Clare Alderton, Owner and MD of A1 Locums was gracious enough to share her wisdom on growing a hugely successful recruitment agency from the very start. This is part two of the blog series which covers:
Part one (read here)
1 Team dynamics
2 Individual attention
3 When to hire more?
4 Becoming a manager
5 Company success
6 Keeping up to date
7 How REC research helps
Part three (read here)
8 Maintaining community
9 Employee turn around
10 Balancing a team
11 Pros and cons of growth
Part four (read here)
12 Industry changes
13 Clients and candidates changes
14 Promoting good practice
Good question… it was a case of just having to really! She was working so hard and having to do so many things that there just physically weren’t enough hours in the day- it was a do or die situation really. I think in all honesty, if you spoke to Anne, she would rather have kept it all to herself, but you know, needs must and I think she understood that for the greater good of the company and to move forward it just had to happen. We’ve definitely had more issues trying to find the right path with her, obviously, it was finding somebody, the right member of the team that was actually going to be able to work in that environment and it didn’t suit everybody. We had a couple of false starts, but the last couple of people we had have integrated really well, providing tremendous support to Anne. And now, having dedicated resourcer onboard has freed our recruiters to do recruitment rather than dealing with the day-to-day administrative stuff. This has made a tremendous difference.
And again, we had a similar situation on the vet side: we have a dedicated resourcer who’s working out really well and taking on the daily tasks so that’s been a tremendous help. We used to have an admin person, that did what we call the sales admin or the recruitment admin but we have actually changed the role into something a bit more- and the resourcers do more than just admin, for example we’re looking towards using the resourcer more in contacting people in the area, which has definitely been a positive addition to the team.
We always try to move forward, we always try and look at different things. It’s no good to just keep coming in and doing the same thing, day in day out, week in week out, because as the industry changes, we too must adapt, I think that’s one of our biggest strengths here, it’s why we’ve been so successful, and touch wood, continue to be successful.
You have to move forward, you have to try new tactics. That’s one big lesson I’ve learnt over the years. Just because we’ve always done something one way because it fits the business model or industry at that time- doesn’t mean it should always be done that way, the industry is very different now than, say ten years ago and you have to adapt to remain successful.
I think it’s particularly difficult with recruitment because many recruiters and recruitment companies work in more than one industry. For example, we work in the veterinary industry, but we also work in the recruitment industry- those are two very different camps really. I genuinely think that becoming more involved with the REC has really helped us with that. We work in a beautiful office, on a farm in the middle of nowhere. It is wonderful, but it is also very easy to feel a bit isolated and separate from the industry, that’s why being a member of the REC helps keep us connected. Funnily enough, both of our younger recruiters, were actually on an IRP recruitment training course in your London offices last month. I think it is very important, particularly for new recruiters, to actually realise although they deal with clinicians and veterinary specialists every day- they are also in the recruitment industry and if you can recruit a vet or a recruit a vet nurse- you have the kind of skill set that would enable you to recruit a doctor, or recruit a teacher or recruit a site engineer. There is potential for crossover between different industries with recruitment. It’s really interesting when I speak to people in our industry who might ask “Oh, are you a vet or a nurse?” and I’ll say “No I’m a recruiter!” I did 15 years in construction recruitment, recruiting site engineers down at the docklands before I came over into veterinary recruitment and I just applied so much of what I learnt from construction recruitment to veterinary recruitment. You do have to slightly change the model, but effectively the attributes and skills that I learnt in construction are just as applicable in veterinary. Although certain keywords and client/ candidate approaches differ- many fundamental skill sets can be applied to any specialisation in recruitment. I think it’s important to remember, if you get bogged down in the specific industry you’re working in it’s possible to stay in recruitment but focus on a different industry within it.
Since we are very, very niche, we are very much dealing with clinicians and practitioners.
I keep up to date with recruitment industry trends with the REC and the IRP seminars, learning and training courses and events.
I sound like I’m doing your job for you doesn’t it haha! Selling the REC and IRP! But no, it really has made a difference to us and the way we think about things. And it is also great because it allows us to feel more connected to London as well as the industry as a whole- it makes us feel less isolated.
For example: with Brexit looming, we’re definitely struggling to keep up with how our industry could be affected and how best we can adapt to the changes it could bring- hence my listening into the #RECBrexitSeries webinars. And I also find it really useful to speak to other recruiters in other fields just to see how it is affecting them as well, which is where the events the Rec and IRP really help. You can learn so much from listening to the challenges fellow recruiters deal within different industries and then coming back and applying those ideas to your own little niche market. So that’s been tremendously helpful.
I’m not even trying to blow smoke anywhere, it’s just absolutely true what you provide as a membership organisation really has helped me navigate the recruitment industry better. Even if I wasn’t talking to someone from the REC I’d say exactly the same thing, to be quite frank with you.