Boutique vs Behemoth: How the Little Guys Can Beat the Big Recruitment Firms, with Paul Taaffe, Ep # 129

Last time Paul Taaffe came on the podcast, we heard how this former CFO has enjoyed extraordinary success running a boutique search firm. He revealed how he managed to bill €4,000,000 in revenue with a small team. 

Nearly two years later, Paul is back for his second appearance on the show. You’ll hear fascinating insights on how to gain an advantage over the competition and outperform even the biggest search firms in the world.  

Paul’s philosophy is about providing “return on energy invested.” He and his team provide an efficient service without compromising quality by leveraging their relationships and market knowledge. You’ll learn how he achieves market mastery by carefully cultivating his network so he can deliver a shortlist in 30 days or less.  On multiple occassions, Paul has made a €100,000 placement fee in 7 days!

Paul is the founder and CEO of FINANCE People Solutions (FPS) based in Frankfurt, Germany.  Prior to starting his business in 2014, he was either a CFO or CRO for US global corporations as well as high profile private equity funds and their portfolios where he mastered various change management challenges, from turnaround and restructuring to the implementation of new growth strategies.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:43] Paul shares the latest developments at his firm, Finance People Solutions.
  • [6:15] FPS’ focus market, revenue stream, and marketing strategy.
  • [10:35] How to choose the right client to work with – and when to walk away.
  • [15:30] Coaching your clients on their recruitment process
  • [16:53] Paul’s top tips on how to market a candidate.
  • [20:36] FPS’ new Benchmarking Products as a differentiator
  • [23:30] Why Paul launched his own podcast.
  • [27:26] Why ‘head-hunting’ is an outdated term and Paul prefers ‘resource matching.’
  • [33:58] How to build your brand on LinkedIn.
  • [43:01] Paul reveals what he learned from working for Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder.
  • [51:00] Why Paul likes to hire students when building his team

Choosing the Right Clients

Paul is a fan of positive energy which means he is selective of the clients he works with. He only works with committed clients, no contingency, only retained or exclusive. In our interview, Paul shared his criteria in client selection and when to ‘fire’ or let go of a client.

“If we do not enjoy working together, if the process is not good, in this day and age if you get your hands on top three candidates or two or even one for this matter, we never say we are going to produce a shortlist, we will produce at least one … and the customer is not coming back, not setting up appointments, not picking it up, that is no good we are wasting people’s time,” is how Paul described it. He shared concrete examples based on experience how in some cases it did not work with some clients.

Also, given the current situation in the market where recruitment needs to adapt, how do you coach your compatible clients on improving their recruitment process? Paul shares his best practices.

Marketing and Brand Building Best Practices

Although Paul’s background is in finance, he is actually excellent at marketing. In this interview, you will hear some of his marketing strategies including:

  • FPS Benchmarking Product
  • Podcast
  • Partnership with FINANCE Magazin
  • LinkedIn content

Paul believes US companies are the best at marketing and says his experience at Nike helped him to become a great marketer. 

Why Head-Hunting is a Term of the Past

Another interesting topic we talked about is the term “headhunting” which Paul believes is outdated.  As Paul said, “The difference for us is we have relationships with these people… That is why I don’t like this term head-hunting… I call it resource matching. We match resources. We don’t headhunt people, we have them already in our network. So it is about what is the best position for these people. So it is an evolution from the old headhunting.”

Paul doesn’t need to “hunt” because he’s already mapped his market and curated a strong network. Since he already knows and has relationships with the vast majority of the candidates in his space, he is able to move fast without compromising quality.

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro and Recruitment Entrepreneur.

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Our technology and methodology allow 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: www.recruitmentcoach.com/retained

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Paul Taaffe Bio and Contact Info

Paul is the founder and CEO of FINANCE People Solutions (PFS) in 2014. He has been in the recruitment business since 2014, and prior to that, he was either a CFO or CRO for US global blue-chip companies such as Pepsi Cola, Nike, Lear Corporation, and Dell as well as having worked in Private Equity. He founded the PE Finance Organisation Benchmarking company, Taaffe and Partners in 2011.

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