Signs of change


*Written by Toby Thwaites, Director, Purple Consultancy - Specialists in creative recruitment

Toby Thwaites and Paul Wood founded Purple in June 2000. Purple provides recruitment consultancy to advertising, design, integrated marketing, publishing, digital and agency office support services.

With 30 staff in London and Leeds, and with the highest paying referral scheme in the UK, they're definitely worth talking to. Through innovation and focus on client service, Purple achieves high client satisfaction levels which set it apart from its competitors.


No-one in recruitment can claim to have had an easy ride over the past few months. Every sector has been affected by the recession and ours, the creative sector, has experienced an especially difficult time. Creative businesses seem to fall very hard in tough times and there have been redundancies across the board. Some big agencies, like BBH, have only recently announced cuts of up to 10% of their total staff and managing a business through that kind of shift requires some longer term strategic planning.

Happily, on the recruitment side of things in the creative industry, we are beginning to see signs of some change for the better. Indications are that other sectors are also seeing a change for the positive. Banking for example is bouncing back from its catastrophic crash last Autumn but other industries like manufacturing will take longer to come out of the slump.

We have noticed a steady increase in the freelance side of our business since the beginning of April and we've seen this gain in momentum in the past couple of months. We are now definitely seeing a growing sense of optimism among both our agency clients and among the freelancers that we place with them. Agencies are realising that the best freelance candidates will get booked elsewhere unless they commit to a longer term booking for them. Just a few weeks ago there was a reluctance among agencies to book freelancers for long term bookings but that has changed and they are now showing more willingness to plan ahead and this is largely down to their clients also showing more commitment.

Freelancers are also feeling more optimistic and, the busiest are even being more bullish with their rates... there's less pressure on them to bring their rates down now.

We've also seen this trend mirrored in the number of permanent roles coming through and particularly in roles where unique skill sets are required, for example in the digital sector there has been a noticeable upturn in the past two months.

Early on in 2009 our clients in the creative sector were regularly 'window shopping' rather than 'buying' and the protracted length of the approval process and the number of jobs being withdrawn, was having a frustrating and negative impact on our progress. Clients are now showing signs of returning to normal in terms of the time it is taking for decisions to be made. We don't think that the recession is quite over yet but we are starting to feel as though it won't last forever and we're determined to be in the best position possible to emerge a strong and resilient business.

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