The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity.

Since the covid19 lockdown really kicked in I have been absolutely fascinated, you could almost say obsessed, with one thing in particular over these last 9 weeks, and that is how people have responded to what is going on around them and more notably, what has driven their response.

Having never experienced the trifecta of a Brexit, global pandemic, downturn before, the majority of us are sort of making this up as we go… and I think on the whole most of us are doing a pretty good job of it, all things considering!

However, the bit I find truly fascinating right now is the link between people’s thought processes and the resulting realities we end up facing. There is no doubt in mind that a large part of the situation we currently find ourselves in socially, economically, even down to the actual number of cases / mortalities from Covid19 itself would have all been very different had people’s responses to all this had been different. Hindsight is always a beautiful thing, of course!

I am by no means calling into question here how anyone has reacted over this time.  I am not sure I really have a right to do this as my experience of the current situation will be wildly different from many others’ experiences and we all have our own, deeply personal journeys to go on right now.  This is not what this is about.

What this is about, and the question I think we all need to ask ourselves now more than ever, is to what extent are we aware of our reactions that are being driven by certain triggers that surround us?  In other words, do we realise how much our personal behaviours change because of the resultant effect of other people’s responses to a perhaps completely disparate situation?

We’re seeing this right now with the whole Dominic Cumnings situation and how this is currently playing out…

  • An event happens as it did with his trip to Durham (you may think what he did is right or wrong, or you may be indifferent).
  • The media comment (appropriately or inappropriately, you decide).
  • People respond to how the media respond (generally in one of two different ways).
  • People respond to how other people have responded to how the media commented (go with me on this!).
  • People change their behaviours accordingly (again, generally in one of two different ways).
  • A resultant situation occurs that will trigger a new reality (with new belief systems and new responses to future events).

The fact of the matter is, that with all that is going on around us, the way in which we respond to everything now will ultimately determine what each of our own personal outcomes will be coming out the other side of all this, from both a personal as well as a business perspective, and what our journeys will be like on the way.

I’ve been intrigued recently by the work of Ryan Holliday (check out his book The Obstacle is the Way) and how different people over history have responded to the different obstacles they have faced, and importantly the methods they have used to be able do that.

The process Holliday describes in his book can be broken down into three distinct parts, that I believe should make up our strategies moving forward to how we deal with the situations, obstacles, adversity we currently face.

  • Part One – Perception: What is your attitude towards the situation you are facing (remember, this will ultimately determine the outcome)?
  • Part Two – Action: taking each problematic situation, each obstacle, and turning them into an opportunity (this nicely ties in nicely with some of the Blue Ocean Strategy work we have been doing).
  • Part Three – Will: Building up levels of perseverance to help overcome any obstacle

What we have before us right now is not only the ultimate challenge for many of us, but also the ultimate opportunity, and how we respond to what is happening, how we respond to other people’s response to what is happening, will determine what our own personal outcomes will be from this.

Spend less time concerned about what other people are doing, how others are behaving, and more time understanding how you are responding so you don’t miss out on the huge opportunity that will naturally derive from situations like this.  As Holliday concludes in his book:

“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.”

Proact, don’t React

I’ll be very honest, I wasn’t actually sure if the verb “proact” was a real word until this morning! I have heard about being proactive, of course and I have heard a lot over the last few weeks about being reactive and reacting, but right now, with all that is going on, if this word PROACT is not in your dictionary, then it absolutely should be.

Let’s put some perspective to all this.

For many recruitment businesses, for a huge part of the global staffing market, things are just tough – a period in time that very few have ever experienced before. This is not a typical economic downturn that we are facing right now, but an event led downturn, fused with high levels of emotions, fear, uncertainty and concern for the health and wellbeing of colleagues and loved ones.

Quite simply, this is extraordinary.

But extraordinary times require an extraordinary response from an industry that I have always classified as extraordinary and that is just what, in part, we are seeing.

In short, there two options here for recruitment businesses, and both options are needed if you want to navigate through this, survive and ultimately thrive.

Option One is a Defensive strategy, about putting in place immediate processes and structure today to secure the long term welfare of your current business tomorrow, and that includes the people you have working in that business. Not everyone needs to do this, but most do.

This is about planning for the worse with your budgeting and cashflow forecasting for the next 9 months, stockpiling as much cash as you can to weather any drop in business, taking back full control of your outgoings, reducing your workforce to those who can add the most direct value to your cash position right now using the government furlough lifeline, squeezing every business opportunity there is available today, setting up your structure to make these unusual working conditions for many to be “business as usual” for the short term and more (you can access a complete toolkit for free to do all this at www.trnworld.com).

None of this is different from what a recruitment business leader should be doing anyway in typical market conditions, but only exasperated by what is going on right now.

Option Two comes next, and you should be well on top of this already.

This is all about what you are doing today to both capitalise on the market when it bounces, but also to ensure that you are 3 or 4 steps ahead of everyone else (competitors and clients) to take a steal on the market when that bounce does come.

Based on some of the socioeconomic studies we have reviewed, I am fairly confident that we are getting to the lower peak of a V-shaped downturn right now (everyone has an opinion, so do make up your own mind on this), so a steep return to some semblance of business normality is not that far around the corner. That is good news for those who have managed their defensive strategies well (option one above) but even better news for those who are now gearing themselves up for the bounce already.

Your consultancy led conversations with customers should centre around “pre-order recruitment”, and developing retained embedded talent solutions today to ensure they are ahead of their competitors when the bunfight for talent kicks back off after the bounce.

Your BD and Account Penetration activity across your non-furloughed workforce should be at an all-time high, albeit adjusted for the current situation (let empathy, common sense and humanity lead your sales approach here).

Your focus should pivot towards current and future niche hotspots within your markets. Never before will a quick PESTLE analysis of your markets be so paramount to determine which areas will bunce back the quickest, the highest and with the greatest need for your products and services when we hit the other side of the “V”.

Your internal workforce planning should not only be focused on training them hard now whilst in furlough to have the skills they need for tomorrow (consultancy, sourcing, talent planning, strategy, social marketeers etc.) but also how quickly and ahead of the pack you can get your team off furlough and back in the game. We’re having some great tactical conversations with TRN members about different ways to increase billing headcount now to be +30 days ahead of their competition when the markets turn.

… and so it goes on.

I liken the offensive part of all this to playing a game of chess – you have to pre-plan what the next few moves are going to be even though you can’t guarantee what the opposition will do; you can only control what you can control and influence where you can and only you can determine how bold your next move will be.

At the end of the day, a crisis is defined as a time when difficult or important decisions must be made. We are currently in a crisis, an extraordinary crisis, that needs pragmatic thinking, controlled decision making, calculated defensive strategies and bold offensive plans.

Now is not the time to react to what is going on around us, but a time to take control, look forward and power our businesses through to the other side.

Now is the time to proact.

Find out more at www.trnworld.com – free to all during these extraordinary times.

Are you looking for opportunities where the starts aren’t?

I wanted to tell you very quickly about a cool story that I thought that has always sort of, stuck home with me over the years.

Many years ago I was involved with a program working with underprivileged children where we used to use scuba diving and sailing as a backdrop to help children unearth their real talent, their potential, and stretch their comforts zones.

One of the exercises we did with some kids that we worked with in Australia, is that we took them up to the Whitsunday Islands, and we took them to one of the islands to do some stargazing at night. We decided to take a professional stargazer with us to show us some of the key constellations and different sorts of star patterns out there. As we were looking, the stargazer was showing us all these different constellations and things, but then towards the end, he said, now, I want you to see if you can find the Platypus. 

So I spent about 15, 20 minutes with these kids looking up, just trying to see, where’s this Platypus, I couldn’t see this Platypus anywhere. Then what he said is, just stop for a second and stop looking at the stars, and start looking where the stars aren’t. 

That was interesting because then after about five minutes of looking where there weren’t any stars in the sort of, the dark patches or the patches where there weren’t any stars visible, you could slowly start seeing almost a perfect formation of the shape of a Duckbill Platypus.

What a wonderful analogy I think, to take with you as a child, as an adult, and in business, when it comes to things like business development, and penetrating markets because I think we spend a lot of time working with what we know, but actually what a wonderful way of looking at it, to try and find opportunities, unearth opportunities where the stars aren’t.

Now if you think about anything recruitment, I was making a list of some of the areas where I think, there’s some much opportunity here that we’re just missing, that we need to focus on because we’re too busy focusing on the stars and not necessarily where the stars aren’t.

We’re doing a lot of work recently around Blue Ocean Strategy, there is a document link here (Blue Ocean Strategy)  With a whole load of information about how to get Blue Ocean Strategy in your thinking and your business planning for 2020.

As recruitment leaders, we need to be thinking around things around penetrating our customer base.

Are we cross-selling?

Are we upselling as much as we could be?

Have you mapped out how much market share you have within each of your existing customers?

Have you identified what your customer lifetime value is? And what percentage of that do you currently have?

Have you identified how many of your products and different service lines, if you have multiple products, multiple service lines, are your existing customers buying?

What is your strategy, your innovation, your incentives within your business to make sure that people are cross-selling and upselling a lot more than potentially they are today?

I think that’s a massive opportunity that we’re missing.

Also, from outside of your existing customers, looking at your product mix, we talk a lot about the Boston Matrix, the types of products that you should have in your Matrix, but certainly thinking about the types of products you should be developing or taking to market, in tomorrow’s markets, especially in 2020.

You’ve done all that work to get that business, how do you get more out of them?

So I think it’s a wonderful analogy to think about as your looking for strategies for 2020.

It’s not just looking up at the stars and thinking where are the stars, but also looking where no one else is looking where the stars aren’t.

Flexible working – the question of choice is no longer a question of choice!

Look at any of the multitudes of data that has been produced around the subject, and the message is clear – the jobseeker of today, the jobseeker of tomorrow There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, having worked in the staffing and recruitment industry now for over 25 years, that the world of work has not only changed significantly but is also continuing to evolve at a breakneck speed… many businesses, however, just haven’t kept up or aren’t responding at the same pace and this is having a clearly detrimental impact on their ability to stay agile, competitive, profitable and ahead of the curve.

Simply put, jobseekers today, wants flexibility in terms of where they work, when they work and how they work.

Evolutions in technology, changing skill requirements, the live and uninterrupted access to behavioural norms through social media, global talent shortages and more, all play their part in ensuring that the ball falls perfectly back in the court of the jobseeker when it comes to what they want from an employer and how they want work to be.

The choice for employers is simple – either ignore the reality and hinder your growth potential as a business, or adapt to what is going on around us and develop alternatives ways of providing work solutions, in ways that we are being asked to provide.  And this is pertinent right across the board…

In my experience, there is definitely the perception that evolved, adapted worker solutions are only really applicable across senior skilled roles – the idea that we can only offer alternative ways of working to white collar, corporates at the higher end of the pay scale. That is just wrong.

The common thread across all workers today is flexibility – they want to have fluidity and agility in their work, whether they are a chef, a software developer, a mechanic or an banker – and if businesses aren’t offering that flexibility then they are risk of missing out on attracting the best talent in the market (which can stifle growth), of not retaining their workforce (which can squeeze profitability) and in many cases harbouring non-engaged workers (which can wipe out productivity).

I have always been a big fan of the concept around creating “non-customers” in constricted markets, something that many organisations are currently experiencing in what is becoming an ever more prevalent talent short market – the idea that if we have to fight against heavy competition in a market for a share of the pie then we are always limiting our scope and potential for growth.

Equally, I am convinced there is a huge amount of skilled talent out there that companies are just not getting anywhere near, simply because they are “non-candidates”.  In other words, these are jobseekers who simply would never work (even consider working) for your business because you don’t offer an attractive enough proposition that meets their needs around flexible working conditions.

So, what can the leader of a profitable and successful business do if you want to remain relevant, competitive and agile?

Training and developing new skilled workers is a great way to, in essence, create the talent you need, but that is both time consuming and costly and often a distracting, non-core function for many business owners – partner with experts who know how to deliver this efficiently and profitability as an outsourced function or recruit someone internally to focus 100% on this.

Instead, create a structure within your business that both enables and embraces flexible working by following these five simple tips:

  • Create flex with your flexibility – you don’t have to have one singular way of working for everyone. Let the flexible working model evolve around the people in your business so keep reviewing it and getting feedback from your workers as to what works for them.
  • Forecast your workforce planning – the agility a flexible workforce can create for your business is immense when it comes to managing peak periods, not over employing when you have quiet periods, dealing with last minute contingencies, so wherever you can, pre-plan and pre-empt when these peaks and troughs are likely to occur to maximise the benefits.
  • Promote what you do – if you are a forward-thinking business that has built an environment that is clearly attractive to today’s jobseekers, then make some real noise about it. Build social campaigns to get your message out there, get your compelling proposition in front of the people you want in your business, use a specialist partner to help take you and your business brand out to the jobseeker market.
  • Treat all your workers in the same way – even though you may end up with a blended workforce of perm, part time, gig workers and so on, consider them equals in how they are dealt with / your processes so you don’t lose the philosophy of being one, unified team (even if they are disparate).
  • Trust your instincts – if you are going to go for it, then go for it. Don’t go half-hearted into creating flexi working but instead trust your instincts, trust your workers (you may feel a little less in control – that is ok) and trust your processes / technical infrastructure to keep order.

Recruitment businesses today understand the jobseeker market better than anyone else – they spend all day in it, talking to the market and creating solutions that support the needs and challenges of their customer base.

Partnering with a specialist recruiter who understands your specific market and working with them to build an appropriate outsourced talent solution that is not just about finding talent but about creating a total talent solution – flexible, agile, progressive and fit for purpose for your growth plans – is something I would suggest all business explore in detail. With the right recruitment partner in place, you can literally transform your potential and remove one of the biggest barriers to growth.

For any business owner that wants to attract and retain the best talent in the market, who wants to enable the growth of their business, who wants to increase profits, then the question of choice is no longer a question of choice – it is business critical.

Less Portal, More Personal

So over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a number of tender documents for a number of The Recruitment Network members, I’ve been helping them put together their proposition to send through to different organizations, to win their business.


Something I’ve been amazed about is how impersonal these have been. I find it incredible

in today’s day and age that businesses are still trying to develop relationships with suppliers and customers or companies are trying to develop relationships with recruitment companies, based on tick boxes on documents, as opposed to really getting to understand how a partnership could be formed.


Obviously, we’ve written these proposals, and we’re going to win a couple of them, which is great news, and they were obviously worth quite valuable sums of money. So we’ll carry on doing that and we’ll carry on helping our members win proposals, public sector, private sector, etc.


But I do think it’s really important as recruitment organizations that we spend more time with our customers trying to build up the personal relationship side of what we’re doing.


I’m still fearful that recruiters spend a little bit too much time hiding behind emails, hiding behind InMails, almost delivering a bit of a portal-driven service, in essence, because sometimes it’s easier to do that, sometimes maybe we’re a little bit lazy, or maybe you don’t even have the time to do it.


Whatever the reason is, I think it’s happening more and more at the moment. I can’t help thinking that whilst technology is there to make us more agile in how we do stuff and I certainly get that and I certainly embrace that. I do think recruiters need to get out and spend more time in front of customers to develop proper relationships, to be able to tender and pitch for business

based on building a partnership proposition that is fit for purpose and best in class and best practice for both parties, not something that just ticks a number of boxes on a tender application.


So, I think that a lot of this is down to us as recruiters to spend more time developing minimum standards and targets and objectives based around what I’ll refer to as touch time with customers.


So, I don’t know, in your business, how much time you’re spending as a recruiter, how much time you’re spending in front of your customers, talking to your customers, getting to know them properly, but if you’re not doing enough of it, then I suggest it’s something that you need to think about.


Otherwise more and more we’re going to end up being in a very portal-driven relationship, which based on this tender, 60% of the weighting was based purely on the price, as opposed to the quality of the delivery or the quality of the relationship.


That, to me, is quite scary and quite frightening. Certainly, a question mark whether you want to go for a business like that or a partnership like that, but more importantly, I think we need to try and help our customers move away from that mentality as well.


It’s up to us as the recruiters to become more personal and less portal.

Goal Setting 2020: Ships in a harbour are safe…

Where has the year gone?!


With just 9 weeks to go until the end of 2019, recruitment business leaders should be focusing on 3 things:


Ensuring the year finishes on an absolute high –


There is still time to make 2019 your best year yet – a big chunk of the work / effort you and your teams have put in these past 43 weeks is still yet to be realised, so close off October, then rally the team together and get everyone to commit to the next two months.


Make everyone pledge to what they will contribute to the Big end of year Push – a nine week sprint to the end of 2019 – no excuses of distractions (aka the Christmas parties!).


We’ve just posted all of ours on the walls in our office, so everyone is accountable for what they have to do, no hiding.


Celebrating the successes, and the failures –

As the year starts to draw to a close, it is the perfect time to reflect back and celebrate your W3 (what has gone well in 2019, what hasn’t gone so well, and what will we do differently in 2020?).


If you’re planning an end of year awards, then use the good news stories to remind people on all the good things they have done (back office to front office) and use the bad news stories and learning points to build on.


This needs to start happening now, as the data and insights this gives us, enables us to properly…


Set Stretch Goals, that everyone wants to achieve –


Well ahead of the end of the year, your 2020 goals need to be defined, agreed, signed off and shared.


Everyone in the business should be doing this from operations, to leadership, to recruiters, to BD, to marketing – this is not just a Directors’ thing behind the closed doors of the Boardroom.


In recruitment, your 2020 year starts in November 2019, as a two-month lead time keeps the cycle of BD and talent pooling ahead of schedule, so give your people a simple goal setting template (ask me if you need one to use as a template) to complete in their own time and present that back to the management team to mutually sign off in the next couple of weeks so they can start working towards them already, well ahead before the new year kicks off on Jan 2nd.


The key here is to make sure the goals that are agreed for 2020 are in the stretch zones, not the comfort or panic zones.


If the goals are genuinely unrealistic, that puts people in a Panic Zone which in turn creates negativity, fear and actually shrinks the size of someone’s original comfort zone.


Similarly, staying in a comfort zone does not create growth, learning or even aspiration.  It is safe and boring, and that is not what Goal Setting is about. Never forget, “a ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”.


So, what are your goals for 2020?  How far will your stretch yourself, your business to make next year the best year yet in your business?  Now is the time to decide…

Flexi working in Recruitment, are you embracing it?

There was a lot of chat in the #TRN Members Whatsapp group this weekend about how to manage flexible working within their teams. Here are a few top tips for managing your team, keeping them engaged and firing on all cylinders!


  • Make time for small talk – continue to build rapport with your team even if they’re not office based, this is essential to keeping them engaged.
  • Provide them with the right tools – Making sure your employees have access to all the files, information, and updates they need. Tools like Slack, Trello and Asana are great for this.
  • Use video as often as possible when communicating – Research shows more than half of human communication is nonverbal. When you don’t get to see someone in the office every day, having any type of visual clue to what someone is thinking is essential. 
  • Have longer 1 to 1’s – Open door policy fails when your remote team don’t know if you’re in the office, at your desk or in a meeting. Make sure you take extra time for any ad-hoc issues that may be happening.
  • Trust in your team – You hired this person for a reason, it’ll soon be apparent from their KPI’s and targets if they’re not doing a good enough job.


Flexible working is coming, and as recruitment businesses, this needs to be embraced, there’s plenty of benefits to allowing your employees more freedom – give it a try with some of your proven billers and watch them grow!


What are some of your top tips when it comes to flexi working in recruitment?

Use a Second Pair of Eyes & Find 18% More Profitability

“Sitting in your business, but not hitting your P&L, is an additional 18% bottom line profitability – you are just not currently realising it.”

This was my statement to a recruitment business the other week, having taken them through a number of assessments and completed a TRN analysis of their company.  A great business by all accounts, growing, making profit, solid team, great leadership and getting a lot of things right – they were just missing fundamental something that was sitting in front of their noses, they just hadn’t seen. An external pair of eyes was all they needed to see it.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

This is not untypical from a lot of recruitment businesses that we talk to, in fact from a lot of businesses full stop (including ours!).

We spend a lot of time inside the four walls of our offices, running the machine and getting caught up in the day to day operations, that before we know it a month has passed, Q1 moves on into Q2 and we have moved forward in some capacity but the question I always ask myself, my business and the organisations we work with at The Recruitment Network, is did we move forward in line with our potential?

In other words, could we have done more? Had mistakes been made?

Having spent some time with the Times columnist and acclaimed author, Matthew Syed at one of our recent TRN events, I have come to realise that making mistakes is ok and interrogating where those mistakes have happened (and why) is often the best way to create better outcomes and performance moving forward.

Looking statistically at the evidence, that recruitment company that had missed over £400k in profitability, the answer for them in this instance lay in their conversion ratios, once a candidate had been sourced.  They had done all the hard work, found candidates for their open jobs, qualified them and presented them to their clients in their shortlists.

Sticking to the “3 x 3” minimum standard we set for them of always sending 3 CVs to any, qualified jobs (reference to cube19’s statistics on improving conversions), they had overachieved their targets around getting candidates out for 1st Interview, but this is where the slippage started to come into play.

At a top level, in summary, their conversion ratios from 1st Interview to 2nd Interview was sitting at around 18%.  From 2nd Interview to Offer, they were converting about 45% and then from Offer to Placement around 80%.

This just didn’t feel right.

A lot of work and investment of time and resource had been put into generating the interviews (possibly the most important KPI in recruitment), but the conversion from 1st interviews to 2nd interviews were too low and if we could improve that by just a further 10%, then it would equate to an additional £400k in fees, following the same conversion ratios from 2nd interview, to offer to placements as they already had, based on their current average deal size.

The campaign we are now running with them, that the whole business is focused on, is centred around “1st Interview Conversions”, identifying anything and everything that impacts the conversion from 1st interview to 2nd, from the (better) qualification of the job, to the duration of the process (and therefore drop-outs on the way) to (better) candidate preparation and so on.  There are about 7 or 8 key drivers of this conversion ratio that we will analyse and improve as part of this campaign to trigger that £400k improvement and will we make a significant dent on next quarters outputs.

The question to ask your business, is what one focused campaign could you run over the next 90 days, that everyone is paying attention to, that will have the most impact on your bottom line yield for the next quarter.

We are doing a lot of this at the moment for TRN members, as we look to help recruitment business leaders squeeze more profitability and efficiency out of their business and will be sharing some more examples of how to do this in further posts and in the Knowledge Library on TRN World.

Get a taste of the full Recruitment Network member experience in an afternoon.

Guest experts, like-minded peers, and insights to help you build a plan of action to make 2019 your best year yet.

Tax Yourself & Invest in Your Business

It’s a personal habit of mine to spend some quality and regular time listening to podcasts and webinars, picking up new ideas and refreshing old thinking.  I am a big fan of personal development and believe you can never stop learning.

Every now and then, you hear little nuggets that just stick in the back of your mind and prevent you from sleeping – I often find myself in the middle of the night leaning over to the side of my bed, grabbing my notebook and pen, and jotting a nugget or two down (it is what I refer to as “positive parking”!) so I can a.) get back to sleep again and b.) remember the nugget in the morning.

I certainly suggest doing some positive parking of your thoughts whenever you can…

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Last night, I was googling some ideas around content marketing and stumbled across Gary Vaynerchuk (the Belarusian / American entrepreneur and digital marketing guru) whom I have listened to in the past but have never really pursued in earnest until now.

Before I knew it, I was on trundling along on Gary Vee’s bus into a never-ending world of videos covering every stop from building value in your marketing proposition, to building value in your personal wealth – he clearly has a lot to say about a lot of things and to be honest, a lot of it made a huge amount of sense.

The intrigue around the stop entitled to “Key To Financial Freedom” was just too strong, and so I just had to drop in to see what this was all about (I’m convinced that hard work, passion and dedication are the keys, but let’s see what I have been missing out on all these years)!

I was soon parachuted into a lively, 10 minute conversation / interview / love-in between Vaynerchuck and another thought leader that to be very honest, until now, I have never really followed or paid huge attention to (again, I think this may now change), Tony Robbins the renowned American author and life coach.

They were midway discussing investments in bear markets and their thoughts and ideas around that.  To be fair, whilst not what I was originally after, it was an interesting 10 minutes and with their candid and very unique styles, was entertaining enough to definitely make it a worthwhile use of my time and get the creative juices flowing.

However, Tony Robbins dropped in one of those nuggets which really got me thinking, not so much about investments, but about business and more importantly around how we free up time to focus on what really matters in business.

They were discussing the challenges low-income employees and business owners have around being able to afford and allocate cash into investments and in particular bear markets.  When they are just earning the minimum amount to survive, how could they possibly give us some of their much-needed earnings and invest them, especially when markets are on the decline?

Tony (is it appropriate to be on first name terms with him at such an early stage to our relationship?) used a phrase “tax yourself” which really struck a chord.

He suggested that if the Government suddenly stuck a brand new tax on you or your business, you would spend a while shouting and screaming about it, complain to a whole bunch of people, and then ultimately have to just get on and manage… and often we do just that.  We manage and we manage fine.

With that in mind, Tony (new best friend) suggests that if you want to create financial freedom and invest, then you should basically tax yourself each month in the same way and reallocate that money into the markets.

I’m sure the Government would never do that to us, but if we move away from the financials and replace the monetary tax with “time”, then conceptually it is exactly the same.

If someone, in essence, taxed you 10% of your time (sounds like many a meeting I have sat through over my years) you may well shout, scream, complain but you would still keep moving forward and you would still get on with what needed to be done.

The habit would change and you would manage.

Now imagine that 10% time tax wasn’t taken away from you, but instead given back to you to now invest in the one thing that would have the biggest ROI in your business.  What would you do with that time?

For some, this may be obvious and not even a nugget and I am sure they will let me know!).  But I can’t help feeling that we all have 10% time/focus in our days that we could, from now on, tax ourselves on and reallocate to something more worthwhile.  I have already worked on mine since and the taxation has started to kick in.

… and, hey, you never know, this must just be that key to financial freedom they were on about!

Get a taste of the full Recruitment Network member experience in an afternoon.

Guest experts, like-minded peers, and insights to help you build a plan of action to make 2019 your best year yet.

Sonovate Join The Recruitment Network as a Gold Partner

Sonovate join The Recruitment Network as a Gold Partner.


The Recruitment Network are pleased to announce that Sonovate have joined as a Gold Partner. Sonovate provides finance and support to recruitment businesses who place contractors. Currently, over 2,200 businesses use Sonovate every day to unlock cash flow and continue to grow and since inception, Sonovate has funded over £750m invoices at 96-99% advance rate to recruitment businesses and consultancies in the UK.

We are excited to have Sonovate on board as a partner, bringing their wealth of experience and products to members to help them grow and develop. At TRN we really value our partnerships and are excited for the growing relationship between Sonovate and The Recruitment Network.

James Osborne, Chairman of The Recruitment Network


Sonovate was built to take away the barriers that prevent recruitment businesses scaling. Their whole approach is designed to save you time, get admin out of the way and focus on the work that grows your business.

Sonovate utilises one easy-to-use platform to give you access to everything you need to fund contractors: contracts, invoices, timesheets and payments.

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It’s really impressive to watch James and his team add value to their members’ businesses. We look forward to supporting TRN on their journey.

Co-CEO of Sonovate, Richard Prime

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At The Recruitment Network, we are looking forward to a growing partnership with Sonovate and are excited for what the future may hold. If you’re interested in what they can offer, you can contact them using the details below: 

Contact Sonovate:


Website: Sonovate


Telephone020 7112 4949


Follow Sonovate on social media:





Business Development Tips for New Recruiters

As a recruitment owner, hiring new consultants is always going to be a risk, but providing you’ve got a strong process, there are methods new consultants can utilise to ensure they’re off to the best start.

Whether you’re hiring an experienced recruiter or looking to find somebody new to the industry (180 or 360), there are some methods which apply across the board to ensure you see a return quickly.

After you have completed your onboarding process with your new starters, which depending on how in-depth you make it can include some of these steps, you can use the following process to establish a new desk which can quickly reap rewards.

Equip Your Middle Management Team to Become True Leaders

The Recruitment Trailblazers programme takes them on a journey to build them up into an individual that has both the confidence and ability to understand what is expected, knows what is involved and takes responsibility for improving personal and team performance.

Familiarise Yourself With The CRM, Industry & Contacts

Set some time aside to go through the existing CRM and make a list of everyone that is relevant to your industry/role, whether that’s candidates or clients. Make a note of the last time they were spoken to, who dealt with them and research their current situation through their social media profiles.

Once you have this, combine it with any other relevant contacts that you have made yourself, providing that you are not breaking any restrictions/contractual obligations you had if you came from a previous job in recruitment. It’s also worthwhile making not of relevant events coming up, industry podcasts and sources of news that your target market is aware of.

Spend some time connecting with people on social media who are in the target industry as this will not only grow your online network but also mean LinkedIn will be more likely to recommend connections which are relevant. This step relies on you having an optimised LinkedIn profile – read some tips on how to do this here.

Structure Your Time to Make it More Effective

Before your first business development call, make sure that you’re structuring your time effectively. Whilst some cold calls might be successful, ultimately, you’re aiming to build a rapport/relationship with your target audience to increase your chances of success before the call.

Therefore, it is good practice to let them know that you are going to call, and if they cannot take the call at that moment, make sure that you get some form of commitment and send them a calendar invite for a time that suits them better. Ideally, they should have interacted with you in some form or know of you by the time you get to call them.

It’s important to consider the type of language that you’re going to use whilst talking on the phone. Sales trainer Phil M. Jones has some good advice about how you can use language to your advantage and improve your chances of receiving more referrals and growing your business opportunities.

Provide Value-Adds and Do Your Research

In order to increase your chance of success, make sure you are staying up to date with the latest from the industry you’re working in. Think about what candidates/clients would be interested in and follow relevant hashtags and news channels on social media. These are great conversation starters and show that you’re involved in the industry and make it much more likely that the person will take your call.

You should simultaneously be using your social media profiles to build up a personal brand, as that can add value to potential candidates/clients. We’ve written a series of blogs on this topic which you can read more about here.

Before you make a call, try and know a few things about the person or their business, depending on the purpose of your call. For example:

  • Have they recently hit a milestone?
  • When was the company formed?
  • What are the person’s interests?
  • Have they hired anyone recently?

Most Importantly, Stay Authentic

Whilst doing your research, familiarising yourself with the CRM/contacts and building a personal brand are absolutely crucial, being authentic is one of the best pieces of advice for new recruiters.

Although your first phone call is undoubtedly going to be nerve-wracking, it’s good practice and the more you make them, the more comfortable and natural it will feel. As a result, the more authentic you are, the better you will come across and the more personable you will be.

At The Recruitment Network, members get free access to our online platform, TRN World. With multiple online training courses and a wealth of materials including documents, guides, templates and tools, TRN World is perfect for recruitment business owners and their consultants to train and develop.

Get a taste of the full Recruitment Network member experience in an afternoon.

Guest experts, like-minded peers, and insights to help you build a plan of action to make 2019 your best year yet.

The Recruitment Network Launches Help Desks

The Recruitment Network Launches Expert Help Desks!

We’re excited to announce that we now have 3 partner Help Desks covering legal, international compliance and accountancy. The help desks are available for all members of The Recruitment Network as part of the ever-expanding benefits of TRN membership.

Find more about the Help Desks below:

Cognitive Law

Cognitive Law offer a range bespoke of legal services, both private and commercial. With specialist knowledge from having worked with clients in the recruitment industry, Cognitive Law are best placed to help you with any legal needs you may have.

They offer bespoke legal advice in a range of areas including (but not limited to):

– Employment issues

– Self-Employment/Contractor issues including IR35

– Data Protection

– Introduction/Transfer/Backdoor Hire Fees

– Credit Management, Credit Control, & Debt Recovery

– Regulatory compliance and the Conduct Regulations


-Simple queries in relation to Client, RPO, MSA, PSL and Umbrella Contracts

-Company Structure

-Invoice Finance


TRN Members are entitled to free consultations.

This help desk is available from 09:00am – 18:00pm, Monday – Friday.

6CATS International

6CATS International are a leading global brand and supplier of contractor management solutions to the world’s leading recruitment agencies. 6CATS offers legal & compliant solutions in more than seventy countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as further afield.

They offer bespoke international compliance advice in a range of areas including (but not limited to):

– Compliance questions regarding placing contractors in countries outside the UK

– The most appropriate and legal solutions for placing international contractors

– Impartial advice on the compliance of particular solutions outside the UK

TRN Members are entitled to free consultations.

This help desk is available from 09:00am – 17:00pm, Monday – Friday.


Raffingers are expert accountants with a wide range of experience working with the recruitment sector.  Their team of experts deliver valuable advice, not only on compliance, but on business planning strategies, ensuring you remain tax efficient, are structured efficiently and have a clear strategy to achieve your goals.

They offer bespoke accountancy advice in a range of areas, including (but not limited to):

-Tax Advice and Planning

-Business Growth and Business Planning (incl. exit strategy planning)

-Employee Incentives – HR, EMIs

-Reporting and Forecasting

-Obtaining Funding – banks, investors etc…

-Cloud Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll

This help desk is available from 09:00am – 17:30pm, Monday – Friday.

If you’re a TRN member and would like to take advantage of the help desks, head over to the members’ portal where you can get in contact:

Get a taste of the full Recruitment Network member experience in an afternoon.

Guest experts, like-minded peers, and insights to help you build a plan of action to make 2019 your best year yet.