Finding the needle in a haystack


After several years overseas I needed to return to my home in the UK. Everyone told me it was crazy timing with Brexit disrupting the landscape, a new digital recruitment world dominated and reliant on LinkedIn and Job Boards, all combined with word search recruiters! Recruitment had turned into a transactional business with very little loyalty or understanding of client or candidate needs.

And, here was a guy (me) who’d succeeded in the “old-fashioned way” of understanding industry, technology, building relationships and putting a great client together with a great candidate, never having used social media or job boards, now trying to make a difference in the “new way” of recruitment.

Sometimes annoying!

But here’s the thing; I’m OCD. I can’t get started unless I know what I’m talking about.

I have to know why things are done and required. I was that kid who kept asking my mother “Why? Why? Why?”

When I know the “why” I can predict, understand and think laterally to come up with a range of solutions to challenges. I know that makes a better recruiter (problem solver).

Sometimes it’s trial and error because after all, if you don’t make mistakes you’re not trying hard enough. I don’t throw mud and hope that it will stick. I have to understand you, your business, your skills and of course you as a person. But, of course above all else, Why?

The needle in the haystack

Sometimes we start something with good intentions and it turns out to be far harder than ever expected and you’re always asking yourself if it’s worth it. but I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and decided to commit and to keep the faith in my clients and their projects. After all, it’s never about one “deal”, it’s about building long-term, loyal and faithful relationships.

You see, right now I’ve been given the time to go out into the world on a journey to find the perfect person (the needle in the haystack) for a great UK-wide project that’s set to last over the coming 2½ to 3yrs . It has been a journey and a big reminder how things should be when a very complex project needs a specific skillset.

Where’s the Haystack?

Planning - I love to be busy, but I like to be productive. And so, before I sail-off on our journey, I knew the better the plan, the smarter we can all work. We need to understand the total journey potentially ahead of us, being ready for every eventuality when filling a “Job Order” (client vacancy).

What must the end-result look like? The strategy to get there, the potential road-blocks along the way and how we might have to adjust to get around them.

The Haystack involved finding someone with a specific industry knowledge of logistics and ERP-SAP. There lay the challenge; with only 11 sites around Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia to choose from (they were the only ones who’d implemented SAP in that industry sector), we knew we had to locate everyone in those companies who may know or have worked with someone who may fit the bill. It’s called Headhunting!

The Journey

We called Germany and the Netherlands – that was easy. Next up Spain and things got interesting as they were still on lunch! Dubai always fun as an emerging economy and culture, and India so helpful. On and on it went, building up amazing knowledge of who’s who in the industry. But at the end, no one was available for our project. Quickly we returned to the UK market and instead refocused on the Supply Chain projects, calling, talking and networking. It worked and slowly but surely we were finding some good people, with strong skills and communication skills and they were available!

Today the journey continues and the business continues to grow. I’m so glad to be back!


Crazy days!

Building a business takes hard work, takes faith, endurance and the love of what you do. To many they think I’m crazy

I wake at 0420 each day, make coffee, take my bicarb (have to keep alkaline!) and exercise in the dark (the days have got shorter), all to start-up my day with some energy to keep me going for the many hours ahead.

I’m out the door by 0550, driving, thinking and singing to myself (at least I hope no one else can hear me!). I catch the train by 0630 into Birmingham. I try to catch-up on some news from Flipboard, Twitter and LinkedIn. Reposting and liking the good stuff and then I plan my day ahead……all in 45mins on the train.

By 0715 I’m on my feet, walking to the office (music turned up in my headset) to keep the tempo and energy levels high. I’m in by 0730, making more espressos and my vital hot water, lemon juice and chopped ginger to keep me energized for the day (not all in one mug!). Grabbing a bite to eat while I check through my emails and trying to get the admin out of the way, so I can start talking to people by 0830.

The rest of the team arrives and we start-up the day proper. I’m off and running on the ‘phone talking to candidates, checking on them, updating them, fine-tuning what we need to do to get them that next job. I don’t stop, other than for a little more fuel (I mean coffee) until 1 or 2pm.

It must be lunch! Let’s walk, let’s walk fast to grab a salad, some protein and my popcorn snack. Out and back by 1:30, eat up and ready to go again.

On to my clients, making sure they’re happy, presenting my newly referenced candidates. I take references on all my advancing candidates, taking as much time as I can with each referee. You see, referenees always, always tell me things about the candidate that you have never found out. There’s nothing more motivating than finding out about your candidates from 3rd parties. It clarifies, it motivates and it drives me forward to tell the clients and the world how amazing people can be.

Finally it’s 5pm and I need to consolidate all the day’s activity into a format for sending to my clients. Working through resumes, references, candidate job focused emails, product data and putting it all together in a package for sending to my clients that they don’t get from any other recruiters. As I say, I don’t throw mud and hope it will stick. I find the right people for the job and expect them all to be interviewed.

In between I’m preparing candidates for interviews, debriefing both client and candidates after their respective interviews. And gradually both parties come together.

An office day keeps going until 1830 and I run out to catch my train, still on my cell usually all the way to the train station. I board at 1855, back to the car by 1940 and in the door of my temporary home by 2010, eat dinner and climb into bed by 2130, sleep and do it all over again!

Crazy, I know but I love it

I hope you’ll be part of my world and I can make a small difference to your world in some small way.