Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

RECRUITMENT SPOTLIGHT - Lee Biggins, Founder & CEO, CV-Library

Onrec sat down with Lee Biggins, the Founder and CEO of CV-Library. At CV-Library, it's their goal to make it quick and easy for companies to connect with the right candidates.

Onrec: How did you get started in recruitment and how did the idea of CV-Library surface?

I had an entrepreneurial streak from a young age. As a teenager I would sell cold drinks to fishermen and wash cars to make money. After working for my dad’s carpet-fitting business, I knew I wanted to run my own companyI found the job-search process painful and quickly saw the need for an easy-to-use online job board that would benefit both job hunters and recruiters

I took advantage of the dot-com boom, and bought a computer for £849 and an internet how-to guideI partnered with an old friend who had built a website for car enthusiasts, secured a £9k bank loan and the rest is history!

Onrec: The job board market is very inflated. What makes you different from your competitors?  

From day one I’ve put customer service first and believe this is what sets us apart from the competition. Our 2021 customer service feedback showed that 73% of our clients agree, saying that our service is better than that of our competitors.Every client not only has an Account Manager but also a Customer Success Supervisor, both of whom are on hand every day to make sure our clients are making the most of their account without being sold to.

We’re known for our market-leading innovations, too. Technology is at the heart of everything we do and we’re always looking for ways to improve and lead from the front. 

We’re in a candidate-led market right now and making the process as easy as possible for jobseekers is equally important. Registration is always free, and our CV Builder helps candidates build a CV from scratch within minutes

Another key factor is that we’re independent. Being the sole owner, I can easily make quick decisions. Re-investment is vital, too; I re-invest a significant amount to ensure that we achieve our aggressive growth targets.

Onrec: What exciting new trends are you noticing?

Flexible working options continue to grow and dominate. With the reversal of IR35 we are seeing an influx of contract positions. In tandem, the cost-of-living crisis has seen a greater number of people taking on a side hustle or additional part-time work. 

Without question, when it comes to the perm market, candidates are taking more time and a much more informed approach to their job search, right from the start of the process. They’re doing in-depth research on companies and their staff before applying, rather than at the interview or offer stage. 

Onrec: What do you think will be the next big thing in online recruitment? 

The continued rise of mobile. We’re expecting candidates to continue the shift towards conducting almost all of their job seeking activities on mobile devices – we are already at 65% and the number continues to grow. We predict that recruiters who don’t create a mobile-first candidate experience will suffer. We also foresee that candidates will engage ‘little and often’, so recruiters will need to make sure their processes match this. 

An increase in third party applications and connected HR technology. We feel confident in predicting that recruiters will expect all their HR technologies to be connected and seamlessly integrated, rather than having to log into, or apply, thorough lots of different platforms. 

Onrec: Biggest challenges we face going in to 2023?

The cost-of-living crisis and economic situation obviously top the list. In recruitment terms, it’s attracting passive candidates. We predict that unemployment rates will continue to stay low, and recruiters will have to spend more time targeting passive candidates. More time will be spent sourcing candidates online, focusing on brand awareness and re-targeting historic candidates. 

Onrec: How many people do you employ globally? 

Approx. 300

Onrec: Where do you see the recruitment industry in 5 years?

In general, job boards offer recruiters an effective and cost-effective way to access the best candidates on the market. As such, we predict that job boards will remain a vital part of the hiring process, regardless of the role that needs to be filled.

Onrec: COVID hit the industry hard. How did you manage and adapt?

CV-Library adapted beyond measure to the pandemic. Switching an office-based operation to a successful remote working business was an achievement in itself, but when the business is an online job site and the world goes into lockdown, the challenge is even greater!

To support customers, we let them ‘freeze’ their accounts and ‘un-freeze’ them when they were ready to get going again. Additionally, we automatically extended the duration jobs were advertised, and developed a range of extra tools to support recruiters, including: 

  • Set up/hosted multiple virtual careers fairs and created an online platform allowing hiring managers/candidates to talk directly via text, audio/video chat. 
  • ‘We’re hiring poster that includes a unique QR code
  • Flexible Pay For Performance job advertising
  • Bespoke screening questions feature
  • Video interview tool

CV-Library's business infrastructure wasn’t set up to facilitate WFH We responded by migrating key services to a cloud environment to enable our teams to WFH and invested in more remote technology.

It was also important for me to assist colleagues in adjusting to WFH, regularly providing all staff with advice on how to set up a healthy work environment and remain productive during this challenging time as well as making sure everyone was aware of our comprehensive EAP and other mental health resources. 

Many businesses paused their hiring needs during the pandemic and demand on our platform dropped for a few months.  We used the opportunity to look after our clients and continued to invest heavily in technology, product and innovation. Despite the pandemic, our technology department actually grew in headcount and our ambitions increased.

Onrec: I have seen the guerrilla marketing campaigns you put together, most recently with Rishi Sunak. How was it received by the public?

CV-Library runs regular reactive advertising campaigns which are closely connected to our core purpose of leading the UK's job search. Over the years we’ve focused some campaigns around the news agenda and big political events. Our previous marketing has included election results featuring Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage. They’ve always proved popular with the public and advertising and marketing executives alike, but the latest one really did go viral, and it’s been thrilling to see to it create such a buzz and have such a huge impact. Most important of all, in such challenging times for everyone, it's been absolutely brilliant to have the opportunity to make people smile.  

Onrec: Do you have any other plans to expand? And if so, where?

CV-Library has just acquired Brilliant Jobs, a platform that uses the latest AI and programmatic technology to efficiently connect candidates with employers. The acquisition was part of a strategic move to own and integrate a leading programmatic product within its existing technology stack and to expand the organisation's product offering. The move is part of the CV-Library Group’s wider plans to deliver a global programmatic job advertising solution across its existing and new territories. 

Whilst CV-Library in the UK continues to invest and deliver traditional job posting products, it will offer clients and partners the option to buy, advertise and optimise their job adverts based on performance. This will be led through CV-Library’s U.S. based business, Resume-Library, as well as providing a springboard for further international expansion over the next 12 months, with a particular focus on Europe.

CV-Library have earmarked over $9m for acquisitions and platform transformations over the next 2 years and the first stage, integrating Brilliant Jobs, is due to be complete and available to the market in late October 2022.

Onrec: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Build a platform that’s not so specific to a UK-only market! Having said that, that dedication and focus did help us for many years. 

Onrec: What do you enjoy outside of work?

Spending time with my young daughter, exploring new cities when travelling for the business, and sailing. 

Onrec: What is your career low and how did you overcome it? And what is your career high?

Career low – Looking for a job after leaving my Dad’s carpeting business and finding the process difficult; having to send the same curriculum vitae to multiple companies and contacting numerous agencies. This is where the idea for CV-Library came from. Noting the success of websites like I began to wonder if the internet could provide a more user-friendly and rewarding solution to finding a job. I bought myself a computer so I could learn the basics. 

Career high – Reaching and celebrating the 20-year milestone for CV-Library. Having some staff working with me for 15 years + and seeing the difference CV-Library and job boards have made to the recruitment industry.  

Thank you to Lee for taking the time to speak to us. Keep a look out for next weeks 'Recruitment Spotlight'.