Helping the FMCG community throughout COVID-19

‘Business as usual’ has been replaced by ‘adapt and support’ since the outbreak of COVID-19. We are in a rare situation that has affected every country, industry and individual to some extent, so one thing we have felt strongly about at Vertical Advantage is to help people where we can.

Here’s what we’ve done so far to adapt and why we’ve done it.


Proactively helping people who are out of work

Evidently a large chunk of the workforce has been made redundant or found themselves without a job for other reasons linked to the pandemic. Nearly two million people in the UK have applied for universal credit benefits since the beginning of lockdown – that’s six times the normal claimant rate(!).

Having a vast network of FMCG candidates and businesses during a crisis like this, we knew we had to utilise it to do our bit. Not for the sake of additional revenue or expecting something in return, but because it was simply the right thing to do.

Consequently, we have offered to add active job seekers within ecommerce & digital and sales & marketing to open source spreadsheets. These have been shared directly with relevant clients and on LinkedIn.

Click here to access the ecommerce & digital list.

…and here to access the sales & marketing list.

We have also offered candidates the chance to book in time directly into our calendars for them to ask questions, get advice on their job search, or just to have an informal chat about the current job market.

Helpful insights

New working conditions and a shook FMCG and consumer goods market has surfaced questions by candidates and businesses alike, which is why we have posted regular updates on our website and social channels to provide our expertise to share information and provide support.

We’ve taken the pulse on the sector by speaking with clients regularly and outlined what hiring and onboarding has looked like during the pandemic, but also shared articles like how to identify company culture via video call, how to stay engaged with your team and our best bits of advice for current job seekers.

In addition, many businesses in the consumer goods sector have shared interesting market insights with us, which we have proactively shared with our key clients. If you are interested in finding out what these are, please email me on

When we say live jobs, we mean LIVE jobs

Since the early stages of lockdown we have noticed a lot of frustration coming from candidates as they were applying to vacancies online that they came to realise didn’t exist or were in fact put on indefinite hold – something that provided false hope and was a huge time waster. This was and is a big issue and something we didn’t want to contribute to, so the first thing we did when the job market took a downturn was to audit thew jobs we advertised.

You will also see that jobs on our website are advertised differently:

1.  Some of our clients are pipelining for hires they want to make in the medium term. These ads include ‘Talent Pipeline’ in their titles for clarity.

2.  All other ads are for LIVE jobs that we are currently recruiting for.

What next?

Although the consumer space hasn’t been as hit badly as many others, we recognise that some businesses simply don’t have the budget to use a recruitment agency at the moment. And that’s ok.

We want to continue to help all clients in the industry where we can, whether this means helping you find talent for a particular vacancy, providing advice on the current market, or benchmarking your strategy against others.

Feel free to drop me an email on or call me on 07792 544887 if there is anything you’d like to discuss. I’d be delighted to hear from you.



Giving Back

At Vertical Advantage, we know and understand our markets. It’s what we do best.  Due to the collaborative, cross-functional nature of our business we truly invest the time in really getting to know the growth ambitions of both our candidates and clients.

But what’s also personally important to us is giving a little bit back to the community and local charities.

We try to fundraise, donate and offer our time in various ways.

From sponsoring events, through to bake-offs and we also take pride in offering every member of staff at Vertical Advantage paid leave each year to spend time with a charity and offer help in whatever way the charity needs.

These charities are close to the hearts of the team in different ways, with some team members supporting them in their own time.

For instance, our Jayna, Associate Director has been a volunteer since 2013 for a charity called Time to Talk Befriending in Brighton who supports the elderly. They can suffer massively from loneliness and are a lot more vulnerable. Time to Talk Befriending gives Jayna the opportunity to give a small bit of her time back to the community. She especially likes it because she feels it helps ease some of that loneliness.

I’m the newly appointed Senior Marketing Executive, Isabella, I have been the Social Media Manager since July 2018 for ASTRiiD. ASTRiiD connects people fighting long-term health conditions with ambitious businesses seeking skilled volunteers or staff on a flexible basis.

Most recently we organised a Great British Bake Off that was an absolute success. Not only was it an internal showdown we also had our lovely neighbours take part and help finish off all the cake. Somehow we managed to raised nearly £400! 1st place unsurprisingly went to  our Associate Director Andy 2nd place went to me(but I got the most votes so should have won…just saying!) 3rd place went to Rhys (although we’re not sure he made it)

Apart from a reason to eat cake and get competitive, this is for a fantastic cause as all proceeds go to a charity close to our hearts: Macmillan Cancer Support

Why Mac?

We love that this charity helps everyone with cancer live life as fully as they can, providing physical, financial and emotional support.

If you’d like to still donate for a fantastic cause please do here.

We’ve also raised money for Cancer Research on two occasions. Most recently, our senior consultants, Jack Tom, took it to the boxing ring with WCB to raise money for Cancer Research, that was completely sponsored for by our MD David. They trained intensively for 8 weeks. Jack raised £400 and Tom raised £240 above his £500 target! Our X employees, Susan and Kathryn also took part in a Race for Life raising 17% over target.

We’ve also supported these charities the years:

Rainbows Children’s Hospice a Leicestershire based hospice that covers the larger East Midlands Area and offers support and care not only to the children but also to their families.

Battersea Dogs Home this speaks for itself…a nation of animal lovers but unfortunately there are one or two people out there who do not have the compassion or responsibility to look after these wonderful creatures and Battersea will rehabilitate and ensure the dogs go to homes that really care

Demelza Children’s Hospice Demelza provides the best care and support for seriously ill babies, children and young people and their families across East Sussex, Kent and South East London.

Matt Hampson Foundation aim is to provide advice, support, relief and/or treatment for anyone suffering serious injury or disability which has arisen from any cause, but in particular from participation in or training for any sport, sporting activity or other forms of physical education or recreation.

There are always new local causes that come to our attention and if we can give them just a little bit of support we will.

We will keep you updated through the year on what we get up to and (hopefully) how much we have been able to raise.


6 of Our Eco Friendly Business Ideas That You Can Copy

Winter is coming, and this time the White Walkers aren’t to blame. We are!

Yes, climate change is an ever-looming threat to society and, when discussing all things ‘oh no, we’ve ruined the earth’, it’s easy to fall into a pit of existential dread.

But there’s no time for wallowing because time is running out and change shouldn’t be limited to the home. It’s down to big business (and small business) to pull their weight too.

At Vertical Advantage, we know that all too well. We do work in the fast-moving consumer goods space, after all, where climate change is proving a game-changer. Within the FMCG sphere, many massive companies are actively working to lower carbon emissions, respond to consumer concern regarding climate change, and prepare for potential supply chain upsets.

We should be doing our part too. Especially when many people spend more time in their office than they do their living room. Fight that existential dread!

So, while there seems little point in digging into the existential ‘why’ of saving the planet — isn’t it obvious? — let’s dig into the commercial ‘why’.

And, of course, the how.

Use less electricity
Simple? Yes. Effective? Also yes. Think about just how much electricity the average office consumes in one day, between the fridges, computers, coffee machines, and lights.

A lot.

One way to cut down this usage is to simply take stock of just how much energy you’re personally consuming. Do you really need a space heater under your desk? Does the air conditioning really need to be on? (You live in the UK! It’s cold enough!)

Even the smallest reduction in your energy usage will contribute. So, before you leave for the night, turn your computer off completely instead of leaving it to idle on standby while you’re sound asleep.

Another way is for your company to invest in energy-efficient appliances across the board. The short-term expense may be hefty, but the long-term savings will be far more significant.

And another incidental benefit of turning off the lights and other electric accoutrements? Lowered overheads.

I can practically hear the office managers cheering from their cubicles already!

Change energy suppliers
And speaking of those office managers, they might want to look into changing energy suppliers too.

Not only can you win government subsidies if you switch to a renewable energy source, but you’ll also be contributing to…oh, saving the planet.

Cut down on printing
As the old saying goes, most meetings could be emails and, honestly, so could most paper correspondence.

So before hitting print on another inane update, consider simply walking over to your colleague to tell them what you need to instead.

Or, send an email. (But whatever you do, don’t ‘Reply All’. And definitely don’t just print the email anyway, either.)

If you’re really itching to work with a pen and paper instead of a keyboard though — some people are wired differently, after all — try a tablet out for size or invest in a digital notebook instead.

As for those informational leaflets? Consider whether they’re really necessary.

Promotional materials? We’re living in the internet age! Put down the paper.

However, if you do end up using paper, make sure to recycle it afterwards. That goes for cardboard and even plastics (where possible).

Be a conscious consumer
Aside from reducing your paper usage in the office, you should also think about what you’re buying, as well as its carbon footprint and packaging.

Wrapped in reams of plastic? Pop it back on the shelf.

Ahead even of recycling your waste, the best thing to do is reduce it altogether. It’s not called ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ for nothing!

After all, not everything you put in recycling will be recycled. Black plastic is a notoriously difficult material to recycle, for instance.

So, reconsider your consumer habits in the first place.

Get on ya bike! (Or bus, whatever floats your boat.)
Travel is a major contributor to climate change.

With an office full of staff members each doing their own round-trip to work and back each day, those (somewhat indirectly) company-caused emissions add up.

If the option is open to you, try walking to work instead.

Or use the Tube!

At least one of these methods will have you feeling fitter in no time, too.

Alternatively, invest in a bike and a decent helmet.

Here at Vertical Advantage, we have a Cycle to Work scheme where you can get discounts on bicycles.

Save money and the planet in one fell swoop?

What more could you want!

Buses are always a better option than cars too, especially for the exercise-averse.

Let’s put it this way: as long as you’re not chugging along in your city-centre Land Rover every day, then you can probably rest easy regarding your travel habits.

Purge the office kitchen
Does your office get fresh food delivered?

Does your office throw out many a half-mouldy banana at the end of the working week?

If so, you need to change up your attitudes to food waste too.

Order less food or even order none at all! Because once you combine the carbon footprint of that probably-foreign piece of fruit, plus the delivery, you have to wonder if it’s really worth it.

Alternatively, make a concerted effort to use up all the food. Everyone likes banana bread, right?

Go Green
All of the above is about ‘going green’ to a certain extent, but you can also switch out common office supplies for environmentally-friendly ones too.

Biodegradable bin bags and recycled paper and notebooks are great places to start, as is investing in a real set of metal cutlery. That way, you can do away with the plastic disposables in no time.

In short, where the environmental option exists, take it.


Like any company, Vertical Advantage is always looking for ways to implement and expand upon the above actions.

But there’s always room for improvement when it comes to our green practices and collectively taking ownership of our company-wide carbon footprint.

Sure, we still have a way to go in implementing a paperless office (the dream!), but we’re on the right path.

Are you?


What our clients say about us when we’re not in the room

We think we’re pretty great… but don’t just take our word for it!

Here’s what our happy clients say about us:


“The Vertical Advantage team have proven to be a value-adding talent acquisition partner for us. In a fast-moving, candidate-driven market, we need partners who act with pace and really understand their candidate network. Trust and transparency is crucial to the success of the partnership and we have faith that the Vertical Advantage team will deliver whenever we ask for their support.”
Talent Acquisition Manager at 


“I have worked with Vertical Advantage for a number of years and highly recommend them. They understand my needs and business constraints, tailoring their search accordingly. This is combined with the right level and style of communication to suit my needs, enabling an efficient, yet personable approach and (most importantly for me) the right result… a great Category team. They have a refreshing, clear and straightforward approach to the recruitment process.”
Head of Category at 


“Spot on and professional! I have been working with Vertical Advantage since 2015. Their coverage of the FMCG/Retail sector is excellent and the calibre of candidates recommended by the team has been extremely high. I like the no-nonsense approach, their ability to quickly understand our needs and the importance of fit when hiring for Land Securities. It is so comforting to know that one quick phone call gets the ball rolling!”
HR Manager – Retail and Learning & Development – 


Taking Vertical Advantage on New Adventures: An Interview with Jo Miller, our new Commercial Director

Tell us about the role you do for Vertical Advantage?

I’ve joined Vertical Advantage as Commercial Director. Essentially, I’m here to support the growth of the business, giving extra managerial support and assisting with developing our operational structure.

Tell us about your career so far. How did you arrive at where you are today?

I’ve worked in recruitment since I was 21 years old. I have always loved the industry and the challenges that it’s offered me.

I started as a permanent and temporary consultant in a High Street secretarial recruitment firm and progressed to Branch Manager. After this, I had the opportunity to help them develop their brand and open a new London office, working with some amazing people. After a stint working at accounting recruitment firm Robert Half, I took the plunge and left to launch a high-end secretarial brand from scratch. I switched from in-house to consultancy for many years, which gave me the chance to work with a number of owner managers and was a great experience. Following my 20 years+ in the industry, I found my way to Vertical Advantage and I’m excited to be here.

What excites you about working for Vertical Advantage?

Without a doubt, the biggest appeal of Vertical Advantage is the people. We’re not like other recruitment agencies. Everybody is so different, people can be themselves and we have a wonderful collaborative approach to working. Our MD has fostered a culture of positivity, where people are encouraged to learn and develop, including from their failures. People are taken on a journey where they are trusted and they’re able to achieve.

What do you feel sets Vertical Advantage apart from other recruiters in this space?

Vertical Advantage really is true to our specialisms. Our consultants know their verticals and industries inside and out. But it’s more than just industry knowledge. What makes the team different is how personal they make it. The consultants know their clients and candidates on a truly individual basis. They retain the personal contact, which is essential. It’s not just the team that works like this, it’s the power of the MD and the way he manages to keep his network at the same time as leading the company. He keeps relationships going with people and they want to do business with him.

What are the opportunities and challenges facing you in your role?

The most significant opportunity is taking our success story to market! The essence of our story is the effectiveness of what we do – understanding our clients and their growth journey. We’re truly consultative, for example when we’re working with up and coming food brands, we grow with them.

When it comes to challenges the biggest one facing us is time. There’s so many fantastic brands to work closely with and of course our time isn’t unlimited!

Tell us about the impact you would like to make to Vertical Advantage as a business?

I’m thrilled to be able to add value to each individual in the team. Recruitment starts at the desk, with the quality of individual consultants and the relationships they have around them. I can’t wait to make an impact by improving ratios of efficiency and developing client relationships, supporting our consultative approach.

I’m committed to helping our consultants fulfil their potential. Short term, that’s providing consultants with the tools they need to develop their already successful desk. Long-term as we get bigger, my goal is to provide career opportunities as their desks become more successful, such as specialisation in their market.

Strategically, sales plan of the business so Vertical Advantage can build on its success to date which we’ve achieved through our networks.

How do you see the recruitment sector changing and progressing in the next few years?

Of course, it goes without saying that technology will continue to influence recruitment. I also think the diversity question is a huge point for discussion. Successful businesses have diverse workplaces and I believe lack of hierarchy is key in achieving this – it’s important to let people help shape a positively diverse environment. Diversity directly impacts loyalty from employees.

Describe your personality in 3 words

Humorous, resilient and gregarious!

If you were an item of food and drink, what would you be and why?

I would like to be a lovely G&T – classic, refined and the drink of champions!


Hitting the Slopes Vertical Advantage Style

Incentives in recruitment are nothing new, in fact they are as common as hearing “I’m about to step into a meeting” during a BD call. It’s also common that big incentive like trips to LA/Bali/New York/Barcelona are usually just for the top billers.

It’s different at Vertical Advantage as our big incentives are always for the whole business. This year’s incentive was a long weekend ski trip to Morzine in the French Alps. Hitting target wasn’t an easy task but we all pulled through and reached it in the last few days of December. They say Christmas miracles do happen, but this one was down to the hard work of everyone!

The day of the trip
The day arrived and one by one we rocked into the office with big smiles. When we arrived at the airport we met Sue, Jo, Julia and Rich and were on our way!

After landing in Geneva, we split into two taxis. Our taxi driver was a delightful chap from Middlesborough #UTB and he was playing absolute bangers – safe to say the mood was as good as signing an exclusive PSL with an account worth 150k a year. We arrived at the hotel late that evening and settled into bed with a big day of skiing ahead of us.

Leaving day highlights:

* Airline staff telling us off repeatedly en route – we were enjoying ourselves!
* Jules and Dale getting lost at Geneva airport

Day 1
We had a 7.30am meet in the dining room for breakfast before grabbing our ski passes and equipment. Mood was brilliant, not a sore head in sight! The group was split in 2 – one group consisted of five elite skiers and the other consisted of Bambies on ice.

Now it’s safe to mention that there were 10 of us who had never worn ski boots before, so walking was a sight which I can only leave to your imagination… We were led up the mountains on the chairlift, Jack and I in a lift full of fearless 7-year olds, whilst we looked like we were in a helicopter ready to land on Guadalcanal, during World War Two.

The elite group had gone off on the black, red and blue slopes, performing some Shaun White-esque stunts, comparable to bringing on four new clients in a day. The second group were gearing up for our lesson with ski instructor Tom, who was worth every penny (shock his name was Tom – good at what he does). By the end of the lesson we were all snowploughing our way down the nursery slope with ease.

After a quick lunch, we set off conquering the green slopes and confidence was brimming. Now comes a story that shows how ambitious we are – JC, AA, JM, TV and I had met up with DH & DJ (splinter group of the elite skiers). From here on, I can only say we were sold a dream by the best salesperson in the business, whom I will not name. We were convinced down a blue slope, 4500 metres, bearing in mind we have three hours of ski experience in our lives – in recruitment terms, it was like trying to make a placement with a business who have a strict PSL, on the same day.

Instantly, AA shot off on the wrong path and into the abyss. JC, JM and I, a mixture of confidence and naivety, followed DJ down. We all fell multiple times, but under the encouragement of our leader/enemy we got up each time with a smile on our face. Until we got to a slope that was simply too steep to fall down – not to worry, off our skis came and the three of us tobogganed down on our bottoms (it was honestly the most fun I’ve had in a while). We made it and re-joined the rest of the team at après ski for a well-deserved drink or three.

Dinner at the hotel and was filled with wine, beer and fish & chips. There were still four portions of fish & chips leftover after dinner, and DJ had bet I couldn’t finish it – we don’t do KPIs at Vertical Advantage but regardless, targets don’t phase us. Bosh, easy as you like, just a bit of ketchup on my top and I was done.

That evening some of us headed into Morzine to a bar and then onto a club – we know how to let our hair down, work hard, play hard and all that.

Day 1 highlights:

* All of us for mastering the green slopes
* Andy for flying through the trees like a bat
* Rich getting serious air on his snowboard
* Jo for soldiering on despite having a cut on her hand
* Taz for getting called out at dinner for being too loud
* The bar for destroying our credit cards
* Sue for her words of wisdom and excellent timings

Day 2
Day 2 started out as grey as a client putting a role “on hold”. A few of us had not made it downstairs for the early breakfast call or skiing! According to some of the elite group, who had of course gone out to the slopes, the visibility was poor.

After lunch, the group were split. Some had decided to take in the culture of Morzine, beautiful chalets with roofs covered in snow. Others decided to taste the local ale (for market research, obviously). And some (me included) decided we’d do both and see how the French enjoy sports on a Saturday – Manchester United vs Liverpool, Ireland vs Scotland and France vs England in the 6 nations.

In the evening, we had dinner at a lovely restaurant in town with unbelievable food. Oysters so fresh you could taste the pollution from the sea, raclette as smooth and silky as a Lindt chocolate advert and pastry as flaky as a candidate who verbally accepts an offer and is never heard from again.

As we had a fairly early flight to catch, we decided to not stay out too late as we may get water poisoning again *cough*. However, the night was still young so a few of us decided to have a nightcap in the hotel lounge whilst playing a game of Articulate. It was all fun and games until JC and I beat DJ and JK, which was completely fair. It ended with cards scattered around the room – just imagine Dennis the Menace attempting to perform a card trick.

Day 2 highlights:

* Dale for not even making it down to breakfast
* Everyone who made it skiing
* Jack and I wearing turtle necks and being voted best dressed
* Andy doing who knows how many shots in a row
* The dog that followed me, JC, AP & Dale home (we genuinely don’t know where it is now)

Round up
To put it simply, the trip was fantastic. This was Vertical Advantage enjoying something we had all worked hard for, as one. I would compare it to one of my past companies, but to be completely honest, nothing has been close. We had somehow managed to make a 2-day holiday feel like a week-long trip – we are recruiters after all, getting lots of quality in, in a short period of time (it’s how we hit our incentive (last time I mention that – promise!).

I’d like to say a massive thank you to DJ on behalf of everyone for the trip and for making Vertical Advantage a great place to work.

Plus, big thanks to Belinda for organising the trip, Taz for sorting out the ski lessons (I’d like a refund for the second day!) and thanks to all the candidates, clients, friends and family of Vertical Advantage that made this all possible – I don’t do Oscar acceptance speeches, but if I did, they’d probably be the greatest speeches in the world.

Tom Disapong
Co-signed by Jack Clark
Aka the turtle neck twins


Scaling new heights in recruitment: An interview with industry veteran Steve Carter

Vertical Advantage is lucky enough to be working with the hugely experienced and knowledgeable Steve Carter from Elite Squared. As our Non-Exec Director, he provides not only exceptional industry expertise and know-how but does so with humour and charisma, making him the perfect partner for our business. I invited Steve in for a coffee to talk about his life in recruitment and gain his unique insight into the industry now and in the future.

Tell us about your career and how you got to where you are today

I am an accidental recruiter! I trained in accountancy but ended up moving into recruitment in 1986. I was looking for a better paid job so I went to see a recruitment consultant in Sydney. The consultant suggested that I become a Recruitment Consultant myself – so that’s what I did.

My first boss took me under his wing and set me up well. I billed immediately and broke sales records in my first month. What started as an adventure for me, stayed as an adventure! That’s the theme of my working life.

I began working in Australia for Hays and was then headhunted by the specialist Accountancy, Finance and Banking division of ADIA. I was initially responsible for a business relaunch/turnaround project but was seconded to lead a project to bid & secure the exclusive recruitment rights to the Sydney Olympic Games. Winning that contract really accelerated things for me and I was subsequently transferred to Singapore to head up the company’s South East Asian operations. This was an amazing opportunity which included a ‘once in a career’ opportunity to be part of a team that brokered a deal with the Chinese government to set up the 1st licensed employment agency in China!

ADIA merged with ECCO and I was relocated to London with the newly formed Adecco. I was then headhunted by Robert Half, and took over as their MD in 2000 and with the support of a great team we grew the businesses dramatically over the next 5 years.

After so much experience, I wanted to invest in a business and, in partnership with Premier Group (Ireland), made a number of strategic acquisitions which formed the global agency Morgan McKinley. As part of my board responsibilities I found myself back in China (!) working with the local team on the opening their office in Shanghai as well as taking responsibility for operations in Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

Back in London in 2014, I had the urge to leave big recruitment and work with people who were really making a difference in the industry. This desire pushed me to set up my own consultancy. My consultancy works with SME recruitment agencies, inspiring recruiters to have the courage to change. As 75% of SME recruiters fail in 2 years, I guide them to understand that they must change with the industry if they want to survive.

And what about the role you do for Vertical Advantage?

My role at Vertical Advantage is two-fold. I work with David as the owner/manager to support him and challenge him. I’m here for him to check in with, bounce ideas off and generally push him as an owner to keep developing his business. As well as this, I’ve got a strategic role. I introduce strategic concepts to the business that help make it sustainable and avoid potential issues in the future.

I’m a firm believer in business owners working ON their business and not just working in it. It’s important for them to look at the big picture to develop and survive, to take time to focus on marketing and branding and to build on insights and ideas.

Vertical Advantage is now in an exciting place! They’re investing in their people and in marketing and branding. They are focusing on their specialisms so they can become the market leader and go-to recruitment provider in their sectors. They’re aligning themselves with exciting growth businesses (just like their own) like artisan food brands and funky, digital start-ups. As well as long-term relationships with larger FMCG businesses, they are working with creative next generation brands who are ahead of the curve.

How has Vertical Advantage changed in the time that you’ve been working with the company?

Vertical Advantage has gone through the key stages of a small recruitment business that is starting to fulfil its vision. It started off in what I like to call ‘survival mode’ where the MD did it all. It then became a business which gained some maturity, building its team of consultants. David steered the ship in a good way. Now it really is a ‘business with a soul’. It’s built on David’s values. The company culture and team values are truly genuine. It’s a business full of nice people who independently are the protectors of the soul of the company. The cultural affinity of Vertical Advantage leads to its success.

What do you think differentiates Vertical Advantage from other recruitment agencies?

There’s lots of ways in which Vertical Advantage is different from other recruitment agencies. It’s boutique, specialist and individual. They focus on their specialisation which sets them apart. Also, the quality of their consultants is a massive part of it. They would rather do a good job or no job! They’d never ‘sell’ a ‘bad’ candidate because they understand the importance of their reputation.

Vertical Advantage understands the industry and that agencies need to develop to survive. They understand that the industry is changing, that life is online and that the recruitment industry needs to be moving towards the talent instead of expecting the talent to change their ways. Importantly, Vertical Advantage is in tune with the ongoing shift in ‘buyer behaviour’ in the industry and reflects that.

What do you think are the main challenges for recruitment businesses in the private sector in 2018?

I’d say that one of the main challenges for recruitment businesses is simply not enough leadership. Leadership is perpetuating bad habits from the past, shaped by their own experiences. Newer managers in the industry are up for taking risks, whereas older managers and current leaders aren’t necessarily up for taking the risks that are needed. I see how many recruitment businesses are gripped by financial fear. They’re scared of change and the ‘what ifs’.

Another key challenge is for recruitment businesses to work out where they add value. The traditional focus of recruitment agencies was business development but now it’s a candidate business. Professional people exist in pools online and the challenge to recruitment businesses today is to be uber niche and specialist in your area so that you can add value.

What do you think are the main opportunities for recruitment agencies and consultants in 2018?

I think there is huge opportunity for recruitment agencies to become more holistic in their approach. They have the opportunity to move beyond just the mechanical approach to getting people a job.

There’s a big opportunity for agencies to diversify into affiliated recruitment related areas, for example psychometric testing. As recruitment agencies diversify into offering other services there is room for growth.

What are the biggest changes to the recruitment industry that you’ve seen over the years? Any predictions on changes to come in 2018 and beyond?

Looking back now, what seemed and felt like seismic changes to the industry over the last 30 years were not actually that big a change after all. Right now is when we are going through seismic changes in the industry.

We’re experiencing a massive cultural shift in the workforce, flexible working being just one example of this. The growth of AI is hugely significant and is just one factor that will be shaping the jobs that exist in the market. AI will make some jobs redundant and new jobs will exist in the future that don’t exist today – technology based jobs, after we’ve gone through what some people call the 4th industrial revolution.

The knock-on effect to recruitment will be massive. There’ll be brand new types of jobs, like new disciplines of data scientists and strategists, plus a different generation (beyond the Millennials) ready to fulfil them. The biggest changes to the industry are now.

Predictions for now and beyond – I think the internal HR department as we know it in business will become less fashionable and HR as a notion will disappear. Instead, I can see the concept being broken down into specialist areas and people becoming experts in individual specialist areas like diversity or mobility.

For the recruitment industry, they need to adjust to the changing times. A job is part of human DNA, a rock-solid element of life and the recruitment industry needs to evolve to play a wider role.

What is your most crucial piece of advice for recruitment businesses to follow to be successful?

My main advice for owners is that they need to be opened minded about how they represent the market they serve – essentially not just behaving the same as they did for the last 25 years and expecting it to work.

SME business recruitment owners are often gripped by fear of losing profits which prevents them from changing for fear they’ll go broke. My advice is, you must change or you will go broke! Innovate or die. Change and grow. Don’t be gripped by fear. Get over the wall that may be standing in your way, get good advice and always innovate!

How do you see the industry in the future?

I think the conventional recruitment agency will be gone as buyers of recruitment will be looking for a different type of service. I think there’ll be a growth in Peer 2 Peer platforms in the recruitment industry, copying our interest in them in other scenarios, as people look for recommendations for candidates. But these platforms can make the hiring of individuals a much more disposable process.

This is where the recruitment agency can step up – offering compliance, background knowledge, dealing with issues and more – that’s what will be the USP of the agencies of the future.


‘Look into my eyes’ …….. our MD’s predictions for an eventful 2018!

Here we are in January. The year lays out ahead – what’s it going to look like?

We grabbed half an hour with our MD, David, to get his predictions for the year ahead and opinions on some of the trends the recruitment space can expect to see over the next 12 months.

As usual he was happy to share his opinions…….

What do you think are the main economic issues & changes we are facing right now?

Of course the most obvious economic change will be the on-going discussion around Brexit. We’re a recruitment company that focuses on professionals in the private sector, so when it comes to this topic and its repercussions, we couldn’t be more in the eye of the storm.

Clearly, one of the main areas going to be affected by Brexit is the movement of talent. We will have fewer professional workers coming into the UK which will impact the talent available to fill roles and create a skills gap that needs to be plugged – and potentially a big problem in terms of easily finding those skills.

Interestingly, we haven’t heard of clients that are contingency planning for Brexit as yet or that have in place ‘Brexit talent strategy’ from a recruitment perspective…….. I am sure this will be something businesses embed this year.

As something slightly more left field that’s impacting our society, I predict our interest blockchain & cryptocurrency to grow. This could bring with it a wave of amateur investors – in fact if our office is anything to go by, its already started! Wider than this, I believe cryptocurrency will have an effect on retail and many will start to look at this as a viable form of payment in 2018, which will generally mean the most sceptical of consumers need to take it far more seriously.

What do you think are the key consumer trends on the rise?

Convenience continues to be increasingly important to consumers. Our interpretation of convenience is so different to how it used to be. No longer does it mean a visit to the corner shop, but it has evolved across the consumer landscape, particularly into digital services, such as the Amazon dot which drops your shopping at your house when you’re not there!

I think the desire for convenience is on the rise because people value their free time and view it as their most precious commodity. ABC consumers are trying to get time back for the gym, kids, cooking and holidays and have their finger on the pulse for developments that help achieve this. I recently used laundrapp when my washing machine broke – the service was exceptional and solved a problem with minutes, with minimal fuss.

There is a knock-on effect on businesses too. I can see that companies that give people the gift of time, whether that’s through working from home or increased working flexibility, are those that are going to win the never-ending war for talent. The traditional 9-5 norm is changing fast – we are moving towards a more task oriented work environment where people deliver against expectations. A recent brief for an Operations Manager with a tech business in the fine wine space came with global flexibility in the location for the role – the MD’s view was that if the right person is happiest working on a beach in Hawaii, then that was fine with him!

What are the current recruitment trends in the FMCG & Consumer sector?

In 2018, I envisage that top tier FMCG businesses will get better at tapping into the existing pool of Interim talent – this could be a concrete way to plug the talent shortage from Brexit.

In the FMCG and Consumer industry we have seen businesses flip-flopping back and forth between using internal recruitment teams and outsourcing to agencies. This year, I think there will be an increase in businesses moving towards outsourcing to a greater degree. FMCG businesses will look to carry as little fixed cost as possible and therefore outsourcing will feel like a more controlled way of managing this.

As the year progresses, I think the steps taken by FMCG brands to invest in digital will continue to grow. The days of a Brand Manager doing it all should start to move behind us as FMCG companies focus on fine tuning their digital offering and place more emphasis on recruiting specialist digital talent – watch this space as it’s one of the most competitive sectors I have seen for years!

Do you think HR Managers and Line Managers on the same page when it comes to recruitment planning?

It’s hard for HR and Line Managers to be on the same page when it comes to recruitment and there tends to be a disconnect of priorities which can hinder the process. HR Managers are impacted by the wider corporate environment and have various considerations such as procurement, budget and timescales. Line Managers have these elements to consider, but their inclination is to be far more focused on their NEED and the quality of candidates. This explains why they are more inclined to engage in a conversation around speculative candidates, even if they don’t have a live vacancy, providing they can see the long-term value the individual can bring.

HR & Line Managers need to find more common ground early in the process or there will continue to be an imbalance in how they prioritise cost, time and quality of hire.

Do you think the current style of recruitment differs between the large corporates and SMEs?

Without a doubt!! In SMEs, it’s often the MD or the most senior person who drives the hiring process, which has both pros and cons. Nearly all of the SMEs we work with rank securing the best candidate for the role above other factors, like cost or time. They prioritise the hiring of staff above other needs. SMEs are generally much better at engaging with people through social channels and sell themselves a lot better which contributes to their talent attraction strategy.

Within larger corporates, understandably there are more layers and a more structured hiring process. While there are good things about this, the most noticeable impact is the lack of human contact in the more automated process.

Do you believe it is possible that the FMCG & Consumer sector’s approach to talent attraction & retention can change in 2018?

Any major changes are unlikely if I am being honest.

We live in a short-term (snap chat!) society. Corporates make decisions based on quarterly results and city announcements meaning that a change of mindset is like steering the titanic away from the iceberg. We all know times are changing and those (millennials predominantly) entering the world of work are looking for more. They want a purpose. Graduate schemes of the top tier FMCG businesses of 20 years ago are no longer automatically at the top in terms of desirable avenues for school leavers / graduates. Other industries are making more interesting and attractive opportunities for that talent and I can’t see any great innovations from the Food & Drink sector that are winning their hearts and minds at present.

Greater collaboration within the FMCG sector and an increased focus on improving working practices could help push forward a shift in attitude and a change in mindset in 2018 and beyond. I hope this happens as the FMCG & Consumer sector is a great industry to get into – it would be a real shame to see the level of exceptional people entering the space continue to decline.

What are you most looking forward to in 2018?

Personally speaking, it’s going to be a really exciting year for Vertical Advantage. We have hired some exceptionally talented people in the 2nd half of 2017 so I am looking forward to seeing them grow, we have just doubled our office space and we have a company ski trip in March which is going to be a lot of fun!!

From an FMCG market perspective, I am most interested in following the growth of SMEs that breakthrough in 2018 & start to make the kind of impact that the likes of Lily’s Kitchen, Pip & Nut and Ugly Drinks have in recent times. There has been so much innovation in this space in the past few years and I am proud to say that the budding entrepreneurs who have set up many of these businesses are previous clients and candidates I have worked with over the years…… I will be watching on with interest!


3 Peaks Challenge for Freya

The Head of our Marketing Division was part of a team that completed the 3 Peaks Challenge this weekend in aid of #acureforfreya. In Andy’s own words………..10,000 ft of ascent, 44km walked, 1 hours sleep in 26 hours…… In spite of all that it was a phenomenal weekend, and we’ve so far raised over £3.5k, with the hope of getting to £4k this week. Just missed the 24hr target – already planning for next year to go back and beat it!……..A great effort Andy. Well done to you and all the team.


10 reasons why you might LOVE working for Vertical Advantage

Let’s face it:

Finding a job in recruitment is tough! Especially in London!

There are thousands of companies and even more jobs to consider.

But what really make’s it confusing is how many businesses seem to all appear pretty much the same and work in exactly the same “salesy” way.

So with this in mind, how do you work out where is the best cultural fit and who will support you most in career development?

We truly believe we genuinely offer a different proposition.

Here are 10 points as to why we think working here is great. (P.S. If you share our values you’ll probably agree too!)

1. Our people come first

Every single day each one of us works to make Vertical Advantage a better business and a more enjoyable effort. That’s the personal responsibility of everyone in the business, not just mine or the leadership team, and we all appreciate this.

2. We’re good at the job

Our team is a combination of talent, experience, and sheer hard work. You’ll learn by osmosis, every single day, and in doing so, you help make the company what it is: a team of experts who love their work.

3. We’re led by quality

We don’t create harmful KPIs for CV sends or time on the phone. We know that quality takes time, thought, and sometimes negotiation, and we want you to find the best people and options for our treasured client base.

4. We’re grown up

Seriously, if you need to work from home because a fridge is being delivered from Argos any time between 8 am and 8 pm, that’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Just log on remotely, and crack on with your day. We trust our employees.

5. We help each other

With the wide range of skill sets, ambitions, and client requirements we see every day, the opportunities for cross-selling are vast. No desk is ever truly cold. Your colleagues are not over-protective about their clients and candidates and will want to see you succeed.

6. We have a strategy

Sounds sensible, doesn’t it? We know from experience that many recruitment businesses bounce from one idea to the next. At Vertical Advantage, we know where we are going, and we know how to get there.

7. We have meaningful values

You can find our values on our website. Have a read, but understand that these literally describe the reality of working at Vertical Advantage. They explain how we work with our audiences, both external and internal, and because we favour a straight-up approach, buzz words are banned here.

8. We offer a career, not a job

We’re hot on continuing professional development here, and you’ll find a variety of options to help you develop your career the way you want. Our experience helps us understand how you can get the best out of yourself in order to progress.

9. We’re passionate

It’s not about filling jobs (although sure, that’s a side result of our efforts), it’s about working in a sector we love and understand. The best way to capture this is to read some of the blogs we have published. Please check out our .

10. Our people come first

We didn’t want you to lose sight of the overriding purpose of the business. Our people make our business what it is, and we’d be nothing without them.

Want to join the tribe?

After all of this, if you think your values are aligned with ours, then please apply via our website application form at the bottom of the page.

But remember:

We DON’T want your CV.

And we don’t want a corporate sounding covering letter with lots of buzzwords you think we might want to hear.

We are sure you are ‘driven and personable’ and you are ‘both motivated to work as an individual or as part of a team’ but we’d like to know something different!

From there, we will be in touch to arrange a coffee, and we can get to know each other informally, without going through a strict interview process.

We look forward to hearing from you.


A new website for Vertical Advantage

Drum roll please!

With a bright and shiny refresh of our brand identity, Vertical Advantage is pleased to reveal our new website with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a professional recruitment agency with your future in mind.

Since our launch in 2012, Vertical Advantage has always been sure of its identity. We recruit permanent, contract, and interim professionals in key vertical markets such as food and drink, consumer products, retail, marketing and media agencies, and many more besides.

You can guess where our name Vertical Advantage originated!

But four years on, in these fast-changing times, we became acutely aware our current digital presence was not quite where we needed it to be.

We embarked on a marketing journey to understand what we wanted to say and how we wanted to be perceived by the market. We also looked at some data (Google Analytics) to understand how our existing users interacted with our site.

The new website is a result of all of this work and so much more, and we are delighted with its results. We were able to address a few key issues, and introduce some great new features that we are sure our customers and employees will love!

Smarter Job Search
The job search on our previous site was a little bit clunky. Our revised job search enables candidates to search by salary or day rate first, and then offers a streamlined version that lets users be really specific about what they want to see. We also built in a keyword search from the home page, which replicates the ‘Google’ experience that we know many of our users trust.

Modern look and feel
The style of the website is, of course, crucial to that great ‘first impression’. Aligning Vertical Advantage more closely to the forward-thinking FMCG and consumer brands we do business with, made a lot of sense. We wanted to modernise Vertical Advantage without losing our original vision for the brand that made us unique. To get there, our team worked collectively with our agency partners to decide on a final identity that suited who we are now. We wanted the logo to be modern, future-proof, social-media friendly, and to build affinity with our target markets.

Mobile optimised
We realised many of our users (job seekers and clients) increasingly access our website on their mobile and tablet devices. Not only that, all the data out there tells us to think ‘mobile first’. Our previous site was not mobile optimised, so users found it harder to access the information they wanted from us.

So yes! Our new site is now fully mobile optimised, and in addition, it can now accept mobile applications for job roles. Just attach your CV from your device, Dropbox or Google Drive storage. You can apply for your perfect role on your commute or even in the middle of lunch!

Go on, take a little look on your mobile device if you haven’t already!


Our Engage Page
Because we understand the power of online marketing, the VA team now produces more social media and blog content than ever before. This helps us demonstrate our market expertise, as well as our personal passions in the world of food and drink. Our old website just didn’t do this justice, so now we’re so happy that our new website has a clever ‘social wall’ feature. We’ve called it our ‘Engage Page’, because it pulls in our latest original content, including our LinkedIn and Instagram feed.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page to be the first to hear of our latest blogs, insights and news!

Showing off the Vertical Advantage Culture
Vertical Advantage is a great place to work (ask any of our team)!

In 2016 we did a huge piece of work to define our culture and articulate what makes us unique. We distilled this into 3 key values:

  • We’re straight-talking and down to earth
  • We work hard, but we also work smart
  • We’re innovative, agile and open

​Our ‘Join us‘ area on our website really brings our values to life, in a simple yet dynamic way that reflects our culture properly. Our team are very social and we love to explore the best places in London, so keep an eye on our live Instagram feed, where you can find all our latest team outings, gossip, and of course visits to London’s best eateries! We hope we can use this to attract more great talent to our business.

As with any digital project we know the hard work is not over yet and we will continue to monitor and evolve our presence to reflect our customers’ needs.

So, please check out our new website and let us know what you think.