Case studies

MacDonald Search Group achieves 48% growth

I could just see it that it’s easy to navigate your way through the JobAdder system…there is an intuitiveness to it that would lead you along the way even if you didn’t know what you were doing

For Bruce MacDonald, Toronto was a big venture. Taking MacDonald Search Group to Canada’s largest city came at a time of great growth for the 8-year-old agency, which had recently reached double-digit employee numbers.

The aim over the next three years was to emulate the success they had seen in Vancouver, with a focus on building a full-service search firm that operated across a wide variety of verticals. Furthermore, Quebec was also in their sights as a final destination, which would bring their total office locations to five.   

From faxes to fixes

When Bruce began in recruitment, résumés were sent out by faxes, there was no LinkedIn, no Indeed and everything was paper-based. “We basically used Excel spreadsheets to track our candidates in the market.”

During that time, Bruce was in charge of launching the agency into the world of recruitment platforms and considered several options starting with MaxHire Solutions [subsequently bought by Bullhorn in 2012]. “I thought that they would no longer develop the product or keep it current and so I embarked on a multi-step process to end up with JobAdder,” explained Bruce.

Over the next four years, Bruce went through four Recruitment Management Systems (RMS), one lasting a mere nine months. The first had a new user interface that was visually appealing but didn’t allow Bruce to operate the way the agency needed to. Another only allowed for one resume to be sent out at a time, a major stumbling block. A third system understood the way the agency ran but had an old user interface with an update a year or two away. “I recognised that I was losing the group again and their patience was wearing thin,” admitted Bruce.   

A serendipitous stumble onto a solution  

A YouTube search brought up a video referencing JobAdder which prompted Bruce to do some further digging. Call it coincidence, but when he contacted JobAdder’s North American sales division for a demo, he came across a familiar face, someone who had worked with one of the agency’s previous systems and therefore understood the needs of the business. “We’re an interesting search firm because there are times we emulate an executive search firm and at other times, a higher quality contingency firm.”

A big believer in finding a system that helps to make life easier for his consultants, Bruce’s number one priority was to streamline their workload and improve the process of handling high volumes. “If you have a database of candidates that you have relationships with, you can move quickly and if you can move quickly you can handle more volume. The revenue growth will eventually occur because consultants can work faster with more volume.”

“In all those other systems our team was beginning to go back to a more manual system. They weren’t bringing everything together into one database and having a clean database of organised data is paramount to today’s recruitment game,” he added.

The absence of bells and whistles

Bruce saw immediate buy-in from his veteran team, who had all worked in the industry a long time. “I could just see it that it’s easy to navigate your way through the JobAdder system…there is an intuitiveness to it that would lead you along the way even if you didn’t know what you were doing,” said Bruce, adding that it was important the system they chose wasn’t overly complicated, yet handled their needs.

“Too many of these systems have extensive bells and whistles. No offense to them, but if you drive a BMW, a BMW doesn’t have fifty or sixty different instruments on the dashboard; it’s a very clean machine and that was important to us,” he added.

Something else Bruce noticed was JobAdder’s “constant desire to improve the system…to create more features and benefits for those that want to participate in it.”

“There’s a unique feature within JobAdder [online submission form] where you can submit candidates online with a web link. The ability to submit via that method has resulted in feedback from our clients has been phenomenal. They love it. They get to see a picture of the candidate. They get to see some notes and you know what, we get to see when they view the resume. It’s a fabulous feature that I haven’t seen in any other RMS yet.”

The only way is up

MacDonald Search Group grew 48 percent in 2018, with the team gaining more time, working better and being efficient. Three consultants at the agency also had their record year, at a time when the likes of Indeed and LinkedIn have increased the competition.

And there’s more development to come. “Our next evolution will be to completely eradicate the paper portion of the business and move it all electronically. I can see it starting to occur and I’m really excited about it.

Bruce’s number one objective was to make his team’s day easier and allow them to be more efficient. “They’re happier and producing more and it just creates a win-win culture and a fabulous team.

“You know an RMS in the search business today is a foundation of their [recruiters’] capabilities and when you have a good one, you have a strong foundation.”


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