The story of your recruitment company is one as old as time.
It’s one you’ve heard many times. You might regale it to prospective clients during ‘BD hour’. It might be your USP? It might be on your website.
It might be told to new starters, to ignite the fire in their very soul, before leading them out into the fray.
Every story differs of course. In the fabric of their fibre, they’re different to the touch.
But the premise is the same.
A rags to riches story.
Because I like sharing, I’ve decided to tell the story of FFS. The recruitment company I started most recently (yes there have been others, no you can’t know their names).
It’s a pretty good story, and one you’ll find strangely familiar.
So, let’s go now, back to where all good Founder stories start… a kitchen table.
It was the winter of 2016.
A cold December night had dampened my mood.
As I left the office a little after 9PM, I trudged home with the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Just as my mind started to wonder, a commuter barged past, pushing a disabled woman out the way.
He laughed in our faces and threw up a middle finger, as the doors closed to frame his grin.
My attention turned back to work, as I ran through the day’s events, over and over.
Just as my blood started to boil, my colleague Phil arrived with a bottle of whiskey.
“Why can’t anyone get it right?!” I scowled, growing increasingly frustrated at the shoddy practices plaguing my industry.
I’d spent the day battling naysayers on LinkedIn about the disparaging comments one of my posts. Sadly, like most battles I had then, I’d lost.
I’d said all HR Managers were little more than checkout workers, with less mental dexterity and a smaller vocabulary. For some reason, no one seemed to like it.
An idea that might just change my mood.
An idea so brilliant, it could change the industry.
An idea so fantastic, I was sure no one had ever dreamt up anything this spell-binding, in all human existence.
An idea, which might just change history.
And so, armed only with an idea and bottle of Single Malt, I gave Phil a look.
“What the world needs is a recruitment company that actually listens to its clients and candidates. A company unlike all others before it. One that’s bespoke. One that takes a truly consultative approach to business. One that treats candidates like humans. Not just another number.”
“THAT’S BRILLIANT ED!” shrieked Phil sitting up straight.
I could tell I’d started a fire within him.
I’d seen this look in his eyes before. It was the same dizzying excitement I’d witnessed only a few times in his life.
One was after the birth of his first child, which we celebrated wildly from the bar, on the Ibiza incentive.
Another was when he realised, he could fake Glassdoor reviews to quash the negative press surrounding the business.
“I mean, right now, we’re just not bespoke enough. No one is! It makes me sick!” Phil shouted as he beat his fist into the sturdy oak surface.
“I know Phil. We all know. But this is our chance to change it” I replied, lifting his chin and wiping his tears.
Without realising where I was or taking note of the scorched partridge in the oven, I stood next to Phil and unleashed one of the most rousing speeches I’d made that week. I’ve no idea where it came from, but I remember it to this day.
“I have a dream” it started…
“I have a dream that one day recruiters will live in a nation where they’ll be judged for the level of their consultative nature. Not by the cost of their Rolex.”
“I have a dream that one day in London, with its vicious internet trolls, with its HR Managers, having their lips dripping with the words of lower fees, and tiered PSLs, one day right here in London, recruiters will be able to join hands with hiring managers as sisters and brothers.”
“That’s magnificent” spluttered Phil. “You’re glowing, where’s that light coming from?”
Neither of us could contain our excitement. I think we both know it was divine intervention that day.
That day which started out so badly.
That day which ended in epiphany.
In the beginning everything was tough.
Of course it was.
We had no investment. No hand-outs. No education to speak of.
I remember working until the small hours, surviving on a diet of mealworms, gravel and broken glass.
I could tell Phil was struggling. His stomach cramps had come back, and his blood pressure rose by the day. I’d give him the bigger worms to raise his spirits.
Of course I never let on. “That’s what friends are for” I reasoned. And he’d have done the same for me.
After we got the naming rights, surprisingly easily, for FFS, we took to LinkedIn.
“What sells on here?” I questioned. “We need something that really set us apart.”
A tagline, and backstory that would really propel our business.
I took all of the best stuff we wanted to share. About being bespoke. About being truly consultative. And I shared it with a photo of the company values printed on our walls.
“That’ll get ’em” I winked at Phil.
Sure, the office was at the bottom of a lake.
Sure, we didn’t have a roof.
Or an internet connection.
But we had moxie!
We were inundated with responses.
Likes came from every corner of the world and one of Phil’s comments even got over 100 likes.
We knew we’d made it.
All the hard work and perseverance had paid off.
We’d stayed true to our roots and told the world to “Make way!” There was a newcomer on the block.
A company with an ethos so different, onlookers stopped in their tracks, left aghast at the utterly brilliant industry disruptor, changing the world, before their very eyes.
With a skip in our step, Phil and I gathered together the likes and comments and skipped off to the bank.
Once we’d exchanged them for sterling, we were set.
We’d changed the world, probably forever. Plus, we could now afford a Resourcer to help grow FFS to where we knew it could be.
And it’s from that position I write to you today.
Wary from the journey, but thankful for the process.
I’ll be forever humble, but it never hurts to remember your roots.
If you’re yet to find your happy ending, take heart from mine. You might not always be sad and pathetic. Remember me at your worst moments and I’ll inspire you to be the person you can be.
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