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Alexis Phillips Customer Contact

Barry McDonald recently joined MERJE as our first Business Manager for Scotland in order to support the business as part of our ambitious growth plans.

This comes as we strategically aim to strengthen our standing in this important territory, which is home to some of the world’s leading Financial Services and FTSE listed firms.

Barry is extremely well-regarded in the Scottish market and we now look forward to achieving the same levels of success in Scotland as we have observed across the rest of the UK.

In our latest instalment of MERJE Markets, Barry reveals all the details about his new role at MERJE, his plans to take on the Scottish market and what he believes the future holds for our core disciplines in this part of the UK.

Barry, you joined MERJE in September in the newly created role of Business Manager for Scotland. What initially attracted you to MERJE and what is your perception of the business two months in?

After first hearing of the chance to speak with MERJE, I did my due diligence and was really impressed by the specialist, trusted nature of the business. Having then had conversations with the senior leaders, I felt very in sync with the culture and values and knew that we shared similar business beliefs. Aside from being highly skilled recruiters, the management team is composed of really good people who truly lead by example. I’ve been made to feel really welcome and supported since day one and already feel proud to be a part of team MERJE.

You have come in to set up and officially launch the MERJE brand in the Scottish market. What excites you about this opportunity and what in your opinion makes the Scottish jobs market unique?

At this stage in my career, it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to help to build something from scratch. A strength of mine is my market knowledge and network and this role allows me to maximise on that, which will only benefit MERJE. The Scottish recruitment market is substantial and has a great blend of blue chip business, as well as a buoyant SME market. It covers so many different sectors and presents significant career opportunities at all levels for people from all backgrounds.

You are well known across Scotland, having recruited in the Scottish market for more than 15 years. How has the market evolved during this time and what do you envisage are the growth areas over the next one to two years?

The market has fluctuated between being vacancy-led, to candidate-led and now we are seeing it shift back again. Technology has also played a huge part in shaping the market throughout my time in recruitment in addition to the 2008 crash and then the remarkable events we’ve observed in 2020.

In terms of growth, I believe that we will see a short-term growth in temporary hiring until market confidence returns and medium to long-term, I predict it will be debt collection on a similarly massive scale to that of the recession in 2008/2009. I also suspect that there will be growth in the likes of Logistics and Fintec, as well as the potential opportunities created by a permanent shift to remote working in many sectors.

Impressively, you secured your first placement with MERJE in just two weeks. How have people in your network reacted to your new role and what has been their initial impression of MERJE?

It was nice to make an impact so quickly and I look forward to seeing that continue! My network has been really excited for me and the people within it mirror my own view about this being a huge opportunity. Many of them have committed to supporting the MERJE journey in Scotland which is great to hear. Those who know of MERJE have been very complimentary and those not so familiar are very interested to hear more based on the great success of the business to date in England.

In the current climate and with so many people looking for roles, never has the candidate journey and experience during the recruitment process been so important. What is your approach to this and how do you ensure a positive experience for those candidates you deal with?

I always try to build good relationships, not burn bridges and treat people as I wish to be treated and this ethos has served me well to date. With my own situation having led to redundancy in July, I feel that I can talk openly with candidates, share my own journey of being out of work, my strategy to secure a new role and, above all, be honest with them at every stage. I am personally replying to as many candidates as possible, in some cases referring them to my network where MERJE doesn’t necessarily have a presence and offering to support them in any way I can. At times like these, conversations we have as recruiters can go a long way to helping people through a tough time. It’s important to remember that!

The recruitment market has changed significantly in recent years, with an increase in clients sourcing directly and the growth of in-house recruitment teams. How have you reacted to this and what value can good recruitment companies still provide in this changing market?

I think this all comes down to relationships and proving yourself as a trusted recruitment partner over time. It’s inevitable that companies will use direct sources from both cost and brand perspectives. We need to be respectful of this, but also be present and in touch with relevant market information, keeping up to speed with the client’s business in order to be ready when that difficult to fill or volume order comes along which may require support.

It should be a partnership after all, and these can all look different day by day. A good recruitment partner should be more than just a CV churning machine. We should be truly under the skin of the client, mirror the brand, be supportive and ready to find that perfect candidate(s) as efficiently as possible.

2020 has been a year like no other, how has Covid and recent events changed your outlook on a personal and/or professional level?

It’s definitely made me realise that everything is possible and to take nothing for granted. We just never know what is round the next corner. I have had time on furlough and having been made redundant to reflect on what’s really important in life and, having now been back working for four weeks, I am determined to make the most of the opportunity and hopefully see a real positive outcome from what, in many ways, has been a very tough year.

What three things that are you hoping for in 2021 that you have missed out on in 2020?

A very successful first full year setting up MERJE Scotland! Lots of new clients, lots of great candidates in new jobs and many trips to Manchester and London to get to know the team even better!

I was fortunate enough to get to Spain for three weeks in July, but missed a family wedding in New York scheduled for August. It would be nice to make the rescheduled event in 2021.

I’m really missing going to the football, so hopefully I’ll be back for pre-match pints and a game soon!

Finally, what would people be surprised to learn about you?

For my third stage interview with MERJE, speaking to an MD and two directors, I conducted the Zoom call from a van while working on a building site as a labourer with my mate. Thankfully Ed, Kirstie and Paul were open minded and here I am now, minus the beard and lockdown hair!

If you would like to chat to me in more detail about your recruitment requirements in Scotland, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll be happy to help in any way I can: bmcdonald@merje.com.