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Tuesday Consulting: Kate Lester, Wendy Spalding & Leigh Swartz

A search firm applies an innovative approach to the recruitment of management.

Juliet Pitman

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Kate Lester, Wendy Spalding & Leigh Swartz of Tuesday Consulting

In the recruitment industry where thousands of practitioners are all competing for a piece of the same pie, getting a competitive edge is tough. But one company identified a gap that no one else was targeting and has carved out a very comfortable niche for itself. By positioning itself as a search firm for middle to senior management, Tuesday Consulting is tapping into a previously un-targeted market.

“Executive search firms are geared towards recruitment at the executive level, while contingency firms focus on recruitment positions at the level below senior management. We realised that there was a gap in the market for a firm to offer a professional, researched sourcing solution aimed at the level just below executives, in other words at middle to senior management,” explains founder Kate Lester.

Her partners, Wendy Spalding and Leigh Swartz, have first hand experience of the search industry, Wendy in executive search and contingency firms and Leigh as a client. Leigh experienced the frustration of trying to source middle management resources through the traditional recruitment channels.

“Executive search firms couldn’t provide what we needed at the middle management level, and contingency firms would just send us a volume of CVs without any critical screening or positioning of our brand. When I heard about Tuesday I realised they were filling all those gaps,” she says. She and Wendy bought into the company and joined as partners in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

From their collective experience in the recruitment industry, the partners realised the value to be gained by conducting intensive research into specific pools of talent. “Search is different to ordinary recruitment because you need to attract people who are not necessarily looking to move jobs.

By building up a profile of the talent pool we were targeting, we develop a fine-tuned understanding of what drives them, what would motivate them to move, what their career aspirations are and what they expect in terms of salary,” says Kate.

“Only once we fully understand these things do we target specific individuals within that talent pool,” adds Wendy. Not only does this increase the likelihood of finding the right person for the job, but it also provides the client with valuable information, as Leigh explains, “Clients gain a better understanding of what potential candidates are looking for, and they can modify their business strategy accordingly.” In an increasingly limited skills market, such information is invaluable in helping companies to attract top talent.

In the search industry, attraction is what it’s all about, as Kate reiterates, “Just as you would sell a candidate to a client, you need to position a client to a candidate. We have a depth of experience not only in sourcing and business strategy, but also in understanding employer branding and the importance of correctly positioning a compelling value proposition to a candidate, particularly at the middle to senior management level where skills are in short supply.”

Wendy adds that in addition to research,strategy and brand positioning, successful search relies on a partnership between the client and search consultancy. “We position ourselves as a partner,both to the recruitment / HR function in a company, as well as to line management. For the process to be successful, we need input from both theseareas,” she says.

One of Tuesday’s biggest challenges is getting clients to invest the time required to provide the team with a comprehensive brief that includes an overview of where the position fits into the company’s overall strategy. “Because at theend of the day, this is not about filling one position – it’s about the full solution. Our role is to help clients to put together a skills plan for the future,” says Leigh.

Fortunately, as Wendy points out, most companies understand how competitive the skills market is. “As our relationship with them grows and they experience the value of what we offer, most companies are willing to put in the time to make the process work for them,” she says. Although only four years old, Tuesday Consulting is already well respected in the industry, and boasts blue chip corporate clients across a wide range of sectors.

And although the company is looking to grow, the partners agree that they never want to get too big.“Because of the need to develop close working relationships with clients, the search business is suited to small boutique firms that provide a personalised service. This is our niche and it’s where we want to remain,” says Kate. As the skills shortage continues to be a challenge for businesses across South Africa, Tuesday and its clients are set to benefit from the solid foundation she and her team have built. Contact: +27 11 325 2802; www.tuesday.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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