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Recruitment firm takes off its ties to shake “mercenary” tag and help SMEs grow

An Edinburgh-based recruitment firm is investing 120,000 into creating up to seven new startup businesses hoping to revolutionise the industry.

Edgar Stewart is looking for young recruitment businesses and entrepreneurs to join its new startup hub. It vows to put 30,000 into each venture and provide each with expert mentoring advice to help growth.

“We will help them with services such as accounts, IT and content marketing strategy,” explained director Craig Jackson who is heading up Edgar Stewarts work in the startup, SME and high-growth sectors. 

The recruitment industry, as it stands, is not future-proof. Its a tough nut to crack and the market is near saturation point. With todays startup culture and tendency towards flexible and remote working, recruitment has to move with the times,” he added.

“Thats why were keen to diversify into wider business support services not only to ensure our longevity and profitability for the years ahead, but for longevity of the industry as a whole. Were keen to see young talent flourish and, since we have the know-how and capital, we are in a prime position to take young startup recruitment businesses under our wing and help them grow.

Jackson said the aim would be for Edgar Stewart to exit the firms after between five and ten years of operation through a share of profits scheme.

The first spin-off from the hub is a recruitment firm called Talented, which aims to help SMEs tackle recruitment challenges.

Jackson, who will head up Talented, said: The bulk of businesses in Scotland are SMEs. We are seeing a lot of university spin-out firms which are finding it very difficult to differentiate themselves in the market and recruit because of their size and lack of cash. 

“Also, the brains behind an SME may never have hired anyone before and are unsure about the process. I wanted to create a recruitment firm which could help SMEs more effectively access the jobs market. I want to partner with them and help them better understand the recruitment process and their options.

Jackson said there are many things SMEs can do themselves before contacting a specialist recruitment consultant.

There are many routes they can take such as using LinkedIn or their own websites or networks such as friends, family or ex-work colleagues. Promoting your brand on Twitter and Facebook can also work because amongst those people who follow you will be people who want to work for you. When those routes are exhausted then they should come to us,” he said. 

“We are often perceived as being a mercenary industry, all sales and fees driven but we can help SMEs open doors and use our database and analytical tools. We can offer more holistic support, give them advice about how to retain staff and how to develop a long-term talent strategy. Well give them a base to do business, offer them support and advice and provide a remuneration package for the first year.

He added that a new three-stage pricing policy would also help SMEs which are unable to afford expert recruitment advice. We have made this accessible to all. A cost of between 750 and 3,000 is half of what firms would normally expect to pay,” he said.

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The group has also moved offices from its prestigious city centre address to a new state-of-the-art mews building in the trendy Stockbridge area of the city. It hopes it will appeal to fresh, young talent.

A brass plate in the city centre didnt fit with our new plan,” Jackson said. Weve also gone with a no suit or tie policy unless were meeting clients. Its an open plan office now and away from that stuffy and boring image typically associated with traditional recruitment firms.


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