Dramatic landscapes and majestic scenery, vibrant cities and buzzing nightlife, the people, the whisky, the slices of square sausage – what’s not to love about Scotland?
Bagpipes aside of course, but we trust the UN will eventually intervene.
At Harris Hill we've always worked with charities nationwide from our London HQ, but we've long been eager to provide more local, face-to-face support for organisations further afield; to which end we’ve recently opened a brand new office in the South West.
So when one of our most experienced recruiters, Harris Hill legend and all-round top bloke Jason Jederon relocated north of the border earlier this year, the decision was easy. Step forward, Harris Hill Scotland!
Working from his conveniently-located new base in the middle of Scotland’s central belt, Jason’s little more than half an hour from Glasgow, Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, and easily able to meet with charities in key cities like Dundee, Perth, Stirling and St Andrews too.
And since we’ve been celebrating the brilliant work of charities all over the country for #UKCharityWeek 2018, what better time for the HH Blog to quiz our man in the North on the new venture, life, work and the charity sector in Scotland?
Though to our eternal shame we forgot to ask about the square sausages.
L-R: Jason Jederon, an unexpectedly picturesque Aberdeen, and potentially something very rude about the English in Gaelic (but probably just a straight translation)
So firstly, why Scotland?
For me it was the opportunity to experience a different place and lifestyle. I’m a born and bred Londoner and have never lived outside of the capital, so I’ve always thought about experiencing something different and when the opportunity came up, I felt it was now or never. I’ve been coming to Scotland for many years thanks to my wife and have always loved the people, the scenery and the Scottish banter.
In terms of opportunity, the potential is huge for Harris Hill. We know there’s a buoyant sector up here to work with and feel there’s a genuine gap in the marketplace for a recruitment provider with our pedigree and longevity to provide support to existing and new clients.
What kind of roles are you recruiting for?
As in London, the focus is on permanent and contract recruitment for charity head office roles. My recent background has been within fundraising so that’s the natural place to start off, but I also have experience of working broader roles in areas such as operations, marcomms, project management and finance.
And who have you been working with so far?
I’ve started by building on the warm relationships we have with organisations we’ve previously recruited for and who have requirements in Scotland; like the Head of Fundraising - Scotland role I’m currently recruiting for a national children’s charity.
Beyond that I’ve been actively securing meetings with potential new clients in Glasgow and Edinburgh for causes such as environmental, healthcare, medical research and hospices.
L-R: Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland's three biggest cities basking in the sun. Not all on the same day, obviously.
How have you been finding the initial response from charities and candidates?
Coming into the market as a new player has been quite interesting. Once you leave the comfort of London to come here, I quickly realised that we’re not as well-known as I first thought. Some of the people I’ve spoken to are familiar with us but the majority I’ve engaged with aren’t yet aware of who we are and what we do.
But since I’ve started in this new role the response has been very encouraging, and from what I’m hearing there’s a genuine appreciation for a professional recruitment consultancy to provide an alternative to the current suppliers.
For those who don't yet know us, what can they expect from Harris Hill in Scotland?
I’m here to provide a strong level of service and support to the sector and to assist them with finding their most important commodity: people.
I’ve been recruiting within the charity sector for nearly six years now, so I'm able to bring with me a strong awareness of charities’ needs and challenges in the current climate. I’ve also recruited large numbers of fundraisers, operations staff and marcomms professionals so I’m aiming to use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained for the benefit of our clients in Scotland.
Any successes to share so far?
It’s early days so far but I’ve filled roles with an environmental charity in Dundee, finding them a Director of Fundraising - and most recently we’ve just placed a Community Fundraiser for a national homelessness charity in Glasgow.
I’m awaiting the outcome of interviews for the Head of Fundraising role, so fingers crossed there too.
So relative to the London/South East market, what's different about recruiting for charities in Scotland?
So far I’ve definitely noticed that because there are fewer charities to choose from (compared with London) people tend to move around less frequently.
For fundraising in particular there seems to be something of a skills gap, with fewer suitable candidates for the roles that do become available. I’ve had conversations with senior fundraisers who feel there's a real lack of major gift fundraisers to choose from, for example.
Also the universities and educational institutions here provide a great deal of competition in the battle for talent.
Glasgow at Christmas, and Jason with fellow fundraising specialists Hayley Wilson, Natalie Lawford and Rudolph (seasonal temp)
What have been the biggest challenges in getting started?
So far it’s been about getting our name out there and raising our profile, so that people get to know that we’re genuine about this and here to stay. Maybe we’re seen as a London/Southern focused business without much of a track record in Scotland. But I think that actually having a physical presence here makes such a difference - and I’d like to think that I’m gradually changing people’s initial perceptions of us.
In terms of competitors there aren’t many of the specialist charity recruiters you have in London, but there are some generalist agencies who dabble in providing support to charities. Getting the message out there that we’re genuinely specialist and only work in the charity sector is the biggest part of my pitch and so far, I feel that’s helped a great deal.
So outside of work, how have you been adapting to life in Scotland?
It’s taken a little time to adjust but I’m enjoying my time here and I feel that I’ve been welcomed along with my family. It’s good that we have friends and family close to us who’ve helped with the transition.
The pace of life is a little slower but so far it’s been good to experience being away from London, and I feel I was at the stage of life where I was ready for a change. We have access to the countryside and a more active, outdoor lifestyle (when the weather permits) and I’ve been getting in to Glasgow and Edinburgh more when I need a bit of city life.
And finally (since it's nearly here), what are your ambitions for Harris Hill Scotland in 2019?
I want the Scotland business to grow and to show that we’re in it for the long term. Launching a new venture like this is tough but I’m hugely excited by the potential and from the early encouragement I’ve had so far.
Ultimately, it’s all about generating business and delivering great service but if that can be done consistently over the next few months I’d like to feel we could expand the headcount, add one or two staff members and potentially become a full regional office.
It’s early days but I’m excited by the challenge ahead!
If you're a charity professional in Scotland and would like to find out how we can help with your recruitment needs, or get an expert view of the potential opportunities for your next move, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
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