In this Recruiter Spotlight, we interview REC member Ian Hoskins, Founder and Managing Director of Recruitment Solutions for Business (UK) Ltd, a Recruitment agency based in Essex focusing on the Property market – with more sectors, including IT, to follow soon.
Ian discusses how he came to start his own recruitment firm in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges he had to face, as well as his decision behind investing in Voyager Infinity Recruitment Software – and more!
Watch the full interview with Ian Hoskins or read the transcript below:
Hi Ian, thank you so much for being with us today. To start with, could you tell us about your background as a Recruiter and how you decided to start your company?
Yes, of course. After a successful career in Estate Agency of about 25 years, I think I had a bit of a mid-life crisis and felt that I was working too hard and didn’t really have something to call my own. At the time, I used a Recruitment company called Rayner Personnel, who specialised in recruiting in Property, and they were offering franchises within their business to purchase.
After considerable due diligence and a lot of soul searching on my behalf, I purchased the franchise for the East of England from Rayner Personnel about five years ago now, and never looked back. Because I had that background in Estate Agency, I had all the clients, the contacts, the candidates, and it was a natural transition into Recruitment. I had recruited, as an employer for many years, hundreds of people. And it was time to get paid to do that.
So, we had a tremendous first year in Rayner, and built on that every year from that point onwards, that goes back in 2016. And I wish I’d done it sooner if I’m honest, Yann.
Obviously, it was a natural transition for you to start with the Property sector, and I understand that is your main focus, but I think when we chatted earlier, you also mentioned that you are planning to expand to other sectors in the near future, correct?
Yes, that’s right. So, during the first lockdown of this year, my wife and myself decided that it was probably time to exit the franchise from Rayner, earlier than originally planned at the five-year mark. Because of Covid-19 and the impending marketplace, we felt that Rayner Personnel being a Property-related Recruitment company was too limiting. So, we took the option of formerly resigning from the franchise and we started our own business in July of this year, called Recruitment Solutions for Business.
Initially, we resigned from Rayner with the intention of carrying on recruiting in the Property sector because that is what we had built up over the preceding four years – so that’s what we have been concentrating since July and that’s continued to trade well. We now have a team of six people, all remote working, and our first IT recruiter. We have plans to move into other sectors, namely IT, Administration, and potentially more general recruitment requirements across the south-east of England.
At the current time, our main focus is still very much the Property sector, but we felt that it was probably too niche. We are now into November and our decision has been the right one, because jobs are thin on the ground, across all sectors, given the current climate and Covid-19. So, we feel we made the right call at the right time, and we are ready for 2021.
What challenges came with deciding to launch your own firm during the pandemic, and how did you did you overcome them?
Yes, it was challenging. It took a lot of planning in June, setting up our own website, with many people working remotely. The property sector, although there is a lockdown currently, remains open, and that’s kept us going and trading successfully in that period. It was a difficult thing to do and, looking back on that, a brave decision to make in one of the worst years in the job market that you could properly comprehend.
We’re now into November run, and, touch wood, we continue to trade well in the property sector, and we have appointed our first IT Recruiter, so we’re very positive that despite the climate, we remain busy and successful, and when we move into other sectors, that we will employ people that have expertise in those sectors.
I must tell you, I’m very glad myself that the Property sector is still functioning during this lockdown, since I moved last week. And that would have been very problematic for me if it weren’t.
Exactly, the Property sector has remained stable. The government introduced a stamp duty holiday which really buoyed the housing market in the UK. In fact, many Estate Agents are reporting a record performance level. But, you know, we want to grow our business, and moving into other sectors; it is a natural transition to do that.
Moving on to technology now – establishing your own firm, as you said, came with challenges and obviously you are working with Voyager Infinity. I understand you were using that at Rayner before. So why did you decide to stay with Voyager when you decided to establish Recruitment Solutions for Business?
I’m not particularly good with CRM systems, and it takes me a while to get used to them and to learn them, which we did with Voyager initially. And once I learned that system, it does everything that I need it to. I and my team, we all used Voyager and we have always worked remotely, even before lockdown and Covid. And I feel, in the balance of probability, it was probably opportune that we continue to use the same system. Because it required, obviously, no additional training. We were familiar with the system.
Voyager were very good about making sure my remote workers had access to my database. And because we are all remote workers, and there are now seven in the team, it is really important that we can all work from one software system on one database. Because a system is only as good as the people that use it, and I know my team were well trained on the system, as was I, and it just felt natural. It was one less headache to worry about learning a new system.
And Voyager provide everything that I need in the system. If you’d come unstuck, there’s a support line to talk to, and it took a few days to set up, so it really helped.
We’d also agreed with Rayner to a carry on with our database that we’d built up for the four years as part of our exit. My database was transferred across between the two businesses, when we went live in July, and it was a seamless process. It wouldn’t be as seamless if we’d had chosen to go with another provider. I think it would have been an additional headache in what was a difficult time starting a new company.
So did your team start in July, or were they coming from Rayner as well?
Some of the team came with me from Rayner, some of them stayed at Reiner, and they were given the option to do that. And we’ve since added to the team as well. We’ve got another two Recruiters, and we’ve just appointed our first IT Recruiter as well.
I provide the training. I think it’s important, because we all use the system, and we’re remote working. As I said, the system is only as good as the people that use that system. And if they don’t make copious notes and use the system as a centerpiece for the way they work, then that’s a real headache for us.
When I was at Rayner I would train my for a minimum period of two weeks, in using the system, getting the best from the system. That being said, Voyager do offer that training, but because I’ve used the system for four years now, I think I’m probably best placed to provide that training. I can assure that my team fully know the system, and I know they know.
Exactly, so that the system precisely follows your workflow because you always have to tweak a bit your workflow when you start using a system. But once you’re used to it, it’s fine.
But that’s a good thing about Voyager because it’s a system that’s used by many Recruiters I know, and it provides facilities for many different sectors. Some of the stuff in the system we don’t use, and probably should and could use. And certainly, as we move into the IT sector, the more detailed qualifications, and the testing facilities you provide, we’ll certainly be looking at that for 2021.
For our final question, I’d like you to get your crystal ball out. We ask everybody Recruiter Spotlight, because we started this series at the beginning of lockdown: what are your thoughts on the future of Recruitment, post Covid-19? What changes do you see happening that are here to stay?
It’s very difficult. My decision to start my own company was born from a belief that the “new Covid world” would result in higher unemployment and less available jobs, certainly in the Property sector. And that has borne to be true, so far. I have friends that run Recruitment companies in different sectors, and they have seen the same. We have seen probably four to five times more candidates on the market, with probably half of the available jobs that we had prior to lockdown, so there are many more candidates chasing fewer roles.
In my mind, that plays into the hand of a good Recruiter because clients will pay your fee to put the best candidates in front of them. And that is never more so important in the current climate, because we will spend an exorbitant amount of time shortlisting, Zoom interviewing, telephone interviewing, face-to-face interviewing candidates before the client even sees a CV, and that’s what they pay our fee for – to save them time and find them the best candidate.
So, I think it’s tougher in a different way. We are working, we are spending a lot more time with candidates than we have ever done. We’re getting a lot more applications than we’ve ever done. I still think there is a very important place for a good Recruiter.
It’s about communication and relationships, both with the client and the candidate, making sure that everybody’s kept informed throughout the process and holding the candidate’s hand through the job interview process, because it’s never more daunting when you are one of a hundred people applying for a job. I think the future is bright for good Recruiters.
Voyager Infinity and Voyager Mid-Office are software solutions that make Recruiters’ lives easier. Voyager Infinity is a CRM used by thousands of recruiters globally to source, nurture and maintain the relationships with their clients and candidates, and Mid-Office manages the entire Pay and Bill process (IR35 ready).