Hunted Worldwide: Orlando

If you’ve not seen this series doing the rounds yet, you can catch up here. Today we head over to Orlando, Florida with Spencer Ogden. Home to some of the biggest rollercoasters in the world, Mickey Mouse and a recruitment market that’s providing far more ups than downs.

I spoke to Stuart Semple who moved across the pond from Glasgow and has taken the lead on establishing SO’s Orlando office.

Recruitment Market:

Stuart’s only been in Orlando for roughly 8 months but has already made waves in the local market as Business Development Manager. He’s done this by taking his fast paced, comprehensive recruitment practices from the UK and impressing them on a new audience in Florida.

“The companies give you a lot more value here” he says when I ask how the US has reacted to these methods. “When you’re recruiting here it’s less of a fight for price and more about quality of service.”

1 Market Overview

Spencer Ogden focus on recruitment in Energy, Engineering and Infrastructure.

The goal of the team in Orlando is to blend the traditional Energy roots of the business with local Engineering and Infrastructure projects. There’s a 70/30 split between energy (70) and engineering (30). The office covers projects throughout the Southeast, where there are hotspots both in large Energy projects and growing Infrastructure needs, which is obviously a potential area that SO are exploring.

And for good reason. Construction Managers for example will draw in $30,000 fees instead of £10,000. So if you’re taking an average working day, there’s more bang for your buck and a higher return on your investment in that time.

The markets SO focus on in the Southeast will yield a lot more revenue not only for the sales board but your commission cheque too.

So, for anyone bringing skills from the UK, there’s a noticeable hike in happiness levels. It’s generally candidate led in their markets due to the real industry shortage. Currently, Stuart describes the situation as “all guns blazing.”

“If you’ve got a strong candidate, most companies are open to hearing from you.”

2 Contract verses Perm

Contract was by far the dominant force in SO Orlando but after Stuart’s arrival the balance has now switched to 50/50.  Both areas have huge potential for the business which will continue to grow teams specialising in both.

Without being derogatory about the competition, the recruitment market in the Southeast is less competitive than some more established recruitment areas.

Good Recruiters and Salespeople stand out from crowd, which in recruitment is goal number one. The opportunity for career growth in our US offices is unrivalled for motivated people with a good grounding of how to recruit.

Storm clouds over a brick street in downtown Orlando, Florida.

3 Professional Community

Everything in Orlando is done face to face and networking in general is huge. While client meetings for Spencer Ogden are big, there’s a true sense gratitude from clients for taking the time do meet them.

Why? Because the competition aren’t doing the same and therefore it’s deemed you’re going above and beyond to take that initiative.

From a lot of the meetings Stuart’s been to the companies are really pleased to see you. It’s not a chore like you might find in more established markets like London. This is probably because they simply experience less recruitment face time.

The natural knock-on effect from that is more opportunity to get sole supplier status and exclusivity.

4 Business Culture

From a business perspective having a different accent will go a long way in Orlando. So being Scottish works well, as Stuart will testify.

It’s a bit more 9-5 here than London or New York and very few people will be in the office at 8pm. Neither is it a negative if you suggest having a work life balance and staying in recruitment.

5 Business Development

As mentioned above, meetings will set you apart in Orlando, but because of that it does take a little time to develop relationships.

It’s less about battering the phones and more about being selective over who you want to work with while approaching clients in a targeted and measured manner. Whether that’s highlighting extremely desirable candidates or immersing yourself in networking events.

Florida Globe

6 The CBD

The downtown area is full of banks and FS companies, and is situated south of the city.

SO are north of the city which is a tech centric area and their neighbours are wide ranging from small startups to huge consulting companies such as Deloitte. Orlando’s pretty spread out as a city so you’ll need a car to commute and get around.

7 Dress

You can wear a three piece suit in Orlando, but you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. It’s generally very casual due to the fact most days it’s 30-35 degrees celsius. ‘Slacks’ and polo shirt therefore will stand you in good stead.

8 Travel

You need a car in Orlando, it’s really that simple. Whether that’s for commuting into work or picking up groceries on your way home.

There’s very little public transport so there’s no other way than having a car. This is the most difficult thing when you relocate. Arriving with no credit history and a social number to get a bank account etc. Once you get a car you’re sorted.

Florida Beach Overhead

Life in the city:

1 Weather

Stuart’s been in Orlando since November, and in that time, it’s rained 5 or 6 times.

It does rain however, and now we’ve hit summer you’ll feel the precipitation for about 40 minutes a day. That’s it though. It’s perhaps unsurprising to know ‘The Sunshine State’ is extremely hot most of the time.

2 Housing

The overcrowded housing market of the UK isn’t something you’ll need to worry about when moving to The US and that’s especially true of Orlando. You’ll find it incredibly easy to get in a multi-family apartment and in general housing is in large supply.

For buying a property roughly a 10% deposit will get you on the market, but to put things into perspective, $200k will get you a lot of property. This makes the option of buying a home very doable as soon as you’re settled in the neighbourhood.

For rental properties, (as of May 2017) the average cost of a 1 bed apartment is $1174 per month, and two beds will set you back $1399. Meaning having a spare room for visitors is more than achievable on a Recruiter’s wage.

American Flag

3 Food

Unsurprisingly the tourist industry has had an impact on the culture of Orlando, and Florida in the wider in the context. That’s especially true of the cuisine and food on offer.

The theme is, perhaps predictably, American. There’s very much an ‘eating out’ culture here and the options are endless.

4 Outdoor Space

With the endless sunshine, soaring temperatures and amazing entertainment right at your doorstep, it’s easy to forget you can be at a beach within 45 minutes. And if you’re not a ‘sand between your toes’ kinda person, there are lakes, springs and parks galore.

The city itself isn’t hugely developed meaning there’s lots of space for activities. If you like hiking however you’re in for a disappointment as Florida is very flat.

5 Social Scene

According to Stuart, there’s a certain kind of Recruiter that truly benefits from the environment Orlando has to offer. Namely, those with families or partners who are looking to settle a little out of the big city life.

There’s a good social scene of course, but people will go out to others’ homes and chill out a lot more than faster paced, gung-ho cities like London or New York. The general pace of life here dictates that. So, whether it’s a colleague’s pool, a nearby beach, a nature reserve or one of the many theme parks you might have heard of, there’s plenty on offer.

Being America, there’s plenty of sports to take your attention too. Namely, Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Magic and a few NFL teams a couple of hours drive away.


6 Family

Two words will exemplify why Orlando’s a great place to bring up a young family… Theme Parks. Outside of that, there’s plenty of space here and as mentioned above lots to do.

The school system in Orlando is pretty competitive and at a high standard.

7 Cost of Living

The general cost of living’s pretty good in Orlando and it’s fairly viable to live from your salary whilst eating out every day and paying rent etc. Meaning that valuable commission can be saved or spent on desirable things like holidays and luxury items.

Unlike major cities around the world you won’t be spending 60-70% of your wage on accommodation in Orlando.

8 Tax

The combined sales tax rate for Orlando is 6.5%. And while there’s no state income tax in Florida, if you earn well and combine all your commission you’ll pay 25-30%.

Orlando aerial view, skyline and Lake Eola at dusk

9 Visas

It was fairly easy to get a visa for the USA but that may have tightened up a touch depending on your situation. If you’re an established Recruiter or have a good educational background, your potential employer will probably be able to help you get here.

10 Exotic travel

Key West and Georgia are both accessible by car from Orlando and visiting either is like being in a different country.

Jamaica’s within just a few hours flight. Mexico’s also quick to get to, and so is South America. So, it’s safe to say if you want a change of scenery from the sun drenched shores of Florida, you’ve got options aplenty.

If’ you’re tired of the city and want a lifestyle change with plenty of space and new areas of the world to explore, Orlando could well be the place for you. At Spencer Ogden right now they have a close-knit team of eight and they’re not a traditional recruitment company in a big city with a relentless pace and constant pressure. If you’re a UK Recruiter with a drive to succeed, mix that with the environment in Orlando and you’ll go an incredibly long way.

Oh, and here’s your chance to start that journey.