Aimee Bateman is the Founder and CEO of Careercake.com. Aimee has over 20 years’ experience working in talent attraction and development, ranging from a recruitment consultant to where she is today running the UK’s leading career video platform. She has won awards stretching from ‘Best Employment Advice Website’, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, ‘Top 10 Women in Technology’ and ‘Marketer of the Year’.
Aimee presented a reality show for totaljobs.com called #Thejobacademy and is highly endorsed for her keynote speaking, training and leadership qualities. If all of this wasn’t enough, alongside empowering people to find their dream job, Aimee is now a Regional Advisor for The Female Founder Forum.
When did you first decide to start up on your own and what inspired you?
I fell into the recruitment industry back in 2003. I’d just graduated from University with a degree in Marketing and I was obsessed with selling! I looked into recruitment and saw that it fit both of my passions, selling and people. I finished uni on the Thursday and started working for Hays on the following Monday.
I carried on working in recruitment agencies in a really booming market until the 2010 recession hit and recruitment all but slowed down in the sectors I was working in. My candidates and job roles were primarily based in finance; the recession meant that work dried up and I was made redundant. I had some of the most talented people coming into my office looking for work and I couldn’t offer them any jobs.
I remember, in particular, two lovely ladies coming in to see me. They’d sat next to each other for 28 years in accounting for a manufacturer in Wales. They’d gone to work one day, as they had done for those 28 years, and there was a sign on the gate saying the company was closed. That was all they had, after 28 years they were told someone would be in touch with them within 48 hours about their redundancy. So they came down to see me in Cardiff, they had their best clothes on (they looked like wedding guests, bless them!) and they were petrified, holding hands. The last time these two ladies didn’t have a job, there was no internet. They didn’t know about job boards or LinkedIn – all they knew was that you went down to the Job Centre and applied for jobs.
After talking to them and giving them some advice, I thought maybe there was a need for somebody to give that advice to others online. So, I bought a camera for £9.99 from eBay and set about making YouTube videos with information and advice I’d learned over the last decade in recruitment and working with people looking for candidates. Bearing in mind, this was 2010 so nobody was really doing much on YouTube apart from cat videos! With that, Career Cake was born and I hit 10,000,000 views in the first year.
We’ve now been going for ten years and we have a great team. We’ve had VC funding and built a Netflix-style platform full of advice and content about getting a job.
How did 2020 affect your business?
Well, my team have always been home-based and flexible. We don’t have set hours or days that we work – as long as the job gets done, I don’t see why hours should matter. We did have an office in the city but we’d given notice on it as it was just wasted. So, from that perspective it was pretty much business as usual. Obviously, we put more time and resources into supporting mental health and caring needs etc., but largely we stayed the same.
Financially, we actually had our best year to date as more people were using our services. Obviously, that means our workloads increased due to having to upgrade our servers and produce more content, but it was positive for us. I did feel the ‘survivor’s guilt’ when I saw the news about job losses and businesses closing, but I tried to do what I could. We shared a lot of our content for free on YouTube and reached out to more people who needed our advice.
What advice would you offer to someone running a recruitment business?
Pick a niche and stick with it. With more and more recruiters around, people are looking for those who stand out.
Other than that, I would say that building connections and relationships should be your key priority. It’s all about people who know you and trust you. Make sure you offer valuable input to people and not just when they’re recruiting!
Finally, definitely have some money in the bank. Believe me, it’ll ease the pressures on you and you’ll feel less stressed and less likely to make impulsive decisions.
Aimee is the CEO of www.careercake.com.