The E-Harmony of Recruitment Firms
By Carl Kotala
It’s one thing to find your niche in a market, but quite another to dominate it. After seven years of hard work, that’s exactly what Melissa Owens has done with Allied Search Partners, the recruitment firm she founded in 2008.
Allied Search Partners helps laboratories and hospitals find laboratory employees. And when they speak to companies about a potential candidate, those words carry plenty of weight.
“We don’t want to waste the candidate’s time, or our client’s time,” said Brannon Owens, Melissa’s husband and the recruitment manager for Allied Search Partners.
“That’s how we build relationships that we keep over the years with these clients. We only send people that are what they’re looking for,” he continued. “We have good relationships with these clients because of that. If you apply for a job, and your resume goes to human resources, they have no idea who you are. If I send someone to HR, they know me and they say, ‘OK, Brannon, what’s going on with this person?’”
Finding a Niche Market
Allied Search Partners has placed several hundred new employees in labs throughout the country. While competitors recruit anyone from laboratory employees to nurses, janitors, engineers and IT people – which can stretch their resources – Allied Search Partners focuses only on laboratory work.
That was the brainchild of Melissa, who graduated from UCF with a degree in biology. After putting her resume on CareerBuilder.com, she was hired by a healthcare staffing firm to do third party recruiting in 2007. She worked there for a year before deciding to branch out on her own.
“Nowadays, human resources doesn’t do a lot of recruiting,” she said. “They can’t. They don’t have time. They depend on a third party, like our firm.”
It took her two years to establish her client base using her knowledge of the business, and her own education. She didn’t do much marketing back then, and she didn’t have all the bells and whistles at her disposal that she has now. She got out of it what she put in, and what she put in was a lot of hard work.
“It was 90 percent over the phone and email,” Melissa said. “Once in a while, I did mailing campaigns. People just trusted me. I met people. I made the right connections here in Central Florida because I was able to get there by car.”
Though she didn’t do any marketing in the beginning, she did do something ingenious: she created relationships with consultants that built laboratories, because while they could build the lab, they didn’t know how to staff it. Enter Allied Search Partners.
“By connecting with a trusted consultant the lab was using, and with that trusted consultant referring me, it was a way to get in the door,” she said. Within two years, she began to build a substantial client base, and Brannon joined the company full-time in 2010.
Building on the Market
While they used to have an office in Winter Park, they now work out of their home in Daytona Beach. The company has gone completely mobile so job seekers can upload their resumes from their mobile phones. They’ve invested in software and the use of all job-posting sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com.
Whereas larger firms may have 50 employees, there are only one or two dedicated to finding laboratory work. For Melissa and Brannon, it’s a job they have devoted 24 hours a day, seven days a week to.
“Now, we’re working with some of the biggest hospitals in the country,” Brannon said. “We’ve made placements at Emory in Atlanta, Mayo Clinic and Banner Health.”
Because their fees are contingent on a company hiring one of their job candidates, and that employee starting work at the company, the screening process is vital. Though the company will do its own background check and conduct the interview with the candidate, Melissa and Brannon have their own vetting process they conduct through Skype, phone calls or email to ensure the candidate and employer are a good match, and so they can present a full profile.
For instance, if a candidate applies for a job in Ormond Beach, their resume isn’t going to reveal that they have grandparents who live there. While that may not ensure they’ll get the job, it can give them a foot in the door that they may not have otherwise had because it shows that they have ties to the area. Brannon estimated the company places two to five candidates per month, though he noted the market can fluctuate depending on the time of year, who is hiring and other factors.
“With healthcare reform, we’ve seen the permanent placement sector slow down,” Melissa said. “People’s hours were being cut from full-time to part-time. There were layoffs. There have been hiring freezes, and an increasing need for contract staffing.
“That’s why we just launched contract staffing in April. It helps companies with all the rules in the Affordable Care Act. They can hire our candidate’s contract, and not have to offer them health insurance. If they have a big project coming up, they can hire somebody for five weeks, get that project done, and keep productivity going. It should be a big market.”
Growing but Staying on Base
More business, of course, means more work, and that could eventually impact the company’s staffing needs. Melissa said that a big goal for 2015-2016 will be to add two to five motivated working professionals looking for a home-based job to serve as account managers.
As the business continues to grow, however, Melissa and Brannon made it clear that they don’t ever want to get away from the company’s base of working with laboratories, or its philosophy of finding the right person for the right job.
After all, that’s what has gotten the company to where it is today, and that’s why people trust them. “You have to have a track record,” Melissa said. “And especially when you do something this specific, they want to make sure you’re the best at what you do.”