Ada Ventures' $34m fund for Overlooked Founders

I was recently reading through a conversation I had with an investor in African energy markets on Whatsapp and immediately thought of Ada Ventures because of the focus of the fund. The venture fund founded by Francesca Warner and Matt Pennycard will seek to invest the $34m pool of money in markets that have for some reason or the other, been overlooked (by mainstream startup investment). 

While contemplating the focus of the fund, I became extremely aware of the circumstances faced by founders that have founded startups in the mental health space, for instance, who may have very feasible business propositions but are refused access to venture debt as a result of bias and stigma typically associated with their condition.

It reminded me of myself a little in that I have a focus that is outside of my health condition but am repeatedly encountering obstacles that create unnecessary headwinds for the businesses that I manage. I also recently had a conversation with a Director at the Network For Sustainable Financial Markets who is based in Istanbul about the value of ESG investing, impact investing and other sustainability frameworks that can be applied to the above.

Please take some time to read the interview with NSFM and let me know your thoughts.

Recruiters as Media Buyers

RecruiterZone had a lively webinar this afternoon with Louise from UK Recruiter and Adam from Applichat, which is a facebook recruitment platform that allows users (recruiters) to post targeted ads to a segmented Facebook audience. Applichat then converts these ads into an interest in a job vacancy which results in a qualified lead being extracted to or submitted to a client applicant tracking system. Applichat, which is currently based in Mexico, and services clients from the Far East (due to their superior click-through rates) then collaborate with Facebook is enhance these targeted ads to heighten the likelihood of more relevant "ad" applications.

Louise runs through a variety of aspects including the perception that Applichat is a newly formed media buyer (scalable ad agency) for recruiters. This is all the more poignant because Facebook is seen very much as a passive avenue in today's social media market. What ought to be said is that the webinar posed a few interesting questions. Namely, the question of what industry/sector Applichat focuses on or operates within and how they plan to develop clients from this sector in the short-medium term? Adam highlighted the high-volume recruitment market as one which he took interest in.

Adam also mentioned something that was quite high-level for me in response to one of the questions that was asked by John. It was about his view on split testing on Facebook.

I learned quite a bit from Adam's responses and definitely recommend that you watch the replay if you have an interest in programmatic advertising as it relates to Facebook data and applicant tracking.

Matt Alder and Hishem Azzouz: Ep226

We live in a highly connected world but also a very noisy one. Standing out from the crowd can be very difficult for recruiters, especially on Linkedin where an unprecedented amount of content is being posted, much of it, unfortunately, is not very good.

Matt Alder's guest this week is Hishem Azzouz, founder of Azzouz Branding and host of The Recruitment Rollercoaster Podcast. Hishem works with recruiters to help them build authentic personal brands and develop content that cuts through the noise to resonate with their target audiences.

In the interview, the two heavyweights discuss:

• Hishem's career journey so far and his experience of getting started in recruiting
• Being more personable, more human and standing out from the crowd
• What does personal branding mean in 2019?
• Techniques to stand out and engage
• The importance of knowing your target audience
• What are the real measures of success?

Hishem also gives some examples of people and companies doing this well and shares more details about The Recruitment Rollercoaster Podcast.

Energy & Power M&A - The view from Merrill Corp

I recently co-published a report to demonstrate the value of M&A and Private Equity across Africa and the Middle East which is highly relevant to the energy market. I just wanted to say a big thanks to Bill Marko from Jefferies, Abby Roberts of Merrill Corp, Andrea Decore of Suncor Energy and Denmon Sigler, Partner at Baker & McKenzie. The panel gave a talk on the key issues, trends and due diligence best practices in Energy and Power M&A. The webinar series from Merrill Corp touched on a few interactive points which I have listed in bullets (below):

  • We discussed customer needs and the fact that customers want lower carbon solutions to their energy supply concerns
  • We discussed contemporary American perspectives on alternative energy investment vs European (i.e. Nordic) perspectives
  • One lively contribution was the slide on how dealmakers are reacting to the lackluster energy market (secondary buyouts, all equity structures etc)
  • A panellist mentioned the fact that there will be long-term demand for energy whether it's from Oil and Gas or alternatives
  • We discussed LNG, which was viewed as the perfect "bridge fuel" by several on the panel
  • Denmon mentioned the perils of battery storage and the inability to dispose of batteries and the inefficiency of rare earth minerals that go into smartphones, a lot of them from China (95%) and Africa, South America
  • Andrea answered a question on the role of government in energy innovation. Andrea mentioned fair and consistent energy market regulation across jurisdictions. The banning of fracking or compartmentalization of renewable energy projects

I learned a lot from this webinar, and am still learning quite a bit from the webinar series. One of the other attendees asked an intriguing question (below):

"I'm curious if you, the panel, are seeing more joint ventures and mergers for renewable energy companies in order to energize the capacity market and overcome the intermittency issue inherent in renewable energy".

I'm going to try and follow up on that.

All-in-all, this series from Merrill Corp is a great attempt to envisage the landscape for the US energy market in particular but also the European and Middle-East markets. I definitely recommend watching the webinar if you get the chance.

Stuff in Black Boxes - Hirevue

Had a lovely exchange with Bas from the Brainfood Facebook group about the guys at Hirevue, who I wrote about a few weeks ago. Now, Hirevue's pre-hire assessment tool is data-driven but unfortunately for Bas, it doesn't provide candidates with feedback as to why their applications were rejected i.e. a score or a report on your performance during the gamified application.

Bas refers to this as a black box algorithm and says it defies US law because it creates hiring decisions not based on these reports/scores. We started discussing this topic because of a recent WSJ article on the complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Hirevue for "algorithmic malpractice".

Artificial Intelligence meets Employer Branding - Unilever

I just thought I'd share this article on Unilever.

Their Employer Branding effort is impressive but it still bugs me, big time. Why? Because according to Bernard Marr & Co. on YT, Unilever, one of the larger entities in Europe and across the globe, actually utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning (NLP, computer vision, etc) in their screening process.

Using AI to narrow down the candidature, as Bernard puts it is a great idea, but how is that synonymous with the idea that great Employer Branding equals great Candidate Experience? While marketing is a very "eyes on me" sort of exercise, AI tends to leave the candidate feeling objectified and arguably, the recruiting world is left better positioned by having recruiters at the initial stages, arguably.

Lack of human contact can be concerning for a large organization like Unilever because it gives off an air of superiority. The push-back must be unreal!

The Dangers of the Silo Effect

I start this one off with a quick question. What percentage of us Brits would happen to know who Justine Henin is to the sport of tennis? Yes, ok, we may know who Serena is but, what about Henin? 

Strange, the percentage would be quite low I would assume. Unless of course, you happen to be an avid Wimbledon fan or attentive to the WTA world rankings. Justine Henin was a world-class tennis player, who graced the game in the mid-noughties and bowed out on a high not too long ago for confidential reasons.

Okay, how about this? What percentage of my American audience have ever traveled to anywhere outside of America, to say...Northern Tibet? It's an unusual destination, outside of America, that is. The answer according to this Forbes article is not too many. Fewer than expected at the rate of 11% of a 2,000 person survey which was conducted in May say they have never left the comfort of the state they were born in and a further 40% say they've never left the country.

Gillian Tett (Financial Times) coined an analogy in the title of her famous book: Silo Effect (which I haven't read yet) but it's a point that resonates. Working in silos can be and is of significant danger to warrant this article. I compare silos to a sort of pride that comes before an epic fail. Not knowing Henin but knowing Serena, not leaving our houses but expecting the world in return. It's selfish and slightly clumsy. We're better than this.

Hence my surprise when I received a Slack notification this morning from Dama at BGV informing me that the FT had published another annual BAME leaders list for its readers. Congratulations to Deborah from YSYS and Kike from BYP and others for making the list.

I honestly thought my colleagues had each achieved a level of recognition that would amount to more than a place on this list. Maybe a televised award ceremony with FT subscribers and guests or perhaps (and some people may hate me for mentioning this) maybe it's time for an industry-wide shortlist that maps the contributions of every noticeable rising-star, founder, entrepreneur, and investor in the UK, regardless of their race or creed?

It's up to you. You the reader to make your voice heard about this. Very little I can do except point to the error. Let's make this happen by next year November 2020 and remember, avoid working in silos, or in what I ought to call the Henin-Serena thought trap, more precisely.

Movers and Shakers - Sheree Atcheson joins Monzo

You may have encountered Sheree's work via her award-winning role with Deloitte in London as shared through social media and other channels. Sheree has done her fair share to ensure Deloitte and the industry as a whole compete on the basis of (diverse) talent and has developed a great following on social media along the way, myself included.

Hence, it was no surprise when Sheree announced quite gracefully that she will be joining Monzo, the UK's preeminent challenger bank and leaving her consultancy role at Deloitte for the bright world of fintech.

I'm so thrilled that Sheree has made the leap to join Monzo (as their new Head of Diversity & Inclusion) and wish her all the best of luck in her new position. If you would like to ask any questions to Sheree, you can connect with her via LinkedIn or via Twitter if you'd like to learn more about her professional activities in D&I.

Leadership Gamification at HireVue

I was recently invited to a webinar hosted by the guys a HireVue (Thanks to Clemens Aichholzer, Hirevue's Director of Corporate Development for extending the invite). HireVue is a company that has designed a market-leading AI-driven pre-hire assessment software, which also gets a very good level of feedback from the recruiters I know on Facebook and elsewhere. Although I may have missed the webinar (Apologies to Clemens and his team), this blog was subsequently created on the topic of gamification in leadership assessments.

Employee Value Propositions and Communities

I just wanted to say a big thanks to Nando and the cool team over at AIHR for this pretty comprehensive guide to EVP which comes with a great video on Shell's corporate experience in the oil sector. 

It goes back to what James Ellis said last week about EVP being "quite different from your Employer Brand". I agree 100% with James on this one, the EVP seems to be a much more internally defined concept. One which is housed under the same umbrella as everything from the mission statement to the corporate brand itself. 

So huge distinctions there.

Also, a quick message via Hung Lee regarding this week's Brainfood which will be on the topic of communities in the recruitment industry:

This Friday, we'll be bringing in some expert community builders in the recruitment space to help us think through the problem of community engagement.

  • Jamie Leonard, Founder of the Recruitment Events Co, and the amazing RL100 group
  • Piret Luts, Head of TA at Nortal, and founder Recruitment Thursdays
  • Shannon Pritchett, MD at CareerXRoads, previously with SourceCon as one person community firestarter throughout the globe. 

Will be joining us this  Friday 8th November, 4pm GMT
Free 1 hour webinar with experts in the field. 
Follow the channel here (recommended) 
Register for the show here

See you on Friday!

Lessons from Private Equity Research

A few days ago I wrote about a meeting that I missed on my way back from the Nigerian Embassy in London. The meeting was with an ambassador at One Young World, she's part of a team at #NSFMNextGen who are doing an interview about me for their Impact Influencer Series.

As part of the interview, I tried my best not to mention Mr Schwarzman and his perceived "flaw" in the Private Equity research recently released by Harvard Business School. The fact is, PE creates a net job loss. I wrote about this ages ago on my previous blog, which somehow I have managed to delete from the web.

Here's a link to the research - Schwarzman, being interviewed by Pitchbook, seems to think that a flaw exists in the average time length of a Private Equity deal, which he believes is not two years.

Schwarzman: "The average life of a private equity deal isn't two years. And the reason is that in two years, you haven't established enough growth, because just reducing people count does not add a lot of value. You always get a company that has more jobs at the end of five years than you started with after the first year or two, because that's how you make money."

It's phenomenal how many PE fund transactions were actually used for this research model, over 9,500 buyouts. What does it tell us about jobs and recruitment in tech? It tells us that a potential exit for a modern tech firm leads provisionally to tighter spend on salaries and more accurately, a 4.4% job loss ratio. The caveat is that this effect is only resonant in publicly listed companies, private limited companies demonstrate a 15% lift in jobs after a two year PE transition.

Sounds logical, right?

Employer Branding IS Candidate Experience

Happy 5th of November!

If you've had the chance to watch Brainfood Live from last week, you'd probably have realised that one of my comments on Candidate Experience (CX) may have made some reference to a non-existent theory given the context. A theory which I am yet to substantiate on my blog. After mentioning CX to the chat which was badly received, I did a quick look at the search engine results for the term "Candidate Experience Employer Branding" and found several articles from not too long ago which point to the fact that CX is highly assumed by leading talent leaders to be synonymous with EB.

Here's a link to the 1-hour long survey I was sent via e-mail recently on the topic of "CX" compiled by my previous employer - the one I mentioned in Brainfood Live. The phases of the questionnaire are extremely detailed and make for interesting reading if your organisation is trying to present a strong brand during the application phase for new employees. Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like to learn more about this.

But essentially, what I'd like to explore is the idea that this questionnaire reflects "good" EB. Indeed, it does. The e-mail which it was enclosed in was marketed appropriately and sufficiently enough to warrant me accepting it as a positive experience against my overall experience as an applicant. This then raises the question - what makes for "bad" EB? Well, again as I stated in Brainfood live, a piece of research I read not too long ago seems to suggest that candidates give negative feedback when their experiences are negative and no feedback whatsoever when their experiences are positive, except of course if they are chased for feedback.

So, what then creates good EB practices? Is it healthy to engage with candidates you have rejected so frequently so as to encourage them to re-apply or stay on as customers in a broader sense. One piece of research I read this week suggested that Virgin Media loses an average of £4.4m a year due to bad candidate experiences which convert into lost subscriptions.

What that tells us is that a candidate's experience can be a packaged and tangible fixed cost (or asset) to a business. Thus, the notion of an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) emerges as a remedy to this particular objective constraint. Where does the brand value in your organisation rest? How can you convey this to improve CX? Those are the only two questions you should be asking as a business leader in your organisation.

Thanks for reading.

Lessons in How To Raise Capital in an Egalitarian Society

So, my friend and business partner, who is a Finance Lecturer and Private Equity Investor wants me to do an intro to someone at a London-based venture capital firm and is offering me 5% of however much equity he receives from a capital raise which he will negotiate as a result of my introduction.

The problem here is that there arguably isn't enough respect or regard shown in the profession to allow black entrepreneurship networks like that of myself and my business partner to flourish. We have cautiously approached one investor who although being kind enough to provide his contact details, did not acquiesce to respond or provide constructive criticism. Some high-profile VCs have bad reputations and even worse attitude problems. Maybe it's a money issue?

I originally thought I'd share the context of the discussion, but I have since changed my mind. Best to leave it there. Let's just say the effect of this was a fruitful conversation I've had with my business partner in regards to social action, and the economic rights of ethnic minorities, with a reference to this exact journal article.

What ought to be said is that the foremost figure of civil and political rights of that time and perhaps of all-time, was a revolutionary who died (or was assassinated) in his prime due to attempts to combat the sheer lack of economic rights provided to citizens of Black African descent.

It's a great paper to read and I thought I would share it.

One can relate this paper and its argument to my experience in tech, and what we get is a resounding reaffirmation of how venture capital networks actually operate. Unlike the nameless resume process or the blind exam paper in Universities, venture capital is allocated on a preferential basis. This needs to change.

Myself and my business partner, albeit unknowingly, have a mission and commitment to ask questions and take notes about the nature of our experiences, on behalf of others (both investors and founders) who may be in our shoes, given the fact that a) we are seeking investment in a relatively competitive sector - augmented reality and b) we're not all white males, so we have no such associated privilege.

I'll keep you updated about my business partner's journey.

Further Thoughts on Employer Branding

Had a quick stop at the Nigerian Embassy today to collect my Flygerian passport with my mum. Happy to see that Brexit is in full swing also. On the way back to the office, I had to reschedule a prior meeting, I started thinking about Hung Lee's Recruiting Brainfood which I get reminders about every Friday at roughly the same time. 3pm. This week's topic of choice by Hung was an impressive attempt to clean up the thought leadership on what Employer Branding actually is?

Indeed, there ought to be a glancing eye GIF applied to all the instances where thought leaders in recruitment who have already explained the concept of Employer Branding (EB) begin to hasten at an attempt to convey its value to an estranged audience, hence when we see the likes of none other than the curator of Recruiting Brainfood, doing big numbers on LinkedIn and livestream on the topic of EB, the reason for GIFs like these, becomes ever more pragmatic and meaningful. 

So, come 4pm every Friday Hung Lee hosts Brainfood live on Crowdcast. Elena and James gave their high-level talk today on the values they see underpinning EB in the modern realm (with lots of puns and healthy banter). James (Ellis) is one of the most committed to implementing this field of study. His work is focused on the pragmatic definition of EB and extends its philosophy proudly through interviews and pods. 

Not too familiar with the work of Elena but she's also a pioneer in the Chicago scene. As for this week's episode of Brainfood however, it was an interesting6 platform for Elena and James (as well as the usual audience) to employ tactics to get recruiters to engage and participate in the scope of EB, especially while businesses are bidding up the price of brand value. Definitely worth a listen and watch if you are, like today's guest James, a hardcore EB advocate. I attempted to engage with the webinar attendees to define EB as correlated with the Candidate Experience (CX), but to no avail.

Warning: It's a 4-way conversation which gets very dense for a livestream/podcast

The Recruiting Concept of the Year - EQ

Emotional intelligence, nowadays is such a big trending topic in Human Resources its incredible. One of my LinkedIn connections, Chike Onyia has been pioneering this paradigm as a qualified practitioner for quite some time now, so I thought I would do some further research around Daniel Goleman's famous recruiting concept.

You can actually test your EQ here if you'd like: The average test score is in the 90's which shows you have reasonable EQ - widely recognised as the key quality that Gen X employers are keen to recruit for.

What else does it say? Well, what it should say is a) that you have a sufficient degree of empathy and a capability to control your emotional responses. I was close, high EQ generally translates to being able to do the following:

  • Effectively reducing negative emotions
  • Staying cool when managing stress
  • Being assertive and expressing difficult emotions when necessary
  • Staying proactive, not reactive in the face of a difficult person
  • Bouncing back from adversity
  • Expressing intimate emotions in close
  • Managing personal relationships well

The above bullets are courtesy of Daniel Goleman's website. Some great recommended apps for live video streams which can be recorded can be found here.

Lessons learned from Climate Policy

Today, I was interested to learn from Sky News that the UK is under considerable threat from climate change and will need to evolve its policy towards the farming sector over the course of the next decade.

In my opinion, climate change is a broader issue which may, in some circumstances consist of a number of sub-challenges for agricultural policy, one faced by multiple governments around the world, not just the UK.

Over the past two years, I have researched and blogged about this topic and what I have discovered is that at the heart of the evolution that is required is the unrequited enthusiasm of the young farmer.

"It is urgent to change our view of agriculture and recognize that “the farmer is an entrepreneur like any other."

Now, the assessment of agriculture here, really resonated for one anecdotal reason in particular: because according to my mother, my grandfather on my father's side (my father's father) was a diligent farmer himself, who was able to support his son and was able to create wealth through entrepreneurial activity and opportunity.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I am aiming to apply recent knowledge that I have learned from the experience of Brexit, to, where possible, understand the circumstances which parts of Africa are facing, especially in countries where farming is the predominant undertaking, i.e. where over 70% of the rural economy is farmed land (those who live outside of the major cities).

What knowledge do I mean? Well, you might be aware of Michael Gove, who remains the key person in charge of negotiating the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for DEFRA as the department undergoes significant changes in light of the UK's Exit from the European Union. 

Gove had a significant issue on his hands.

The EU's CAP is widely believed to be inefficient and uncompetitive because it subsidises large landowners to the tune of some £3bn, an amount which is thought to be way to steep for DEFRA to fund annually.

This is one reason why CAP has been effectively disregarded as inefficient. The subsidy rewards land ownership and not efficient land use. But because land use on its own does not always translate to optimal product, there are barriers created. Younger farmers, who have incentives to be more productive, find it difficult to enter the industry for produce because land becomes scarce. Hence, the lack of competitiveness.

2) Now, the lesson I learned today is drawn from this example - according to the NEPAD report I referenced above:

“The absence of a policy for financing agriculture — aside from ad hoc fertiliser subsidies — combined with episodic development aid actions are the two main barriers to scaling up, i.e. building sustainable institutions and delivering technical and financial services adapted to suit the diversity of the agricultural sector as a whole. Two palliatives are proposed to remedy this situation: i) policies to provide subsidies for equipment, fertilisers and seed; states are often not prepared to provide the requisite financial backing even in the face of demonstrable impacts and profitability; ii) involvement by states acting as economic agents and the establishment of activities supported artificially by donors, thereby disrupting the construction of a true factor market based on the private sector.”

I couldn’t agree more with this view. It’s a very good prescription for what I perceive to be (with limited knowledge of the nuances) a similar circumstance. The NEPAD report highlights the need for barriers to be lifted, which is a circumstance that generally aligns with the reasons why CAP is out of favour.

To the naked eye, it seems CAP's policy prescription was indeed flawed.

Subsidising land ownership is just a bad idea anyway. It’s the equivalent of providing a car to an insuree when they don’t need the car.

Let’s hope DEFRA are taking notes from NEPAD to ensure policy is adequately aligned with the right sort of incentives in future. i.e. the removal of barriers to agricultural entrepreneurship.

Lessons from APSCo's Ann Swain

Continuing on from yesterday's blog post concerning advice to startup recruitment businesses. The Global Recruiter, through the words of Ann Swain of APSCo - The Association of Professional Staffing Companies, not to be confused with ACAS - The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, in their Expansion Special Issue, tackled the issue of global expansion for recruitment organisations which have grown sufficiently enough to an adequate level of revenue, and who are considering growth and profitability opportunities overseas.

If you are not familiar with the work of Ann Swain or APSCo in the UK and in other locations, I'll do a quick introduction to her work. 

APSCo are a trade body for the recruitment and staffing sector, responsible for overseeing the conduct of recruitment firms and developing corporate and social governance and trading standards. The organisation host various events across the country for recruitment entrepreneurs and makes an effort to add significant value to gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the future of work and leadership development.

Importantly, APSCo, as with the REC (Recruitment and Employment Federation), represent its members across a spectrum of public policy and private sector lobby groups on issues such as IR35 reform and staffing sector regulation.

As well as James from TRN, Ann will be at Bullhorn's Engage London conference this September to share more insights to a live audience of practitioners and stakeholders in the industry. 

Ann, in this month's GR magazine,  goes to great lengths in the article to highlight "local legislation, cultural nuances and time differences" as sufficient challenges that recruitment businesses may encounter in the course of fulfilling an ambition to expand.

Ann also suggests a lot of research must be conducted to understand the market before you consider entering.

Well worth the read.

Lessons from TRN's James Osborne

I've been on Twitter for roughly 9 years now and for as long as I can remember, I've been followed by a little known account by the name of @osborne_tweets. It was only until 2015 that I did some research and uncovered his true identity. His real name, James Osborne, Chairman of the Recruitment Network, one of the largest communities of recruitment professionals and business owners in the country.

Since then, @osborne_tweets has made leaps and strides in the recruitment world, so much so that he will be the headline speaker at Bullhorn's Engage London conference this September, probably the industry's best event in terms of popularity and commercial appeal.

Now that I have introduced James, let's take a look at his advise for recruitment business owners. In the Global Recruiter's Expansion Special Issue, James outlines some important aspects that business owners should be capitalising on:
  • Do you have or are you currently delivering against a strategic plan that has been carefully crafted and designed to create profit and momentum or is your business success just a result of hard work and luck? - As James alludes to, businesses in this industry need to have the nitty gritty in place first. A targeted niche, a budget, a pipeline and a client base. But not just that, you need the right people involved in your recruitment business.
  • Are your consultants running at an efficient and profitable level or is your business currently allowing mediocrity or at worst underperformance to exist? Think KPIs, dashboards, metrics, reports - all aspects you will need to meet your targets. Set your target revenue and work back, making sure you set the number of client and candidate engagements you will need to meet that level of revenue. Use metrics to justify additions or otherwise to your team.
  • Are you maximising customer yield and creating growth from within your existing customer base against their total recruitment budget or spend? I think James means the return of the customer here, and the value your services provide versus other similar businesses. 
  • Are your consultants focused on doing business where there is most profit and growth opportunity? Effective execution is all about balancing the two things: market segmentation and profit maximisation.
James goes on to outline a very well thought out proposition for a top level plan, which I think every business owner, not just recruiters, should take a look at. It's a testimony to the work of James at The Recruitment Network and even more so to the Editorial team at The Global Recruiter.

Make sure you find some time to tackle the article.

New Diversity report on the Venture Capital industry

From Check Warner:

Today Diversity VC publishes the second study examining the diversity of the UK Venture Capital Industry sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank. On a positive note - the industry has increased the number of women at junior levels from 29% to 37%, and overall numbers in the industry from 27% to 30%.

Yet the % of senior women has stayed flat for two years and 63% of funds still have no senior women. We also looked at educational and career backgrounds and ethnicity - 33% of UK VCs went to Stanford, Harvard, Oxbridge or Business School, only 8% have start-up experience and 76% are white (vs 59% of London population).

Please check out the report here and coverage:

United States of Recruitment

Recently read an article in The Global Recruiter, written by Bill Benson, about the landscape for recruitment and search in the United States. It was a fascinating insight and frank assessment into the US market from a business owner in the recruitment sector. The article is from GR's April edition, which happened to be its 200th issue.

Some key facts from the article:
  1. 20,000 independent recruiting firms in the US
  2. $150bn market size for recruiting and staffing
Benson makes the case that the most successful firms in the US will be those which:
  • Specialize in a functional niche
  • Develop extensive client relationships
  • Effectively perform targeted recruiting
I couldn't agree more with Bill. From my experience recruiting in the Greater Los Angeles Area, the market is very competitive. The recruiting culture is different. Headhunters have much more access to hiring managers and opportunities are originated more easily in my opinion.

Simple Ways to Win Retained Business

This afternoon, it was a full house at Ali Whitehead's Facebook Live chat and the feedback was phenomenal. In case you haven't heard of Ali and her business Flourish Training, I did a quick intro yesterday.

Ali is in one of those rare professional industries, executive coaching, which add so much value to people like myself. Not only did she talk me through a very clear and concise 1-hour long guide on how to win new business as a retained recruitment entrepreneur but she also did it for free.

Retained recruitment is quite a different kettle of fish from contingent recruitment. Although there is a recording of the Facebook Live chat, which I have provided a link to, here are some accompanying highlights from Ali's pep talk:
  • A good place to start is to channel your old contingent leads in the direction of your new retained solution, by going back over your previous roles and following up on roles which have failed to result in a successful hire, or which haven't been filled due to skills shortages
  • You shouldn't worry about the nature of the price of your service, or about how to ask for a retainer, once the client understands the value of your solution, you will be seen as a specialist contribution to their business needs
  • The roles you will have to work on are of course defined by your client but aim to enquire into partnering on high salaried senior professional roles.
  • Engage with your senior level candidates. Build a new recruiting proposition and funnel this to your new pipeline to begin your retained solution
  • Use the evidence you have acquired over time using your successful leads and testimonials to pitch for retained business
  • Understand that retained recruitment is 100% confidential and can take 3-6 months to build a picture of a role and deep dive into finding the right candidates for the opportunity
There's much more in Ali's video. Do take the time to watch!

Upcoming Events: 10 July 2019

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to a bright and bold female entrepreneur by the name of Ali Whitehead founder of Flourish Training, an amazingly inspirational exec search coach who assists contingent recruiters like myself convert their client base into a retained model of recruitment.

Retained search isn't an unfamiliar topic, as I've connected to Plamen Ivanoff and Terry Edwards and I'm followed by Greg Savage himself on Twitter. But these guys aren't coaches like Ali. The pros definitely do it differently. I've watched one of her coaching videos and it was 15 mins of pure inspiration.

If you'd like to join in the fun, then get on over to her Facebook group and register your interest in the event:

I'm happy to extend an invitation to my network. The next live webinar is tomorrow at 4pm. Here's to bigger billing!


I used Trello & Asana, but not for Product Management, for Recruiting

For everyone new to product management, its essential that you learn about Kanban tools like Trello and Asana. These are highly customised, easy-to-use and widely integrated software applications which help their users manage the team orientated tasks that accompany (concurrent) projects.

However, if you are a recruiter, as I have mentioned to Hung Lee before, you may find Asana or Trello to be a great alternative option to your current applicant tracking system. While these software apps are used mostly by PMs, recruiters will no doubt find value with respect to their capability to track/store applicants details and assist in the management of the application process.

Unfortunately, where Asana falls short is in the client relationship management department as I mentioned to one of the AE's who had a conversation with me recently. For newbies, a CRM is essentially a component of a broader system which ensures your (concurrent) project workflows consist of the recording and annotation of client interaction. Popular and specialist alternatives are Salesforce or Hubspot.

Without a CRM, Asana cannot compete with a Bullhorn or a dedicated high-end staffing technology SaaS, but even with a CRM, the ATS itself is just an internal collaboration tool for HR, designed to improve teams collaboratively.

When using Asana, I found it very interesting because once a task is given a deadline, it becomes almost as a critical eventuality which says nothing about how one wishes to complete the task.

There should be more rigid opportunity to explore and assess the methods by which PMs and Recruiters can undertake the processes of uploading and storing documents, defining project deliverables and measuring output compared to those deliverables. This could be imposed by a senior project owner or leader within the project.

A Damning Indicement for Recruitment Technologists

As recently as last month, I had a wonderful Skype call, which I have mentioned before with Ivan from TalentLyft. A Croatian based recruitment marketing solution. Part of the open conversation we were having touched upon the recruiting methods which one of their latest hires on the engineering team used to apply for a position at their startup. You'd be surprised if you took a guess at what avenue was used. Well, according to Ivan, it was Google for Jobs! Not any of these new job application web platforms. My response to Ivan was something along the lines of "this is a damning indictment for recruitment technology". Why? Because as Seth says in one of his latest blogs, our challenge as recruitment technologists is to streamline human interaction and usability. If we are not achieving that, what are we achieving?

On the Philosophy of Action - For Recruiters

Oftentimes (which tends to mean more so than not), I find myself asking my inner person a flurry of pressing questions. Questions like: what makes me tick as a recruiter, where do I get the passion to act from and why do I do the things I do, the way in which I do them? This thought initially occured to me while I was reading Chuka's Liberal Democrat "welcome" letter a week or so ago, and occured again to me a few days ago once I had completed a Skype interview with an applicant who applied to join me at Impact as an Innovation Lead.

These principally are metaphysical and epistemological questions, meaning they have answers in the fundamental roots of meaning. Chuka, who I have a familiarity with, would have asked himself "Why did I leave Labour, only to join the Liberal Democrats?", just as I asked myself, "what kind of recruitment philosophy am I attempting to re-create by scaling this business with a new hire?". The answer will without doubt require one to assess our methods of decision making. There may not always be singularity in our actions, but there should at least be some degree of consistency.

I can't speak to answer the question which Chuka would have asked himself before writing the letter he sent his members, but I can speak for myself and in that sense, the following remains true, at least for now,

Recruitment in my view is about three vital aspects:
  1. Organizational Development
  2. Personal Development
  3. Procedure
While I concur with the view that one cannot organise, without first being organised. I do not abide by the view that you can only recruit on a big budget. In other words, I place principally the idea that the task of recruiting can be an independent undertaking conducted fairly reasonably by lay persons who choose to partake in the extra-organisational dynamic wither it be as a freelancer or as a business owner.

Organisational Development

This is all about timing. I was always taught that organisations should be thought of as clouds and not entities. Clouds which are not only intangible but also continuously evolving. The development of the organisation should take place through timely interaction. However, this ideal conflicts with the view that I now harbour, which is opposed to the view I was always taught; that scale could come from anywhere, through informal interactions or through spontaneous activities. Now, I abide by the fact that process is central to value creation.

Personal Development

This is all about learning. As humans we tend to learn from every single person we meet and in that sense, recruitment is fundamentally the business of organised  human to human interaction with a specific end. The way we organise that interaction is up to ourselves. Learning can take many forms, I tend to align myself with introverted capabilities like blogging, watching webinars and using resources to acquire the relevant knowledge and skill.


As I have learnt and as I still come to learn, the process of making recommendations is all about who has the best process for doing so, without innovating too far from the original purpose of any particular assignment. E-mail is not the future, so please stop contacting your clients with CVs via e-mail. Good collaboration with a hiring team is always achieved through mutual respect and commitment. Top class recruiters know how to avoid the e-mail trap and to follow a recruiting process through to the point of onboarding, that and nothing else, creates value for the organisation. In other words, build your recruiting strategy on your vision for your business's process and not on contemporaneous technological cloud like approaches like depending on electronic mail. Touche to Dr. Simon Kelly.

Thanks for reading! I also posted this on Medium.

Discussing TalentLyft's Platform Innovation

So, I've been quite busy over the last few days, but thought I'd keep everyone in the loop as to what I am up to. Yesterday, I had a long-awaited demo with TalentLyft, which I had pre-scheduled with Ivan, the AE at TalentLyft, for a week prior to the day.  

It's safe to say my expectations were met with glee, and then some. From his very impressive demonstration yesterday, I found TalentLyft - a vibrant recruitment technology startup based in Croatia - to be very early stage. I've put together some notes from my demo with TalentLyft which double up as my thoughts on the product itself. Essentially, TalentLyft provides a state of the art recruitment marketing / employer branding solution to the mid-market, and while the product is very "early-stage", it's extremely well designed and has bags of potential. 

The business are actually just transitioning into a version 2.0 product, so that conveys how TalentLyft is very conducive to an environment of product innovation in terms of the adoption of new features, modules, components and extensions, which may be able to improve the end user experience and of ultimately, end user engagement.

Key notes from the Demo:

  • TalentLyft's version 1.0 platform has a complete candidate tracking suite
  • Platform to social engagement features
  • Leadership profiling – ads can be utilised as referrals (for candidates who are not very active and for employees who are comfortable with sharing ads)
  • Employees can share job ads – where users are more comfortable using job aggregators
  • TalentLyft’s ATS DB is MS Azure/Back-end Python
  • Original target market was small IT companies – now very much focused on middle market
  • Later this year, enterprise functionality will be added
  • Roadmap plan for 1 year is in place
  • Ambitions to target the US market & Eastern market
  • SEO allows for easy integration with Google for Jobs
  • Version 2 beta is live
  • The roadmap will include enterprise & SMB solutions – different pricing points for each
  • Data Science and Machine Learning features are being added to Version 2.0 beta
  • The business uses Hubspot – to employ extended high-level Recruitment Marketing & Sales synergies
  • The Product team builds Buyer Personas prior to developing new features
  • Verson 2 of TalentLyft is being designed with respect to original Workable and Greenhouse ergonomics - very impressive 
  • Interviews are being conducted with end clients to provide the main roadmap for new additional features

It's exciting times for the guys at TalentLyft and the Recruitment Marketing sector as a whole so potentially, our collaboration may have come at precisely the right time.

I've got a 1 month extended demo with the beta version 2.0 product, so I'll be sharing my views on TalentLyft with Ivan over the course of the next few weeks as I attempt to map some understanding of the product and it's features.

Wish us luck!