Interview with Neil Purcell, Founder and CEO at Talent Works

Neil Purcell

I founded Talent Works International 11 years ago with a handful of employees and, since then, it’s grown into a global business. I’m passionate about finding talented people to help entrepreneurs realise their vision and solve talent attraction problems for tech companies of all sizes. I’ve supported both established and scaling tech businesses to deliver recruitment strategies across the UK, Europe and the US, supporting founders, boards and teams, to hire thousands of talented people around the world.

Talent Works enables organisations to scale through powerful talent attraction solutions. The team combines RPO, Recruitment Marketing, Employer Branding and Digital Resourcing solutions to deliver unparalleled results in a unique subscription-based model that can scale with an organisation’s needs. Most importantly, we place the organisation at the heart of everything we do: integrating our offering into existing HR functions, building, enhancing and amplifying employer brands, and reflecting culture and ambition to candidates.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

When Talent Works was started, it was borne out of frustration with the lack of innovation in the recruitment industry. The inefficiencies of traditional recruitment and agility in Talent Acquisition demanded something new. However, the business of 12 years ago was a very different business to what it is now as we’ve continued to evolve with the demands of the landscape.

Talent Works’ continual vision is to bring new ideas to Talent Acquisition as a service and embed this into the organisations it works with. There are still inefficiencies in the market, including old pricing tropes and a lack of joined-up thinking between services of employer brand, attraction and RPO, that are ripe for disruption today, and that’s why and where we are creating a new category.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

We were not unique in seeing our growth and revenues heavily impacted at the start of the pandemic. Understandably many of the organisations we were working with were forced to immediately pause their growth plans. This in turn forced us to re-think rapidly and accelerate our pivot towards a different business model.

The COVID-19 pandemic actually saw a huge uptake in on demand talent acquisition services – particularly for digital businesses. In response to this, we adapted our offering to a more flexible model targeted at agile scale ups looking to source new talent, but are new to talent acquisition, or simply don’t have the time or tools to fix the problem.

Within weeks, we rebranded and shifted our marketing emphasis away from a fixed RPO model, to an on demand offering that was more suited to scaleups. Although this re-adjustment in the business offering had been ‘in the works’ for some time, with the original idea to be a gradual shift over months and years, the pandemic forced us to do this far quicker than anticipated. The overall outcome has been overwhelmingly positive.

I’m especially proud of how the Talent Works team has pulled together; we’ve adopted a ‘people-first’ strategy throughout the pandemic to preserve our talent. There have been some necessary shifts in certain job roles and some restructuring of our teams but, we’re now in a position where the business is forecasting 60% growth from pre-pandemic revenues.

Since December 2020 we have seen 100% growth quarter-on-quarter, and a 400% growth in March 2020 compared to March 2021, and a sustained 20% month-on-month forecasted compound growth.

What can we hope to see from Talent Works in the future?

The Talent Works vision is to provide services to scaleup leaders which removes talent acquisition as a barrier to growth. Consequently, Talent Works will become the number one recruitment partner for scaling tech businesses.

Our current client portfolio reflects the surge in demand for technical skills for both digitally native tech startups and those undergoing digital transformation plans. This was of course accelerated by the pandemic, but with automation and digital a priority for so many organisations now, scaleups need to find ways to differentiate themselves and attract talent. This is how we have been helping cinch, the online car marketplace, online mortgage provider Molo, and digital infrastructure provider CityFibre.

We want to continue to reflect the journey we’re on and provide more of the same of that we’ve seen over the last six to twelve months. From Talent Works’ own point of view, we want to create value for businesses and help enable our customers to scale. We’ve spent a lot of time focussing on driving innovation lately, pivoting and repositioning the business in the pandemic, so the work here has been done so that we won’t see too much of a dramatic change in the coming 24 months.

We’re comfortable and happy with what we do for our clients and how we do it – our focus is now going to be on attracting our own talent and continuing to grow our partnerships. Talent Works has achieved a Best Companies one star accreditation and is listed among the Top 100 in the UK, and we plan to use this momentum and recognition to our advantage.

Ultimately, we will continue to aggressively increase our headcount over the remaining quarters of this year. Right now, we’re looking to hire over 20 talented people across our recruiting team, digital team, and client success department. We’re growing all areas of the business, including a few vacancies in the US too.