Name: Jonathan Benjamin
Years in recruitment: Four
How did you get into recruitment?
I was an unfulfilled solicitor. I trained, qualified and then spent three years marking up documents. I was bored, met with some recruiters to look for a new position and eventually became more interested in what they were doing, so it evolved quite naturally.
What appealed to you about it?
The fact that you are master of your own destiny. I liked the entrepreneurial side of things. I had some sales experience and it just seemed like a much more proactive way to work than what I had been doing before.
Was it difficult?
Oh, yes. I was thrown in at the deep end, but I enjoyed it.
What led to you setting up your own company?
At that time in the market there wasn’t so much headhunting. Everything was a lot more contingent on advertising and I felt like I was spending too much time writing. I just thought why don’t we ring more people? So I decided to set up on my own. I built it up the division so it was one of the most profitable. I was a director and then the business got sold. And then in 2008, just after Lehman’s collapsed, my colleague and I resigned to set up RedLaw.
That was a difficult year for the economy and labour markets. Were there times when you regretted your decision?
It was certainly touch and go. We were both starting families at that time, and we had to contend with some legal issues when we set up. But I’ve learnt not to be put off by short-termism and we were both confident in our abilities. Sometimes in a difficult market you can be successful if you strive to be more professional than your competitors. Today we are profitable and now have 12 staff, having started with just two!
What advice would you give to other recruiters?
What I’ve often found is that many recruiters have only a superficial knowledge of the market. We spent hours really understanding our market. Our approach is much more consultative; on occasion we’ve even advised people not to move, for instance. Personal relationships are key.