Competitors – the recruiters’ perspective 2013

There are many awards that a company can enter to see how they match up to their competition, but there are a lot of excellent companies that do not enter these for a variety of reasons.  We wanted to know who was making an impact in the market and who better to ask than the people who are competing against their peers every day; the recruiters.

We asked 341 Senior Recruiters, Directors and Business owners to let us know who they considered as their 3 biggest competitors to ascertain those companies making the biggest impact in the market.  We asked people from a cross section of the professional markets including Finance, Technology, HR, Energy and Search/Interim and they told us the following.


Companies over 100 consultants are still making the biggest impact, however have lost market share (-10%) since August 2012.  SME’s have gained (+5%) as have midsized companies (+10%) whilst independent consultancies with less than 10 people have lost market share (-5%)


Those businesses established 2000 – 2004 have increased their market share the most (+7%) whilst those established 2005 – 2009 have decreased the most (-10%).  Those established pre 2000 and post 2010 have increased their share marginally (+2% and +1% respectively).

There is no obvious reason why there should be such a drop in market share for those established 2005 – 2009.  One theory could be the lack of time, cash or foresight to plan for growth during the recession.  They were set up during a strong market and quickly entered the tough economic conditions of 2008/2009.  Those that were set up pre 2005 had the infrastructure and funds in place to weather this storm and have taken market share from them.  The post 2010 companies were set up mid recession and so they were fully aware of the market conditions and could plan accordingly.  2000 – 2004 companies have taken far more market share than pre 2000 and this could suggest that the pre 2000 companies have penetrated the market as much as they plan to, and are now either maintaining that share, or are focussing their efforts on other geographical markets.


Some of the largest and most successful companies from last year have either slipped down the rankings or have fallen off them completely, whilst others have shot up the rankings.  Is it a coincidence that the top 4 are all businesses where the founder(s) are still very much involved? That the top 3 are niche, home grown consultancies rather than multinational generalists?  My personal opinion……hopefully not.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues next year.

It is quite striking to me how only 38% of the market is dominated by 8 names, whilst 62% is being serviced by such a wide variety of names it would be impractical to name them all.  In my view this is a really healthy mix; it means that those companies that want to grow and dominate the market have the opportunity to do so, but it also leaves a lot of market share for those companies with different ambitions and motivations. 

We very much appreciate the input from all those that contributed to this survey and to make it as inclusive as possible also want to mention those companies that were also ranked highly by their peers within their specific niche:

Finance:                 Eximius, Kennedy Pearce

HR:                         Oakleaf, Digby Morgan

Search/Interim:     Heidrick & Struggles, Interim Partners

Technology:            Networkers International

Energy:                   Spencer Ogden




“Does Recruitment to Recruitment work?”

I have seen numerous conversations on linked in and other social media where people have been discussing the recruitment to recruitment market.  The most recent was entitled “Does Recruitment to Recruitment work?”  The majority that were commenting had bad experiences as a candidate (not many comments from a client perspective) and as such had been put off from ever using one again.  Recruitment to recruitment is a fast growing sector with few, if any barriers to entry and as a result there is a huge disparity in how much value a company will add.  A good recruitment to recruitment company will be invaluable; conversely a bad one is likely to add nothing and could even end up harming your career.  Which one you get could be viewed as luck, but there are some things that you can do to mitigate this risk.

One of my friends has been a fund manager for the past 10 years, has been happily employed in the same business for the past 6 years but has still made a point of meeting his preferred recruiter every 6 months for lunch or a coffee.  This means that they have built up a strong relationship; he can gain market intelligence, be kept up to date with any interesting opportunities and if he does become proactive in the market then he can go straight to someone that he knows/trust and will represent him effectively.  My father in law works in a senior role within Facilities Management and does exactly the same.  Why don’t recruiters do this with a recruitment to recruitment company?  Surely, as a recruiter they can see the value of having a strong relationship with an expert that is entrenched in the market.

My advice would be to build a relationship with a recruitment to recruitment company, even if you are perfectly happy in your current role.  If you wait until you are looking, and then put your CV on a website, or apply to an advert then it really is a lottery on who you will be working with and your career is far too important to take this gamble on.  Ask your friends who they rate.  Do you know if anyone supplied in to your own business – how have they done?  Have you been particularly impressed by the way that someone has approached you in the past?  Are they still keeping in touch with you?  Can you get a reference on the r2r?  Who has recommended them on Linked in – could you get in contact with them and ask for an honest opinion?  Do you have any connections in common that you could trust – what are their thoughts, how often have they kept in contact with them?  Is it just when they want something, or are they cultivating a lasting relationship?

There are a lot of bad recruiters out there, but they won’t last long in the r2r market, and so I agree that anyone who has been in the market for a decent amount of time would be worth getting in contact with.  They will be the ones with strong relationships, are well networked and have a good name in the market.  If an r2r isn’t happy to meet you for a coffee on the understanding that it is purely to start a relationship (and that they won’t get an immediate return on the time invested), then I would suggest that they are more interested in ‘quick wins’ rather than relationships and would quickly end the conversation and move on to the next one.

Michael Bowden is Partner at Bowden Mayes – a specialist recruitment company focussed on helping recruitment businesses attract senior management and next generation talent.

An introduction….

Michael Bowden


My name is Michael Bowden and I am a founder of Bowden Mayes; a specialist recruitment to recruitment company focussed on helping businesses attract senior management and next generation talent.

I started my recruitment career in 2001 as junior consultant for a large Public Sector recruitment company. Within 12 months I was promoted to Team Manager as recognition of producing the highest % for sales against target for that year.   I was then approached by the CEO of a headhunting organisation to help build their fledgling recruitment to recruitment division.

I started with the business in 2003 and over the next 6.5 years was promoted steadily to Sales Director and grew the team to 20 consultants. I was also responsible for promoting a Managed Service offering that generated at peak 50% of company’s revenue within 6 months of its inception. Whilst a Director, the business won a number of awards including Recruitment to Recruitment company of the Year at the 2009 Recruiter Awards for Excellence.  I was also included in the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite and Who’s Who of Britain’s Youngest Directors 2009.

It was at this time that, along with my now business partner Kevin Mayes, I saw that the market was changing and that there was a gap for a quality driven consultancy working on a simple networking and headhunting methodology. This meant that we could concentrate our time on building a strong network, acting as a knowledge base for people wanting advice on the market, and only facilitating an introduction when they knew that it is going to be the right for all parties

Outside of Bowden Mayes, I am happily married to Sarah and spend the majority of my time trying to keep my baby daughter Lottie amused.  Other pursuits include indulging my main passion of good food, weekly Squash and Tennis leagues and the occasional 10K run for Charity.