Bruce Hydes
Bruce Hydes

Interview: Bruce Hydes of Edgar Stewart. The changing face of recruitment

Home to three leading specialist brands in the Scottish recruitment sector, namely Talented, Edgar Stewart and Cyrus Selection, ESS Holdings (Edinburgh) Ltd is a fast evolving stable of specialist HR services and recruitment consulting businesses led by Bruce Hydes.

Bruce founded Edgar Stewart Selection in 2010 and has since been joined by fellow directors Craig Jackson and Sara Zorriasatein.

Craig Jackson runs the Talented division which was the first company be be spun out of the Edgar Stewart business incubator and start-up hub.

Sara Zorriasatein joined soon after as Cyrus Selection followed with a spin out from the incubator.

Talented provides recruitment, advice and outsourced sales and HR support to the Scottish SME community and pre-revenue generating businesses while Cyrus Selection specialises in providing permanent and contract recruitment services to clients across energy, water and utilities.

Bruce remains actively hands on and engaged in placing candidates across a range of large and small businesses, as well as sitting on the HR Sig Group for the Scottish Life Sciences Association and the Steering Group for Technology Scotland. We asked him to share his thoughts on changes in and the future of the Scottish recruitment sector.
How has recruitment in Scotland changed over the last 17 years?

How has recruitment in Scotland changed over the last 17 years?

In my market (engineering and manufacturing) the composition and the size of the market has changed fundamentally.

I came into Silicon Glen in 1999 and by about 2003 most of the big employers such as Motorola had gone.

The Scottish market is really one of growing mid sized and SME businesses employing less than 100 people.

We have also seen the Internet revolution and job boards which in my view took away some of the skill of “selling” a job to a candidate – the “shunt and punt” recruiters will always struggle when candidates become scarce.

Moving through my career I think it has become harder for recruiters. HR people can use the technology that we use now to source direct, candidates are much more career savvy, and we have seen trends like RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) come, go, and return, as well as lots of bigger clients hiring in-house resourcing consultants – all of which squeeze the world of the agency recruiter.

Factor in the recession and credit crunch and there has been a huge squeeze on rates.

Between 1999 and 2007 average fees were probably between 17-20%, ten years later it is now 13-17% in the main – normally 15% for cash!

I would also argue there are a lot more independent recruiters now than when I started – indeed I heard a stat recently that there were now more recruitment businesses in the UK than in the whole of the US….

The types of jobs we recruit for have changed. Much more IT, software, firmware, design roles and less manufacturing / engineering roles which proves Scotland is more a design and R+D economy and less about manufacturing.

Lots of clients have automated the recruitment process by using online CV posting platforms which “cheapens” the process, removes control and commitment between agency and client but makes the client’s job easier.

There is also much more movement across the EU of people into Scotland.

How has technology impacted on the sector?

Job board posting has basically killed print media advertising because they are easier and cheaper.

Very powerful CRM systems which can control the front end sales aspect and back end processing of the recruitment process have streamlined processes.

LinkedIn and Twitter mean we can headhunt candidates easier and ensure you can appeal to a global audience quicker, whilst the use of online blogs and content marketing to keep up with major industry trends has never been easier.

So you have outlined what has changed in the last 17 years. What about the future of recruitment?

Regardless of technology, in the foreseeable future companies will still need recruiters to read people and manage the process. Large scale multi-discipline recruitment businesses are struggling and I believe clients will have a few specialist suppliers across various functions.

Old fashioned 360 degree recruitment firms where the recruiter hunts and recruits are becoming harder to find, with today’s and tomorrow’s recruiter typically excelling in either sales or resourcing.

Fees are being squeezed by more competition and in-house recruitment so tomorrow’s recruiter has to be more creative around how and what they charge.

Successful recruiters will be better served by having a smaller collegiate set of loyal clients rather than loads of customers – control and commitment of the process are more crucial than ever.

We can expect enabling technology to evolve further making it easier for recruiters to search through big data on social media and CRM systems.