Ten years ago, when the financial and property markets were in boom times, I started a property recruitment consultancy, writes Caroline Kingsley, director of Kingsley. I moved to a small office in Southport, employed an experienced planning recruiter and had growth plans in the pipeline – what could possibly go wrong?
Within a few months, the 2008 crash sent shockwaves across the UK. Suddenly, the only phone calls we received were from nervous and frantic candidates who had lost or were about to lose their jobs. Most clients fell silent.
Despite the flat market, I pressed on with my business plan. The recession couldn’t last forever, so if we could establish the business, brand, contacts, and eventually start to bring in quality consultants to the company over the next two to three years, we would be in a more favourable position further down the line when the clouds of recession started to lift.
The first couple of years were testing – emotionally, financially and physically – and required a lot of resilience and tenacity. By diversifying into other sectors such as legal recruitment, we were able to continue growing.
One legacy of the recession we have experienced is a significant age gap of suitable candidates with around five years’ post-qualification experience. During 2007-2010, fewer students entered property or legal university courses and if they did, there weren’t as many relevant jobs in the market when they graduated in 2010-2013. Evidently, they transferred their skills elsewhere to other industries.
There are some roles and sectors that are suffering from a real shortage of candidates, in particular property lawyers, conveyancers and development surveyors, where redundancies occurred during the recession or candidates never entered the sector a few years back.
Sexism, racism and age-ism still exist in the marketplace, perhaps to a lesser degree year on year, but this stunts growth opportunities for the industry. This is a real shame, especially given the severity of the skills shortage.
Kingsley is now celebrating 10 years in business, and though our business journey over the past decade is not unique, the experience has set us and many other companies in good stead to tackle and adapt to the challenges of an uncertain decade ahead.
- To take part in the Place10 series reflecting on the decade since Place North West was first published in August 2007, send your stories and memories to firstname.lastname@example.org headed ‘10’