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“LET’S TALK RECRUITMENT” – Northern Insight Lunch May 2019

1 May, 2019




One of the North East’s most experienced recruitment experts talks about his experience in the business and gives an insight into how to find the right person to work for you.

This year will see the Howie White Resourcing celebrating its twentieth birthday.

At the helm will be Fred Howie, steering his company into their third decade. Assuming things continue at their current rate, this year will see Howie White complete their 1000th assignment. Quite an achievement for a small company that prides itself on doing things properly.

Howie White are not a ‘Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap’ sort of company. They don’t have hundreds of clients. They believe in building relationships with their clients…getting to know how they operate…what sort of people they are and, crucially, what sort of potential employee will not only do the right job, but that they will also fit in. It’s not about speed; it’s about quality.

As the Howie White website headlines….’No more square pegs in round holes.’

But a career in recruitment which has now spanned over thirty years, wasn’t what Fred planned. He’s worked in industry and done other jobs, all of which means he can view the recruitment process from the other side of the fence, because he’s been there.

And that’s why Fred’s presentation at the Teesside Business Lunch Club on May 1st at Wynyard Hall, should be fascinating.

Fred is originally from Glasgow. He went to Glasgow University to study Economics.

“I was the first member of my family to go to university and there was a bit of pressure to get a proper job in one of the professions,” said Fred. “I wasn’t smart enough to be come a lawyer or doctor so accountancy loomed large.”

“I graduated in 1982, in the middle of a recession in Scotland and got a job as a Trainee Accountant with Tube Investments in Birmingham before moving to Warrington with them to a gas cooker manufacturer.”

“I was pretty badly paid so went to a recruitment business, Michael Page, who placed me at Unilever on the Wirral. Great business, dull job so when I qualified in 1985 I went back to Michael Page to look for my next move.

Michael Page is now a big international business but back then Mike Page still ran the business which only had two offices. London and Manchester. “They asked me if I had ever thought of a career in recruitment. It sounded like fun and they were a great bunch of people. My thoughts were that if I didn’t like it then I was in prime position to grab a prime job”.

“Back then, the internet didn’t exist, there were no mobile phones, no social media. The company’s philosophy was based on hard work. Core hours were 8 until 8 and it was a real work hard play hard environment. We had some great fun which I think is lacking in the industry today.”

“You also learnt how to assess people, understand what made them tick, it wasn’t all about computers doing the work for you. The best part of the job has always been meeting people.”

“And those principles are still what lies behind my company. I’d like to think that Howie White does the leg work and that when we finally recommend 3-4 candidates to a company, all of them would actually be suitable. It’s then down to what sort of chemistry the client has with the candidates in a face-to-face interview, “says Fred.

It’s also interesting to hear Fred talk about the way recruitment has changed, and he’s not convinced that doing it in a 21st Century fashion is always the best route to the best employee.

“The danger is that we turn recruitment into a technical process… isn’t. It’s one of those jobs that people are trying to use technology to replace people. I’ll openly admit I’m crap with technology. I recognise it has a value, saves time, makes communication easier but it will never replace a face to face conversation.”

“I saw the other day that there is now an interview robot…..”

“Some people have great cv’s and the personality of a breeze block whilst other have bitty cvs, usually for a reason, but great drive and ability. The more we use algorithms to select candidates then the worse the choice gets”.

In other words, Fred’s presentation on May 1st should be compulsive listening.

However, perhaps the key element will be at the end when Fred will be more than happy to take questions. You may already have a scenario where you need some advice or perhaps you do have a vacancy and just need a few pointers as to what should be your next move.

Put it this way; Fred’s been there…done it. The fact that Howie White is moving into its third decade isn’t totally down to luck….although Fred will probably admit that it does help along the way.

Go and talk recruitment with Fred. If you’d like to do some homework and find out more about Fred and his company give them a call of send him an email….which is something else they didn’t have when he first started in recruitment.