Recruitment Karma: HorizonOne’s Founding Principle

Simon Cox - HorizonOne Recruitment - Recruitment Karma

If you asked me to distil HorizonOne’s origin down to a single founding principle (or the vibe, as Daryl from The Castle would put it), ‘Recruitment Karma’ would have to be it.

Everyone gets the principles of good karma, and we believe in Recruitment Karma.

It’s simple: you do good work, you look after people, and great things happen.

And nowhere is this more evident than within the Canberra “bubble”. We are, after all, only 400,000 people which is not much more than a big country town.  Everyone knows everyone, so in business, there is very little margin for error. But the nice thing about doing business in Canberra and the size of the market is that there is no room for shenanigans. If you run an ethical business, put the needs of your clients (and candidates) first, and pour positive energy into your work, the karmic circle more often than not loops back around.

When I first started recruiting in Canberra many moons ago it wasn’t difficult to see that the industry needed to mature and that there was a lot of poor quality transactional recruitment going on.  What I call “fast food” recruitment is certainly still common, but I can see that the tide is turning – both nationally and internationally.  Fast food recruitment will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.

Recruitment businesses that rely solely on transactional, sales first approaches are unsustainable.  Technology is rapidly taking over from recruiters that rely on SEEK jockeying and speed to market.  Clients and top candidates expect more.  If you are not adding value to the process – watch out!

Simply put, this is why when we founded HorizonOne. We wanted to shake things up. We took a chance and we based the business around the idea of Recruitment Karma.  We consistently opted for long term relationships over short term wins.  Our values always came first.  We chose not to ‘sell sell sell’ to achieve growth, preferring slower, sustained organic growth built off the back of hard work.

11 years in and it’s evident that our simple idea has blossomed.  With more than 25% year on year growth over the past 4 years, we know that our gut feeling from back in 2008 was spot on for our market.


Here are some of the elements we believe lead to good recruitment karma… which also happen to be our core values.

Share success to maximise impact

If your business is doing well, sharing that success with those around you is the right thing to do.

This means investing in your community in a way that maximises your positive impact.  We do this through pro bono work, donations of time and money, charity work, and taking part in community initiatives. For example, at the Canberra Meet a Recruiter events, our recruiters give up their time to help people who need a leg up with their career. These events book out weeks in advance, because people really appreciate getting good advice from a professional in a relaxed environment.

Sharing success also means investing in our team’s wellbeing – whether it is through sharing the financial success of the company via market leading bonus structures, or simply a fully stocked fridge, paid ‘human days’ and free gym memberships. It means taking care of those who go above and beyond for us by treating them more like partners than staff.

Don’t stop at good enough

When you’re recruiting, there are often candidates who (on paper) appear to fit the bill in one way or another. If near enough was good enough, we’d stop there and let clients take on all the risk of the hiring decision.

But for us, near enough is not good enough – that goes against our values. Instead, we dig deeper on all levels to find the best possible talent in the market and ensure the closest possible fit.

Near enough is not good enough in recruitment because the cost is too high; for our clients, our candidate’s careers, and our reputation.  Sloppy recruitment = bad karma.

Challenge the usual

We pride ourselves on having deeper conversations when we meet our clients and candidates.  We ask the hard questions, and we have the difficult conversations up front.  We challenge bad assumptions and poor recruitment practices so our work has a lasting impact.

We are also big on due diligence.  Five question online reference checking is nonsense – references are all about digging deep, listening, and noticing the nuances or changes in tone in someone’s voice.  Verbal references are one of the few ways you can dramatically reduce your hiring decision risks.

Less talking, more listening

Recruiters are often deemed ‘salespeople’ – known for their fast talking and always selling approach.

But how can you truly help someone if you are pushing your own agenda? Or if you don’t take the time to understand the full story? How can you help someone make an informed decision if you don’t fully understand their needs?

We are big on conducting full, competency-based behavioural interviews.  And frankly, my toes curl every time I hear of recruiters that don’t meet their candidates before putting them forward for jobs.  Or those that simply do a 15-minute meet and greet style interview.

After a thorough interview, sometimes the best solution for a candidate is to give a little coaching and have them go back to their boss to talk things through. Sometimes it is simply having the tough conversation about salary or conditions.

It offers us no financial benefit doing this, but it’s the right thing to do.

Integrity, no compromise

If a client tells us they’re having turnover issues, we’re not going to chuck fuel on the fire and throw more people at them and count the fees. Instead, we work hard to understand them, and we try to find the root cause of the problem.  We partner up!

Equally on the candidate side, we believe in giving impartial career advice regardless of whether we benefit from their next move.  There have been times when we’ve advised a candidate who is seeking advice on what role to accept to take one that is not through us.  Sure we don’t win in the short term, but in the long term, it’s good karma.

Humility and respect

It is seriously important in recruitment to be humble and to treat people with respect.  Of the three major life events that cause the most stress in people’s lives, changing jobs is one of the toughest. We get that, and we take our position of influence very seriously.

All in all, we are blessed to be in this truly unique position that makes a major impact on people’s lives.  It really is a privileged role to play. And you never want to mess with karma!

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