Why “giving a scot” has worked for one unique recruitment agency
Jeremy Cowan and Jason Sellyn have been challenging perceptions of recruitment since 2010 when they started their company, Two Scots. The recruitment agency specialises in accounting and finance, but it’s the passion and determination of the Scotsmen behind the business helping to make it a success.
For one it was a sense of adventure, for the other it was the love of a good Aussie woman, which saw Jeremy Cowan and Jason Sellyn, the two founders of TwoScots, relocate from their native Scotland to Australia.
Discovering a shared sense of purpose and passion for developing a recruitment agency which specialises in accounting and finance, the pair opened their company in 2010 and have been challenging perceptions of recruitment - and Scotsman – ever since.
Here they share with us their adventure, ethos and philosophy about recruitment.
Q: WHEN AND WHY DID YOU EACH MOVE TO AUSTRALIA?
Jeremy: Have you been to Glasgow? Just kidding. Glasgow was a fantastic place to grow up and whenever I fly back, I have this beautiful, warm “it’s great to be home” feeling as the plane touches down. But like many others, I got to an age where I realised there’s so much more beyond the small city I grew up in. I ended up in Sydney in 2005 and moved to Melbourne in 2007.
Jason: After I qualified from Manchester University as an accountant, I moved to London and wasn’t seeking a move to Australia but, like many others I met a fantastic Aussie girl in London. I followed her back to Melbourne in 2003, saying I would try it for a year. She is now my wife and we have never looked back.
Q: YOUR TAGLINE IS “REMOVING THE STIGMA OF RECRUITING”. TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT.
Jeremy: When we talk about breaking the stigma of recruitment it’s more about ensuring we go beyond expectations. We don’t want your interaction with TwoScots to end as soon as you’ve got a new job. We want to be your go-to every time you think it’s time to take the next step professionally. We want clients and candidates to refer us to their friends and colleagues for many years to come.
Q: DO YOU THINK THE RECRUITMENT SECTOR NEEDS TO OVERHAUL ITS IMAGE?
Jason: Internally we always discuss how the recruitment process needs to be experienced by both our clients and candidates. It’s very important they feel like we are in a partnership and trust us to ensure the best outcome. The old days of the corporate boss vs employee relationship are no longer relevant, and we need the confidence to educate our clients and candidates to work in tandem instead of in opposition.
Q. YOU PROMOTE YOURSELVES WITH QUIRKY VIDEOS INCLUDING ONE WHERE YOU ARE SCUBA DIVING AND ROCK CLIMBING. WHY?
Jeremy: From the start of TwoScots we have always focused on personality and humour helps that come through. I remember Jason and I sitting in our first “office” (the spare bedroom of my rented flat) determined to build a brand and a business where we all love what we do while not taking ourselves too seriously and we hope those videos really reflect that. We also want to create content that people actually want to engage with.
Q. HOW LONG HAVE EACH OF YOU WORKED IN RECRUITMENT?
Jeremy: When I moved over from Glasgow back in April 2005, I started my recruitment career with an Accounting Support start up firm in Sydney. I loved the first couple of years being part of a small growing recruitment business before I moved to Melbourne in 2007, joining a larger national brand still recruiting and leading teams within accounting support.
Jason: Just over 20 years - and I still love it! Having been an accountant, I knew that wasn’t my path, but I did know that helping accountants establish their careers was. I worked in Global Recruitment firms in London and Melbourne, prior to opening TwoScots more than 10 years ago.
Q: YOU SAY YOUR STAFF LIKE MONDAYS. HOW DO YOU FIND SUCH PEOPLE?
Jeremy: When we interview for potential consultants, our focus is very much on drive, desire and motivation. I actually don’t go into very much detail of their previous recruitment experience; for us it’s about recruiting people who are highly driven, like to win and don’t take themselves too seriously. You can teach an exceptional recruitment process but you can’t teach an outstanding attitude and high motivation.
Q: CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT CHARITABLE CAUSES? WHAT IS BEHIND THIS AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH CHARITIES TO SUPPORT?
Jason: Part of what we love about recruitment is the direct influence we get to have on people’s lives, livelihoods and careers. I think COVID has taught us all the value of having a solid workplace which can support you through times which are difficult. Dedicating ourselves to a different charity each year gives us the same satisfaction of contributing to lives but in a different and often more fun way. We’ve donated blood, run marathons, hosted quiz nights, jumped out of planes and hosted enough morning teas to fill a boardroom with scones. Choosing a charity however is often very personal. In 2019, we chose Breast Cancer Australia and pledged to raise $20k (we surpassed $25k!) to commemorate 20 years since I lost my mum to the disease. This year we’re working with Mind Australia because we feel the conversation on mental health has come a long way, but still has a way to go and we wanted to be a catalyst for change.
Q: YOUR TAGLINE IS “WE GIVE A SCOT?” WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
Jeremy: I think the “we give a Scot” is prevalent across the complete business. We give a Scot for our clients and candidates as well as we “give a Scot” for our colleagues and friends. We celebrate each other’s successes and we help each other when they need assistance. We don’t want to swoop in, do a job and retreat and we don’t want to push you into something that’s not right. We’re all about finding the right opportunities for the right people at the right time. At TwoScots, it doesn’t matter if you are a client, a candidate or a colleague, we will always “give a Scot” about you.
Q: WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS?
Jason: It’s easy to be stereotyped as a recruiter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, different and really influential. It’s important to work out what your skills are and how you can apply them to the job in a way which is really distinctive and makes you happy.
Jeremy: Both Jason and I are still incredibly passionate about the future of recruitment. When we opened the business we said to each other that at TwoScots “every job is gold dust”, “every relationship matters” and we will always be the “last man standing”.
Ten years later, with six divisions and two offices, we still live and breathe this sentiment.