News & insights

In the hiring line

By Fiona Frudd

Recruitment is big business. The industry, as a whole, is a real success story which has seen it become one of the UK economy's fastest-growing sectors.

Since 2008. the number of recruitment agencies operating it the UK has grown, on average, by 27% a year. And with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation predicting that 56% of all the UK's vacancies in the next 12 months will be filled by agencies, the role of the recruiter in driving the employment marketplace is pivotal.

How the sector continues to go from strength-to-strength boils down to its ability to embrace change and maximise its unique position during periods of economic uncertainty.

Identifying individuals with the right skills is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, and the is where specialist recruiters can add real value to their clients.

This is something that Dominic Syalon passionately believes in.

As Regional Director for the East Midlands for Chamber Patron SF Recruitment. Dominic has been at the sharp end of recruitment for more than 25 years and in that time, has seen at first-hand how the sector has evolved.

However, it could all have been so different.

A career in recruitment wasn’t in his life plan, but he got bit by the bug after graduating with a degree in Law from Nottingham Trent University, and hasn't locked back since.

He said: "I am a believer in people falling into careers that suit them. Everyone has a set of skills that makes them suitable to certain roles and companies.

“I certainly fell into recruitment, like most people in my teams have seemed to. From a young age I wanted to pursue a career in law but having gained some work experience in the industry, I decided it didn’t give me the people interaction I thought it would.

"My law degree has helped me become a little more detail focused for sure, but deep down I think I have always known that a sales environment would be where I'd thrive.

“Recruitment has given me the blend of what I was looking for.

“I get to meet people and understand businesses of all shapes and sizes. Smaller trade organisations, up to multinationals. Businesses that are being readied for sale: businesses that have been run by the same family for over 100 years.

"I love how every brief gives me a different set of company objectives and a different industry climate. but the answer to the question at hand is always going to come from a person, the right person. I love that.

"So, I may have fell into it but it's now quite clear that it seemed to be a sector that I was destined for.”

A Londoner by birth, Dominic has called Nottingham home for 20 years and heads up SF Recruitment's East Midlands office in his adopted city. where he leads a team of 24 high-performing recruitment consultants. He also personally recruits senior interim, contract and financial project opportunities across the region.

“After graduating from university, my parents encouraged me to get a summer job and I managed to secure a temporary resourcing role for a local recruitment firm in London,” Dominic continued.

“I was instantly fascinated by the process of recruitment. how much it revolved around people and the interaction it brought with such a range of clients.

"Having studied in Nottingham, I decided to move back to the city and secured a trainee consultant opportunity with SF.

"It's a very rewarding career choice, in a number of ways, for those with the right people skills and work ethic. Nothing beats the call to a candidate to say that they've got the job.

"It has taken a huge amount of hard work, dedication, sacrifice and some luck along the way.

“I have been fortunate to progress through the organisation over a 15-year period, from initially excelling through hard work as a consultant, before moving into management and then into my current role as Regional Director of our Nottingham/Derbyshire operation.

"What I can say is that I wouldn't be where I am today without working with some incredibly talented recruiters who took the time to mentor and inspire me.

"I was also pushed out of my comfort zone by my directors at the time who saw something in me. I believe it’s important through a career to not shy away from roles that challenge you and that everyone should try to work in a pressured, people-orientated environment."

The financial Crisis of 2008 was the catalyst for the boom in the recruitment sector.

Dominic manages a team of 24 dedicated, high-performing recruitment professionals. 

'I was instantly fascinated by the process of recruitment, how much it revolved around people and the interaction it brought with such a range of clients'

Flatlining growth during the recession gave way to a sharp increase in recruitment start-ups. A total of 32,886 agencies have entered the UK market since 2008 and the industry currently employs more than 115,000 people.

A combination of record employment, lower barriers to entry and digitalisation is making recruitment more attractive than ever. In such a crowded and competitive marketplace, what does it take to stand out?

“I have been in this industry a long time, and the one thing I feel that stands you out is managing people's expectations,” said Dominic. “When you continue to do this, you build trust.

“We value integrity and honesty above everything and our clients and candidates trusting us has gone a very long way. You will stand out in recruitment like in any other job. You get to the top by becoming an expert in your field.

"To stand out in recruitment you have to immerse yourself into the market and be an effective and honest sounding board both for clients and candidates.

"This doesn't happen overnight. It is something a recruiter must develop with experience."

Experience is something that SF Recruitment possesses in abundance. Founded in 1998, it has established itself as one of the leading recruitment specialists in the Midlands region. It operates from offices in Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham, placing candidates in permanent, temporary and interim contract roles across the entire professional services landscape.

Over the past two decades, the firm has successfully recruited for over 12,000 clients. placed over 40,000 candidates and has been rated as one of the UK’s top 100 businesses to work for.

Dominic continued: “While we have tried to stay true to our principles, the recruitment industry, in an attempt to grow quickly and speed up the reading process, has been tempted into becoming less human and more digital. While we embrace new technology and value how the digital world can complement the recruitment process, we continue to meet all our candidates face to face and visit our clients at their premises.

"It is most definitely a balance and we are determined that none of us get tempted into too much focus ether way. We're a People orientated business after all."

It’s this last point that is a crucial one.

While the advent of digital technology has made It easier than ever for employers to find their ideal candidates and jobseekers to land their dream roles, it will always be human interaction hat seals the deal.

So, from a service perspective, has technology really charged things within an industry that is still, essentially, a people to people business?

“Going into my sixteenth year at SF Recruitment, not much has changed around the type of service you have to deliver to clients and candidates.” said Dominic

"For me it's always been about developing longstanding relationships. Businesses returning to use mine and my team's services is the perfect sense check that we're still doing things right.

“Another thing that indicates you have delivered on what you have promised as a business is noticing the significant rates of candidates that we place, that then go on to become our clients.

'When it comes to clients, of course, its always about quickly taking in the business objectives - the current position and strategy for growth, the industry and the market forces on the company and, of course, the organisational culture.

The ability to understand this entire picture before I access our database of candidates looking to work and those who might not be looking but could be available, is vital.

So, what should a business look for when choosing a recruitment partner?

“I was a client looking to work with a recruitment agency, I would look for the following things,” said Dominic.
“An established local presence; directors and managers that are still placing candidates and are therefore on the pulse of the market.

“Deep experts in my sector and ideally a tenured team and business history; an extensive network and

A connected presence in the region. And, the sense of a high-paced high-energy team to deliver good candidates quickly.”

There are, of course, some businesses out there which choose not to use an agency when recruiting. This may be because of a bad experience in the past, because they've never struggled to find the right candidate, under their own steam, or, simply, because they don’t have the budget

Dominic said: “Everyone has a personal preference as to how they want to hire people into their organization, and we respect that different businesses will have either their own take on talent attraction or their own processes for hiring staff.

“By using a specialist recruiter, the thing we often do that a direct advert or process doesn't is that we tap into the passive market through our significant networks and history with candidates.

“We keep in touch with great candidates not for a job 'today', but to keep connected for when that opportunity arises.

“Businesses that don’t use an agency aren't necessarily thinking about the wider pool of great candidates that are in work. There may be a perception that the role of a recruiter involves jumping on a job board to access candidates, but actually most of our shortlists for roles we are recruiting into will be made up of candidates who aren't on the market. When you're recruiting a specialist role, you want to know that you are considering the best quality available in the market.

“You have to ask yourselves the question, does a great candidate in a busy role have the time to look for a new opportunity?”

Because the recruitment marketplace is so competitive, a minority of unscrupulous agencies using sharp practices to win business can often paint the industry in a bad light.

'Businesses that don't use an agency aren't necessarily thinking about the wider pool of great candidates that are in work'

What can be done to overcome this?

Dominic said: “There are always individual businesses in every industry that create a bad name, there are always going to be those who want to cut corners and earn a quick buck.

"There are occasions where you can be tarred with the same brush in this industry - I know we can’t speak on behalf of everyone but all we would advocate is that all recruiters put the clients' objectives and best interests of the candidates. career's at heart.

“As a specialist recruiter celebrating our 22nd year of trading. we look for Iocal partnerships and affiliations, hallmarks of quality and trust such as our patronage of the Chamber. Recruitment is a people-based industry where it's not going to work out every time, but you need to make sure the protection mechanisms you put in place for the clients takes the risk away for everyone involved.

“We have incredibly high standards and unless you are continuously trying to improve, you’re going to have a shorter lifespan in any industry. especially in recruitment.

'What we do is focus on creating longstanding relationships and delivering first class client and customer care."

With 5,824 new recruitment agencies launching in the UK in 2018, the boom isn’t showing many signs of slowing down just yet. However, with a new Government and Brexit on the horizon, and all the uncertainty these may bring, what does the future hold for the sector?

"Recruitment is a profession that will need to evolve alongside the business landscape, and it's difficult to predict how that will change in the coming years,” said Dominic.

"Over 15 years, I have seen opportunities arise as well as some difficult trading periods. Recently, we have announced expansion and further growth plans into the technology sector. Companies of all types are under pressure to innovate and experiment, to keep up with the changing digital world. They are also increasingly exploring and benefiting from automation to provide efficiencies within their own organisations.

-Recent insight has shown that half of small businesses in the East Midlands are now technology-led, and typically see faster growth and higher investment than other businesses. As for SF, we have been on an incredibly journey for the past few years and we are excited by not only the launch of our new tech division but also the growth pan for maintaining our position as a seeding specialist recruiter across the whole of the Midlands.”

Fiona Frudd
Fiona Frudd
Head of Marketing