This article was originally featured on the Shortlist website on the 27th of September 2016.
Recruitment clients 'frustrated' by lack of creativity
Talented recruiters and clients alike prefer to work with agencies that aren't afraid to try new business models and processes, according to the CEO of a company committed to evolving.
Earlier this year, Ambition launched an innovation competition among its candidates, clients and employees to crowdsource new ideas to improve the business. The four finalists will be announced in the coming week, with the winner receiving the opportunity to lead their initiative in the organisation. Ambition had earlier rolled out a value-based pricing model, offering unbundled services and a variety of fee structures, and CEO and co-founder Nick Waterworth told Shortlist it helps the agency position itself as an innovator.
"Like a lot of new things, it takes a little while to get going, but it seems to be very popular now," he says. "It's going well; if nothing else, it's something different to engage with clients about. If there's one thing clients get frustrated within the industry, it's a lack of creative thought on how to approach processes."
The company's largest source of revenue is still "normal recruitment", he says, but among the new packages its 'streamlined' offering is the most popular.
With this service, clients who commit to making an offer within three weeks of receiving a shortlist can pay a reduced fee, of 12–14%.
Perhaps more important than offering clients variety is the need for agencies to be seen by current and prospective employees as moving with the times, Waterworth says.
"People in the industry – certainly people in Ambition – are acutely aware that the tectonic plates are shifting, and what they don't want is to be working in a company that thinks tomorrow is going to be the same as today."
"Not everything we try works, but we're trying lots of stuff. From a cultural and engagement point of view, people like that".
The company has no current plans to open in new locations or expand through acquisition, Waterworth adds. "I get very nervous about spreading our butter too thin, so we're focused on getting more out of each office, more out of each discipline, rather than doing new things at the moment".
Cultural fit drives hiring decisions
Ambition has been adding headcount this year, and Waterworth says the company is above all focused on hiring consultants with the right cultural fit.
"Experience is not your passport to success," he says. "It's the cultural fit and the skillset fit that's important. When we make mistakes – which hopefully isn't too often, but we do – with experienced people we get seduced by their experience, and don't focus enough on the skill set and intellect."
Ambition doesn't work to a 360 model, hires a mix of rookies and people with experience in their niche, and its culture is collegiate, says Waterworth.
"We do focus on teamwork generally... People who aren't natural team players aren't going to make it here."
He says that while the industry is focused on sales, it's other skills that can really make consultants stand out; especially those who are "absolutely fantastic at finding people who really want that job".
"If you look around Ambition, the most successful consultants are the ones who are just brilliant at screening and briefing their candidates. Not necessarily the best new business [development] people."
This is a particularly crucial skill for consultants working with the growing start-up sector, Waterworth says.
In those scenarios, candidates typically show interest initially in working with a start-up due to their 'sexy' image, he says, but get cold feet as the reality of lower pay and higher workloads sets in.