20 years of recruitment and many more to come


We’re Celebrating 20 years in Business

Read about our history through the words of founder and managing director Maureen Adam.

So much has happened in 20 years of Adams. We have had births, marriages, divorces, broken hearts, tales of falling in love, people coming and going, some people coming back, and sadly, deaths. There have been tears and laughter, good times and bad, but never a dull moment. Some characters are never to be forgotten whilst others leave hardly a trace behind them.

It all began in an attic in Edam, born out of frustration at the short-sightedness of the Dutch agencies back in the mid 90’s, when temporary agencies had notices on their door stating that people who didn’t speak Dutch were not welcome. I remember walking into one agency, to be greeted by a young woman who took my CV and as I walked out the door she threw it promptly in the bin. It was difficult to find a good job without speaking Dutch and yet, in the meantime, I could see that Amsterdam was attracting international companies and there were very few agencies addressing this change. I knew there was a business opportunity out there.

Though starting my own business had never been a dream, I took the plunge and set up Adams Multilingual Recruitment. I decided that my main goal was to offer a quality service to both clients and candidates. I wanted it to be personable as well as professional. I had worked in recruitment in both London and Hong Kong, so I was used to delivering a high level of service and felt it was something that the Dutch agencies were not offering back in 1997.

It was not easy to set up a business as a foreigner in the 1990’s. With only moderate Dutch I had to deal with government bodies, as all the staff refused to speak English. I had to learn fast! Once I had made my way through the bureaucracy and started working, things took off quickly. I gained a lot of sympathy from both clients and candidates who were supportive of me and my business. Clients had time to meet with me and were interested in what I was doing. Candidates I met with who went to work for other companies spoke to their managers about me and encouraged them to use Adams for their recruitment.

Back then, there was no Google and no Internet. Instead, I bought lists of companies from the Chamber of Commerce and made my way through them. Newspaper articles were an excellent source of leads and once I started interviewing candidates they were always happy to give me tips. As there was little competition, sales calls brought almost instant results. One early call led to my first client, a call centre in Amsterdam that was expanding rapidly and needed a team of UK speakers immediately. I had no pool of candidates but that did not stop me! Those were the days when I had the time to place an advert in the newspaper and wait for reactions. The telephone never stopped ringing and the rest, as they say, is history.

Read an exclusive interview by the NRC with founder Maureen Adam.

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