What is going on with the job market?

“so what is going with the job market at the moment?”

A surprisingly common question from friends and family who do not work in recruitment (and from some that do).

Well the answer is sector dependent but on the whole, pritttyyy, pritttyy, prittty bad.

It is extremely sad that we’re seeing so many redundancies, and whilst redundancy does not always categorically rule out a company from hiring, it is a key indicator that they do not have the funds to pay agency fees. It’s a double blow for us: fewer companies hiring and more candidates on the market (and client perception that it is easier to hire).

For us (evil – ha) agencies, we’re spending the vast majority of our time speaking to candidates who find themselves unfortunately out of work or facing redundancy. Being completely honest, most of these calls are about managing expectations and coaching, knowing that 95% (and that is being very conservative) of the people we speak to, we can not place (but would hope they would go on to find employment and make use of the tips/advice/leads we give them).

Those candidates also ask me, as someone who is a professional (I definitely am as well, as I actually get paid (even if I pay myself) to know what is going on in the industry) what I think is going to happen in the next few months.

So here goes:

Since lockdown was enforced, there have been two types of restrictions; actual and confidence. Actual restrictions was ‘lockdown’. Millions of people physically unable to work because their employers were not allowed to open or operate. Confidence restrictions were when there was an ability to be operational, but there was not enough consumer/customer confidence to buy.

As actual restrictions are lifted, we see a lag of about 2 weeks to the confidence being built back up. This makes sense. As a nation, we are still extremely cautious and reluctant to jump straight back in to a ‘new’ normality. We like to dip our toe and make sure we’re not being reckless.

Businesses follow about 2 weeks after the nation’s confidence lag. Plenty are still very risk-averse and cautious about the feared ‘second wave’, so do not want to commit resource until they can be confident everything is going to be ok (well, not ok, but you know what I mean).

Today, the prime minister announced further plans to ease restrictions as of 1st of August. Fantastic news for many, many industries. In my eyes, that means the job market should have picked up considerably by September 1st. We will hopefully see new jobs created, people willing to move jobs and people who have been made redundant getting back into work.

Our pipeline today is about 12% of what it was in July 2019. By September 1st, I would be extremely pleased if we were at 75% of pipeline of Sep 1st 2019. A lot of dick swingers will see that as pessimistic, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it is to be realistic, honest and appreciative.

Long time no post!

I have been unbelievably busy doing important stuff, so haven’t managed to write in a while.

Strangely, my last post was on the day of the peak deaths in the UK, it is amazing news this is going in the right direction each day – long may it continue!

Enjoy the YouTube video. Neal is a very talented guy – his editing skills are brilliant, he has made me sound like I know what I am talking about!


Professor Karol Sikora

As with a lot of people, the days seem like a rollercoaster of good and bad news.

Late morning/early afternoon is the death toll of the day before, which is always more than you’d want it to be. Then the hope that we’re effectively fighting it after the government briefing in the early evening.

I have largely tried to avoid social media, as I find I take notice of fucking idiots (tbf, I always have done, but it’s now on something which actually matters, rather than Man Utd starting line ups and transfer targets) who only want to spread bad news and negativity. However, I have found an absolute beacon of informed positivity: Professor Karol Sikora (@ProfKarolSikora). It is very easy to gravitate towards blindless optimism, but this amazing man manages to manage (overuse of man) expectations, whilst giving informed and articulate commentary on what is going on. I have found following him very comforting.

We’re very fortunate to be working with some progressive, forward-thinking companies who are cracking on with operations and recruitment, which is helping us immensely. Not only does it allow us to have a potential revenue pipeline, it allows me to do what I love most (well, it’s in the top 5 of things – PM me for the other 4), speaking with candidates.

One of the most frequent things I am asked is ‘what do you think is going to happen over the next few months?’. My initial, honest answer is ‘I do not know’. As I don’t. No one does. However, I do feel like I am able to give a relatively informed opinion on what I think is going to happen over the next few weeks/months. So here goes.

I think the next couple of weeks will be very quiet. We will all be waiting to see what the situation will be with removing the restrictions on movement. I do not think we will have a definitive answer, but I do think we will have a better idea of the plan we are working to. Because of this, I think a lot of companies will not be making decisions on recruiting, whether that is interview shortlists, job offers or even job sign-offs. So if you’re currently in the market, do not be too perturbed if the next 2 weeks is very quiet – just stick with it. Keep in regular contact with your chosen consultant or company, but do not worry if there is nothing definitive happening.

After we have a better idea, we will all be able to plan towards things. Whether that be important things like family reunions (or in my case grandparent babysitting duties), seeing friends again or even visiting the pub (I literally can not wait to have a pint in a pub again), we will have a realistic idea of time scales, which we can plan to. Those plans may not come to fruition for another 4-6 weeks, but we will have something to plan around and work towards. This will be reflected in the companies and clients we work with. They will be gearing their business up to manage the transition from now to former normality. This transition will no doubt include the realignment and building of their teams as well as potentially new, restricted ways of working.

I am hoping (praying) that I will be able to work somewhere other than my garage around the 20th of May.

I hope you’re all safe and well. Stay positive, don’t spread false information and stay the fuck inside.

Another week in paradise

So the novelty of this has most definitely now worn off. The kids are bored. The Mrs is fed up of tidying up for the 437th time of the day. I’m fed up of not having a weekly buffet put on for us.

The absolute miserable weather has most definitely been a contributing factor to the grey mood in the household – I just hope we have a nice weekend we can spend in the garden – that is a lot easier not to tidy up (even though our peeper neighbours give disapproving looks through their blinds at the plastic crap strewn around our garden).

Alas, on to work. I’ve really been trying to think about ways to keep everyone engaged and in contact whilst we’re all in different places and some furloughed. It is a genuine concern and worry of mine that the cohesive and close unit we have built over the past 2 years will drift apart like long-distance lovers inevitably always do. We had a quiz on Wednesday which was won by Mollie on a tie-breaker with Adam. Everyone is much more intelligent than I initially thought and I’m really surprised more of them haven’t got proper jobs.

I’ve offered to pay for a learning course for each person whilst they’re furloughed (the first month is free so the joke is on them – I’m not that generous mwahahaha) to try and keep the brain sharp and to hopefully bring back some new and refined knowledge to the table when this is all over.

We took more jobs on this week, which is absolutely amazing – so if you’re in the market for a new job, check out our jobs page! Dom is doing a stoic job at servicing some fantastic clients, who have a very progressive approach to overcoming the problems we naturally face at this time.

In other news, I attempted to cut my own hair yesterday. I actually used to do this on the reg when I was in my early 20’s. I used to think I did a pretty ok job until I discovered Mehmet at the Turkish barbers – then I realised how much of a plonker I had been looking for the past 3 years. I did learn a valuable lesson though – do not neglect what you can not see. This was a completely unintentional metaphor, but I absolutely butchered the back of my hair. In hindsight, I should have asked for help – but as previously mentioned I’m an alpha bloody male so I don’t need to help (just like doing one trip when carrying the shopping bags in). However, I just look like a terrible version of a Peaky Blinder – like Tommy Shelby’s fat cousin from the home counties.

Anyway, have fun this weekend – try to do something different, but stay home (unless you need to do an essential food shop) and be grateful to our amazing key workers!

Navigating the choppy job hunting sea at the moment podcast

So amazing news. I was approached by one of the loveliest guys you will ever meet, Neal Veglio, to appear on his podcast.

Neal produces amazing podcasts on a number of different topics (after you have listened to mine, listen to the rest of his – you will not regret it).

I recorded this in one go (obviously the audio wizz that Neal is inserted all the clips in after), in my stepdaughters bedroom, surrounded by LOL toys and teddies.

Have a listen and let me know what you think (some reassurance that I do not sounds like an absolute nasal mess would be good).

Linky to podcast


Supermarket sweep

Let’s face it. This isn’t like wartime. We’re not rationing. They didn’t have just eat, dominos or Little Istanbul delivery dropped off between airstrikes in 1942. Unless you live in the absolute middle of nowhere, nearly all of us have access to fresh produce at supermarkets and takeaways (support local, get a Khushboo).

However, a takeaway a day isn’t sustainable. This isn’t the halcyon days of September 2019 where you could do a week of ‘around the world in takeaways’. (Monday: Italy. Tuesday: America. Wednesday: England. Thursday: Mexico, Friday: India. Saturday: China. Sunday: England). You have to go to supermarkets to do a big shop once a week.

Being the massive alpha male I am, I have been braving it and doing the weekly shop. Hunting and gathering. Not sure how many of you have managed to visit a supermarket recently, but wow, what a surreal experience. I love the queuing outside, snaking around the car park like a really shit Alton Towers ride. I love the vacant expression of everyone trying their very hardest not to cough or look like they’ve got a temperature. The doorman operating a one in one out policy, like any good nightclub does (they even didn’t let me in the other day because I was too drunk).

Since the initial twattery of panic buying has subsided, shelves are full and you can prettttty much get anything you could 3 weeks ago (apart from play doh weirdly enough). I was gliding down each aisle like no one’s business, imagining Dale Winton waiting for me at the end shouting “The next time you’re at the checkout and you hear the beep, think of the fun you could be having on Supermarket Sweep!”.

Despite being given an aisle by aisle instruction of what to get, I still forgot loads. As they have a one-way system now, I feel as though I can’t go back on myself (figuratively and metaphorically), so we will be washing our hair with radox and dove soap (I don’t actually see anything wrong with that) this week.

Now as you will have seen, I am someone who takes food seriously. I am not a cuppa soup and Ryvita for lunch kind of guy. If I can, I do lunch correctly. This means proper food (and yes, Rustlers Burger counts as proper) and enjoyment. I think about lunch as soon as I wake up, and specifically do not eat breakfast so I can enjoy lunch more.

Well magnify that by 11x and that is how I feel about dinner. Dinner is a culinary experience for me. Every evening is like an appearance on Masterchef. My fiance is my Torode and my step-daughter is my Wallace (but less egg-like).  I take great pride in what I produce and the provenance of the ingredients (which at the moment is not as local as I like).

Well dinner time takes even more importance now. I spend the day agonising over timings, at what point to turn the chicken dippers over, does ketchup go with lasagna (of course it does, it goes with everything). It truly is the little things that get you through the days (stop sniggering at the back).

I’m genuinely interested to know what you all have for dinner, send me pictures – I love that kind of stuff. Here is what I had last night, based on last stuff in fridge before a big tesco shop:


Bringing out the best in humanity

Over the last decade, we have seen some pretty atrocious things done by humans to fellow humans.

Kony 2012


US High School shootings

Donald Trump

Online bullying

The Sun

Since the pandemic has begun, we have seen some pretty amazing things happen (you do have to look closely, as we know the media loves misery).

It always amazes (and saddens me) that at times of great need, the world comes up with the most amazing effort to help their fellow human. We have seen some unbelievable examples of this in the last 14 days:

University College London and Mercedes F1 have made a breathing aid for Coronavirus patients which transports oxygen to the lungs reducing the need for a ventilator.

Germany  offering to take in patients from Italy as well as France with the country’s air force transporting patients to hospitals in the country.

One couple from East Yorkshire, were scheduled to marry last weekend. When the reception was called off, they chose to divert all of their catering to more than 400 hospital workers in Hull instead.

On Thursday night, after a co-ordinated effort across social media, the UK stopped at 8pm to go outside and indulge in a huge applause for all our NHS staff and carers fearless fighting the disease on the front line (this was one of the most overwhelming things I ever witnessed – which was a weird feeling stood half hanging out of my front room window).

The mass sign up to volunteer help the NHS (over 700,000 to date).

Google will reveal many more amazing acts of kindness that people have rallied together and done (if you’re ever sick about reading the increasing death toll, then have a butch at them).

There have been two main acts of kindness which have affected me on a personal level as well as a business level.

Firstly, business: when Rishi Sunak announced the government employee retention scheme. I was literally watching this in (mild) disbelief, and through teary eyes (the Mrs was chopping onions for the bolognese). Realistically it not only allowed me to retain some amazing and extremely talented members of staff, but also took some of them out of some potentially perilous situations that my knee jerk decision making would have put them in over the next few months. After the announcement, the relief was palpable and bolognese palatable (although no parmesan so 6.5/10 from me). There was a lot of derision online about people who acted too quickly and moved staff on before fully understanding the situation – I am just glad that those people who made the accusation of knee-jerking were right and, that we should have waited to see what the government announced. That is one situation I would not have wanted to been right on.

Secondly, personal: I am working on a General Manager role for a company in China. So I have been having lots of conversations with people in this area in the past 6 months. Any consultant will tell you that talking to candidates,  learning from and about them is one of the most rewarding parts of the job (we’re not all just £££ focussed yano). Well, I was mid-conversation with a candidate who is based in Singapore at the moment, and as time went on and our dialogue grew, so did the COVID-19 situation in the UK. Sharing my concerns and worries with someone who has been through it was actually extremely holistic and I really benefitted from hearing about his experience of it so far. This gentleman asked me for my address (not a usual protocol in the recruitment process) and let me know he was sending over a package. Well today, we received the most beautifully wrapped set of facemasks (the proper N95 ones) for my family and I, from the gentleman. We’re not in the same continent, we’re only ever spoken on video, we’re in what many people would consider a transactional business relationship, but this amazing, kind human being took time and expense from his day to send me over some face masks, which he knew would reassure me when going out in public.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Wei Jin Ng.

With all of this in mind, I will leave you with what I think will be a career-defining quote from big man Rishi:

“When this is over – and it will be over – we want to look back on this moment and remember the small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency… it’s on all of us”

Stay safe and stay healthy everyone.



‘Lock down’ – week 1.

Slightly misleading title here, we have been working remotely since Thursday 12th. I made the decision that everyone could (and should work from home) as soon as this began to really accelerate. When I set up OX Seven I never envisaged that the flexible setup would benefit us most when in a global pandemic (I just thought it would be better for late starts on a Monday and early finishes on a Friday).

I have always preferred office-based work. As much as having remote working is a great option, I just find I am a lot more productive in an office full of people. So having to work from home, amongst my family, is tough. Every candidate and client I have spoken to so far has been thoroughly understanding of the frequent interruptions from the children asking for juice, McDonalds or where the charger is.

In terms of the family stack, I have: 1 fiance and 2.5 children. Maddison (the 0.5 – my stepdaughter) 8, Sienna 2.5 and Arthur 1 make up the tribe. We have been trying our best to do academic stuff with Maddison, but it’s tough going, so we have tried to do as many ‘practical’ teachings with her as well (she is doing our VAT return next quarter). I think the novelty of this is wearing off for them very quickly. Luckily we have a garden which is big enough for a trampoline and space for them to run about, which is great. I really do feel for the people who live in flats or do not have access to a private garden to get some lockdown free fresh air.

I know everyone keeps saying it, but we really are in unprecedented times. It’s literally mental how quickly things have changed. Just over two weeks ago we were in disbelief that Arsenal v City was called off as a precaution. Now we are on lockdown (which people are not properly observing in my opinion), our lives are changing on a daily basis. I hope this is a societal defining phase shift and after this all finishes (which it will), we remember and appreciate those key workers who did so much for us in our time of need. The NHS rightly gets masses of praise (and I am unequivocal with appreciation for every single person in the NHS), but for me, the supermarket workers and delivery drivers deserve massive recognition. When they took their job they did not sign up to be on the coal face of a global pandemic, but every single one I have encountered so far has been friendly, positive and helpful – thank you. It also means that huge amounts of children are going to get more quality time with their parents over the next few months – which on a personal level, I am extremely excited about.

The almost daily changes are impacting everyone in OX Seven. Every single one of us has been on a rollercoaster ride. I have had to make decisions I never thought I would have to, or want to make. I would say the 7 days from 13th until the 20th were comfortably the 7 worst days of my life. I struggled to eat, think or even function at times (I lost about 7 lbs – every cloud…) Fortunately, the government COVID-19 employee retention scheme stands us to support us greatly – although how the finer print looks, we’re not sure yet. We will come out of this without an office (although we’re all pretty used to working remotely and still communicating), but hopefully all together. We are still ‘business as usual’ for the foreseeable future, although some team members will be furloughed until this shitstorm floats away.

I suffer from health anxiety, so the constant and hard reminders everywhere really do not help me – so I have deleted twitter and only use FB very sparingly – which has helped me a lot. The most important updates come through BBC news, so I stick to that to keep updated. I find I become fixated on certain words that are use in the news and media. Last week it was ‘underlying’ (which sounds sinister in itself), this week it has been ‘tickly throat’ – off the back of reading a story of a poor chap who had a tickly throat and died a few days later. I am managing to rationalize everything more and more as each day goes by and I feel as though keeping the family in the house and minimizing the number of times we leave (only to go to Tesco really) reassures me I am keeping them safe, but also the vulnerable around us.

I’m going to try and write a blog entry every single day, just so you can share the experience with me (and I can read it back after this is all over).

Stay safe and stay healthy.

3 industry predictions

“How’s the market?”, “What is the future looking like”, “Did they cut your hair purposely like that?”

I get asked these questions almost every day by people. Once the skin fade subsides (who would have known that 0 actually means pretty much flesh on back and sides of hair – Tom Shelby I am not) I often reflect on what is actually happening in the market.

However, as a recruitment business owner, it is very difficult to prophesise about the future of recruitment without seemingly having an agenda or trying to subliminally flog our services (which I will definitely do by the way).

At present, we are in a generation-defining political impasse, surpassing almost any fuckwittery ever seen before. It’s never been more important to pro-actively address the added difficulties both the societal attitude shift and political instability will provide not only the recruitment industry, but workforces across the country.

I am going to concentrate on the recruitment industry, as this is the one I am most versed in (unfortunately we can not count fantasy premier league or the office quotes in this).

The 3 main changes I feel will occur over the next few years are:

AI and online registrations effectively killing off the high street agencies. If you look down nearly any high street in the UK you are likely to see bookmakers, fast food outlets and empty shops. The first two a reflection of the society we are in: instant gratification and convenience. Unfortunately, the empty shops has led to a decrease in customer footfall. Consumers are choosing not to travel to town centres, and instead utilising online retailers for purchases. I think once the AI tech really pushes on and gets the compliance side of things bang on, candidates will be able to register interest directly with companies and use tech (like the exciting Kai AI) to enable this. This will save candidates trudges to high street agencies and the need to spend countless hours filling in paper forms and waiting days/weeks for a booking, nicely appeasing the instant gratification required.

A huge rise in flexibility and recruiters working remotely. To be honest I still find it hard to believe people are still using fixed line phones and PC’s now. Some of the recruitment technology that has emerged and evolved in the last few years has enabled genuine flexibility and to a certain extent freedom. Does this benefit the 3 main stakeholders; the business, the candidate and the employee? I certainly think it can do, if utilised in the right way. It’s something we encourage at OX Seven (shameless plugs) and the flexibility in talking to and meeting with candidates has been great for us. As long as the trust is there, the empowerment should follow. The 9-5 culture is slowly ebbing away (and rightly so in my opinion).

An increase in retained/mini RPO offerings. As businesses look to scale at sensible rates, one of the main costs which will be scrutinised will be the cost to get someone into a business. There are more and more companies (including OX Seven – shameless plug) offering ‘RPO lite’ services which enable dedicated resource and a retained level of service in return for a flat monthly fee. We have seen from first-hand experience the benefits it can offer to both recruitment partner, candidate and agency. It is a slightly more risk averse approach from the agency but enables a far greater level of service and outcome to be achieved. I also believe it will enable the death of high volume, transactional CV chucking practice.

I hope this has been an interesting read and offered some insight from an agency owner in 2019. I would be really interested to hear how strongly you disagree, or even agree.

We are recruiting – IT Consultant

So, firstly (Mitch and Jackie’s course out the window) here are the things that will probably interest most people:

We only do perm and FTC at the moment (although open to someone coming in and creating a contract division):

Basic salary £20,000 – £30,000 (vague, but depending on your background and how much ‘OX Seven’ training spiel you’ll require).

Commission scheme:

Threshold £3000

You get 15% of anything billed between £3000 and £10,000, and when you get to £10,000, the threshold is a-gonner.

You get 20% of anything billed between £10,001 and £20,000.

You get 50% of anything billed above £20,001. Simples.

If you bill a mean average of £15,000 every single month, you will earn an extra £30,000 on top of your basic salary (salary reviews and increases at regular intervals).

We do not want to be like your regular, stock image, lack of thesaurus, transactional agency – we want to be different. We are already well on our way to achieving that, so if you’re happy in the corporate world, we won’t be a match.

The desk isn’t hot. It’s what some might call luke warm. You couldn’t bath in it for longer than 30 minutes but a quick dip is alright. You’ll be doing your own BD so if you’re not keen on sales, again, not a match.

25 days holiday and birthdays off (plus BH, obviously). Increasing with length of service.

Plus a flexible working environment. You can start and finish your day according to your lifestyle.

Do your best business on the golf course? Play golf twice a week with clients. Enjoy networking in the evenings? Spend your time networking in the cool new networking groups (usually found in pubs, apparently).

We take this recruitment stuff seriously but don’t take ourselves too seriously. We employ a dedicated content manager because we see the value in what it brings (and we also bloody love memes). We trust you to do what you know best.

It is an extremely difficult job, but you will already know that as you have successfully billed in the IT space for a number of years (if you haven’t, we’re surprised you’re still reading?).

You must be adaptable, open to change and enjoy being an early adopter of new technology.

If any of this sounds up your street, give Will a call on 01608 670531 or tag us in your favourite meme. But then also send us a message.