The business of people

Our Director of Marketing, Alex Crass writes her thoughts on recent attempts at attracting new recruiters, and how she thinks the game needs to change in order to stay current and attract the best, most diverse workforce...


I’m sure by now you’ve seen the video that went viral on LinkedIn… the Wolf of Wall Street parody of the recruitment industry. Except it wasn’t a parody. It was a genuine video and it was painful. The video conformed to every negative stereotype of the recruitment industry. Whilst in some instances this may be an honest reflection of the perception of recruitment, it shows a staggering lack of insight into the current market – even if this is the type of candidates the agency wants to hire. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these kind of people and incentives aren’t beneficial within an organization. What I am saying is that if they are the only type of people and the only incentives you are offering or chose to use to promote your business – it simply wont remain sustainable.

Recruitment companies need to change their approach to talent. This is both because of the changing value sets of the next generation of recruiters and employees, and because of the changing needs of clients too. With so many sectors, from technology to engineering, struggling to recruit and retain the type of talent they want themselves. Our industry needs to show them how its done. Recruitment firms need to practice what they preach.  

In the last year at Opus, we have gone through a huge journey into focusing on our talent lifecycle, which has led to everything evolving. It has taken considerable time, effort and money – being painful at times – but we are extremely proud of how we are evolving and what we have achieved so far. We fully practice what we preach and align with our future vision regarding becoming a service provider across the entire talent lifecycle. We knew we wanted to work more holistically with our clients and to diversify our workforce – and not just ticking boxes. We wanted to attract and retain different types of people, with different mindsets, bringing different skills, ideas and conversations into our business.

We started running research groups across the company from juniors to staff who had been with us from the start. From this we gained a wealth of knowledge on how people were thinking and feeling, allowing us to look into what we wanted and needed to improve. We collectively redefined our values and our EVP and started to make some real changes. For example, we wanted to bring in different people with diverse opinions and styles into our workforce, but still had a ‘dress code’, so now that’s gone.

On a grander scale, we have completely redeveloped how we look at our employees career paths. Traditionally, you would enter the company as a junior recruiter, bill over a certain amount and then become a consultant, bill over a certain amount and then become a manager. As we focus on bringing in different types of people, we needed to adapt our progression and look at alternative career paths. Instead of offering a single structured, bill-based career path, we are launching a career and development training program that creates bespoke career paths to reflect the different motivators of our diverse workforce. Unless you look directly at the career development of your staff, then you will never fully evolve your culture – as people generally learn this from their managers.

The effects of these changes have been overwhelming. Our staff retention has increased by 20%, and we are getting an average of 150 top graduate CV’s every week – a huge growth considering this started on just 3 a month. We are now 60/40 male to female and are about to have our most profitable year to date. All of these great results stem from us taking a long, hard look at our talent strategy. Because we have been through this change ourselves, we are in a position to talk about it authentically and offer this as a solution to our own clients. We can say ‘this is what we did, this is the tangible results we have seen and this is how we can help you do the same.’

Of course, this will be a big task for larger recruitment firms. They employ so many more and there is always risk involved in making such big changes. However, there is a much higher risk of not doing it.

I would love to hear your comments and feedback on this – what have you learn from international clients and business? Visit to see our full range of services available to help companies make big changes.

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