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AMA: Nick Brand, co-founder of OnSkil

AMA: Nick Brand, co-founder of OnSkil

Right now, there's a tech skills shortage. Not just in the UK but across the globe. So employers need all the help they can get to bring IT professionals into the fold.

Cue OnSkil, a digital platform here to redefine the way IT candidates are hired, by promoting diversity and removing bias and prejudice from the selection process.

We talk to Nick Brand, the co-founder of OnSkil, to find out more.

Nick Brand

Hi Nick! Tell us a bit about your company.

OnSkil is an IT-specific resource matching platform that provides a ‘responsible’ hiring process, to clients, whilst allowing candidates to take full ownership of how they are viewed and ultimately engaged by potential employers.

The platform achieves this by enhancing 3Bloc technology allowing OnSkil to simplify the supply chain and provide flexibility, ensuring significant improvement in relevant matching and a reduction in both costs and speed per hire.    

How did the idea for your company come about?  

As IT recruiters, we work with some of the most innovative companies using some of the most cutting edge technology.

However, despite the focus on reducing costs and improving service, by adopting things such as automation, digitalisation and AI, IT Recruitment has remained pretty much unchanged for the past 20 years.

As a senior figure within the sector, I found this baffling and therefore looked to design a new solution that set about fixing an industry that has been so blinkered, for so many years, it did not even know it was broken. 


Are you and your team still working remotely? Do you plan to keep that going?   

Being a seasoned recruiter, one of my biggest assets was always my ability to build relationships – usually face to face. However, as we went into lockdown and Microsoft Teams/Zoom meetings became the ‘norm’ we were forced to adapt to communicating via this method. 

The time-saving advantages are obvious, both in terms of travel to work/meetings, but also clients being able to ‘fit’ you into busy diaries. To this end, many of the team still work the majority of the time remotely.

However, we do make sure we all meet up as a group at least once or twice a month.   

How do you keep your team aligned?  

Teams has been a godsend - not only for the easy to schedule video calling but for the instant messaging facility. It just means we can organise kick-off group sessions, using this time to set targets and objectives and then follow up with instant messaging on a more personal basis. 

We have found this personal contact is so much more effective than traditional emails and less distracting to the team as a whole.   

What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?  

Not delegating. Trying to do everything on my own is not only stressful, but it prevents you from growing the business and stops other members of the team from developing.

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? What impact has it made?    

Yes, we are offering shares to our team.  We want all employees to be fully engaged and see their OnSkil role as a career and not just another job. 

Fantastic! Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better?   

During my first role in recruitment, I worked for a mid-size player and quickly established myself as their top contract biller.

This firm was eventually bought by a large PLC Group and despite going on to become the group’s top biller, I was abruptly made redundant. Ironically one week after being named 'Group Consultant of the Year'!

I had to find another job and quickly; my wife was seven months pregnant at the time! With the clock ticking and limited options on the table, I responded to a company based in Milton Keynes, who had tried to recruit me a couple of times previously. 

I had always rejected their approaches, as I was happy where I was and assumed they were based too far away.  Anyway, long story short I went to see them (realising, it only took me about 35-minutes to get to).

I ‘clicked’ with all the directors immediately and I ended up enjoying my most successful billing period as a consultant, which continued for nearly six years until I eventually set up my own agency. 

In a parallel universe, if you hadn’t started this company, what would you be doing?  

When I was 18 I used to play football for Brentford FC and ended up receiving a full scholarship to play college soccer over in the US.

During my time in New York, I did lots of coaching and even started my own coaching company when I returned back to the UK, this was actually a forerunner to the current football in the community programmes and became the largest football coaching organisation in the UK. 

As football has always been a passion of mine, I think if I had not started OnSkil, I would have looked at something that utilised my sales skills within the sports and leisure industry, specifically football. 

If you could only eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?  

My favourite meal is a nice cooked full English breakfast, however, not sure my heart could handle one of these every day. Therefore I would still stick with a nice cooked breakfast, but hopefully, something a bit healthier i.e. scrambled eggs, smashed avocado, smoked salmon, sourdough bread etc. 

What does company culture mean to you?  

I spend approx 9-10 hours a day at work, either from home or in the office.  On this basis, I will do everything I can to make this time as enjoyable as possible.

This can include things such as nights out, ski holidays etc. But more generally we want to create an environment where people are comfortable, motivated and as much as possible, actually enjoy what they do. 

Love that! Thanks so much for your time Nick.

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