Pivoting your agency to survive and grow through Covid: Talent Matters recap

In the fifth episode in our series of Talent Matters webinars, Dave Jenkins was joined by guest Ashby Jenkins, founder of Ashby Jenkins Recruitment, to talk about the way the team dealt with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and how pivoting their agency was crucial to ensure they didn’t just survive but continued to grow. They also discussed the importance of promoting diversity within recruitment in order to help improve equal opportunities across the sector.


Having previously worked as a corporate fundraiser for two charities, Ashby Jenkins has a deep passion for the sector. She moved into recruitment in 2014 and in 2018 founded Ashby Jenkins Recruitment, working exclusively on not-for-profit sector recruitment. The agency specialises in matching all types of fundraisers, innovations specialists and digital marketers with a huge variety of UK-based charity fundraising jobs.

Key takeaways

  • Build relationships with clients and add value. The churn and burn model of recruitment is dead – view your agency as a recruitment partner rather than simply a supplier. Invest time in your clients, get to know them and their business needs, their forecasts for the future and that investment will pay off. You need to add value to your role as a recruiter so that you’re not seen as a CV pusher. 
  • Have meaningful conversations with sector leaders. As well as helping build those client relationships, talking about the state of the sector with those high up in it will also aid in the adaptation of your marketing strategies and allow you to have a better understanding of where to pivot if necessary. Show humility, leave your ego at the door and ask for advice as well as giving it.  
  • Don’t neglect your candidates. Taking the time to keep in touch with your candidates, updating them, having‘calming conversations’, is not only ethically the right thing to do, but it could also pay off in terms of word of mouth marketing. Given the experiences many candidates are having right now with recruiters effectively ghosting them, a five-minute telephone call could be enough for them to post on LinkedIn about the great experience they’ve had with you. They may even share that with an organisation they’re interviewing with and you could net another client.  
  • Broaden your client portfolio. If you normally work with just one size of business, a limited role type, or a particular area of your sector, consider diversifying your client portfolio to open up the jobs available to you. Structure your marketing around your newly diverse client range, segment your database into different types of organisations, and monitor the job boards to see what kinds of organisation in your sector are still hiring. If you usually work with large organisations who currently have a hiring freeze you may find that smaller companies are still recruiting.  
  • Diversify your product. Consider offering webinars or training if jobs are still slow in your sector. As well as generating publicity and strengthening your brand, you will be able to build up a fantastic database of both candidates and potential clients. Once your workflow is up again simply pivot back but be ready to turn to alternative avenues again if the situation changes. To survive and grow you’ll have to be prepared to constantly adapt.   
  • Diversity is not a fad so get on board. Make your commitment to D & I clear to both candidates and clients. This is something that will – quite rightly – only gather momentum and the earlier you adopt a strong stance on inclusive hiring, the more of an impact it will have on your reputation and branding.  
  • View everyone in your team as a salesperson. Pre-Covid your team may have been split into different roles, with some focusing on billing, some marketing and some client development. Right now, in order to help the business survive, everyone has to sell and see themselves in that role. It’s vital to make that messaging clear to your entire team so you’re all on the same page and fighting together.  
  • Hold your prices. Lowering your rates doesn’t just devalue your service but that of everyone in the industry. The more agencies that advertise a price cut, the more likely a price war will start and that isn’t good for anyone. It could also signal to clients that you are struggling and starting to get desperate. Value your service and hold firm on rates. 
If you didn’t catch this webinar – packed full of ideas to adapt and survive through the pandemic – make sure you watch it back here

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