Inside the Ambition: Russell Crowe on building his recruitment firm CVWOW

Published · 3 min read

Inside the Ambition is a series that tells the stories of business owners, going from how and why they started their businesses to where they are now. I spoke to Russell Crowe, the founder of online recruitment business CVWOW.

Russell was one of the Sage Ambition competition finalists, which had a prize of a business advice meeting with entrepreneur and Sage Ambition Ambassador Peter Jones. Here, he talks about how his business is disrupting the recruitment industry and how his ambition is fuelling his desire to succeed.

You can listen to a podcast of the interview here or read about what he had to say below.

Tell us about CVWOW

CVWOW is an online recruitment business. Its mission is to disrupt the traditional recruitment model, which traditionally charges high fees as a percentage for individuals placed.

We ripped up the rule book and pretty much followed the movement online, with what we’ve seen with the estate agency model in the UK, where online businesses are really competing now with the high-street agencies.

CVWOW doesn’t charge for recruitment. It encourages our customers to hire as many people from their campaigns as possible and in some cases, we’ve saved companies in the UK £1.8m in a year from their traditional recruitment spend.

There’s also the focus on growing the employer’s brand, which is pretty important for their internal databases.

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And what is the ambition that drives you to do what you do?

It’s really to allow all sizes of companies, whether you’re small or medium-sized enterprise and you’re looking to expand your business, people are often the barrier to do that and costs are associated to do that.

So from utilising our company, we can promote your brand across the length and breadth of the online job-seeker world. So typically in the UK, we’re looking at 34 million job seekers. On top of that, we’re also LinkedIn partners, so you can brand your company and your particular vacancy across the length and breadth of LinkedIn.

We collate all of that information back to you. Then on our online portal, you can then access those individuals, engage with as many as you like, which brings down your cost per hire greatly.

And if you’re a business with what we call a high attrition rate, that’s very important to any chief executives or finance directors or HR directors who are looking to save money and move away from a traditional recruitment agency.

What are some of the shifts you’ve seen in the recruitment industry?

We’ve certainly seen a shift since 2009 when the crash, the banking crash, happened. Every CEO and HR director that I talk to looks to bring their recruitment activities more in-house, to control more of the process themselves and own the relationship between the job seeker and the employer. So we’ve really embraced that and it’s proved very successful.

The accolade really is that when I first started the business, I wouldn’t have dreamed to have been able to save companies millions of pounds and we’ve done that time and time again. We’ve won awards with the Tesco group, with house builders, waste management companies and more.

So we’re across about 13 different sectors now, from hotels to the care industry. But also with Brexit and these subject matters arising, we’re seeing our business model take off and get recognised. You don’t have to pay thousands of pounds to hire anymore, so we’ve really embraced that and it’s been a great, fascinating journey.

We looking forward to working with hundreds more companies as we move forward.

And who is a hero of yours who personifies ambition?

I’ve got a few but for me, I think Winston Churchill would be a hero of mine.

One of his quotes his is “Though you saying what we are doing”, saying though we are doing our best, you have to succeed in doing what is necessary.

The other quote I like of his is: “When in Hell, keep going.” So I think he really was a man who had overcome a lot of obstacles.

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