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Recruitment Buzz Meets: Nav Mann; Founder of the Recruitment Agency Expo

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Tomorrow, the NEC Birmingham will open its doors to thousands of recruitment agencies and suppliers, hosting the 6th Recruitment Agency Expo in the city. Regarded as the biggest event on the recruitment calendar, the expo will see more than 80 businesses exhibit, showcasing the best in modern recruitment.

Today, we at Recruitment Buzz speak with Nav Mann, the Founder of the expo. Giving us an insight into what we can expect from the 2-day premier event, Nav discusses everything from the impacts of Brexit to AI and tips for attendees.

Hi Nav, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your involvement with the Recruitment Agency Expo.

I initially started out as a recruiter before being involved in the events and conferencing industries for over 25 years.

I found that there were lots of smaller events for recruiters but nothing sizable or on a regular basis. It was very fragmented. I decided to look at this area and felt it was the right time to do something in the recruitment space. So, I launched the first expo in London back in 2012.

We brought together all the professional bodies and suppliers for the first time. As the first high-quality, free event of its kind, the show was an instant success. Then, in 2013 we launched the Birmingham show which enjoyed equal success. Every year since, both shows have grown steadily.

What advice would you give businesses who are exhibiting for the first time? How can the maximise on the event? 

The main advice is interacting with the visiting audience. You need to put yourself in the marketplace to meet people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. My advice would be to treat your stand as a shop window, coming up with ways and means to attract the right type of customer. Designing the look of the stand is important and don’t be shy and approach people. The exhibitors who are successful are the ones that put thought into graphics, staff numbers and pitches.

What speakers are you most looking forward to seeing this year?  

Each year we put together a programme of speakers we use every year.

I look forward to seeing speakers who we have not seen yet, particularly those who have thoughts on technology and the future of recruitment.

One speaker I am keen to hear from this year is the new Chief Executive of the REC; Niel Carberry.

What advice would you give to attendees?

We are grateful that attendees make the effort to come. The show exists to make their life easier. With visitors it’s about understanding what the show can offer them.

First, have a coffee, look through the show guide and decide who you want to see and hear. When you register you can also book your seats on the sessions taking place.

Having attended all of the shows, we have noticed that we are seeing more and more startups each year. Is this the case in 2018?

It’s always new businesses that we see a great deal of interest from.

The show is an ideal opportunity for startups to get their business noticed, being a launchpad to learn from the best and find the best vendors to meet their goals.

What are your thoughts on Brexit and its impacts on your space?

It’s a very confusing position to be in at the moment. Even the government are sending out mixed signals.

We do not know what rights European citizens will have and the lack of clarity is not good.

Recruiters should focus on their UK market for the time being. In terms of the recruitment space, I personally do not think it’s good for recruiters as it restricts movement of candidates and recruiters to conduct activities across borders.

But, when we launched the show the market wasn’t that great, and recruiters came through it. So, whatever the impact, the industry will be able to overcome it.

AI: Friend or Foe for recruitment?

I think it’s a friend if recruiters want to embrace the technology to make their business better and more effective. I would not go as far as saying we will have automated recruitment. We will always need humans.

There is nothing better than seeing people face to face. This is why people are always exhibiting. I believe AI has a role in recruitment but don’t believe it to be a major threat for some time yet.

Looking to 2019, what do you see as the biggest opportunities for the recruitment Sector?

The biggest opportunities are the challenges. Overcoming challenges means innovation.

Everything is at the industry’s fingertips. The opportunities are that they can utilise all the opportunities change brings, thinking about their business and adapting to make recruitment leaner and slicker.