Hi, Tracy here.
Timing can be everything when it comes to starting a new entrepreneurial business. Those rare people who have an instinct when to make a move into a new and relatively unknown market just before it takes the world by storm are fortunate indeed.
Back in 2002 very few guessed the potential that the Internet would have on our lives, working environment and career. At the time City of London recruitment agents Chris Mason and Doug Bates were looking for a different job market in which to operate. They founded their own recruitment agency, Intelligent People based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, to tentatively try recruiting in the area of eCommerce, which was at the time in its infancy.
“Shopping online was rare then, but the online retail start-ups that were around had very specific technical requirements that they were recruiting for,” says Intelligent People co-founder Doug.
“Very few other recruitment agents knew where to look to help these start-ups. So we listened to their needs, got to grips with the skills they were looking for and managed to successfully place a number of candidates with these fledgling organisations.” Chris laughs and adds, “One of these first clients when we were starting out is now an online global eCommerce giant with a household name! As this organisation grew, they stayed loyal to us for their recruitment, and as a result we gained a reputation for being the Internet commerce specialists, and began to attract other similar clients.”
Doug interrupts, “The reputation we gained wasn’t just for eCommerce though, as we started recruiting for all manner of online and Internet job vacancies in product management, marketing and internet marketing,” Chris joined in. “A growing number of diverse job roles that could only be performed online were growing slowly at first, and then began multiplying rapidly, as companies started to wake up and realise that there was now great demand for online jobs that just a year or so before didn’t exist.”
Marketing is an example sector, Chris explained, which used to be predominantly print-based. When people moved online for their newspapers, magazines, books and TV shows, the industry as a whole realised that new skills were in demand in order to market to an online audience.
“Internet and digital marketing, in all its wide range of currently existing definitions, was born,” says Chris with a smile.
“Think about it – it started online with email marketing, then came website marketing, paid-for marketing, and search engine marketing. All the time newer and more exciting ways to deliver the message were growing, such as social media marketing, loyalty marketing in the form of retail apps for mobile devices, and now location-based marketing techniques can reach potential customers wherever they are, as they go to work, in the office, at home, and anywhere in between. The marketing industry has had to move forward hand-in-hand with technology, and this demands new technical skills, innovation and creative thinking to exploit all the opportunities.”
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The need for online retail eCommerce skills also increased sharply as more companies developed an online presence and wanted to sell and market their products online, not just on their own websites but also to a broader audience via any online channel – such as social media, online advertising and search engine optimisation, which ensured their brand appeared above competitors in the search engine listings, such as Google. Every new emerging platform for selling, advertising and marketing needed new talent and skillsets to exploit the new opportunities.
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“Our recruitment consultants stay constantly informed and up-to-date in the changing digital landscape even now,” says Doug, “so we know exactly what type of candidate with appropriate knowledge, experience and skills to look for to fulfil our clients’ employment requirements.”
“It’s kind of a snowball effect too,” adds Chris, “as the more successful placements we do, the more other clients come to us for recruitment help, and we’re now well-established as the specialist digital recruiters in these areas such as eCommerce and digital marketing.”
I look around the busy, modern and slickly-decorated office where a roomful of recruitment consultants are creating a buzz of activity on Skype chats, phone calls or in online meetings, in the relentless search for informed, skilled and talented candidates.
Chris and Doug carved out a niche recruitment area for themselves over a decade ago, and their agency has expanded in line with massively rising demands as ‘niche’ became ‘mainstream’. Congratulations to these two entrepreneurs who chose to create the right organisation at exactly the right time.
Find out more about Intelligent People at their website: http://www.intelligentpeople.co.uk/