From Recruitment Consultant to Innovative Recruitment Software Entrepreneur
Today I'm talking to Sara Jones, Founder + Director of Hiring-Hub.com. Sara's journey is an inspiring testimony of how identifying a gap in the market in your current industry can lead to a whole new career path if you have the vision + perseverance to see it through. Read on to discover how Sara went from being a recuitment consultant with a 'cool idea' to Director of a pioneering online recruitment network.
What did you want to do for a career when you where younger?
Like so many youngsters, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to a decent school but, looking back, I don’t think I was really aware of the opportunities that were out there when I left. It was only when I got into recruitment that I was exposed to different professions and industries. I think there is a lot that needs to be done to connect schools with the outside world, particularly the private sector, so we have enough skills coming through to compete globally in the future.
What was it that made you decide to study law at uni?
My sixth form college introduced Law as an AS Level, which I decided to take. I really enjoyed it and did quite well, so I wanted to study it in more depth. Law has an impact on our everyday lives, which fascinated me so naturally and wanted to learn more. I also thought it was a solid degree, which I knew would open up numerous opportunities once completed.
Tell me about your career path before setting up Hiring-Hub.com? How did you feel about the direction your career was heading?
I left university with a 2:1 LLB (Hons) and had to make a decision: do I continue down the legal route (LPC and training contract), or do I get out into the world and start earning money? I picked the latter and I joined a SME recruitment agency specialising in placing white collar construction professionals into the London area. Here I progressed from trainee to principle consultant. From there I joined a start-up recruitment agency as a senior consultant (and shareholder), with a number of other experienced recruiters. However, a combination of the economic climate and the business being run badly by its managing director meant the company was not successful. Having invested money into the start-up this was a rapid learning curve for me, and an experience that toughened me up fast. Having been introduced to my now business partner, Simon Swan, at this firm (who was commissioned as a marketing consultant) we decided that the recruitment industry was in need of an online game-changer.
How did you get the idea for Hiring-Hub.com?
With the success of platforms such as Laterooms.com and Lastminute.com changing the face of the hotel and travel sector, and comparison sites such as Gocompare.com changing the face of insurance, I realised that there was an opportunity for a web-based tendering/trading SaaS platform to streamline recruitment for businesses. There are a couple of very successful American-based platforms, which were altering the recruitment landscape over there, so Simon and I decided to apply the principle to the UK market.
What's been your biggest challenge in getting it off the ground?
Getting it off the ground, or built, was the relatively easy bit. We worked really fast to get Hiring-Hub.com to market as quickly as possible. We started the bespoke software build in late 2010 and, after a good few intense months of development and testing, we launched in February 2011. We started signing up users and generating revenue in week one, which was a relief – it worked! We were delighted with how quickly it was adopted and how well it was received by both employers and recruitment agencies; they recognised that our model benefits both parties. Perhaps the biggest challenge has been educating companies that are used to doing things the traditional way, that there is a new, risk free way of getting access to a much wider pool of candidates with very little effort. Also, as the platform itself is free to use (we make our money by deducting a commission from the placement fee the employer pays the successful recruiter), I think a natural reaction is always: ‘what’s is the catch?’ But there really isn’t one!
What's been your career highlight to date?
The past six months at Hiring-Hub.com have been amazing. We have been won and been recognised in numerous local and national business awards alongside other impressive and innovative businesses and start-ups. We have signed up myriad blue chip companies, alongside hundreds of SMEs. We love the SME market as they often don’t have concrete recruitment procedures in place, so they really benefit from the free software, plus the ability to set their own placement fee and connect to our approved network of specialist agencies. A highlight has to be the software we built, which is allows employers to effortlessly manage the entire recruitment cycle online from one central, web-based hub.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I don’t struggle with motivation, and luckily my business partner has the same work ethic so we keep each other going. I guess watching the company develop and grow so quickly, and wanting to progress every month, is a great motivator. We are constantly striving to achieve more. It’s exciting. We want to build a company and a brand. Something that will still be around in ten years time, and that will fundamentally change the way firms engage with third-party recruitment agencies in the UK.
+ Just for fun....
I'm not familiar with the delights of Manchester (sadly) where would you take me for a great night out?
We are based in central Manchester and we love the city. For a great night out… it depends what sort of thing your after. The Northern Quarter is pretty cool, with some great independent bars. Spinningfields is starting to take shape now and has some fab bars and restaurants springing up, plus there’s always something going on. Cloud23 is a must-visit bar in the evening as the views are superb. Castlefield in the summer is also a must, as you can sit outside by the water. I live in Didsbury, and there’s plenty going on there, in the suburbs, too.
If you had to go on a date with a member of Take That, who would it be?
These days it would definitely be Gary. Although fifteen years ago it would have been Mark. Gary is now the best looking, he can actually sing and he’s proving to be pretty funny in his new judging role.
Best hangover cure?
I have never suffered with horrendous hangovers. People keep saying I will soon, as I get older, but it hasn’t started happening yet. I have it on good authority that a bacon butty is the ultimate cure, though
You can check out Hiring-hub.com by clicking here