HR & Management

How Hiring Hub is changing the recruitment process for British SMEs

9 min read

17 November 2014

Former deputy editor

Online recruitment marketplace Hiring Hub was named in our last year's Everline Future 50, so we've caught up with the company's co-founder Simon Swan ahead of next year's event to hear what's changed for the business since its inclusion and what it takes to stand out as one of the country's most disruptive startups.

Hiring Hub opened for business back in 2011, and since then the operation has grown from a revenue of zero to just over £1 million this year – with the aim being to treble this in 2015.

The online recruitment platform allows companies to list job vacancies for a set fee. Recruiters from over 750 agencies can log on to see the openings and compete to fill them with candidates. The successful firm will then receive 75 per cent of the fee, while Hiring Hub retains a 25 per cent commission.

Some of the big names using the channel include Morrisons, NHS, YouGov, Iceland, Innocent, Giraffe and Go Compare.

Real Business spoke to co-founder Simon Swan – who will act as a judge for the 2015 Everline Future 50 – to find out more about the business, its recent funding round and what he feels qualifies as innovation.

Read more on the Everline Future 50:

You’re working with 750 recruitment agencies – how do you filter them to ensure they’re a right fit?

They register to work with us through an application form. Background checks are done but then it comes down to a phone call with our account managers to let us know what they’re about, and to let them know what we’re about to make sure things are aligned before we accept their application. We’re keen to build a network of people we trust to deliver.

Some companies are still hesitant to advertise roles online – what would you say to encourage them to embrace digital recruitment?

I think our biggest challenge is an attitude and culture in the UK when people look at a new proposition and ask why they should use it – but that’s the wrong question. Ask why not and you’d struggle to find a reason because there’s no risk involved. We only really meet resistance from people who are difficult when it comes to change and we welcome them to measure our results against five, ten or 25 years of operating the same way.

A number of your clients are big brands, but who else are you working with?

Our dream customer is fast-growth, has perhaps received funding, and growing from between 50 to 250 staff. We really do support the SME market. Having some big well-known clients is good because people have heard of them, but I’d prefer 100 SMEs over blue chips.

Why is that?

What we do is much more geared towards the SME market. We help them manage the process a lot easier without risk and provide better management. Within days and hours they can be receiving applications.

As a company operating in recruitment – what do you look for in new candidates?

Character and attitude are the biggest things. Most of our staff are in sales and accounts, which is essentially customer service, so it’s far better to have the right attitude than specific skills or experience.

Even roles that can require the most experience, like with our software developers, we generally want people who will thrive in a startup environment rather than relying on a corporate structure. We even run psychometric tests to be thorough and understand someone, but with the rest of it, people can always put on courses for marketing and so on.

You recently secured £465,000 of investment using crowdfunding – why did you choose to use this method?

We were in quite a good position where people came to us about investment. We needed the cash to grow quicker, so we looked for a vehicle through which we could achieve that – VentureFounders provided us a great way. Colin Stevens, CEO of Better Bathrooms, is a customer of ours and he put in a significant investment, which was a big validation of the product for us. We had 90 days to hit £425,000 and reached £465,000 in around 30 days.

What made you opt for the VentureFounders platform?

The people. They were new so it was a brand new offering, but we liked their proposition and got on with the two key people there really well. We felt comfortable with them and what they were doing. They’re slightly different to others and we liked their approach. We were their first deal online and they’d only had one offline deal before that.

How will you use the money raised?

We’ll develop the product and bring on more software developers internally and we’ll spend more on sales and marketing each year. Month-on-month we’re profitable, but this will allow us to accelerate faster.

What else has changed since you were named in the Future 50 this year?

We’re profitable now and back then we were just about breaking even. In terms of profile, it’s helped put us get out there in front of new customers and the PR gave us a big push. On the evening, we made quite a few contacts too. It ‘s certainly been very positive and very kind to us.

Which of your fellow winners stood out for you?

We’re a Manchester company and we set up an incubator at the university. What was nice for us is that Mainstage Travel also had a place on the campus with us. We hadn’t seen them for 12 months and it was great to see how they were after previously sitting ten yards from each other. We started our businesses at the same time, and went to the same pubs and bars together. We grew up with them.

You’ve been invited to judge next year’s Future 50 – what will you be looking for?

I’ll be looking for products and services with innovation, and people that are doing things differently to demonstrate a clear path to profitability.

Any tips for fellow fast-growth businesses?

The big thing is to tell a story. Considering a lot of people will be entering, you need to articulate what makes you different in order to stand out. Tell the journey, share the vision and explain how you’re going to make money.

Is yours a disruptive early-stage business?

Nominations are open for the next Everline Future 50. If you’re a young company making waves in your industry, we want to hear from you.

The Future 50 was created by Real Business in 2011, and is supported by the disruptive digital business, Everline. The full 50 will be unveiled at a spectacular party at LSO St Luke’s on March 4th 2015, and all companies will be profiled in a special edition of Real Business. 

See highlights from the 2014 night and nominate your business here before November 28th. 

Join the conversation #everlinefuture50