Hiring Hub is an award-winning digital recruitment agency marketplace, based in Manchester. It helps employers to find and work with specialist recruitment agencies to fill roles faster, with less hassle, while recruiters can join the platform to grow their fee income.
In the wake of securing their most recent round of investment, Simon Swan, CEO of Hiring Hub spoke to Robert Walters to discuss the challenges associated with developing their technology workforce during a period of consistent growth, and developing a strong businesses culture, established by its people.
How did Hiring Hub come into existence?
My background doesn’t lie in technology or recruitment. I completed an engineering apprenticeship in my formative years and then swiftly moved on to a career in publishing before becoming a self-employed marketing and PR consultant.
I knew I wanted to set up my own company. To build something. I’d recognised a gap in the recruitment market working onsite at recruitment companies within my client base. Multiple industries were beginning to use technology to move onto an online aggregated marketplace model – hotels, insurance, cars – so why couldn’t recruitment have its own aggregated, digital platform?
As well as looking for technical skills, we’ve looked for professionals who are solution-led with customer-facing skills, whether that’s a developer or a front-line customer service team.
We started Hiring Hub in 2010, but it took a good couple of years to gain some traction and make the business sustainable. In the early days we were winning awards for enterprise and innovation because conceptually the idea carried merit, but revenue was low – we couldn’t even take a salary from it – so it was tough.
Those early years were all about compromise. Trying to marry supply and demand within our marketplace – gaining investment in 2012 really allowed us to scale the business, acquire customers faster and generate income to sustain growth.
How did you approach building your technology team?
Initially, we had outsourced our technology function, but we made the decision to build a tech team in-house to better facilitate our product delivery.
It was a real challenge building a team from scratch. To overcome this, we deliberately leveraged our existing relationships with senior technology professionals within our business network who advised us on our hiring strategy. One of the key considerations was around whether to hire junior developers that would report directly to me, or hire a CTO to take responsibility for managing our product and leading the tech team. Despite recommendations to just hire junior developers, I decided to do the opposite and hired an exceptional CTO instead (Anna Dick) who bought a much broader range of tech capabilities to the businesses to allow us to further diversify what we do.
How would you describe your company culture?
I’ve always maintained the belief that collaboration brings better solutions to problems, which I think is embedded in the way we work as a business. Our core business values were built from the ground up by our employees – human values, centred around who we are, who we want to be, and the service we strive to provide to customers. We’ve always been wary that implementing technology should allow us to improve our processes and communication, without diminishing our people focus.
Transparency is key to the way we effectively collaborate as a team. It’s by accident rather than design that we’ve managed to create an open, interactive culture, but having a small, open-plan office allows a great deal of autonomy for our staff, but also allows everyone to have an overarching insight into how the business is performing and make sure the work we’re doing is steered towards our top-line business goals, which we align everyone around.
Has your company culture shifted since bringing in new talent?
We didn’t want to change the feel of the office when scaling the technology team so we we’ve always hired on personality and attitude, so that they fit into our workplace culture. As well as looking for technical skills, we’ve looked for professionals who are solution-led with customer-facing skills, whether that’s a developer or a front-line customer service team. Again, our open-plan office layout has ensured our teams aren’t isolated in silos to facilitate open collaboration.
What does your future growth plan look like?
As a company we are ambitious. We doubled the technology team in 2018 and this year it will almost double again as we focus on product development, building out the desktop and mobile apps.
How do you rate the current hiring market for technology professionals?
The talent pool in Manchester is tight and competitive, but we’ve been impressed by the professionalism and the quality of the hires we’ve made at both senior and at graduate-level from the University of Manchester, ManMet and Salford University, respectively, for both technology and other business disciplines.
With such demand for technology professionals in Manchester, we understand the need to put forward an attractive employment offer. The people we hire are motivated to build things - they get to work on a product in its relative infancy that is already delivering value to customers and is still developing! We have an extremely flexible and self-sufficient workforce already, but we’d considering remote working for our technology function to enhance their job satisfaction.
Robert Walters Business Spotlight is a campaign focusing on start-ups and high growth businesses, seeking to identify the challenges associated with developing your workforce during a growth phase, and provide key insights into how businesses are addressing these challenges.
Please get in touch with Dan Greenwood on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more about the campaign.