A commitment to understanding

Running a boutique, highly-specialized, highly-focused, high-touch business is what sets recruitment agency Carrera apart from its competitors.

Business First speaks with managing director Michael Floyd about finding a niche in this highly competitive space.

Michael Floyd says with Carerra, he was trying to fill a massive gap in the recruitment space. While the big guys could go off and provide impersonal, average service, with not a lot of customer satisfaction and a final bill of tens of thousands of dollars, Carrera was set up as a tightly focused, value accretive business that could deliver with speed.

That’s the beauty of being a boutique business, that can get to know its market intimately and understand the trends, issues, challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.

“We’re going to deliver significantly better value than a much bigger competitor who’s trying to be all things to all people and actually failing,“ Floyd says.

“I think we always had a consulting mentality, but we’ve now driven it even further in developing products and having different conversations with clients that led us to having better longer- term relationships.”

Carrera occupies a unique space in the market, particularly with its level of specialisation and attention to customer detail. It’s billed as one of the most sought after talent consultants for sales and marketing roles. And this specialization has seen the business expand across the country to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and also across the ditch to New Zealand.

The best businesses are those that take an interest in their clients, not just take their money. Carrera has made a habit of talking to people and understanding what’s next. In a nutshell, what sets Carerra apart is “being able to get involved much sooner and staying longer in a client’s life. I don’t know of any other competitor that’s positioned exactly the way we are.”

The key, he says, is not to compete on price. That’s a losing strategy.

“Competing is something we avoid completely. There’s a lot more a good consultant, and I say consultant rather than recruiter, can add to a client and to a candidate. They don’t need to use price to gain business. It’s actually not sustainable in a lot of cases.” According to Floyd, developing a high touch business means doing more than just recruiting. It’s very much about being what he calls a “talent consultant”.

As Floyd explains, talent consultants involve themselves in a much broader part of the process than just recruitment. They look at structure and how you engage with the talent market. They make recommendations around salary and process.

“We provide a range of services beyond recruitment like interview skills training. We can audit the recruitment process that you have inside your business right now. With candidates, we’ll actually sit down and spend a lot of time understanding what it is that they want, not from just the job, but from what their life choices or their lifestyle is. We have people coming back to us constantly for advice, which obviously, we’re not getting any money for, but that’s not what it’s about. A talent consultant is an advisor over the long term.”

Floyd believes that overall the recruitment industry has too much of a narrow focus: fill a job or find a job. However there should be a much broader focus that affects people in a much deeper way. He calls it the “ultra-fit recruitment process.”

“It’s a term that we coined internally to make sure that the process that we work through with clients and candidates covers all of the most critical aspects in finding the best talent and finding the right role.”

This still exists and is important, but there’s also personality fit, values, and the various processes of engagement and longevity and lifestyle fit. Questions that are asked include: What does the future hold for the candidate and business? Is there a match long-term?

“So, again, it’s a deeper consulting style that gets a better outcome for both parties, versus the transactional stuff.”

Floyd says success is about building foundations. In the case of recruitment it’s about understanding the absolute depth and breadth of the business’s challenges. What the role is. What the market is. What the customers of a particular business are doing.

The talent and what they will discuss with their wife or husband when they go home. That’s our positioning: we can get deeper into all of those things than anybody else.” While the market has changed a lot since he started the business in 2002, there is one thing that has remained the same: Carrera’s commitment to demonstrate value.

So what does the industry hold for its own future as well as Carrera’s?

“It’s an interesting question,” he says. “I’m not even sure the industry is going to grow. I think at some point in the next decade we’ll see a change in the business cycle as we’ve seen in the past. And I think we might see the number of recruitment companies out there shrink. But I think there’s always going to be a place for businesses like ours. I think what our focus is going to be on is just continuing to work with businesses and help them grow.”

Which is exactly the attitude that has kept this business moving forward and will continue to do in future.



Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.