Two years in to Michael Brennan’s MERJE journey, we thought it the perfect time to catch up with him on his time so far, his new job title and his thoughts on the recruitment market at the moment.
February 2022 marks your two year MERJE anniversary. Most importantly, how are you going to celebrate?
Two years already! I’ll probably treat myself to a few whisky cocktails now that my 10th consecutive Dry January is done and dusted. I’ll mainly be spending this month looking for a glorious long-haul holiday to book for later this year – does that count?
How have you found your time in the business so far?
It’s certainly been an interesting period of time having joined just a few weeks before the pandemic really kicked off. Regardless, it didn’t take long until I genuinely felt at home, which is testament to the people I work with.
My role in these first two years has seen me wearing many hats – developing new partnerships, evolving our approach to marketing, getting involved in broader operational activities, expanding our service offering – which has all been really enjoyable.
Something which has definitely shone through as I’ve settled into the business is the relaxed-yet-professional culture. The leadership team encourages autonomy which allows us to really focus on using expert knowledge and genuine relationships to deliver results for our clients and candidates, rather than getting caught up in meaningless KPIs.
This results in a grown up working environment which is both cohesive and passionate in equal measures, and something I’m very glad to be a part of!
You’ve come in to this year with a new job title and a new focus – tell us more about your role as MERJE’s Head of Client Services.
I joined MERJE with the aim of broadening our client base, focusing on new business and dedicating my time to opening doors. This has been a fantastic exercise and we’ve struck up some brilliant new partnerships in the past few years which I’m sure will continue to flourish.
We feel extremely proud and equally privileged to be working with such a fantastic spread of clients and we want to ensure that we’re adding value for them wherever we can. So, in 2022, I’ll be redirecting my attention to the existing partnerships we have and how we can deliver even greater results for them.
This will include generating more awareness of our newer disciplines, such as Actuarial and Insurance & Claims, and the additional solutions we offer, such as salary surveys, market insight reports, executive search and more.
Moreover, the fact that we can support in such a wide range of niche areas within financial services, from legal to analytics to operations, is a big benefit for organisations who would otherwise depend on a number of different specialist recruitment partners for each area, which can present a myriad of challenges.
Many businesses may not know that we offer this variety of services and knowledge, so will be missing out on the huge range of expertise we have. MERJE has a very well-rounded service offering that can add value to all aspects of an FS company’s hiring strategy. Now it’s my focus to draw attention to that, encourage stronger long-term partnerships and keep improving on our repeat business rate (which was 71% in 2021).
And what are you looking forward to most in the future of your new role?
We have a lot of exciting things in the works at MERJE – new ways to support clients, bigger and stronger teams, innovative service offerings, wider geographical coverage – so I’m really looking forward to supporting the development of these features and then presenting them to our client base when the time comes.
One aspect of my role that I really enjoy is truly getting to know a business - the culture, products, ethos, growth plans, leadership team and methodology, etc. so that I can build a deep understanding of its needs and how MERJE can genuinely add value over a long period of time.
I’m looking forward to doing this with the many clients that we’ve already had some success with but have opportunity for strengthening our partnership even more.
The careers market has seen some unprecedented activities in recent times, from the required increase in working from home to the severe talent shortages of today’s candidate-driven landscape. What advice would you give to business leaders who are looking to hire in the current climate?
The phrase ‘talent shortage’ is an interesting one and I think it’s one that is possibly being thrown around a little too much.
Particularly in our markets, we know that there are plenty of talented and capable individuals out there, it may just be slightly harder at the moment to tempt them away from their current roles or compete with the many other opportunities available. But that doesn’t mean you should throw your hands in the air, curse the ‘talent shortage’ and give up.
Yes, candidates are a little more wary about moving jobs right now following the uncertainty of the pandemic, and yes, people’s priorities have changed recently; flexible and remote working is much more in demand, some people can’t be bought with over-the-top salaries any more, others put more value in the overall package and benefits, etc.
But these obstacles can be overcome. The key to successful hiring in the current climate is responding to the market and making the necessary changes to your business in order to stay a relevant and competitive employer brand. Too many companies have reverted to pre-Covid talent acquisition strategies and are scratching their heads when they don’t work.
My advice is to take guidance from specialists, think differently, be bold and go to market with a compelling proposition.
Following on from the success and growth we saw last year, the MERJE team is expanding even further in 2022. What would you say to someone considering a recruitment career with MERJE?
What are you waiting for!
We’re a high performing business because we invest in our people and really support each other to succeed. Whether you join at the very beginning of your career or as an established consultant, we’re passionate about giving you everything you need to take your career to the next level and beyond.
As well as this, as mentioned earlier, we have a mature and engaging environment where you are not chained to arbitrary KPI’s and have the freedom to get on with genuinely adding value in your day-to-day role.
I’d encourage anyone considering MERJE as their future employer to give me a call. I’ve been here for two years now and am still struck by how very different we are to your typical recruitment business. I’ve had my fair share of corporate atmospheres and micromanagement in previous roles, so I’d be happy to offer a unique insight as to how we’re just not like that.
Quick Fire Time
Favourite MERJE moment so far
There’s been a lot already but the one than instantly sprang to mind was last year’s Manchester summer social. It was a superb day of activities, golf, food and drink at Carden Park, but the highlight was when one of our suppliers accidentally ran Adam over with a golf buggy on the first tee!
TV Show Recommendation
You can’t really beat True Detective season one, but Succession is certainly trying to top it.
Describe the MERJE culture in three words
Engaging, high-performing and fun.
Winter Olympics or the Six Nations?
Neither. The Formula One every time.
If you'd like to chat with Michael about your hiring plans and how MERJE's range of recruitment solutions could help, drop him a line or give him a call on 0161 883 2763.
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