Bob Hoffman has created Telecomsjobs.ie Ireland’s first recruitment platform exclusively for the telecoms industry.

A 25-year telecoms veteran with experience at brands including O2 and BT, he is now one of this country’s leading executive search professionals with his business Vista People Executive Search whose clients include Capita, Enet, Siro, Viatel, Digicel, MyTaxi and Three.

Uniquely, TelecomJobs.ie is owned, operated and curated by a team of recruiters who themselves have previously worked in the telecoms sector and are uniquely placed to understand the particular needs of the estimated 2,000 people out of the total 20,000 in the industry who looking for a new position at any one time with the more than 200 businesses operating in the area.

“It’s important not to forget that people do business with people and not technology”

At launch there are a total of 15 companies advertising 100 highly sought-after live jobs including Openet, Cubic Telecom, KN Circet and Actavo. This number is expected to increase considerably before year end as the platform becomes more widely known and word of mouth builds. Within the next three months the portal will unveil an on-going series of mentoring and advice blogs from leading Telecoms business figures including Sean Keating (Vilicom), Kealan Delaney (Delmec) and David Hughes (Three).

Over the past 30 years, Hoffman has held a variety of sales, marketing and general management positions across multiple industries including telecoms, ICT, Oil and financial services. He was previously CEO of The Sales Institute of Ireland and has founded other businesses including NewAddress.ie and Vista People Executive Search. He is a regular commentator on Irish radio and is an avid traveller with more than 100 countries visited to date.

“The roll-out of 5G nationwide, the possibilities offered by machine learning and the internet of things (IoT)  – and not least the hoped for National Broadband Plan – all mean that the telecoms sector will continue to surge for the next three to five years as many more new jobs are created,” Hoffman said.

“My vision is to have TelecomJobs.ie at the centre of that growth, facilitating new opportunities for employees and building dynamics teams for leading employers.”

TelecomJobs.ie has already received strong support from the sector including endorsements from Turlough O’Sullivan (IBEC) and Denis O’Brien (chair, Digicel)

What is the problem you are trying to solve and the size of the market you are addressing?

Telecommunications is one of the most over saturated sectors of the Irish economy and our new jobs portal is a targeted way for employers and jobseekers to find each other regards recruitment. There are currently 20,000 people employed in telecoms in Ireland and about 220 employers. On any given day there are 1,800 people looking for a new job in the sector. We expect to have on average 250 jobs on the website on any given day.

What is your core product and service about and how does it work?

We offer a dedicated jobs portal to the telecom industry which also includes internet of things, blockchain, 5G, cybersecurity, networks and the wider ICT sector. Job seekers can apply to any job advertised on the website at no charge. Employers can list all their vacancies and, as an incentive, we are offering free unlimited job postings until January 2020. Thereafter there will be a charge for the employers to advertise their vacancies.

Who are the founders of the company and what are the experiences that encouraged you to become an entrepreneur?

What prompted me to set up a bespoke recruitment business was witnessing the de-humanising headlong rush into automation which relied too much on algorithms and not enough on the personal touch. In a people business when you are trying to find candidates that will suit the culture of an employer, whilst also being happy in the new position, it’s essential that you get to know what makes a person tick, their motivations and ambitions.

What are your impressions of the start-up ecosystem in your region and in Ireland in general?

I think like many aspects of Irish life, we can be quite hard and cynical about certain issues. I think Ireland is one of the easiest countries in the world to set up a new business. In particular, I was greatly helped by Wicklow Local Enterprise Office and although I looked at some of the new peer to peer lending companies, my local Bank of Ireland relationship manager in Wicklow Town has been very supportive.

Once a start-up passes its first year of operation, and let’s face it 80pc of them do not get past this milestone, I think the government should do more to help these businesses grow from small to medium to even large indigenous employers. There is far too much focus and attention on the multinational group of companies in Ireland. For every single Ryanair there must be 25 foreign companies that receive huge financial and political support.

Are you raising funding at present?

We have taken a small 24-month term loan to assist with an advertising budget for TelecomJobs.ie but other than that, this new business is being financed out of existing revenue streams.

What are the biggest mistakes or lessons you have learned so far?

My late father once gave me some great advice about starting a business. When you are small you need a solid group of suppliers around you nearly as much as you do your customers! Thus, I have been very close to my suppliers and I would like to think that they have in return shown me a great service, which I really need at this stage of the company’s growth.

What advice do you have for fellow founders?

A blank sheet of paper and a pen is the start of all new businesses. Write down the basics e.g. What problem will this business solve? What do I need to do to get it off the ground? And the ‘king of all issues’ with start-ups is cash flow. Do not underestimate things will cost much more than you have planned for and everything always takes a little bit longer than you expect.

The combined effect of these two is that cash flow will sometimes be stretched. Assuming the fundamentals of your business are in place, the other great piece of advice I once was told by one of Ireland’s most successful businessman was to get out from behind that desk and go and meet prospects. And if you can’t meet prospects, go and meet existing customers and if you can’t meet them on any given day, go and meet suppliers because they can’t say no! Either way just get out from behind the desk. Other than that, if you are passionate about the idea, just do it!

What technologies or tools does your team use to stay agile?

Always on connectivity and high-speed broadband are essential. Having a responsive website that’s easy to navigate and delivers a comfortable user experience is vital. After all, it’s effectively your digital shopfront so it needs to be the best it can be.

We’re Apple loyalists in this business from iPhones to MacBooks and iPads. While all the high-powered technology available at our fingertips is incredibly useful, ultimately, it’s important not to forget that people do business with people and not technology.

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 Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 25 October, 2019

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