The first anniversary of my Recruitment Business – what a ride!

So this week marks 1 year of SEAO Talent Partners…

Where to start?!

1 year since I left my corporate role of Head of Recruitment and decided to use my stubbornness and highly ambitious mind set to start something completely new, something that I was fully responsible for, something that I could pour all my experiences into and something that would be long term for my family and make my little girls proud.

I knew I was ready. 

After months of discussions with my investors, I was confident there was a market for an outsourced recruitment team, made up of only the very best in-house professionals.  It would mimic the service we had all provided to our internal stakeholders and Hiring Managers.  The ‘tribe’ would know not only how to fill roles with the very best talent equipped with the right skills, values and behaviours; they would also know how those new appointments would affect internal skillsets, employee engagement, succession planning, organisational development, brand perception, retention and internal communications.

We would all come from a range of sectors and industries so we couldn’t be pigeon holed into one particular discipline.  There would come to be a big dose of hospitality and leisure, a chunk of professional services and facilities management, a hearty handful of health and social care, a slab of public sector and a sprinkling of charity knowledge – all strategically mixed in there. 

Those who know me well know the year I set up SEAO was not the easiest year for me personally.  The beginning of 2018 saw me bouncing back from an illness, and the end of the year saw my marriage breakdown.  However, having already decided to leave my full time, permanent role, I was determined to continue on my quest for changing the perception of the recruitment industry.  The business plan was solid… yes things had definitely changed… but I believed in my new found entrepreneurship and I was willing to die trying to make it work.

So Day 1, there it was… me… and a laptop.

But my first team member Laura, my People Partner and Exec Assistant, was soon to follow.  My second day was her and I working with two laptops on the free wi-fi in a local Costa.

The team began to grow, as did the solidifying of our services, our offering, the plans from our previous research and the conversations with potential businesses and candidates.

Kirsty, my Partnership Manager (and best friend in the whole wide world!) joined us next – her first day was working from the front room of my old house.

Then on 5th November – ‘remember, remember the 5th of November’ we moved into our first office on Pilgrim Street in Newcastle upon Tyne.  That was momentous day for us.  We had a pink sofa, which Laura had sourced from Gumtree for £30, but very little more.

Moving into an office brought us many challenges and learnings. 

How difficult could it be to get a logo printed and put on an office wall?  Pretty hard apparently, considering it took us around 3 months and a couple of very difficult conversations. 

We learned technology was not our friend…with a few too many ‘downtimes’ for me to want to remember. 

But the hardest part was by far the reputation of the recruitment industry and the impact that had on our first conversations with any new or potential clients.  I will come back to this later, as I think it’s an important elephant in the room that should be addressed.

In January came our first two clients. 

To those I am super grateful. They believed in our expertise and gave us the opportunity to partner them with passion.

Then came client three…an amazing business with heaps of potential.  Then retained client four and client five.

Along with the fabulous client base we were building, came Heather then Stephanie to step up the ambition and drive.  One of our original tribe members, Rachel, left us to have a beautiful baby boy, and we continued as a team of five.

So that whistle stop tour takes us through the growth of the team and our client base.  Not to forget our talent bank of candidates. This grew our ATS from a handful of individuals we knew personally, to a skilled and experienced troupe of over 800 quality candidates from different geographical locations, multiple disciplines and across all industries.

So back to the challenges of the industry.

Each time we thought we had perfected our ‘elevator pitch’, tested a new strapline and went out to market – the conversation was always met with ‘ah, another recruitment agency?’

Here it is… Yes – we are recruiters.  We are able to fill roles however, we fill them with retention and business growth/transition always at the forefront of our minds.  Yes – we are a commercial business however, it’s not about huge one off fees for putting a sticky plaster over a business’s bleeding knee (that’s a vacancy).

We are about retained recruitment services.

Outsource – we can take all or part of the recruitment process.

Insource – we can go into a business and work strategically to design and create all (or some) recruitment processes, practices and procedures.

We partner – we lead client branded recruitment campaigns.  Executive level to Apprenticeships (including Graduates, volume roles and talent banking) we deliver social media and attraction strategies to get only the very best individuals – with the right values, behaviours and cultural fit.

So here we stand – 12 months down the line…

  • 5 sassy and focused ladies (with 5 fabulously supportive families behind us)
  • A new bigger office (with beautiful pink walls – decorated with our values and the adventures we have already shared together)
  • Client 8 signed and on boarded… watch this space
  • A solid bank of case studies and testimonials from businesses including start-ups, scale ups, SME’s and corporates
  • Some amazing candidates now supported and in new roles – preparing for Christmas – after securing something which makes them and their loved ones happy
  • An average time to offer of 31 days, 4 social media posts released per role, 98 CVs per advert and 3:1 for interviews to offer (stats from the last 8 appointments)
  • … And guess what??? A new, shiny and fabulous Accountant man for me!

BRING ON 2020!  Year 2 – we’re ready for you!

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Sam Wall

Sam Wall

Founder and Director