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The Resilient Recruiter

Nov 18, 2021

One of the biggest problems in our industry is the high level of staff turnover and attrition. This can have negative implications on profits, branding, and continuity of service. How do you overcome this? Neil Dickins, the founder of Intellectual Capital Resources, shares how they have achieved excellent employee engagement and retention for the last 21 years. This correlates with them achieving 86 profitable quarters in a row!

Founded in 1999, IC Resources now employs over 70 people with 7 offices across the UK, Germany, Austria, China and the USA. They’ve made over 12,000 placements and are the pre-eminent ‘deep tech’ recruiter in the UK and Europe. 

In this episode, Neil shares their approach to hiring, organic growth, culture and KPI management, and how ‘letting go’ can be a challenge but beneficial in the long run. Enjoy!

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:30] Neil reveals how he ended up in the UK and how he fell in love with recruiting.
  • [5:22] Top key factors to IC Resources’ success. 
  • [11:58] Being part of the business community: Neil reveals examples of how you can be part of the industry you find yourself in.
  • [21:05] Building a strong business by having no unwanted staff turnover.
  • [22:56] Creating a high level of staff retention
  • [25:00] IC Resources’ approach on dynamic KPIs 
  • [28:49] Give your team autonomy and let go. Neil discusses the challenge and benefit of ‘letting go.’
  • [32:12] Discussion on organic growth and promoting from within.
  • [36:37] How to manage your team members who are working remotely.
  • [43:37] Neil’s number one message to his teams: hear about the ten-second rule.
  • [46:14] Don’t just do it for the money  Neil shares the ‘worst mistake’ they ever made.
  • [52:00] Temp checking on your teams: when to support and when to let go.

Critical Success Factors for Sustainable Growth and Profitability

I reached out to Neil because IC Resources were listed in the Hot 100 List of the Recruiter Magazine. Out of 30-40,000 recruitment firms in the UK, they are 33rd in terms of billings per employee. This is on top of them having 86 straight profitable quarters! Such an incredible feat has a lot of contributing factors. But I asked Neil to boil it down to the key components. Neil mentioned two:

  • Taking the long term view and commitment to both your clients and employees
  • Being actively involved within the business community that you serve

Avoiding Unwanted Staff Turnover

As we went through our conversation, it was clear that what significantly contributed to IC Resources’ strong business is retaining talent and reducing staff turnover. “For 21 years...we almost had no unwanted staff turnover” is how Neil puts it. What are their practices to have such high staff retention? Neil said, “It is a combination of culture and lack of greed.” He laid out some of their employee practices which I believe you will find interesting:

  • Having targets that are reasonable, fair, and achievable.
  • Having a sense of responsibility and achievement.
  • Day to day enjoyment and satisfaction.

All of the abovementioned factors are founded on how they manage their KPIs. Their approach to having dynamic and custom KPIs for each person is genius! Learn more about it while listening.

The Ten-Second Rule

I’ve noticed that many successful leaders have certain phrases or key messages they repeat over and over to their team until it becomes part of the DNA of the organization.  I asked Neil what message he finds himself repeating when communicating with his team.  He shared a nugget of wisdom that we could all adopt as a fundamental principle in doing business; let’s call it the ‘ten-second rule’. This is how he puts it: “People know within 10 seconds of a phone call if you see them as a person or as a pound sign.” How does that impact the overall end-to-end hiring process? Listen to this episode of The Resilient Recruiter to hear Neil explain this philosophy in detail.

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro®. 

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Our technology and methodology allows recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees and increase their billings. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter for a 25% discount. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here: 

Neil Dickins Bio and Contact Info

Fell in love with theatre at McMaster University, graduated 1st Class Hons Psych & Drama while running two University businesses. Came to England to study Shakespeare at LAMDA, became ensnared in the thorns of an English rose and stayed in the UK. Helped Chris Benham start Orion Electrotech prior to co-founding Intellectual Capital Resources.

Founded in 1999, IC Resources is now 70 people and the pre-eminent ‘deep tech’ recruiter in the UK and Europe. Also covering high-level software and supply chain, we can startups full skills coverage outside of legal and accounts. We manage blue-chip relationships through an account management team.

Neil makes early-stage investments (Anorak Investments), performs in theatre, runs a weekly poker club and attempts to keep up with the youth on the basketball court.

  • Neil on LinkedIn
  • Intellectual Capital Resources website link
  • IC Creative website link
  • IC Resources on Facebook
  • IC Resources on Twitter @icresourcesteam
  • Victoria’s Promise website link - a non-profit organization supported by Neil

Connect with Mark Whitby


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