Founder of in-house recruitment company Collabz, Louis Cross discusses a fresh approach to talent, driven by a motivation to champion the underdog and realise the potential of proficient people and SMEs.
After a decade of working in the field of corporate recruitment, Louis is applying his experience to address the rapidly growing disadvantage that smaller companies face in attracting top people, seeking to empower and enable small businesses to think differently about hiring.Connect on LinkedIn
What’s your background and how has it led you to where you are today?
I spent 10 years working for a big recruitment company with a lot of governance, hierarchy, and structure, but it was really good for my development and a fantastic training ground.
I always had ambition to do something by myself. I knew that there was something that could be done in recruitment outsourcing for small businesses. No one has ever developed a bespoke solution for SMEs, we knew there was a huge gap in the market for smaller clients.
You pride yourself in championing the underdog. How do you do that?
The common theme is potential. We like to work with people or companies who are showing great potential. Because we're really smart and innovative in what we do, we can give those people that capability to be able to compete on a much larger scale. I've always liked hiring people on potential because it's really exciting watching them grow into something, you can see the passion behind what they're doing and they’re really motivated.
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"...We're a small company with a really cool product, we’re supporting people who are open minded and willing to take a progressive approach in attracting talent..."
This is a different approach to recruitment. Have you always been a progressive thinker?
My previous role was in solution design. By nature, you had to be really innovative because big corporates want to do things cheaper, faster and better. That experience made me think we could apply some of these solutions to SMEs.
I like to work with SMEs because you tend to be working with owners and founders and you can make a much better impact. If you can help them to hire great people, that’s a game changer for them.
We’re a small company with a really cool product, we’re supporting people who are open minded and willing to take a progressive approach in attracting talent.
What are the obstacles for your business?
People aren’t used to the type of products that we sell. The point of reference is using a recruitment agency or developing in-house capability, and they just don’t know that there’s this third alternative. I think the biggest obstacle is the education, trying to influence and convince business owners that there is a better way.
Who is your inspiration?
Jerome Ternynck is a thought leader in the talent and people space. He’s a tech software guy with some really ground-breaking ideas.
I think less about the profile and more about the people that have done things the right way with kindness in their approach, those sorts of people inspire me.
"...We’re meeting a growing desire from today’s business leaders to have access to an aspirational yet functional space away from the office to get things done. People are expecting more from the environment in which they work..."
You’ve been a member of the Old Bond Store since its inception, what appeals to you about it?
It’s a really nice setting, it’s multipurpose and great from a flexibility perspective. We’re using Southampton as a springboard into London, so it’s a really good central point for us to be able to build our network and meet other business owners in the local area.
How do you use the space at the Old Bond Store?
If I’m here on my own, I’m usually on the bottom floor getting things done out of the way. On Wednesdays we use the middle floor and boardroom, it is the day I like to get my team together for core creative stuff. I really enjoy Fridays because it’s a great environment, we use the light open space upstairs and at the end of the day we head up to the bar. It’s a really nice end to the week.
I’m a recovering corporate recruitment guy keeping the work passion alive by showing SME’s how to shift from prey to poachers of talent without spending a fortune with recruitment agencies and advertisers. The inspiration was that after a decade of doing this type of recruitment for big employers, I decided I had to address something that didn’t sit well with me.
The rapidly growing disadvantage that smaller companies faced in attracting top talent. Whilst you may have a recruitment manager, be advertising on Linkedin, use recruitment agencies and utilise job boards to access talent, you’re probably aware that this is only the start.
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