In-Touch Networks are one of the fastest growing businesses in the country. Three years ago they were nothing more than an online platform operating out of a tiny office with a handful of staff, but they are now one of the worlds largest online platforms for professionals with close to 40,000 members, three international offices and nearly a hundred staff.
We caught up with Rebecca their Recruitment Manager to discuss the challenges faced by a rapidly growing business.
Jupiter: Obviously you guys have seen rapid growth over the last few years here in Manchester as well as opening a few abroad locations. What sort of challenges are you facing?
Rebecca: Erm, recruit as much as we can internally across the board but I’d say the main challenges here in Manchester are that it’s a very competitive market and you really have to work hard to find the ‘right people’. It’s not the case anymore where you can place an advert and know you’ll get responses. I think that method is slowly dying. With the unemployment rate being so low we need to really focus on the passive candidates who’re probably already in a role.
Jupiter: So now it’s becoming more of a candidate-led market, what are you guys doing to put yourselves ahead of other companies?
Rebecca: I think it’s still something we’re working on if I’m honest. Something that we’re really trying to do is just be a bit more ‘present’ online. We’re encouraging everyone to be a bit more active with social media, not just promoting our jobs but showing what life is actually like here. There are a million sales roles in Manchester and every advert reads the same so we need to make sure people see why we’re different, and I think that’s making it much easier to attract people. We’ve had a few people who’ve said they’ve seen us online and it’s been one of the reasons they’ve wanted to come in and meet us. It’s just much more powerful than saying ‘yeah we’ve got a sales role, you’ll earn this much commission’.
Jupiter: So you’re really trying to push and Employer Brand and give yourselves an identity as opposed to being more transactional?
Rebecca: Yeah definitely, if you put and advert out it’s going to look the same as every other. Especially if it’s written by a recruitment agency. It’s amazing how many ‘market leaders’ there are according to Totaljobs.
Jupiter: What would you say is working for you and what channels have been good for pushing that out?
Rebecca: I think so far LinkedIn and Facebook have been our top performers. We ran an incentive with the team here to share some of our employee stories on Facebook. You see a lot of the time people might see something posted by work and maybe ‘like’ it but wouldn’t think to share it. So we ran an incentive and it really engaged a lot of the team who were sending screen shots to show they’d shared it. But it led to an increase in the number of referrals made, which is ideal for us because we’d much rather pay the team here to spread the word than an external agency.
Jupiter: I spoke to Russ (MD) earlier who said referrals were getting better for you, is that what you attribute the increase to?
Rebecca: Yeah in part, but it’s not enough to just offer someone a cash incentive. Your employees have really got to want to recommend you and I think we’re lucky that we have a lot of people here who are really passionate about the company and have been great brand ambassadors.
Jupiter: So if you think job boards aren’t as powerful as they once were, what do you see as being the best way to get your message out there and attract new candidates?
Rebecca: Erm, I think it depends on the company and the type of candidate they are trying to attract. I’ve always said outdoor media is a great route to go down, especially if you’re recruiting on mass like we are. If you look at CV-library and Totaljobs, when they did their outdoor campaigns a few years ago, we’d log on and you’d quickly see there were much more unique candidates on there than you were finding on the likes of Jobsite and Reed. I also think that with most people day-to-day life is so busy, that when you see an advert online you automatically scroll past. But when you’re sat on a train or tram and it’s staring you in the face for 20 minutes it’s much more likely to sink in.
Jupiter: Do you find that as you’ve been promoting your Employer Brand it’s been driving your engagement levels as well ?
Rebecca: Yeah yeah absolutely, I think that a lot of the time it can be easy, especially as you’re growing for the employees to not actually be aware of what you’re doing to try and make it a great place to work. Especially in recruitment as I’m focused on getting people in, so in the past I’d be telling candidates about these really great benefits we have and the original staff wouldn’t know about them.
Jupiter: So you definitely need to do some work on your internal comms?
Rebecca: (laughs) We’ve managed to sort that now though thankfully but it was just one of those teething problems you get as you grow.
Jupiter: So what challenges do you think are coming next?
Rebecca: Now we’ve refined exactly what sort of person fits our culture (which has changed a lot over the last two years) it’s just a case of volume.
Jupiter: So what’s changed about the people you’re looking to target?
Rebecca: I think two years ago we had a quite a clear impression of what our ideal candidate looked like on paper, and we didn’t deviate from that. But it was only when we really looked at who was staying and who was actually performing we saw that the people we really needed weren’t necessarily from that background. It was a bit of an eye opener.
Jupiter: And what about Brexit, how do you see that impacting your market?
Rebecca: I think there will be an impact but mostly because there’s uncertainty in the market, personally I don’t think it’s going to impact us as much as some other industries.
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