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The Social Agency: How a 10 person recruitment agency beats a 300 person agency

Last Friday morning, we had an insightful chat with Gary Mullan of Prosperity – a rather unique recruitment agency that hire for digital and media people. These guys are boutique – and not just in a sense that they’re quite focused around the industries they recruit for. They’re small, with a team of 10 highly inspired and talented recruiters, and have an office in Dublin’s Clarendon Street (sharing an entrance with another boutique, except of the female fashion kind). But that said, they’re quite a dynamo in the industry. Why? Because compared to traditional recruitment agencies, they do things arse first. They think “Brand first” rather than making placements, which when it really boils down to it is the way they make money.

Prosperity Dictionary Definition

Prosperity started out as a media recruitment agency “10, maybe 11 years ago,” according to Gary, originally under the name of TeCara (“Cara” meaning friend, “te” standing for technology), but Gary realised about 4 years in that not only could their customers not pronounce their name correctly, but it was an awful brand name. They changed their name to Prosperity. A word synonymous with hope, strength, growth and positivity.

Their branding is quite positive too: magenta pink colours, and a smiley face logo. They’re a happy bunch of people, and don’t take themselves overly seriously, although they deal with big clients and serious people all day. You’re greeted to their large shop-floor type office with a polite (albeit magenta pink) sign: “Our logo is a smiley face. Is this going to be an issue?” One would better hope not!

But what’s most remarkable about this boutique recruitment agency is that they’re punching well above their weight, pulling more web traffic than all other recruitment agencies in the country bar two: Cpl.ie (who are comparatively enormous, with over 300 recruiters, a separate marketing team, dedicated IT team…) and MorganMcKinley.ie (another global giant, with several Irish offices and about 800 recruiters). So how does an agency with 10 staff have a larger brand presence than nearly everyone else?

The answer: their social focus.

Gary says it best: “For us it was Brand First. We really focussed on building the brand before making placements… We decided to rebrand and …to own the digital space, working with digital agencies, ad agencies,  ecommerce companies – anything kind of digital. 80% of the roles [we place] are in digital.”

The Prosperity team each manage their own web property, whether it be javajobs.ie or marketingjobs.ie or another URL that Prosperity own. That recruiter is responsible for the content of that site, writing a daily blog, as well as keeping an overall social media focus. They also write content for their main site, Prosperity.ie, writing daily industry blogs that are relevant to their market. Another brilliant content piece: “Why I love Mondays” – is a quick video interview with an industry professional (usually a client!) who’s doing something special in the social space about why they love Mondays, what they love about social, what’s new… all from their trademark magenta pink Happy Seat.

This is Prosperity’s content plan: write content (from scratch – no aggregated content from external sources) that becomes a source of industry news to the marketing and digital media profession. These industry professionals are potential candidates in the making, and Prosperity’s candidate attraction programme is zeroed in on using social media and blogs to pull them in. They’re doing really well on Twitter (Handle: @HappinessWorks – isn’t that lovely!), and candidates are reaching out to Prosperity using Twitter about jobs. They know their market, and are all over it.

We asked Gary what the three most sought-after candidates were in the digital media space:

  • eCommerce Managers (particularly someone who’s managed an eCommerce platform)
  • Display & Search Designers
  • Digital Creatives (strategy)

So why do they do social rather than just focus on placing candidates? “If it was just about jobs for us I wouldn’t be doing it,” says Gary. “To be honest, the recruitment part is essential, but if it was just recruitment I wouldn’t be interested. We needed to do something else as well. While I like recruitment, it’s not everything. That’s why it drove us to look at other things… Content is what brings them [potential candidates] in, they’re interested in reading things on Google, Facebook, Twitter… They see your post and click on it. Next thing, they’re on your site reading it, and they continue to engage with your site.”

Content is key to the success of Prosperity.ie – the third most popular recruitment website in the country. Proof that if you write it, they will come. The manufacturers of laundry detergents figured this out over 50 years ago when they launched “soaps” on the TV Public. By creating content that was relevant and interesting to their specific demographic, they were able to advertise directly to their niche, without it being obvious. 50 years later and most recruitment agencies have yet to figure out this trick. We don’t think it will take much longer before they do!

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