business common good In 2021, we expect to see more businesses partnering on

member state they want to work in and vice versa. For recruiters trying to place workers across-borders, this is especially problematic. A route for mutual recognition is to be agreed in the future, and we will keep pushing on this. In the meantime, recruiters must establish a process relevant to the sectors you represent on a profession-byprofession basis.

purpose-related issues, sharing agendas and working together to create positive change, following on from 2020, which fostered a spirit of collaboration for common goals. Businesses can deliver positive change, if they come together. We may even see increasing external pressure for these business alliances in 2021.

becoming 6Sustainability accessible

More businesses and brands will provide solutions, which make sustainability accessible for everyone – and it is imperative they do. Consumers being priced out of sustainable choices is unacceptable. Increasingly, they expect to see the cheapest available products made as responsibly as possible.

Becky Willan is co-founder and CEO of Given, the agency for purpose-driven brands

The deal as a whole: The devil is in the detail – or the lack thereof. A bridge is there, but it needs to be widened in terms of services rules, data and professional qualifications. The free trade deal can, and must, be built on to fully benefit the recruitment industry and the wider services sector – 80% of our economy and the area in which the UK’s trading position is

strongest. The coming weeks and months will be crucial.

Neil Carberry is the CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. Note: The REC will be pushing for an improved deal for recruiters as part of the wider services sector. Recruitment is stronger as one voice, the REC says, so get in touch and let them know what would help you


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M&A: Reason for cautious optimism heading in 2021 By Mark Maunsell hile deal volumes remained subdued through 2020 and on a year-on-year basis are down by more than 50%, it is the positive momentum in the latter parts of Q3 and into Q4 that will lay the foundations for the next 12 months, giving reason for optimism. The deals highlight the resilience and appetite of trade and private equity (PE) to continue engage in M&A in the sector and come against a backdrop of a global pandemic, ongoing Brexit negotiations and impending IR35 changes. Key deals completed in Q3 and Q4



included the merger of Fircroft and NES Global, which saw the number three and five largest engineering staffing players brought together; CPL Resources taken private by Japanese-headquartered Outsourcing Inc; and PE firm Livingbridge exit The Up Group. A further high-profile deal came in the form of Towerbrook investing in ICS, alongside ONEX, although the deal completed earlier in the year. The deals highlight several key trends, which continue to shape the M&A landscape: 1. First, international firms remain interested in the UK & Ireland as leading players look to build out global, more resilient businesses with

exposure to attractive and mature markets. 2. Secondly, PE remains a key force in driving the level of M&A activity in the sector, either through acquiring new platforms in attractive niches or exiting portfolio companies at the end of an investment period. 3. The third trend relates to sector exposure and plays to resilience, with both financial sponsors and trade buyers interested in deploying capital in the healthcare, pharma & life sciences and specialist IT sectors. While these challenges are likely to continue to hamper M&A in the immediate term, business sentiment and performance is improving and this, in conjunction with significant pent-up capital, will lead to a return to a higher level of M&A activity.

Mark Maunsell is director of business services marketing intelligence at Clearwater International.

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Special Report Report Special ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

PEOPLE, PROCESSES, PROTECTION - HOW TO TURN IR35 INTO AN OPPORTUNITY With the upcoming changes to the IR35 reforms for the private sector just round the corner, Andrew Webster explains how savvy recruitment agencies can steal a march on their competitors and win new business


nough has been said about the IR35 Off Payroll Private Sector Reform. Countless predictions and forecasts have been written but none of them change the fact that in a short number of weeks, it will impact all stakeholders in the contracting chain. Whether end client, agency or contractor, this change is likely to hamstring growth and income if nothing is done to navigate the new rules. However, the changes also bring a huge opportunity. Savvy agencies will not just retain talent that operates through a PSC (and end clients) on their books - they could also win new business. Those with the right knowledge and resources will have a competitive edge over the less-equipped recruiter. Workr Compliance have developed a three-pronged


approach designed to keep agencies profitable and compliant. By prioritising these Ps – People, Processes and Protection – you’ll protect your bottom line, and potentially grow it as well.

People If you want to navigate the reform successfully, you need to know more about IR35 than what’s changing. You need to understand case law and what IR35 compliance best practice looks like. Not to mention make sure everyone involved in managing your contractor books is clued up on an ongoing basis, as HMRC will likely start enforcing across the supply chain. Consultants that understand the Off Payroll IR35 Private Sector Reform will be in a much better position to educate clients – and ensure they make the right decision

on how best to manage contractors post-April. If you don’t, you risk losing contractor books altogether. Without knowing why a client is more inclined to bring all contractors under PAYE, you’re unlikely to be able to convince them otherwise. Nor will you be able to explain to a contractor how you can hope to establish and maintain a compliant IR35 status throughout their chosen career as a contractor or freelancer. What’s more, it’s imperative that all parties within the contractor supply chain understand and are capable of establishing the status of roles. Without this knowledge, end clients are unable to pass with confidence out of scope roles to their chosen agency – restricting them from quality talent. As a first priority, Workr

For all the latest IR35 news and updates you can visit the Workr Compliance IR35 hub (https://workrgroup. com/wc/ir35-hub) by scanning the QR code:

Compliance helps agencies and end clients get up to speed. We have a team of IR35 experts to demystify the legislation and genuinely collaborate to meet the responsibilities. Their advice covers everything from the complications of blanket decisions to custom guidance on the nuances of preparing for the changes and enforcement whilst not affecting operational delivery.

Process You can’t afford a significant upheaval at this stage. Wherever possible you should be attempting to maintain business as usual. In order to

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do this, your methodology and process of issuing a ‘Status Determination Statement’ needs to be seamless. If not, you risk losing more talent than you bargained for – denting your income. Unfortunately, time isn’t on your side. Even if it was, manually assessing each and every contractor on your books is taxing and risks a heavy number of inaccuracies. One proposed solution is the HMRC CEST tool. However, the free-to-use software has been heavily criticised for its unreasonably high standards and lack of consideration for mutuality of obligation. Specifically, most PSCs have

had an issue with the fact that HMRC has reversed decisions when disagreeing with CEST assessments. Thankfully, CEST isn’t the only option on the market. There are a handful of established and proven tools that have been developed by those on the frontline of contracting. That being said, at Workr Compliance, we believe it’s otherwise impossible to be compliant unless using a blend of intuitive online assessment tools and a consultative approach. After all, a blended approach ensures you can quickly process status assessments without

With only weeks to go before IR35 takes effect, can you afford not to utilise the most robust and proven IR35 solution on the market? At Workr Compliance, we apply a genuine understanding of the intermediaries legislation and off-payroll working rules in a commercial context. We’ll collaborate throughout project delivery, assessing the potential impact to each stakeholder in the supply chain of status outcomes. We’ll ensure that compliant and transparent processes are created, implemented and adhered to in order to meet HMRC expectations of reasonable care and, anticipated HMRC enforcement. We’re committed to giving agencies the upper hand, so apply our expertise to your negotiations today and contact Workr Compliance on: or 07827810851

cutting corners...

Protection Perhaps the biggest reason why some recruiters haven’t jumped at the opportunity that comes with the IR35 reform is the risk factor. The new rules put the onus of liability on the agency – as the fee payer, the buck rests with you if HMRC did call your status determination assessment into question or, from investigation, prove that ‘reasonable care’ has

not been met. It’s for this reason that agencies should seek a robust solution that comes equipped with the correct insurance for their employment status tax investigations and, possible tax loss. Only then will you have peace of mind when moving forward with contractor recruitment.

Andrew Webster Founder & Director Workr Compliance


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s RPO continues to move from strength to strength and shapeshift into ever more strategy and technology-driven businesses, APSCo Outsource is starting with a strong foundation: more than 20 founder members representing the crème de la crème in RPO. Few if any practitioners know RPO better than Melanie Forbes, and Forbes has joined APSCo Global to lead APSCo Outsource as managing director. “I looked at it, and thought, it’s got my name all over it,” says Forbes of her discussion with APSCo Global CEO Ann Swain about the new organisation and the role of MD. An enthusiastic RPO advocate, Forbes says she “absolutely loves” the outsource sector, describing it as “more strategic, going up a gear, the sexier side of recruitment. The relationships are different”. The new role will allow her to both operate in the sector she enjoys and knows, and take on the new opportunity to be a voice for industry. “In outsourcing,” she says, “there are fewer providers [than in recruitment/ staffing] – in true outsourcing, maybe 100, everybody knows everyone. My peers are effectively now my customers.” Her vision of APSCo Outsource is as customer-centric as the RPO organisations she has worked in. “I want members to shape what we become, and be governed by them,” she says. Governance will be provided by a member representative committee,




FUTURE A new organisation, a new organisational structure – it’s all about rethinking, rebooting and resetting in this new year. Here we talk to two organisations at two different starting points of the journey into 2021 40 RECRUITER

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THE BLOCK Launched by APSCo Global to provide a voice for the recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) industry, APSCo Outsource is the new organisation on the block for 2021

Expansion into international markets is likely, Forbes says, especially to geographies in which APSCo has already established a presence such

consisting people, isting of 10 peo with their first meeting set ir first for February. The first members’ meeting will follow in March. Membership will be open to RPOs, managed service providers (MSPs) and others in the outsourcing market. APSCo Outsource will lobby government on the impact of legislation and policy on the sector, produce research specific to the outsourcing market and “provide a trusted badge of quality which will

be recognised by end-user b clients as best in class”, an APSCo Global statement has said. Forbes will direct one or two staff, and there will be a dedicated legal help desk, as well as a well-filled event calendar. “I want members to shape what we become, and be governed by them,” she says. Technology companies, which play integral roles in the outsourcing market, will be welcomed as “trusted partner” affiliates, she says.

as Australia, Germany and Singapore. Reflecting on market trends of the past year, Forbes said she had seen MSP, with its focus on contingency workforce solutions, “grow hugely, RPO not so” as Covid lockdowns and more have forced employers to rely more heavily on flexible staffing. As evidenced by the Covid crisis, MSP in particular, she says, “responds very well to opportunity and chaos”. An area in the MSP/RPO world that she sees offers room for improvement is bridging the gap between technology companies and MSPs/RPOs where technology is concerned. The outsourcing organisations “need to find a way to work with them to make sure each customer has a seamless experience”, Forbes says. Illustrating her view of all parties joining together to create the best possible customer experience, she adds, “you need an orchestra”.

APSCO OUTSOURCE FOUNDING MEMBERS Advantage xPO Allegis Global Solutions Avencia AMS Capita Giant Group Guidant Global Harvey Nash Intelligent Resource Kelly OCG LA International Lorien Resourcing

ManpowerGroup Morgan Hunt UK NES Advantage NHS Professionals Page Outsourcing Pro Unlimited Project People Randstad Sourceright Resource Solutions Rullion Sanderson Solutions Volt


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Special Report

ne could say that Elite Leaders has served as a sort of finishing school for ambitious and committed recruitment business owners, where they would hear talks by great recruitment legends, network with peers, and generally immerse themselves in polishing and honing their skills. But 2021 is beginning with a reset and reboot for Elite with a bit of reinvention, too. The ‘finishing school’ remains intact, but there’s greater variety of offering across a wider spectrum of


needs. Also joining O’Sullivan in the boardroom are new CEO Sid Barnes and new COO Tara Ricks, along with a few other principals (box, right). The new span of offerings can take recruiters from “the bedroom to the boardroom”, the trio joke, referencing the physical starting point where many a recruiter has launched a start-up business. “Elite used to be about members and meetings; for us now, it’s about clients and advisory,” says Barnes during an exclusive conversation with Recruiter. Barnes joined last March. “We had big plans,” he says. “Then, this ‘thing’ happened. Since March, we’ve pivoted… Our stand-out proposition is that we are advisers, and everything we’ve been doing since March has been advisory. That’s where we see we stand out and we add most impact, or benefit, to

ELITE STRUCTURE Executive Board CEO and co-owner Sid Barnes COO Tara Ricks Chairman John O’Sullivan Operating Board Principal, Elite Associates Midge Bennett Principal, Elite Partners (Co-ordination) Adam Jordan Principal, Elite Leaders (Marketing & Comms) Chris Cranshaw

our clients. It’s a fantastic industry, and our raison d’etre is helping our clients grow for the good of their colleagues, and the candidates and the clients in the market.” O’Sullivan says the trio had


FINISHING SCHOOL In the recruitment world, it seems there has always been an Elite Leaders. With different linkages at different times, yes, but the name ‘Elite Leaders’ has been a constant, along with its jovial founder, John O’Sullivan 42 RECRUITER

Service lines Elite Future Leaders (succession support) Elite Associates (ambitious start-ups and fast-growth businesses) Elite Leaders (established medium-sized businesses) Elite XL (management advisory to businesses 12 months from M&A event) Elite Events Elite Meet Elite Partners Elite Experts

worried when Covid hit that its impact would force down numbers of Elite members/ clients. But that’s not what happened. “I’m pleased to say about half of our members have actually grown from where they were then to where they are now.” Spending much more time with their clients/members during the first months of the pandemic “with people allowing themselves to be vulnerable in a horrid marketplace”, says Ricks, led to the discovery that “what we thought was a pivot actually became what we look like as a community… it’s made us realise what the appetite is in the market for that kind of support on a long-term basis”. The three clearly find it satisfying to look back to last March, knowing the path they chose was right for then, for now and for the future. “Last March,” says Barnes, “we were cancelling meetings and that could have been the end. But we said, ‘No, it’s not. Let’s do something different.’ And boom, off it’s gone.”

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Reboot, rebuild, reset 2021 ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

RIGHT 2021, WHAT’S IN STORE? People Group Services offers solutions to some of the challenges ahead 2 020 – what a year! A pandemic that stopped the world in its tracks and racked up the biggest peace-time deficit ever. 2021 hasn’t gotten off to the best start. Back in lockdown until at least mid February, we’ve a lot of ground to make up. Here are some of the biggest challenges we see coming for recruiters, along with solutions on how to turn them into opportunities.

How is the Government going to steady the financial ship? Going after tax avoiding umbrella schemes is an easy win, so expect a more aggressive regime. This can be a dangerous time for recruiters. Some umbrellas sail close to the wind when it comes to tax loopholes. People Group offers one of the few payroll solutions that has been reviewed and recognised by HMRC. 2021 is the year to sort this out. We offer a free Payroll Compliance Analysis. Find out more here: payroll-compliance-analysis

IR35 (again!) The private sector was given a

year long reprieve on IR35. This ends in People Group Contacts April. Anyone W: engaging long-term E: contractors will need T: 0345 034 1530 put pressure on to get on top of IR35. They LinkedIn: People-group-ltd recruiters’ processes. could be classified as Twitter: @Talk2PeopleGrp Achieving incremental ‘disguised employees’ and efficiencies in admin, subject to a different tax cashflow and how consultants and we’re not just talking regime. When it comes to IR35, are working will positively about Zooming. Because get informed. You should have impact your commercial location isn’t an issue a clear understanding of the performance. anymore, recruiters will be risks. At People Group, we deliver able to engage with a wider You can find our ‘Guide to value by optimising your pool of candidates while at IR35’ on our website payroll and recruitment the same time improving their ( process. One way is through selection with AI. Candidate IR35-Is-your-business-ready. pdf) Hive360’s or for a no customisable, obligation mobile the app,VAT Engage. mitigating features of Management systems will also chat with one of our experts, our PEO product. When the evolve to drive productivity. you can book an worker is jointly employed by But before you strap on your appointment: hello@ us and the agency only 1% of jetpack to the future, bear in our invoice value attracts VAT. mind that you’ll need to This delivers predictable, balance the personal touch Performance through reliable and sustainable cash with automation. Choose your Efficiency & Innovation flow efficiencies. tools and partners with care. According to the International Take Compliance. Our Labour Organisation, nearly Tech Acceleration award-winning Compliance 200 million people around We all know 2020 has product can reduce the time it the world will lose their jobs. accelerated digital takes to get a contractor to This flood of candidates will transformation dramatically work by up to 50%. That’s an easy money-saving and revenue generating tactic that How We Help uses tech to enhance the At People Group we’re in the business of making work easy experience. and more rewarding for recruiters, contractors and hirers. We offer a free Digital This article is a cut down version of a wider content piece. Efficiency audit. Contact us To deep dive into how we see 2021 going, read the full today to organise yours article: efficiencyaudit@ WWW.RECRUITER.CO.UK 43

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From donating Christmas gifts to funding nurses for vets, you’ve started the new year off in good style!

One of ICM’s candidates working at the London Nightingale Hospital

ATHONA GIFTS PRESSIES TO NHS STAFF Brentwood-based recruitment agency Athona Recruitment dropped the usual ‘secret Santa’ among colleagues and instead donated Christmass presents to Brentwood Community Hospital as their way of saying ‘thank you’ to the NHS.


Emily Bongiorno from Athona delivers the gifts to hospital staff

Rec Recruiters have had to adapt and respond qui quickly to its environment, and that’s exactly wha what the Hayes, Middlesex office of ICM Pro Log Logistics is doing. Usually specialising in pla placing temporary and permanent can candidates across driving and logistics pos positions, the recruiter is now a preferred sup supplier for the London Nightingale Hospital, find finding roles from cleaners, hosts and porters (mo (mortuary trained), to admin and schedulers. “We never planned on having a recruitment bus business based so largely on cleaning roles, but essentially, it’s what we have temporarily bec become!” said a spokesperson for ICM.


VETFINDERS SETS TAILS WAGGING WITH ITS SUPPORT As well as donating funds to two veterinary nursing students – Jessica Graham and Larissa Lawlor at the Askham Bryan University Centre in York – specialist vet recruitment agency VetFinders has launched a new charitable initiative with the Blue Cross. Billed as ‘A dream job for you; a Blue Cross nurse paid for too’, the initiative means that every time VetFinders successfully places a candidate, it will donate a portion of the commission to the Blue Cross animal charity to cover the cost of one day of a vet nurse’s wages. It’s certainly set our tails wagging!

Recruitment firm gap personnel group has raised £800 to help two young brothers diagnosed with the same rare and life-limiting disorder. Zach (6) and Finley (8) Jones both have the serious blood disorder Fanconi Anemia (FA). However, thanks to Vicky Harris, Gina k and Deehan, Neal Rodgers, Damian Burdin, Terry McCormick Stuart Dow doing 5km, five days a week for five weeks, the money raised will go to the Fanconi Hope charity to help families and research into the disease.

Zach and Finley Jones

@RecruiterMag Mag com/recruitermagazine/


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On Friday 11 December the Recruiter Investing in Talent Awards 2020 took place in the virtual world, celebrating those investing in talent in the recruitment industry.


Most Inspiring Recruitment Agency Leader Ryan Adams - Signify Technology

Best Employee Communications Investigo

HIGHLY COMMENDED Charmaine Vincent - Baltimore Consulting

Best Workplace Environment CMA Recruitment Group

Best Recruitment Company to Work For – Micro (up to 19 Employees) Baltimore Consulting

Diversity and Inclusion Champion Bramwith Consulting Most Effective Pay & Benefits Strategy Leap29 Most Effective Business Continuity & Resilience Programme Pertemps

Best Recruitment Company to Work For – Small (20 to 49 Employees) Leap29 Best Recruitment Company to Work For – Medium (50 to 99 Employees) Oscar

COVID-19 Champion Goodman Masson

Best Recruitment Company to Work For – Large (100 + Employees) Goodman Masson

Most Inspiring Newcomer Nathan Davis - Signify Technology


Most Inspiring Support Professional Elliott Jones - Hunter Bond

Best Recruitment Team of the Year VIQU

Most Inspiring Team Leader - Manager Ann Rose - Jane Lewis Healthcare

COVID-19 Supplier Champion Omni Resource Management Solutions L@RecruiterAwards REC.JanFeb21_054.indd 54

| #investingintalent | #RITAwinner

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“My current ringtone is What Doesn’t Kill You ty Makes You Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. Pretty apt given the year we’ve all had” MY BRILLIANT RECRUITMENT CAREER What was your earliest dream job? I wanted to be a librarian. I spent hours ‘stamping’ my mum’s books oks with a paperweight. Then I wanted ted to be a petrol pump attendant. nt. Both dreams remain unfulfilled!

As a temp for our family business Supertemps (which hich I was never going to join).. I grew up with it being run n from the dining room table, bl answering the telephone “Hello Supertemps” from the age of 7. One day, I found myself working all hours for someone else’s company whilst mum wanted to retire from the business. I’ve been with Supertemps for 22 years now.

Who is your role model – in life or in recruitment? My mum, in both. Her tenacity and persistence when she was building the business in the 1980s was applaudable.

What do you love most about your current role? The variety. I can go from planning budgets and strategy to running candidate job search webinars to visiting our client at the I’m a Celebrity set all in one day! It is frantic, exhausting and exhilarating.

What would you consider to be the most brilliant moment of your career? When we have ridden the storm of


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What was your first job b in recruitment and how w did you come into it?

SARAH ELLWOOD MD at Supertemps and S2 Recruitment

SARAH ELLWOOD Covid-19 and come out the other side, a leaner and meaner recruitment machine!

I have enjoyed being back at the sharp end working more closely with clients and candidates as now we have a smaller team.

Laugh or cry, what did your most memorable candidate make you want to do and why?

What has been your sanity go-to during the lockdown so far?

I once interviewed a glamorous lady with amazing, long blonde hair. She walked into the room like a film star. Then mid-interview, and for no apparent reason, she took her wig off to reveal the dishevelled reality that was her real hair. It was one of those moments when you ask yourself – did that just happen? And try and carry on in a professional manner.

I’m currently doing a ‘Blue Tits Arctic Flappers challenge’. I have to do 20 open water swims or dips between November 2020 and end of March 2021. I’ve done nine and haven’t resorted to the wetsuit yet. This weekend the lake was 7 deg C and the air 6 deg. Sometimes it’s the sea (in my lunchtime), sometimes it’s the lakes in Snowdonia.

What have you learned about recruitment during lockdown?

What would you regard as your signature tune?

What a resilient bunch independent recruiters are. We keep on going – reading the market, adapting as best and as quickly as we can, and responding to our clients’ needs.

My current ringtone is What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. Pretty apt given the year we’ve all had. As told to Roisin Woolnough


14/01/2021 11:17


ADECCO GROUP UK AND IRELAND The Adecco Group UK and Ireland has made two new executive appointments. Mark Hall joins as the group’s new head of professional recruitment, and Sam Rope joins as HR director.

joined the business 18 months ago.

BUTLER ROSE The specialist accountancy and finance recruiter, a private equity-backed firm from nGAGE Specialist Recruitment, has launched a new team, headed up by Doug Greer, previously divisional director at Interaction Recruitment.

CHASEMAN GLOBAL The global life sciences executive search specialist has hired Jordi Pastor to join its senior team as vice-president, global business development. Pastor comes with nearly 20 years of experience in the medtech, biotech and life sciences sectors.

CHARISMA CHARITY RECRUITMENT Adam Stacey has been promoted to director at charity recruitment specialist Charisma Charity Recruitment, having


DF CAPITAL Specialist savings and commercial lending bank DF Capital has appointed Charlie

Major General Sharon Nesmith, the first female officer to lead a division-level command in the British Army, has been appointed to lead the organisation responsible for the recruitment and subsequent training of soldiers and officers throughout the Army. Taking on the role from the first week in January, Nesmith is also the second-ever female major general and the only currently serving regular Army female major general. In her role, she will oversee a mixed military, civilian and contractor workforce of more than 6,000 people spread over 130 locations in the UK and overseas, the Army statement said. Each year she will manage a budget of over £200m and the training of over 35,000 students over 280 courses. She said: “I am delighted to be taking command of the Army’s recruitment and training. I am proud to be leading the Command responsible for developing excellence in our soldiers and officers.” Following promotion to major general in March 2019, she was appointed Director Personnel (Army), where she oversaw the personnel strategy and policy required to support the workforce, including support to mental and physical health and wellbeing, enabling inclusive culture across the Army, and improving behaviours across the whole force.

Michael to the newly-created role of head of people. She will be responsible for developing and leading the people strategy, including talent acquisition and development, compensation and benefits, employee engagement, and the culture agenda.

EAMES CONSULTING GROUP Elmer Tan has been promoted to associate director in its Singapore office. Robin Muir and Steven Reeder have been promoted to partners. Reeder joined Eames’ Contract division in October 2015 and Muir in April 2016.

Email people moves for use online and in print, including a short biography, to

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GRAHAM MATTHEWS The boutique recruitment consultancy has appointed Ali Raza as managing director. Part of James Caan CBE’s Recruitment Entrepreneur portfolio, Graham Matthews previously recruited exclusively in the healthcare IT & systems space; with Raza’s appointment the recruiter has now added a dedicated technology recruitment practice.


partner at Mercer Consulting, joins the executive search and talent consulting firm as group MD and head of new sectors and services.

CONTACTS EDITORIAL +44 (0)20 7880 7603 Editor DeeDee Doke

SOVEREIGN HOUSING ASSOCIATION The housing association has appointed Sally Hyndman as chief people officer. As a member of the Executive Board, she will report into CEO Mark Washer. The new role includes responsibility for people, culture, safety and facilities.

+44 (0)20 7880 6215

Contributing writers Sue Dodd, Dean Gurden, Sue Weekes, Roisin Woolnough Production editor Vanessa Townsend

PRODUCTION +44 (0)20 7880 6209 Senior production executive Rachel Young

PUBLISHING +44 (0)20 7880 8547 Publishing director Aaron Nicholls

Art editor Sarah Auld Senior designer Will Williams Picture editor Akin Falope

ADVERTISING +44 (0)20 7880 7661 Senior manager Fred Dubery


+44 (0)20 7880 6231 Senior sales executive Joanna Holmes



The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has made a number of changes to its leadership structure. Kate Shoesmith has been appointed deputy CEO and Richard Charnock to chief operating officer. In addition, Adam Bolton will take on the role of director of sales; Shazia Ejaz becomes director of campaigns; Christian Fowles-Smith becomes director of customer services; Lorraine Laryea becomes director of recruitment standards; Alasdair Reynolds becomes director of marketing.

Karen Wishart has been appointed non-executive director at the global executive search and consulting firm. Wishart joins the SRI board with over 24 years of leadership experience in media and entertainment and organisational, operational and talent strategy.

Georgina Harley, formerly a


Glasgow-based executive search firm MM Search has expanded its team with the appointment of Jonny Waugh as associate partner and Rory Cleat as business delivery executive.


Redactive Publishing Ltd 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL 020 7880 6200

WARREN PARTNERS The executive recruiter has appointed Ian Durant as a non-exec director to its board and chair of its Employee Ownership Trust Board (EOT). Durant is currently non-exec chair at food retailer Greggs and furniture retailer DFS.

CIRCULATION and SUBSCRIPTIONS Recruiter is the leading magazine for recruitment and resourcing professionals. To ensure each issue of Recruiter magazine is delivered to your desk or door, subscribe now at https://subs. Annual subscription rate for 12 issues: £35 UK; £45 Europe and £50 Rest of the world • Recruiter is also available to people who meet our terms of control: • To purchase reprints or multiple copies, or any other enquiries, please contact or +44 (0)1580 883844 CONTRIBUTIONS Contributions are invited, but when not accepted will be returned only if accompanied by a fully stamped and addressed envelope. Articles should be emailed. No responsibility can be taken for drawings, photographs or literary contributions during delivery, transmission or in the editor’s hands. © 2021 Redactive Media Group. All rights reserved. This publication (and any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print or electronic format (including but not limited to any online service, any database or any part of the internet) or in any other format in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of Redactive Media Group. Redactive Media Group accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein. The publishers cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the late appearance or non-publication of any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. ISSN 1475-7478

Total average net circulation between 1 July 2017 & 30 June 2018 – 14,837. is also sent to all REC members

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“This should also see us all grow into businesses we can be proud of and grow professionals that understand the true value of what we do”

Alan Furley So, here it is. 2021. Are you ready for it? he recruitment industry stands at the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a long year. And it is easy to feel down in the middle of January, when the dark nights seem at their darkest. However, those nights are slowly, ever so slowly, getting lighter. In fact, in January every evening the sun takes about an extra minute to go down. If you combine the sunrise and sunset times from 1 January to 31 January, we will have gained almost two hours more daylight. Pretty impressive for a month that is usually much maligned. I should mention now that recruitment has not got so bad that I have turned to meteorology as a profession. Rather that I, along with so many of us, have become much more aware of nature – and also the nature of ‘things’. I heard recently that we are experiencing a



‘recruitment recession’. This was based around the idea that the last fiscal downturn was at its core a financial one and that this time around we are facing many more job losses. This, of course, is true. But where does this put the recruitment industry in the equation? We have not seen the drama of a Lehman Brothers-style meltdown (yet), so things appear to be holding up in the places that we need the most. And this is maybe because we are all learning that industry and capitalism operates on a cycle, just like everything else. Boom and bust is, by its very nature, how the system regulates itself – and remember, we have been experiencing good times too. And now recruitment is experiencing this front and centre. But we can look at the next turn of the wheel with some positivity: investment into digital transformation, to

enable true flexibility in the workplace; the furlough scheme is extended, giving much needed breathing space until the vaccine takes hold; billions being put into the Restart scheme; and a government pledge to improve employment in industries such as green energy and construction. For ISL, the tech space continues to deliver to all elements of the recovery and – despite Brexit fears – the UK remains a vital and attractive place to work from a global perspective. Recent international student application rates are a great signifier of how well-rated our education and talent management programmes are considered. In my last column, I put forward the idea that 2020 was a kind of ‘growing up’ of the recruitment industry. This year, it really is on us as business leaders to ensure we are not conducting ourselves in a way that is counter-productive to the

recovery of the nation as a whole. We can turn again to the seasons for inspiration: to incremental, natural growth; to working in harmony with clients and partners; to ensure we are aware of the world around us, its needs and how we can nourish it. This should also see us all grow into businesses we can be proud of and grow professionals that understand the true value of what we do. This is going to take bravery and boldness from leaders – and this is always done better together, rather than in isolation. Having written my thoughts here, I’m all too aware of the year that stands behind us – when the earth went round 365 times, taking 525,600 minutes over 8,769 hours – and all that stands before us now. Let’s make it count. ●

Alan Furley is a director at ISL Recruitment

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