Tim Wickham talks to newly appointed managing director Chris Goulding about his vision for the future
What are your goals?
I have many goals to achieve at Wade Macdonald.
We aim to grow Wade Macdonald to triple in size over the next three years and to cement our position as the “go-to agency” for finance, HR and data science professionals as a result of our expertise and our strong ethic around our customer service. I also want us to firmly establish ourselves as an employer of choice and to be seen as a place where you can advance your career while receiving first-class training, feel that you receive recognition for a job well done and, of course, have fun along the way.
There are numerous employment agencies in the Thames Valley. How does Wade Macdonald differ?
Our one value is that ‘people count’. This means we try and give a more personalised service to candidates and clients. People are the heart of our business and relationships (both internal and external) and are key. We want to make sure that everyone we come in touch with has a good experience and feel like they were treated with respect. Alongside this core value we also plan to grow by moving into more niche areas. In finance we have opened a tax specialism, a credit specialism and plan to look into more niches around practice, payroll and treasury. We are also one of the first owner-managed agencies in Reading to have a specialist recruiter focusing purely on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
You have already started recruiting and are building your team. What do you look for in a candidate?
I want people who believe in our one core value – that people count. That means team players that want to see others around them doing well and that will go the extra mile to ensure candidates and clients are given the best service possible. I am passionate about providing strong training and so this does not always have to be experienced recruiters, but people who want to work hard and achieve great things.
How do you see the Reading and Thames Valley recruitment market? Is there a shortage of skilled people in tech, for instance?
The Reading/Thames Valley recruitment market is buoyant and confidence is high among employers with many businesses creating new opportunities rather than just replacing staff. Clearly we are still facing skills shortages in many areas, especially within the tech sectors. We have recently employed a consultant with an MSC in cybernetics to operate within our BI and data science division as we believe having a true understanding of client needs and candidate’s skills is a good way to differentiate from our competition and to gain the trust of ‘passive professionals’ who might be open to conversations without being completely active in the market.
You have joined Wade Macdonald at a time when the Reading/Thames Valley business environment is upbeat and expanding. What are the opportunities ahead – and the challenges?
The opportunities in Reading and wider Thames Valley region are endless. We have some great, established multi-national organisations based locally, while also having cutting-edge start-ups setting up here. The challenge for us is to further differentiate ourselves from the local competition, which we will do by focusing on more and more niche areas. Other challenges are attracting the right talent to our brand and retaining them, which we are becoming more successful at as we continue to invest in training, reward and recognition.
In recruitment, is your success as an agency all about the contacts you have – and building long-lasting relationships?
The success is based on long-term relationships but also ensuring that your reputation in the market is strong – leading to referrals. It is imperative that we treat each person we interact with in the right way, offering consultancy and feedback along the way. The best recruiters have not only long relationships but receive referrals due to their expertise, service and networking.
With all these online platforms such as CV-Library etc, plus LinkedIn being increasingly used as a recruiting platform, has the role of an agency changed?
The way that people search for work has certainly changed since I started in recruitment back in 1999. In those days people walked into agencies off the street, whereas now tech plays a much bigger part. We have invested heavily with LinkedIn which also allows us to interact with ‘passive’ job seekers. However, it is still all about personal relationships, networking and the ability to match culture as well as skills. It really is a people business and I don’t believe that the role of a good recruiter will ever be lost. Good recruiters are able to use influencing skills based on strong relationships and detailed market knowledge to achieve the right outcomes for clients and candidates. Plainly this is absent from online platforms.