p2p News

people2people Director Mark Smith Speaks on Recruitment at the 2014 RCSA CEO Panel

Posted by John
min read

Every year, the RCSA breakfast for the recruitment industry, featuring a panel of CEOs. This year, people2people Director Mark Smith was delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the panel, representing small and medium sized recruiters in Sydney. For those who were not able to attend the breakfast, Mark shares his notes on recruitment here.

What’s keeping me up at night?

  • All change should be seen an opportunity.
  • The current cautious market means you need to clearly formulate your USP and your market positioning.
  • These times are not the same as the GFC. It’s not about battening down the hatches and waiting for the storm to be over. Rather, this is the new weather we live in.
  • The future is temp! Not just because of overseas economic trends but because of the change in the recruitment industry. Internal recruitment teams can manage permanent recruitment but are less likely to be able to manage a pool of temp staff.
  • The uncertain variable for the temp market is the political issues around the increasing casualisation of the workforce and the effect of ‘statement of work’ sites such as o-desk and freelancer.
  • In terms of industries, it is hard to pick winners. Mining is not the cash cow it was. Digital marketing from a distance looks good but has issues with the ‘statement of work’ sites.
  • New South Wales should make a return. Accounting and finance remains weak. Logistics and supply chain are interesting because they cannot be offshored.

How does a CEO/MD think differently to consultants on the desk?

  • A CEO/MD has to think beyond the quarter and look for trends beyond this time frame and beyond the market or specialisation of the consultant. Wood for the trees analogy.
  • Culture. What is it? How can I influence it? Set expectations to build and change it.
  • Consultants think about sales while the CEO is often thinking about costs. Managers are hired to increase sales, and the CEO is hired to deliver profit. Conflicting and complimentary.
  • The CEO is  looking for problems, and consultants are avoiding them. The CEO is there to make the consultants' life easier.

Social media

  • Hire a specialist to drive this change.
  • Replace branded advertising with social spend. Google SEO.
  • Don’t expect the world to change. Expect to have to work and like everything it is relentless.

Attracting people

At people2people, we don’t attract; we build. The reality is we have had limited success with attraction and great results with our graduate/para consultant scheme.


  • Promote internally.
  • Train relentlessly.
  • Give people the chance to make mistakes which can be very frustrating. You need to trust your people.

Business development as a CEO

  • Be available for the large accounts. Check on how your company is performing by using the phone and digital.
  • Use social to have a presence to build both your personal and company brand.
  • Provide the tools and create leads through ensuring you have the right systems.

PSA business

  • You need a mix of both PSA and ‘retail’ business. Momentum is built through low margin volume business. What I mean is that leads are mostly generated from candidate and recruitment activity. So you need the activity to create the leads and the PSA business gives you this baseline activity.
  • You need to be aware that once you offer a price to one client, you are announcing this to the market. Don’t be surprised if you have clients asking you for the same rates. Be consistent with your pricing.
  • Fixed costs remain the same, so examine your cost per hire.

Tip for 2014

Don’t expect a return to the good old days. Be vigilant on costs, adventurous with your business development and marketing, treat your people with respect, nurture talent, and fire anyone who is a troublemaker!