Concrete Conversation with Stewart Olsen

We spoke with Stewart Olsen, Managing Director at Orb Recruitment. Orb are a specialist, dedicated recruitment consultancy offering outstanding service and effective solutions to clients across the UK from our offices based in Sheffield, Leeds and London.

IM What is your role within Orb recruitment?
SO I am the founder, I set up the company.
IM What year did you set Orb recruitment up?
SO I set up December 2017.
IM What made you decide to set up your own recruitment firm?
SO I think after years of making someone else lots of money and working long hours for someone else’s gains, I mean I was well paid with a good commission, but the penny dropped that I was running the company so I thought I would set up my own with my own contacts and network.
IM Did you set up on your own or did you have investors?
SO I had a small bit of investment from family but other than that it was fully set up by myself.
IM Did you have a pipeline when you first started?
SO I had a small pipeline, I put the word out that I was moving and going on my own so a lot of the network I already dealt with moved along with me. Then from there, we haven’t really struggled with bringing new clients on, we have had a really good uptake of our service. It’s more candidate driven at the moment.
IM What’s your current headcount in the company?
SO We are now at 6 full-time staff.
IM Are they all consultants or is there a manager with you?
SO I brought someone in as a director, so Paul has a really good background in construction and recruitment. Faye is our senior consultant and she looks after the more permeant recruitment we deal with. And then we have a couple of consultants underneath her. All in all, it’s the team we have that works and everyone supports each other.
IM And the office you’re in now did you start your business from there or did you work from home at first?
SO Initially it was home base for about 2 weeks just to test the water before committing to the outgoings of an office.
IM What was the biggest challenge you faced when you set up the company?
SO I suppose the internal infrastructure in terms of CRM and job boards was quite costly. Unless your really involved in setting those up before they can take you by surprise. Other than that establishing a candidate base and getting the brand out was a challenge, but as with most things the more effort you put into something, the better rewards you reap.
IM What’s your view of the industry in the next 5 years regarding Brexit, technology and the skills shortage?
SO The skills shortage is a massive issue and we are finding now that it is a very candidate driven market because there is such a shortage of skills, especially for the more technical roles. I’m not sure what the situation will be like after an agreement with foreign nationals but until it’s all settled I don’t want to worry about it too much. There is no point in planning for something when it’s not set. There is a lack of people going into apprenticeships, I recently read that there is a 60% shortage of bricklayers! Regarding technology a lot of people are moving towards managed services, the companies we are speaking to now are being more interested in payroll and candidate management, front end right to the back end and while there are some companies who have fantastic technology to support this, most are not cost effective and could be improved. I think the current generation (of candidates) as well don’t want to speak to face to face or pick up the phone they want a notification or an email, to keep them up to date. There is only so much automation the industry will be able to undertake and it will always take a human to look over some element of the recruitment process and communicate with candidates and clients alike.
IM When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?
SO I never had a clue! I didn’t go to university, I came out of college went to work in a bar then sales and ended up in recruitment. I’ve never had a path!
IM Do you have dress down days at work?
SO We do unless we are going to meetings. I don’t think what you wear if you have tattoos or purple hair affects how you work or your work ethic. I think when we are meeting clients we need that professionalism but in the office, we dress down.
IM Do you support a sports team?
SO I support Leeds United!
IM What was the last book you read?
SO I don’t really read books I’m too busy running a business!
IM What are your top tips for scaling a recruitment business?
SO Hard work, commitment and remember that cash is king. A poorly managed cash flow is the downfall of many small businesses. I would also say that the team you have around you is key to driving the business forward, reward the good things that happen, change the bad things and don’t over-promise and under-achieve!

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