A Product Approach to Recruitment
The first half of 2019 saw more companies raise investment in the UK than any other time in history. £4.5bn was poured into 889 businesses in just six months, which is incredible. But – and there’s always a but – 9 out of 10 companies will fail.
There are many reasons for why these businesses will end within their first three years of starting out, but three of those top reasons are:
No market fit – 42%
Run out of cash – 29 %
Poor product – 17%
All of these could be avoided if businesses hiring the right people to build and scale the company.
Back in 2013, I Co-Founded Knowit alongside Samm Green, and after six years of building some of the best product development teams, we decided to take what we had learnt from the phenomenal product people we had worked with and use it within our own industry.
Adopting a Product Mentality
We’ve spent the past year working on this new approach and our new brand – Few&Far – because we genuinely believe that as recruiters and as an industry, we can do better.
Focusing on companies of up to 300 people and VC’s, we created our personas and started conducting interviews, which I tried to make as effective as possible using Marc Abraham’s book (My Product Management Toolkit – Thanks Marc!).
Our hypothesis was that companies struggled to get great people through the door at the pace they needed them and after our user interviews we realised that although our hypothesis was correct, there were also other issues that we hadn’t considered. The three other problems that were consistent across the interviews were:
- Stakeholders struggle to manage the time spent on recruitment with their normal day job.
- They were relying on third parties to do the majority of their recruitment.
- The quality of the people they were hiring wasn’t consistent.
We dug deeper into these issues and interestingly, patterns began to emerge.
- None were aware of all the recruitment services available in the market they had to hire.
- 85% put no thought into their talent strategy or candidate experience.
- Those without a HR or recruitment function didn’t spend time focusing on their employer brand.
- 90% of companies under 150 people had different interview processes across different skillsets and no wash-up or feedback loop to make hiring consistent across their business.
We decided to explore the available solutions that our interviewees had used, as well as others that we were aware of.
The right recruitment agencies should tap into an already established network and provide quality candidates quickly, however, they are not on-site or rarely go in to meet with the company, so they don’t know the culture as well as they could. It’s also very easy for vacancies to be reprioritised on a daily basis which can lead to a slower service and a drop in the quality of talent. It also requires a lot of time from the stakeholders to manage multiple agencies, review profiles and organise interviews.
This is where companies provide recruitment across a number of areas, at a fixed price and with someone on site. They get to know your business and culture, however, the people who come in are not specialists in all the skills the companies are looking to hire. This can impact the quality of talent presented as well as the speed at which they deliver, as they don’t have a network or a detailed understanding of the skillset. It also affects the type of advice that they give to the business and the speed of growth, because they were also responsible for everything from managing stakeholders and screening candidates, to organising interviews and onboarding new starters. This leaves little time for sourcing.
Hiring a Recruiter
Bringing in a permanent or contract recruiter is another option which helps companies move to becoming self-sufficient in their hiring, however that person will have a lot of the same issues mentioned above.
It’s not possible for someone to be a specialist and have a large network across a number of skill sets. They will need additional help if the company wants to scale quickly. Another issue that was pointed out to us by one of our interviewees is that companies at early stages tend to grow quickly and then consolidate, which means that a permanent recruiter could be unnecessary further down the line.
A contract recruiter would eliminate this issue and is also arguably a better option than the embedded model as companies would have a very similar cost, for a more experienced person with more flexibility. The problems here are the same, it doesn’t move the company closer to becoming self-sufficient and one person is still juggling lots of tasks. Hiring multiple contract recruiters could do the trick, but someone in the business needs to be capable of hiring and managing them. It’s also a potentially expensive option with no guarantee of delivery.
Having the hiring managers do it themselves avoids an agency or third party fee, however, it requires a large investment in time and the opportunity cost could actually make it the most expensive option. It also relies on the team in the business having a large network, an awesome employer brand, a decent budget for advertising and the time to screen the volume of applications (mainly irrelevant) coming through. The other thing is that the best candidates are rarely looking, so there also needs to be the capability and time from someone in the business to go out and headhunt, as well as manage the candidate experience.
Using Digital Platforms
Digital platforms provide an easier way to reach candidates, however, companies will only be reaching candidates who are taking the time to actively look at new opportunities. Therefore there will be a large part of the market that won’t be reached. Another factor to consider is that it will take a large amount of time to manage the applications, the screening, and taking the candidates through the process.
So What’s the Solution?
Overall there doesn’t seem to be one solution that can provide a service that can tap into an established network with the experience and knowledge in the skillsets to deliver qualified candidates at speed, with a view to create a sustainable recruitment strategy for scale that saves companies money, time, and limits the reliance on third parties for talent.
There are times where complete disruption to an industry is necessary, but this is not one of them. What’s required here is an adaption to the current models. An evolution. This is what Few&Far is doing.
We want to help companies build the product development teams that are going to help them fulfil their mission whilst setting the foundations for growth.
We’ll provide businesses with a talent strategy, as well as frameworks, that can be tailored to their needs. These will help them improve their presence in the market, develop their EVP and employer brand, which will in turn help to attract the right people. These frameworks and processes will also help hire consistently across the business and create awesome candidate experiences.
By providing an onsite consultant who won’t be recruiting but instead will help execute and manage the deployment of the talent strategy, processes and the candidate experience, we’ll help them save stakeholders time and move towards a self-sufficiency.
Whilst this is happening, our team of expert recruiters will be sourcing the roles the company needs from our office. If they need six engineers, two product managers and one product designer, they will get three teams of people working across those roles. This will ensure we can deliver thoroughly screened candidates at a higher speed than and help our clients get their products built. The team will be able to quickly scale up and down depending on the clients needs.
We will be providing this service for the same price that most recruitment agencies charge but hopefully with a more engaging, educational and holistic experience.
As with all products and services, we will continuously test and iterate this approach to make sure that we make it as awesome as possible.
We always set out to be different from other recruitment agencies and to specialise in a market we know well. We’re excited for what comes next and for the future work we can do for clients looking to scale exceptional product teams.
Written by Nick Charalambous, Co-Founder & Director of Few&Far
If you’d like to learn more please get in touch with our team on 020 3693 9000.