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We all know that recruitment is a competitive game once you are on the “sales floor”. It’s a dog eat dog world and defining your niche is probably one of the most important factors in determining both a consultant’s and agency’s success.

Starting Up

When Jon Eyers broke away from corporate recruitment and started Harvey Thomas he knew for sure that market definition and targeting was his key to winning.

“I had always worked in this niche”, he admitted, “but breaking away to start a new agency I knew I couldn’t target the big software companies like Sales Force and Oracle for example. It’s a subject you covered, Mia, in your other article about how the big players structure their in-house recruitment operations. It was a long term game to try and get into those clients”.

“A long-term game we couldn’t really afford to play as we had to get the business up and running and billing quickly”.

Clever Market Targeting

“So, when Tom and I set up Harvey Thomas, we knew we had to be cute in how we targeted the market”.

“We couldn’t go for the Big Boys, so we had to target more specifically. We looked at the way the software industry was developing and quickly realised there was a massive market in new tech, particularly Cloud, SaaS, PaaS and some of the more advanced software engineering trends. There was a huge amount of innovation around and many companies providing innovative solutions who were VC or IPO backed”.

“This unique subset of the market required a certain sort of skillset, which of course, made it easier to niche”.

A Certain “Something”

“You see, Sales, Pre-Sales and Customer Success people need to have a technological leaning. A little more than an understanding of the sales or pre-sales process. Because some of the offerings put to market by these leading edge solutions, these new tech solutions, the sales and sales support staff need to be quite “switched on” technically”.

“And, because most of the people we hire for our clients are that little bit different, we tend not to reply on traditional techniques for finding people. We manage our candidates long-term careers if you like and work much more in the passive candidate market. This of course provides our clients with access to candidates that are not generally available elsewhere”.

“We’ll often bring people in from across EMEA to service our client’s needs, it’s a broad and fluid market for skills”.

Understanding The Needs

“We also make sure we meet anyone who is new to us as we have come to understand what makes people for this unique market “tick”. There are very definite inidcators that we know our client base look for. This has the added benefit that the time our clients spend in the recruitment process is kept to a minimum. When you are a hiring authority, it is very easy indeed to waste a lot of time in the hiring process”.

“A good recruiter will understand the needs of both client and candidate and making that match a much simpler and easier process for both parties. Our deep understanding of the market we work in, the clienrts and candidates we work with helps save a lot of time, egffort and money for our clients. It also means we have a large number of very satisfied candiates who get the cream of the jobs in this unique subset of software sales”.

“It’s a heady mix, but we love doing it”.

Thank you Jon for your input to this hugely interesting article – Mia

Contact And Requirements

You can find their website here

At the moment Harvey Thomas are particularly looking for:-

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Digital Marketing has seen an explosion in the last ten to fifteen years. This is being driven by eCommerce and now mCommerce (mobile Commerce). Not only has this seen online trade explode into the billions, but it has also had a profound impact on recruitment in the market.

Early Adopters

I talked to Chris Mason of Intelligent People about that market development and how IP were very early adopters of the niche back in 2002.

So, I guess the big question, Chris, is why Online and Digital Marketing?

“It’s a good question”, he smiles as he looks up from his Costa Coffee latte, “I hate to admit it, but it was sort of by accident”.

Leaving The City Behind

“When Doug (Bates) and I started IP we were recruiting IT staff for the Financial institutions in the City and the wider London area. But we were starting to see quite a few limiting factors enter the market. There was the rsie of the RPO companies managing the big preferred supplier lists. This made it more difficult to get big supply positions. It also extered a huge downward pressure on margins and commission rates. So, I guess we saw It as a failing market, particularly for a new agency”.

“It was O.K if you had the protection of a corproate agency, but we were the new kinds on the block and gaining supply positions we thought we would secure was very difficult”.

Taking The Hard Knocks

“I guess it was a hard knock, but we’d made our bed, so we had to deal with the situation. On realising we would struggle to get big supply positions in our traditional market, we cherry picked what we could while we assessed different markets”.

Interesting, I have indeed written about this RPO “take over” in other articles on the site. It really was disruptive for the marekt wasn’t it

“Yes, it was and it was in full swing back in 2002, particularly in the Banks. But it was also the same time that Digital Marketing was starting to rise. Amazon was in its infancy, eBay had arrived and many companies were trying to make a fist of eCommerce”.

Technology Lacking

“However, technologies were simply not fully formed and of course, there was consumer resistence. And, because much of what was happening was trying to drive the technology, Online Marketing was sort of attached to IT at the time. So, that is how we picked up our first vacancies. We talked to some of our old contacts, and no-one knew what to do with the “Digital Marketing stuff”, so we offered to find some key hires”.

“Having the door opened, Doug set about researching the market and we liked what we saw. We saw something that was on ly going one way. We researched the development of Amazon and saw how they’d stuck at it despite ten years of losses and how they were driving eCommerce tech. Within a very short space of time we knew we had a winner. So, that is what we decided to focus on”.

Did you really know how big and diverse the market was going to become?


“Of course not”, he laughs, “as a race of people we are just not good at seeing the true potential of something. Only a few visionaries see that far. We thought it would be able to support us and a team of two or three, but today we have eighteen consultants covering all sorts of sub niches within the main market”.

“As a broader Digital Marketing Recruitment Agency we do cover the higher level vacancies for sure, but there is a much more chinking down of job functions these days as technology provides greater insight into the customer journey. This allows profit maximisation and optimisation from each visitor. The technology in CRM and Insight is really quite advanced nowadays and we simply must keep pace with the rapidly moving market”.

“Yes, so we still do the Online and eCommerce Strategy Jobs, but we’re very much into the deeper nic he requirements like Insight, Growth Hacking, and Online Trading Jobs, these are all key and growing areas of general Online Marketing”.

Thanks Chris, great to speak to you and gain a deeper insight in to this most interesting of markets. you can find Intelligent People at

More about the rise of RPO.


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42751339 – diversity business people recruitment profession concept

As with all markets in recruitment, I.T recruitment demands a specific set of skills in its consultants if they are to be successful in this very demanding role. And, there are a n umber of different roles that need to be fulfilled.

So, today I am going to look at some of the different roles that you can look at if you are considering a career in recruitment.

Fundamental Change

As I mentioned in my previous article, the I.T recruitment industry underwent some fundamental change in the late 90’s early 00’s as Recruitment Process Outsourcing became the market norm for the management of I.T recruiting in large companies.

From my experience I felt that the RPO companies were only in for one reason, their own good. Of course I understand that a business model that reduces competition to a minimum is highly desirable for your own ends, but, I couldn;t understand why the large financial institutions (who I serviced) couldn’t see employing an RPO model was not good for them.

Sour Grapes?

Now it could be argued that I am eating sour grapes here, and I do understand that accusation. Certainly it hurt my business and was one of the main reasons I sold up in the end.

However, I was a specialist in low latency trading systems development, and I had an extensive database of specialists that I knew these clients needed. Yet, in most instances I was preculuded from supplying so an advantage went to the banks who would deal with my agency simply because I held the best talent. So, they gained an advantage. However, in general systems development, even in Banks that situation just did not hold true.

The cost savings justified the ends and the only damage was to the agencies and the Banks could care less.

Job Function Changes In Recruitment

So, this seachange meant that job roles in recruitment agencies changed.

There was a big increase in demand for resourcers as agencies cut their cloth accordingly in big blue chip supply situations in order to dela with the depressed margins and fees on offer.


The supply position has already been negotiated so the role required to service the client is simply to find people. In essence it becomes and sourcing and admin role rather than a creative sales position.

So, if you are good at looking for and matching skillsets and then managing the process of submission up to the door of the RPO management company, resourcing could be for you.

Traditional Recruiter

The traditional “recruitment consultant” role does, of course, still exist. This does tend to be in agencies where there is a lot of supply to more medium sized companies where recruitment numbers are lower and a personal service is still required. There is an initial sales focus requried and then searching for and supplying relevant candidates.

You would manage the entire recruitment process as well as negotiate salaries, start dates and packages. For the right person this is an extremely fulfilling role as you are helping both cnadidates and clients alike achieve their goals. You can gain an immense sens of personal satisfaction being a turnkey recruitment connsultant.

Corporate Sales

There does still exist the more corporate sales roles in recruitment as well. This sort of function is dealing with major preferred supplier list sales and negotiation. This would inlcude “selling” to the RPO companies as well.

Earning a PSL position with a major corporation can be the maming of an agency, but the tender process is now much more sophicsticated. So, you’ll not only need to be the consumate corporate sales person to fulfill this job, but also be good at complteley ITT documents and fully understand your companies offering.

This is a complex multi functional role that demands good interpersonal skills as well as a keen eye for detail.

I hope that has given you an idea of how the recruitment industry works and how you might fit in to it.

Previous Article on the U.K recruitment industry

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Hi Mia here, and welcome to my Recruitment Industy information hub.

I entered recruitment after trying advertising sales. That was a tough call as you had to learn so many different markets and the competition was tough, very tough. There weren’t many advertising dollars around in 1988 and a recession was closing in.


My background with a major oil company had been somewhat sheltered from recession previously. And I had gone into sales with a huthwaite, “blue chip” sales training behind me. I thought I knew it all but advertising sales pulled the rug unceremoniously from underneath me!

Almost by chance I was offered an interview at a recruitment agency based in Bond Street in London. It just so happened that the Sales Director had been Huthwaite trained as well, and when i explained my sales “ethos” I seem to remember him saying is was “music to his ears”.

Taking Recruitment Up A Notch

He was from software sales and had this high ideal that he could take recruitment “up a notch” and make it more a professional rather than a hard hitting burn and churn regime.

Indeed it was a high ideal, but I’m not sure it was ever going to work for a raw recruit doing his first job in recruitment. It always was and remains a numbers game when you first start out. You have no relationships and you have to start somewhere and that is hitting the telephone – hard.

Now, what I did find is that the Huthwaite techniques coupled with the harder edge advertising ingrained into me worked well. I made a placement in my first week, a Sculptor programmer for the record. GP of £300/week. Not a bad deal at all.

Lack Of Training

But training was at a premium in recruitment at the time and working in IBM IT, I sent Systems Programmers to Analyst Programmer jobs and made all the usual rookie mistakes. But, I worked hard at understanding my market and I was successful. At the end of my first year in the business I was running 19 contractors with a healthy weekly gross profit.

And, I think there is one of recruitment’s main lessons, know your market! I made an investment in myself to learn my market and it paid huge dividends. Nowdays in a slightly more enlightened market (for the most part) many agencies take the moer sales inclined people from their industry to traing as recruitment consultants.

This is, I think is a good move.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Some markets now suffer from an over imposition of the Recruitment Process Outsource model. IT being a particular case in point. And, whilst this model has driven down costs, it has focussed the power in the hands of too few RPO agencies in that market (in my opinion). I have also heard many reports of the RPO companies not playing fair by supplying agencies.

I find this sad as it has taken away the genuine sales skills of the recruiter and made it an admin style role. It’s alos made it difficult for specialist agencies to thrive which has probably cost some line managers in true niche areas (for example low latency trading systems development) a lot of added time to find the specialists they need to fill their very specific requirements.

But, that is another story for another day.

Needless to say recruitment as an industry is alive and kicking and indeed, prospering. As services drive the U.K economy post brexit, it is hugely gratifying to see recruitment leading the way.