The Experts: James Osborne on the Keys to Recruitment Leadership

James Osborne

Chairman, The Recruitment Network

James is an award-winning business consultant, advisor, and entrepreneur with an international board level background in the staffing and recruitment sector. For the past 15 years, James has worked with recruitment business leaders, helping them to achieve significant growth, performance improvement and competitive advantages acting as a Non-Executive Director, consultant, trainer, and strategist for numerous fast-growth recruitment businesses. James is a passionate speaker on behalf of the staffing and recruitment sector and is the Chairman of The Recruitment Network, the largest global support and advisory club for recruitment business leaders.

Welcome to our video series, The Experts. In the series, we interview staffing and recruitment leaders to hear their perspectives on industry trends, lessons they’ve learned in the careers, and their leadership philosophies.

In this clip, James Osborne, Chairman of The Recruitment Network, shares what has shaped him most as a leader, as well as advice for someone looking to start their own staffing and recruitment firm.


What was your path to leading a major network of recruitment leaders?

James Osborne: I was in the recruitment sector in Australia for about eight to nine years and came out to the UK about 16 years ago. And for the last 15 to 16 years, I’ve been advising recruiting organisations from a strategic point of view at the top level all the way through training and supporting their staff at an entry-level. Now we’re on the recruitment network, which is an advisory community for recruitment leaders and recruitment organizations across the UK and internationally.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own staffing business?

JO: Go and get advice from people on their journey. There are so many places that you can get advice. That’s the reason why we set The Recruitment Network up in the first place, but really, the number one piece of advice is to build something that you’re incredibly proud of. Proud, not only because it gives you a purpose, is something that you want to go to work for day-to-day, and other people buy into, but more importantly, that you feel proud enough to make sure that you’re charging for it to your customers. I think is really important to maintain margin credibility and make sure you’re really selling something of value and your customers believe in that value.

What recruitment technology trends are you most excited about?

JO: I’m loving technology at the moment. I think it is absolutely awesome. I think there are a lot of people quite nervous about tech and think it might replace recruiters and to an extent, it will certainly replace some of the skills and activities that recruiters have to do. The actual tech itself that I’m fascinated by is artificial intelligence (AI). We’re doing a lot of stuff at the moment with AI, really getting to understand that right now. Video has been around for a while, but I think it’s getting better and better and I think it’s really opening and changing the way that we communicate with candidates, consultants, and customers.

How has technology transformed the way recruitment professionals build relationships with candidates and clients?

JO: It’s done it in two ways. To an extent, it’s made some recruiters a bit lazy. I think tech is quite easy to hide behind sometimes and it’s made us a little bit lazy in how we communicate. On the flip side of that, some of the technologies that we are using allow us to get closer to candidates and customers in a way that they want to be sold to and communicated with. It allows us to embrace new ways and forums for communication rather than traditional ways, which used to be just the telephone or face-to-face meeting.

What has shaped you most as a leader?

JO: Probably the mistakes I’ve made. As a leader, you make hundreds of mistakes every day, month, and year and you learn from those mistakes. I have an expression that I use in my life, which is called bouncebackability. You often fail–we all fail. But it’s how you bounce back from that and what you do with those learnings and lessons. What’s shaped me are the mistakes and errors I’ve seen from myself and other people that allows us not to learn from those mistakes, not make them again, and then share that knowledge and wisdom with other recruiters and organizational leaders.

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