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Braving the Pandemic to Launch A Recruitment Agency: the Path to Entrepreneurship with Sarah and Telvin

Partnering Businesses & Recruiting Talents. A conversation with Sarah and Telvin from Talents @ Work, in our series of Change Stories from the Garage Community. #BeTheChange

As part of our #BeTheChange series, we sit down and discuss how people and businesses have evolved, with change-makers in our Garage Community. 


In today’s interview, we chat with Telvin and Sarah, founders and directors of recruitment consultancy Talents @ Work. Sarah has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, and Telvin has been in the recruitment industry for more than 10 years as well. Despite the pandemic, they broke away from their stable careers, and forged ahead to launch their business at the start of this year. We met them at Garage Kallang to discuss their philosophy towards entrepreneurship, their WorkStyle approach, and the challenges they’ve faced in the Zoom interview era.



Garage Society: What led you to start your own business? 


Telvin: I believe the moment was just right to look into starting my own business. I’ve previously led teams, and having that experience really solidified my confidence to start my own business. 


Sarah: For more than 20 years, I have worked in the field of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. Human Resources, in my opinion, is someone who helps to shape the workplace as a whole. Telvin shared his ideas of starting the business and I take it as a great opportunity to branch out on my own.


Talents @ Work Logo


GS: How did you decide on the name Talents @ Work for your consultancy?


Telvin: Sarah was the one who came up with the name for our company! The thumbprint in our logo represents that everyone is unique, and that the candidates we placed are as unique as the business. We needed a name that would make us stand out from the rest of the recruitment agencies.


GS: What is your philosophy for succeeding within the recruiting space? 


Telvin: Firstly, It is unquestionably necessary to be well-versed in the industry for which I am hiring. Sarah plays a key role in the HR administration side of the firm, something we discussed before we started this business together. 


In terms of clients, it’s all about building meaningful relationships. We aim to learn more deeply about our clients' hiring concerns and the challenges they're facing. This helps us understand them better and be able to address each concern. I'm confident that everything will work out in the end as long as we have a clear understanding between our clients and ourselves. That is my philosophy. 


Sarah: I feel that a client should be able to put their trust in us to accomplish a good job for them. They must be willing to divulge more details about their company's employment requirements. It will be difficult for us to work effectively with only limited information, so building trust is the first step in forming a strong collaboration. 


GS: How do you position your business strategy to follow through with this philosophy? 


Telvin: There are a lot of recruitment agencies out there, so we do need to have our own unique factors to stand out from the competition. We distinguish ourselves by offering customized solutions based on our clients' demands - something that many recruitment agencies lack nowadays. That is what set us apart from the competition. 


We go to great lengths to understand their problems and do not simply make recommendations. This is something that we do not only with clients, but also with our candidates as well. Candidates are eager to provide us with comments even after a month or two at their new role, allowing us to resolve their concerns. There are situations when candidates will even share good news with us, such as a promotion or a raise!


To be honest, recruitment is a lot like matchmaking! Even if a candidate is unsuitable for the immediate position, we’ll choose to keep their profile for a role that could be perfect for them in the future. 


Most recruitment firms are only concerned with increasing sales figures, however, we want to do things right and for the long-term goal. Maintaining a rapport with clients and candidates is super crucial to us. A successful relationship will produce positive word-of-mouth and, as a result, increased sales. Our recruitment firm is adamant about our operating methodology. 

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GS: What challenges have your business faced in the last year? 


Telvin: The pandemic has shifted much of the recruitment process into the digital space, and this has brought both conveniences and challenges. On one hand, it was much easier to quickly determine traits and characteristics of a candidate, based on their body language during a face-to-face interview. A lot of that moved onto Google Meet, Zoom, and other platforms during the pandemic. Though we might still be able to achieve results, this lacks human interactions and thus might impact the accuracy. 


Also, candidates no longer need to commute long distances to meet with us in person, which has helped us achieve faster results in matching them to jobs than in the past.  I should mention that blue-collar workers have become more digital-savvy these days, with video interviews becoming increasingly popular. 


GS: What do you think the future of recruitment looks like, and what can we do to stay ahead of the curve?


Telvin: I've heard that artificial intelligence (AI) will be the next virtual mentor. To me, it has a beneficial impact, and searches may be completed more easily with the help of AI. However, removing the recruitment spectrum and methods is not recommended because the human touch element is still important especially in the recruitment industry. 


Another tip is to stay up to date with the various digital job application platforms. We are increasingly using those platforms as a lead generation tool and relying less on pure word-of-mouth methods. So my advice for job seekers is to take the extra time to upskill if they are not tech-savvy!


GS: What is your advice for other startup entrepreneurs? 


Telvin: Starting a business during a pandemic doesn’t exactly seem like a wise decision, but if you are a risk-taker, then why not? I see it from a different perspective, I believe that as long as you have a solid foundation of knowledge and competencies, you are more than capable. 


Sarah: People have asked why I chose to leave a well-paying position to start my own business, which is risky as I have a family. To me, you must take the initial step, if not you will never know how far you will progress. 




When Sarah and Telvin aren’t meeting with clients, you can find them at our Garage Kallang location, discussing business strategies while enjoying the outdoor terrace.


To learn more about Talents @ Work, visit their website or connect with them on Linkedin.  


Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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