Developing the SmartFreight Team
Developing the SmartFreight Team
Block IT Recruitment is very much your business, do you work with others?
I’ve done a lot of business networking and have always fostered a collaborative approach with other consultants. I’m a member of 4Networking and BforB. In addition to attending their meetings on a regular basis I am also a regular substitute at BNI. I’ve met and worked with many good people, but Annette Steele deserves a special mention.
It’s amazing how things can develop; from helping a candidate with his CV a series of connections led to recruiting an entire team. Networking has been the main resource for developing my business and raising my profile. It has been a real commitment in terms of time, but it’s been a strategy that worked right from the beginning.
How did that come about?
For me it began when Annette Steele recommended that I help Jeff Francis update his CV. He applied for a position with Smart Freight, an Australian company who were just about to set up office in the UK. Jeff had successfully passed several Skype interviews and as part of the recruitment process needed to produce a business plan. He knew what was required to get things off the round in the UK and had a clear vision for the first twelve months but at 25 pages his business plan was too long and needed to be more focussed. Working with Annette he condensed it into a succinct 3 pages and was offered the job.
Jeff then came along to one of our BforB meetings at Biz Space in Cheadle. The original expectation had been to open an office in central Manchester, but having seen the facilities and location, Jeff convinced the company that it would be more cost effective to opt for an out of town site. He negotiated a deal with Biz Space and soon had his office up and running in Cheadle.
Tell us more how you developed the SmartFreight team.
Having secured the office space, the next logical step was to recruit an office manager; specifically, this needed to be someone who could set up processes and ensure streamlined administration. The challenge was to build a new team that would work well together and could start delivering quickly. Smart Freight need to see a quick return on their investment.
Next, we helped recruit an IT Support Manager, followed by Sales Staff (both telemarketing and field sales). Jeff was busy with all the practicalities that go with launching a new office – all the practical issues from signage to choosing office blinds. Sorting through a mass of CVs was not top of his list of priorities. Another complication was that Jeff was dealing with the head office team based in Australia, this meant a twelve-hour time difference so sometimes decisions were delayed by 24 hours while he waited for a confirmation.
Fortunately, as I had worked so closely with Jeff with the initial recruitment of an office manager and IT manager, I had a good understanding of what Jeff needed for all personnel. Sometimes I had to stick my neck out and challenge the company’s perception of the ideal candidate. In one case we had several candidates who were already employed in the tech sector, but for me the one that stood out was actually working as a barista. Though he lacked the technical experience of other candidates, his customers service skills were exceptional and he was keen to get into IT.
On another occasion I championed an inexperienced 20 year old. On paper he was not a strong candidate and would probably have been discarded by most recruiters. It was only by investing some time that I could see his personality and true commitment. Further questioning revealed that he had a role model and support mechanism in his father who had a very senior IT position. It goes back to what I have said previously about finding an 85% fit then digging a bit deeper to see where we can reach a compromise.
I was often able filter the applicants and put forward a single CV knowing that we had the right person. That’s a great selling point- 1CV 1Hire – and it’s quite rare in recruitment, but because of the level of rapport we had established Jeff trusted my selection. I’m sure that if I’d sent 4 or 5 CVs Jeff would have taken a lot longer to come to a decision. Reducing choice certainly speeded up the whole process.
I was unusually lucky to be involved in the recruitment of an entire team from the beginning. This approach meant I understood how to develop and grow a cohesive productive team for the client.
The amazing thing is that Jeff and I lived very close to each other and we discovered that we had several mutual acquaintances. Yet without the power of networking we would never have met and would never have done so much mutually beneficial business together.
To summarise, the client is very happy, I’ve received great feedback, we saved time, saved money and the team is delivering. I continue to check in with them every two weeks and we’re now working on the next phase which will involve recruiting a total of 24 additional staff over the next three months.