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How to Turn Creativity into a Competitive Advantage

Today, new ideas and entrepreneurship are what drive our economy forward. Capitalizing from the means of production is now overshadowed by creative competitiveness – the ability of organizations to pursue new ideas, find new ways of doing things and cultivate creativity in their workforce. Cultivating a creative workforce doesn’t just involve hiring creative people, although that is an important factor. To allow creativity to become a powerful, driving force in your company, you need to update and restructure the governance and operations of your company.

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” – William Plomer

Make creativity a top priority

In most profit driven companies, efficiency is king. All processes, job titles and team structures are driven towards achieving the most efficient and profitable means of production. In a creative organization, brainstorming and idea development must be prioritized over budget, hierarchy, and process. At its core, creativity is about disruption. It’s that brilliant idea that interrupts what you’re doing and is so powerful that it distracts you from thinking about anything else. To be creative, your company will need to change the way you’ve done things because new ideas aren’t produced from “we’ve just always done it this way,” environments. Shifting your priority to creativity, doesn’t mean your company will let productivity fall behind. In fact, productivity can become much more meaningful when your employees have a steak in the creative process behind your business impact.

“Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” – Albert Einstein

Foster a creative space

Space absolutely matters when trying to foster creativity. Your environment influences how you feel, think and interact with those around you. Giving your employees a space and the tools to allow them to be creative will promote idea generation and creative collaboration. With gaming areas, studios and miniature golf courses, Google is a leading example of how their office space keeps their employees happy, productive and inventive. While your company may not have the space or means to implement Google’s approach, creating a small break out room and decorating the office with inspiring art can go a long way. When the office becomes stagnant, encouraging your team to leave work, change their environment and socialize away from the confines of their daily pressures can boost innovative thinking.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou

Hire for the creative eye

At Pixar, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull knew that top performing creative people want to work with other top creative performers. If you know that creativity is a skill that your team is lacking, you will need to strategically recruit for a creative skills. You can attract to creative talent by drafting up job listing that is quirky and unlike typical corporate postings. In the interview, it’s important to ask questions to determine how curious and inquisitive a candidate is. Asking what genres they like reading or what they are passionate about will help reveal if they are single minded or curious about the world.

But hiring one or two creative minds won’t be enough. Your team will need mentoring and coaching to break out of routine ways of approaching their work. Holding a workshop with a notable leader who has demonstrated creative success will not only help your team think differently, but will attract talent who know about and appreciate the creative work of others.

Stay current with emerging trends in recruiting, careers and the tech industry

Recruiting for a creative skill set can be difficult. Unless your candidate has a portfolio of past work that clearly demonstrates innovative thinking, it’s hard for the untrained recruiter to identify a truly creative mind. Plus, it’s vital that you test for cultural fit during the hiring process, as the best creative processes are collaborative. Working with a professional recruiter will bring in the expertise and experience to hire smart and stack your team for success.

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3 Easy Ways to Thank Your Employees and Clients Over The Holidays

T’is the season to strengthen your relationships and boost your bottom line these holidays.

As the holiday season begins and a New Year is around the corner, meeting budget targets and increasing revenue will be top of mind. Now is the perfect time to stop to thank your employees and clients. We often underestimate the power of appreciation, and when it comes to showing thanks, a little can go a long way.

Boost your bottom line

Taking the time to say “thank you” can have a direct impact on your bottom line. Out of 2,044 employees interviewed by Harris Interactive, 53% said they would stay at their company longer if they were more appreciated by their manager. Often when we choose to do business with someone, either as a customer or a client, we choose to do business with people we like, and as Entrepreneur and angel investor Amy Rees Anderson said, “everyone likes someone who appreciates them.”

Make it meaningful… because gift baskets only go so far

Year after year, many companies extend the same gesture of thanks. Whether it’s a gift basket full of edible treats, tickets to a game, or a gift card, generic thank you gifts miss the mark. Personalized, thoughtful and meaningful signs of appreciation are often easy to do and have the biggest impact. Below are three easy ways to thank your employees and clients over the holidays.

Make an impact with unexpected perks

Unexpected perks leave a lasting impression and signal that you are going above and beyond to please. For employees, offering flexible holiday hours, a casual dress day or time off will go a long way. Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day! Employee Recognition that Works, says that “time off is absolutely number one.” Unexpected treats not only make people feel special but can also drive deeper emotional connections.

You can easily surprise and delight your best business customers with a memorable client perk. Whether it’s hosting a dinner for your best clients, sending them a sneak-peak of an upcoming product release, or offering a generous loyalty discount, perks resonate with clients and deepen their loyalty. Plus, it gets them talking about your business, driving more clients and customers your way.

Handwritten notes

It’s easy to overlook the power of appreciation, but the value of a handwritten note should never be underestimated. Showing that you have personally taken the time to recognize an employee’s contributions or the loyalty of your clients will have a powerful impact. Over 85 percent of employees say that being recognized motivates them in their job. If you choose to handwrite a personal note to your employees be sure to express your gratitude for their hard work and the unique skills that they contribute to the team.

Surprise your clients with a handwritten note next time you send them a delivery or after sharing a cup of coffee or drink with them. Valuing your clients time by taking your time to write a thank-you shows real respect. A handwritten note proves to your customers that you value their business and are personally accountable for the service they receive.

Make your recognition public

It’s easy to share thanks in the privacy of a one-on-one meeting or over the phone on a client call, but nothing makes a thank you go deep than public recognition in the holidays. When PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, revealed that she thanked the families of her employees, it made waves across business and leadership media. Inviting family members of employees or clients to a holiday dinner, or showcasing your employee or client successes on social media are some of the best ways to make recognition meaningful. Plus, you’ll be showing how much your organization cares about it’s clients, employees, and their families.

Beyond the holiday season, focusing on your employees and clients, and not just the tasks that need to be done can have a big pay-off. Being appreciative should be a regular part of your relationship building strategy year-round, including when you are in the chase for the best talent. Remember, everyone wants to feel appreciated and the holidays are one of the best times to make a ‘thank you’ meaningful.

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The Anatomy of Toronto as a Sustainable Tech Ecosystem 

“The bottom line is we are not at our potential – nowhere near our potential.”

Toronto Mayor, John Tory masterfully summed up the city’s flourishing startup and tech ecosystem. With an ever-expanding workforce, Toronto has all the building blocks towards layering a solid foundation for more startups to evolve into global powerhouses. With a local tech culture that values entrepreneurialism, an educational infrastructure, hands-on training and a growing reputation to boot – the positive signs that the Toronto tech sector is beginning to come into its own are showing on the global stage.

The youth-loving culture in the tech industry

Much has been written across prominent publications about the layers of factors that go into Toronto’s booming tech environment. A favorable currency exchange, affordable healthcare and a government that encourages innovation in technology top the list – but there’s an underscoring question we forget to look at: what else is there that serves as the beacon for pulling people in?

Simply put, Toronto is sitting on a gold mine of talent – and we’re starting to really see the rush.

The numbers validate Toronto as a hotbed for talent with over 231,000 tech jobs and the city hosting between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups. The city will only continue to expand with an estimated 3.5 million people to be added to the Greater Toronto area in the next 20 years.

What does the supporting community have to offer the talent pool? Consider what the majority of new graduates want to do once they’ve tossed off the cap and gown –by and large they will flock to the major city centres to immerse themselves in the urban environment, to embrace the vibrant nightlife and to thrive off its creative neighbourhoods. And if you’re in the technology sector in a smaller town, and the company doesn’t work out, you’re kind of limited to what other options there are available for you.

Tech companies have a certain age that comprises the bulk of their workforce that helps engineer and sell their product. Now with that age bracket sometimes comes an unfortunate connotation attached with regards to age discrimination, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of their labour force are in their mid 20’s to early 30’s.

Is Toronto a better startup environment than Silicon Valley?

Should we constantly be comparing ourselves to Silicon Valley? Short answer – no.

They are still the Holy Grail for technology companies, and produce more unicorns than a fairy tale.

“The difference between Canada and Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystems is difficult to define, and hard to understand until you’ve lived in the U.S. for a significant enough period of time. But in addition to their world-famous kindness, Canadians are vibrant, educated, intelligent – and loyal.” – Steve Woods, Google Canada’s Senior Engineering Director. “If you’re creating a startup you need loyalty, because people can walk away, because they’re easily employable, so you want people who are committed, who don’t feel like they’re just doing it for themselves – and in Canada you get that.”

With access to cottage country only an hour away, the U.S. border within reach, world-class professional sports teams, a vibrant arts and culture scene and a city that’s nestled along one of the Great Lakes – and not to pump our own tires here, but sometimes we forget how fortunate we are for this melting pot we call home. Plus our trademarked politeness is even being seem as a value add with TechCrunch boasting that, “the international community has long regarded Canadians as being a kinder, friendlier and a more accepting culture. Softer and less aggressive both socially and in business – Canadians are pleasurable to work with.”

While there’s no denying what Silicon Valley has done for the technology landscape, Toronto can’t be overlooked for what their booming talent pool offers towards building a sustainable ecosystem.

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Martyn and his firm are awesome at hiring salespeople and sales leaders. He pretty much staffed up our entire sales team at Eloqua.

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Innovation is the key to success, which is why I trusted Martyn to build the product management team that’s pioneering our next generation of software. These were strategic, technical roles and – as usual – Martyn’s team delivered nothing less than the ideal candidate.
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We drew up a very specific wishlist for our Business Development Executive – which included experience in managed and professional services, consistent over-performance and experience as a consultant – before we retained Martyn. We had no guarantee that candidate was on the market but Martyn’s team produced several that ticked all the boxes and one that exceeded our expectations.
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Martyn has access to a seemingly limitless number of talented sales leaders and he is sure to understand business needs and present only fully vetted candidates. I wholly recommend him for anyone – candidate or hiring manager – looking to find the right home for talented sales leaders.
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Having gone through interviews and job negotiations many times on my own before, I have to say that being presented by a recruiter this time made the process so much smoother. I’m sure that myself and my employer are both happier with the outcome as a result of working with Martyn Bassett Associates through the process.
Eric Bradnam
Solutions Architect –  Channel Sales, Dundas Data Visualization
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Martyn’s ability to bring talent to you is a benefit in and of itself, but what truly impressed me is his understanding of what you need and what you don’t need and having the conversation about it.

I looked at Martyn as more than the guy bringing talent to me – I looked to him for advice throughout the process.

Jamie Schneiderman
CEO, Clearfit
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A company is only as successful as its talented people, which is why we turned to Martyn to find us the right people, for the right roles, at critical points in Leonardo’s growth.

Having top talent in place has helped the company’s transformation from a small media production company to a digital technology company serving the global hospitality industry. The quality of talent that Martyn has brought us is unmatched.

Paolo Boni
CEO, Leonardo
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It’s a tricky thing to find the right people based in Toronto who can go and sell to distant markets and how to sell in a SaaS world with the right language skills – you can imagine it’s like finding a needle in a haystack and Martyn came up with great candidates that we used to fill a number of roles.
Greg Durand
VP, Global Sales, Medgate
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