What we think

This is where you can peer into our minds and learn a bit more about us as recruiters, consultants and humans. Expect plenty of insight into Consumer, Retail, Recruitment, and life in our Leeds and London spaces. Some tips from the top and the odd guest appearance. Enjoy and please feel free to leave us a comment!

Career interview: Stewart Wilson, Director at Seven

15th July 2022

As we’re celebrating twenty years of Seven in 2022, it’s only right to speak to the members of the team who have been here since the beginning. Stewart Wilson heads up our London team and in this interview, he talks about changing trends as a recruitment consumer, all things RPO and why he’s (happily for us!) still here!

So Stew, twenty years as a recruitment consumer! I presume when you started as a recruiter over twenty years ago you didn’t expect to spend twenty years here?

I’m not sure what I expected! Before I joined Seven, I’d worked for two years with a generalist recruiter and I left a leadership position there to move to Seven where I could see things were being done better. That’s always been our mantra here and it remains the same today. The recruitment fundamentals and process remain very similar, but we’ve always had that commitment to doing it better than the competition and I’m proud that we still do.

What do you enjoy about recruitment specifically? What does it offer as a career in your opinion?

I’ve got a lot of passion for the industry, meaning both recruitment and consumer. I thoroughly enjoy the chance to make a significant difference to people’s lives as a recruiter and an employer. It’s very simple for me.

We talk a lot at Seven about being Consumer sector experts. What is it about the Consumer industry that interests you and makes it a great place to work?

I feel a connection with agriculture and food; I come from the flatlands of Lincolnshire so it’s part of my DNA but also it’s a very relatable sector; we all need to eat and drink. Innovation within food & drink I’ve always found interesting. I think I might have been one of the last to give up their weekly Grocer magazine subscription…I used to love reading it every weekend! Obviously nobody does that now but I enjoy working with trends and ideas. I wouldn’t feel such a personal connection with another sector.

Which trends stand out for you, across your twenty years?

Well, there’s the rise of the SMEs; smaller brands with products that people really relate to. Naturally eCommerce has exploded as a category. When I first started in recruitment Category Management and Category Development was just emerging, followed by Commercial Strategy and Revenue Growth; proof that businesses are having to work far harder now than they ever have done.

In terms of product categories, we’ve seen so many trends explode and progress; craft beer, no&lo alcohol, plant-based are the most recent ones but coffee stands out for me as a category that doesn’t seem to stop growing.

Can you make any predictions on future trends?!

Ha! In terms of the candidates of the future I will, and we’ve got to mention the drive and focus on data here. Digitally minded, savvy marketers with an analytical edge will be needed to meet the requirement for data analysis. There will naturally still be the sales role, brand marketing and operations but there is now a need for all roles to take an insights-led approach.

In terms of what candidates look for now, have you seen a change in their requirements when you interview?

Businesses with purpose, mission and values are the request of hungry candidates at the junior end of their career. As you get older you take a more pragmatic approach and wait for those right experiences, perhaps not being so financially led. We are seeing more candidates place importance on a business’ D&I policies, their environmental and social approaches, has the organisation addressed its carbon footprint? Candidates are looking for values to align as company culture is becoming a forefront of priority. Hiring Managers should be thinking about this, but the onus is also on everyone in the business to be pushing this internally as well. All of that said, more experienced candidates still place strong business profit at the top of their wish list.

recruitment consumer searching for canidates

What about when hiring for Seven?

Candidates ask about training and development first, and then variety of experience. I’m proud we can offer that variety with our outsourced talent teams. If I look around me at the team in London, we’ve got the majority working in-house for our clients in different embedded talent solutions, plus myself and the consultants who work in the more traditional recruiter role. I’m honest with them that the activity and process is the same, but every day will be different because of the variety of ways we work with our clients.

You’ve mentioned our in-house teams, there so let’s expand on that. Why has it become a popular method for our clients to use?

Businesses will always need to lean on recruiters with sector expertise, database and networks because we can find talent in a talent short market, but with an RPO you’ve got the added value around employed brand proposition, candidate journey, consistency, marketing insights etc. The options are either to use multiple recruiters and dilute the brand message, or partner with an expert and put some real energy behind it. But I would say that!

In this candidate short market we’re all talking about, how can our clients focus on attracting the right people?

I think we all acknowledge there’s a labour shortage in functional areas such as Engineering, and the UK has lost some valuable people for two obvious reasons. In my opinion, other sectors are attracted to FMCG-trained individuals due to their calibre and training, which is compounding that lack of talent. I do think there are challenges that could be addressed; for example I see highly experienced individuals being overlooked by briefs due to age restrictions on the brief. The focus on junior ‘up and coming’ talent can restrict results, and we need to challenge our clients on the hiring profile. In a talent short market and with D&I a focus, we must consider overlooked groups.

What about advice for candidates?

You should partner with an excellent recruitment business to identify the right role in the pile of vacancies…ha! Joking aside, there’s a lot of opportunity and it’s a good time to move, but I’d be strategic about it and consider where that move is taking you.

It’s a buoyant market so recruiters can expect to do well but talent is scarce. So, businesses who aren’t using skilled recruiters will struggle. I’ve had clients who used inferior or alternative services that have underdelivered and have come back to me after a few months with that same brief. It’s not something we shout about a lot but perhaps we should; if you use the right recruitment partner, you’re more likely to get it right first time.


You can find Stew on LinkedIn here.

For further information about working with Seven as a candidate, client or consultant – visit us on LinkedIn or our website.

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