Manufacturing recruitment – considering the options


As the UK Manufacturing sector continues to prosper in an otherwise unstable economic climate, challenges for employers and recruiters are changing all the time. For example, advancements in technology are seeing productivity outputs increase while employment opportunities stay stagnant, while skills shortages pose a threat to the future of many modern day British Manufacturing firms.

To overcome these challenges, many British manufacturers employ the help of recruitment firms, whose years of industry expertise can help them to recruit talent at all levels from entry level to executive management. At TS Grale a specialist SME recruitment firm, whose partners have all worked for PLC recruitment companies, we offer our thoughts on the choice facing new and existing Manufacturing industry recruitment consultants.

Public limited companies

There are some perceived advantages to working for a larger recruitment firm, the first of which would be job security. A public limited company may be more appealing to a new recruiter who is looking to cut his/her teeth within the industry knowing that a larger business will provide more formalised opportunities for training and development, as well as the chance to work on high profile accounts. Those looking to start out in recruitment may benefit from working for a large company, particularly in the short term, where training resources can be used to their advantage.

However, recruiters both experienced and inexperienced should be wary of the potential constraints to career progression in larger companies. Those who are just starting out their career in larger companies may not have as much control over their career development opportunities, often finding that decisions come down to timing rather than basing promotions on talent alone.  One of the TS Grale Partners, Jason Saunders, who worked for a global PLC recruiter for 20 years offers direct feedback on his experience. He says: “As a Regional Director within the PLC group one of my key roles was to ensure managers and directors across the operating businesses provided the quality and consistency of training and support to consultants. The infrastructure, experienced team and resources ensured excellent delivery allowing new consultants an environment to flourish within. On the evolution of consultants after the initial few years he offered the following insight: “One of the critical issues faced by the PLC business is the formalised structure and need for standardisation in promotion criteria which are not always centred around the quality of the individual. Frequently I was faced with consultants excelling but with no ability to offer a broader role or a management opportunity as promotion was dependent on time served. In addition, certain businesses, outside of my control, may be underperforming limiting group opportunities for senior consultants and managers that deserved the chance to take on new challenges.” While it is not to say that there are no career progression opportunities at PLCs, recruiters would be best advised to analyse the historic examples of promotion and opportunity creation.

Small to medium size enterprises

Often this is seen as the ideal choice for more experienced individuals, for example consultants, who are looking for a new opportunity to drive their own pace in career progression. Naturally, there is the risk element of joining a business in its infancy, but a recruitment agency with fewer employees means that there are fewer barriers to career progression and more autonomy over one’s individual role.

For example, those who find themselves working in close proximity with company directors will have more flexibility over their personal remit, such as job roles, geography and sectors, without feeling pressured by internal competition or corporate politics. Career progression comes naturally as recruiters grow their skillset in line with the business, and morale may be higher for those who feel they have an active strategic input within the company. On a long-term basis, this may lead to company equity opportunities, though recruiters should make themselves aware of the liability associated with this. Rather than facing negative brand association, recruiters will have the chance to make a name not only for the company but also for themselves, knowing that they contributed to the growth of a successful SME.

Michael Thomas, Partner at TS Grale, transitioned from a PLC to an SME so has 1st hand experience of both environments. “Having day to day interaction with the owners of a business and having a genuine level of control over your own remit are both great elements of being part of an SME recruitment firm.” However, Michael is keen to point out one of the most crucial elements of joining a small, privately run company. “Believing in the vision of the company owners and sharing the same ideals is critical to your own personal success. I was lucky enough to work for 3 Directors who I bought into both personally and with respect to how they ran their business. As well as being successful, you’ve got to enjoy the environment you’re working in and, particularly in an SME, that comes down to people.”

Which is the best option for me?

While there are no right or wrong answers for those seeking employment in the recruitment industry, the benefits of working for a small to medium enterprise far outweigh the potential drawbacks of working for a PLC. While a larger company is ideal for those looking to have a reputable name on their CV, an SME can present fantastic growth opportunities for both graduates and more established recruitment consultants.




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