The vision of De Linde Groep B.V. originated in1991. At that time the founder developed an ideal picture of the way the provision of services should be formed. The fundamental idea was that quality noticeably increases when clients and candidates are acknowledged in an optimal way. The founder, Mrs. Joyce van de Linde, started her career in the early nineties as local executive and project manager with a leading employment agency (Vedior) in Dordrecht and Utrecht. Later she continued her career in the recruitment- and selection branch, first as local executive, after that as regional manager and member of the senior board of “Atwork Automatisering”. In the summer of 2001 she set up De Linde Groep in Eindhoven.
Interview with the founder of De Linde Groep BV, Mrs. Joyce van de Linde:
How was De Linde Groep founded and what was your motivation to start a recruitment- and selection agency?
“I was working in this branch for quite a long time and I had been trough a lot during my career. At one point I worked as a regional manager and I joined the board of directors of a big national company. At that time one question continued to recur: “And now, what is next, what can be a new challenge?” In fact I always had the aspiration to start a business myself. I was raised in a family of small entrepreneurs; my father was a family doctor and my mother led the pharmacy. So running my own company was an appealing thought. Besides this I wanted to do some things concerning the forms of provision of services, that would be somewhat more exiting then the things I did in the organization I was working at the time. Specifically I wanted to increase quality, try new things and put a somewhat different way of working and working together into practice. It was not as much about size, the company I worked for had 120 employees, whereas I had to start as a small firm again. What mattered to me was a different formula.”
You mentioned ‘more quality’?
“Yes, more quality. But the definition of quality is different for everyone. The way I see it, quality is putting much more effort in client and candidate. Furthermore, and that was my biggest drive, I wanted to put something special into the market, something slightly out of the ordinary. Something that others ultimately wouldn’t do, which is giving a really honest advice to clients and live up after that at each level. I wanted to be an advisor for the client. This ambition has some consequences for the way you have to work within an organization. It implies you can only present the best candidates, thus not ‘throwing candidates over the fence’ as many people in this branch do, but present people you would employ yourself when working in a human resource position in the clients organization. You have to be very honest; and it actually means letting go of some of the commercial elements. You won’t urge the client to speak with as many candidates as possible, instead you select candidates especially for the client and present them with an overview of all positive, but also less positive aspects of the candidates. To accomplish this way of working you need to attract a certain type of personnel, who are appealed to this formula and who are able to bring it into practice. We also do job hunting and headhunting and proceed upon this in a similar way. We don’t put pressure on people that are directly approached, but instead we listen very carefully to what they really want. There are headhunters that call the same candidate 3 or 4 times about the same vacancy and persist. We don’t work that way. It has to do with professional ethics, with treating your environment carefully.”
What did you receive in return?
“Our way of working is satisfying for me and my colleagues. I notice that the consultants like working here and that this is partly due to the fact that they are not required to cunningly sell to customers. Instead they are able to practice their profession in a serious manner. It feels like you fulfil the human resource position for the client, and I think that’s the way it should be in our profession. To me that is quality and honesty. Suppose that you work for a client and that you have introduced a candidate, and that the client is very enthusiastic about this candidate and intends to employ him. But if this match doesn’t feel right to you, a feeling probably prompted by your experience and intuition, you have to find out what causes this feeling. You check references or suggest to do an assessment. So, it’s not your main goal to have the client accept the candidate and thereby having ‘fulfilled’ your task. To me that’s sincerity and honesty, to truly communicate with the client in an open way. I feel that a really professional recruitment and selection agency should be intensively involved with its customers, both clients and candidates. Our consultants need to be thoroughly known with their clients’ organizations, so to speak as if they have been working for the organisation for years. They have to know very well what the organization looks for and needs and they truly want the best for the company. That’s important. You have to welcome the success the organization gets out of this. And when you consider individual career advise projects (for example outplacement), it’s my opinion that you are not only there to hold hands and comfort the candidate, but you should actually make a meaningful contribution. At first you have to get to know this person really well. To do so you should use all sorts of different tools and you have to job hunt in an active way. By doing that you really help both candidate and client.”
Did you have a specific goal when you just started De Linde Groep?
“Yes, absolutely. When I started the market was growing, and my ideal was to set up two establishments within a few years. But then there were the terrorist attacks of 9th 11, and the recruitment market collapsed completely for quite some time. Surprisingly De Linde Groep performed quite well during that period. By now we have a lot of customers that have been with us from the beginning. We managed to get through the last couple of years really well and I’m very grateful for that.”
In what way does De Linde Groep distinguish itself from other agencies?
“I once, probably over a decade ago, read an article in which the author had investigated why customers leave a recruitment and selection agency and choose another one. The most prominent reason was that agreements were not lived up to, and that promises were made that couldn’t be followed. I have always remembered this and it became my iron rule: ‘follow your agreements and communicate in an honest way’.”
What is the biggest compliment you have ever received?
“Our biggest compliment actually comes from our clients and candidates. Very much word-of-mouth marketing. Which I perceive to be a really big compliment, for it comes right out of peoples’ hearts. We didn’t ask them anything; they took the initiative in telling others that they were satisfied with our service. When we receive a lot of compliments like these, we’re clearly doing something right.”
Why, out of all possible projects, did De Linde Groep initiated a child project rather than something for adults, for your own target group?
“Little things can make a difference, especially for young children. With them, you can still do something meaningful and have a significant influence.This project is an outcome of my belief that you can change things in a positive way, at least when you have the means to do so. This project stems from the ambition to alter little things for young children, in order to change their unfolding life for the better leading them to grow into healthy and happy adults. In our profession we often meet people who are not feeling happy with their life. My believe is that it already makes a difference when you are able to help just one person. Because of this project I can be involved with people and their future in a somewhat different way Because De Linde Groep celebrated her 5 year anniversary in 2006 we wanted to do something special. A personal trigger for me was that my neighbours adopted two Chinese girls, from an orphanage.”
Can De Linde Groep make a difference in this world?
“I think that when you are able to help just one person, it already makes a difference. As an organization we distinguish ourselves with our core business, by trying to treat people carefully. And when we, on top of this, are occasionally able to help a child creating a better future, I’m very satisfied.”
Why doing things in a slightly different way?
“Because I enjoy it better that way. I want to do things that coincide with my passion. It is motivating to be really occupied with your profession, to work together with others within the agency and share with them. That’s something very nice and it makes life exciting.”