WGS: Building a voice and message for a unique search firm

WGS is a visionary executive search firm, with two unique people at its heart. Together, they’re taking on the challenge of introducing diverse leadership to engineering firms in Europe and North America.

Rich and Maria from WGS

The engineering industry is having to rethink traditional approaches to address a new kind of problem. With the rising emphasis on sustainability, solutions that were fit for purpose simply don’t work anymore.

One key to a successful shift is having a wide range of perspectives at the decision-making table.

That’s easier said than done in an industry that is highly homogeneous. In the UK, for instance, only 16.5% of the engineering workforce is female and 11.4% is non-white (2021 figures from Engineering UK). For some firms, diversity isn’t yet on the agenda, while others struggle to find leaders with the right skills from a small pool of candidates.

Richard Elvidge, founder of WGS, knows he is uniquely placed to find and connect with incredible candidates who don’t fit the usual profile. With 20 years of search experience, he’s an expert at finding people with unusual skill sets.

And he has a different motivation, too. ‘I want to look back and know I’ve done my bit to support the move toward increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Ultimately, it’s just the right thing to do.’

The Challenge

Richard approached me for help with his website copy in the early stages of setting up the business.

Already, he was absolutely clear on his vision: an executive search firm that would place exceptionally qualified, talented leaders from a wide range of backgrounds into leadership roles in the building materials sector.

To stand out to engineering firms and be approachable to candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, Richard knew that WGS needed to sound different from the rest of the recruitment sector.
That meant starting with a different kind of language. ‘What was really important is that we didn’t sound corporate or false to who we are.’

The Solution

‘When you’re a small business starting, you really want to be sure that the person on the other side of the room knows what they’re doing,’ says Richard. ‘Melissa demonstrated that from the first session.

‘She’s really easygoing. But when she really wants to get to understand you and your business, it’s a deep process with a lot of questions, a lot of notes, and a lot of questions that I would never have even considered about me or the business or what we’re trying to do.’

We started by digging deep into Richard’s own goals and motivations. Then, we outlined the needs and motivations of his two audiences:

  • The website copy needed to be approachable for potential candidates who might not fit the traditional profile of a leader in the sector (while still remaining inclusive to those who did). That meant corporate language was out of the question.
  • Engineering firms, on the other hand, would want evidence that WGS could find strong candidates for the role. Without existing case studies, that meant communicating confidence, clear processes, and professionalism.

Together, we mapped out what information each audience would need, where this needed to appear on the website, and what actions we would ask them to take.

Next, I created a simple brand voice guide. Because WGS didn’t have any existing messaging, this was designed to capture Richard’s way of speaking.

When Maria Barbusi joined the firm as a researcher shortly afterwards, bringing an even greater focus on personal connection, we adapted the voice to reflect both their contributions.

‘The beauty of my job is developing relationships with so many incredible people,’ Maria told me when we first met. ‘As a researcher, candidates become part of my life – often I’ll spend more time with them than with my family!’

Once these pieces were in place, it was time to write the website copy, with benefit-led headlines to capture attention and clear calls to action that would encourage people to connect.

The Outcome

I’ll hand back to Richard for this part:

‘A large part of working with Melissa is that she helps you find a voice you didn’t know was there. Some of the quotes and the voice she pulled out of our conversation weren’t expected at all.

‘We do a lot of social media work, communications with clients, proposals and marketing documents, and in all of that, we reflect the voice we created with Melissa, because it’s authentic.

‘I had a plan, which was to use her work for the website. I hadn’t anticipated that it would become the language for the whole business.’

Richard Elvidge, WGS

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