The perfect fit at fifty

Niall Toland, senior manager, Hays Specialist Recruitment

The perfect fit arises when the right person is placed in the right job. No square pegs in round holes, no ‘making do’, no ‘getting by’.

Hays Specialist Recruitment Ireland Ltd (www.hays.ie ) is a section of Hays plc (www.hays.com ), a global leader in specialist recruitment, which this year marks 50 years in the worldwide construction recruitment business.

A ‘FTSE 250’ listed company, Hays is the largest publicly listed recruitment group in the UK, with a turnover of £2.5 billion stg and net fees of £787 million stg. Hays' origins can be traced back to the 17th Century, when its activities involved the ownership and management of wharves and warehouses on the south bank of the River Thames.

Today, its core business is specialist recruitment, and Ireland and the UK represent the company’s largest market. Other markets include Europe, Canada, Dubai, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and China, which along with other international markets have led to a 40 per cent rise in the Hays’ profits.

With almost 9,000 staff in almost 400 offices across 27 countries, Hays Specialist Recruitment last year placed 80,000 people in permanent jobs and 300,000 people into temporary assignments. Each week the company has on its payroll 46,000 temporary workers.

Nine thousand staff

in 27 countries

“Nine thousand staff may seem like a lot, but Hays needs to have the right people in place within its own organisation in order to place others, so over the past year Hays has increased globally its consultants by 15per cent,” explains Senior Manager of the Galway office, Niall Toland.

Twelve of Hays’ 255 UK/Ireland offices are located in this country, employing some 200 people, and the network of locations is growing. The company’s Dublin HQ was established in 1996, and the company’s Galway branch celebrated its third birthday last month.

We are now in a ‘buyer’s market’, where most employers can afford to be selective about who will join their company, but mistakes can still be made, and hiring the wrong person for the job can prove to be a very costly business for all concerned.

The unemployment rate is up over six per cent - a large increase on this time last year; is estimated to hit eight per cent by the end of this decade, and pay freezes are the talk of the town.

Seventeen areas of recruitment specialism served by specialist staff

Globally, Hays operates 17 areas of recruitment specialism. Within Ireland Hays’ specialist recruitment divisions cover employment in banking, HR, IT, insurance and finance, office support, pharmaceutical, and sales and marketing. Its largest national divisions are construction and property, and accountancy and finance, indicating where most of our job opportunities exist.

Additional sectors are examined on an on-going basis, and topically, an energy division has recently been added to the company portfolio to represent that industry.

Still employing in construction

Despite the slowdown in construction, Hays Galway has enjoyed a 20 per cent growth rate over the past year in construction recruitment. Large civil engineering projects, such as the completion of the N6 ensure an on-going need for both construction professionals and trades-people.

“Whilst many construction contracts are on hold, many others are on-going and still need to find the right people for key areas. Many construction workers have now left Ireland for building projects in London, Australia, or Dubai, which means that there can actually be a shortfall left behind in certain sectors.”

So, just how does Hays help both employers and employees?

“Our aim is to place the right person in the right job every time – whether that job is permanent, temporary, or interim. Many of our clients use our services to recruit contract staff to help them complete projects. In the current economic climate this makes a lot of financial sense.”

A small recruitment incentive exists in Hays’ ‘refer-a-friend’ reward scheme, whereby those referring successfully placed candidates receive a €100 ‘Brown Thomas voucher. Candidates with experience on civil projects are currently in high demand.

While there are many recruitment companies in Ireland, Hays’ forte is that it specialises in key areas and ensures that its own staff is trained specifically to support these areas.

“Those working for instance in our construction and property division deal daily with quantity surveyors, engineers, project managers, architects, and health and safety managers in order to build up a comprehensive database. By concentrating on specialist sectors, staff becomes highly knowledgeable in that area, and this benefits both employers and employees.”

Outsourcing recruitment saves companies money

Whilst some companies handle their recruitment needs internally, a growing number are realising that they can save time and money by outsourcing this requirement to specialists.

“When companies have vacancies to fill, they sometimes underestimate how long it takes to fill a vacancy. The company may need to employ an HR person to start with, who then will have to deal with advertising, screening applicants, checking references and interviewing. This all takes time and money and must be carried out methodically to ensure any chance of success.

“The benefit of being part of a global organisation is that we can tap into one another’s resources. Hays has an extensive database of thousands of candidates, which is continuously updated. People can register with us months before they are actively looking for new employment. This allows us to be looking out for them in advance of them leaving their current place of work.

“By being proactive we can often fill employers’ vacancies very quickly, as we have the potential employees already on our database. Building such a valuable database takes time and money, but the biggest benefit is being able to move quickly when vacancies arise. This is a quite different service to that of recruiting staff by ‘head-hunting’, which Hays does not do. Our work is done largely in advance of a vacancy being registered with our office.”

Setting up, maintaining and updating these databases is a costly business, which is in part recouped through agency fees.

“Our fees are very much in line with other specialist recruitment companies, and reflect the in-depth nature of our service.

“There is no charge to register with Hays, and candidates benefit from free advice on CV preparation and interview technique. Most candidates make appointments with us after having viewed vacancies on our website, but some, like those in trades and labour often prefer to call in impromptu.

“The benefit to employers is that we save them a lot of time and hassle by screening potential employees in advance, checking references and presenting employers with a shortlist of the best candidates to choose from. There is no cost to an employer unless we fill their vacancy.”

Hays Specialist Recruitment also produces annual salary surveys, which keep clients abreast of market conditions, thereby ensuring realistic discussions on salaries.

“After-sales service is equally important to us, and we will continue to advise and assist employers after a placement is made. A happy employer and employee is good business sense for us.”

A masters science degree may not be the traditional route into recruitment, but it’s a path that Niall is happy to have chosen.

“After a year in Australia, I joined our Dublin HQ, then managed the Limerick branch for a few years, before heading to Galway in 2005 to set up and open a regional branch here. I knew that Galway was ripe for this type of business service and I’ve been proven right, as we continue to grow. All our staff works in specialist areas, for instance within Hays Construction & Property different consultants deals with specialist areas of work, such as trades and labour, architecture or engineering.”

Managing the Galway office is only part of Niall’s brief; he must proactively secure business and ensure that the Hays’ Galway branch stays ahead. His own personal determination led to him being voted ‘Consultant of the Year 2007’ within Ireland for generating the most revenue, and placing the greatest number of people into jobs.

“I get huge personal satisfaction from matching up candidates and clients. I never forget that at Hays we handle people’s aspirations and help shape their lives every day. I always point out to employees that the right attitude and approach in business are vital to being happy in one’s work, and it’s particularly gratifying when I get positive feedback from people I have placed.”

Matching the right employee to the right employer takes skill and knowledge, and Hays Specialist Recruitment prides itself on keeping up to date on all new industry developments.

“We need to appreciate completely each industry we represent. If we didn’t fully understand construction, accountancy, or office support for example, we would never be able to conduct meaningful dialogue with either employers or employees.

“Our staff needs to understand local market conditions and career development in each industry in order to fully represent clients. To do this successfully requires a lot of in-house training and support.”

Company processes 15,000 jobs a week through website

Hays Specialist Recruitment’s website is one of its greatest marketing tools.

“Our website attracts 750,000 visitors every month. At any given time we would have over 55,000 live jobs online across the globe, and we would normally process over 15,000 job applications each week.”

Reaching out to the community involves Hays in the support of a number of charities and awards schemes, such as that of the Lighthouse Club, a construction industry charity and Barretstown Camp for terminally ill children.

Hays also supports the Local Government City & Council Awards (LAMA ) in Ireland that honour exemplary projects within the community.

Although Niall enjoys his leisure time by playing soccer, tag-rugby and ski-ing, it’s hard work and ambition that has driven this Clare man to where he is today, and he doesn’t see that changing.

“Like the Munster rugby team, I believe that preparation, drive and hard graft pay off in the end.

“I’m happy with my own work, and strongly believe in ‘following one’s dream’ – never settle for second best. I try to apply this principle to help all my clients too. If I do my job well, I can help others get the best out of their lives too, and that’s a ‘win-win’ for everyone.”

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