In 1997, Jude Winstanley was a sought after Runner on UK entertainment programmes. Finding her phone ringing constantly with work offers and unable to service them all, she began sharing the work by emailing friends and former colleagues whenever she was unavailable. The calls developed into general recruitment requests so in 2004 Jude set up a round-robin email with recruitment information being forwarded across the industry to hundreds of freelancers.
By February 2007, identifying that the new social media platforms could work efficiently to spread the information further afield, and achieve far quicker results than traditional email, she set up a Facebook group, naming it ‘The Unit List’ and initially invited just 50 friends and former colleagues to join. The group was so successful that it grew organically within 18 months to over 5000 members. The membership consisting of freelancers, staffers, employers, students and facility companies. The vacancies were being viewed by not only the target audience (the freelance workers) and their potential employers but also by those in education hoping for an opportunity to present itself, creative teams surmising what their rivals were up to and those interested in changing career and observing what was out there.
By keeping the format of the information to basic essential points, the CVs of applicants applying matched the employer’s requirements much more closely when they knew start dates, locations and a brief description of skills required. Soon, employers began to approach Jude that had never worked with her, or had even heard of her, but by the strength of the group’s reputation got in contact to help with their recruitment.
In June 2007, Jude started planning the development of the group into its own subscription based website but, by August of that year the jobs had begun to dry up and companies just weren’t hiring. The idea and half built website were shelved with the intention to resume when the market picked up.
The group continued to operate successfully on social networking platforms and by late 2009, Jude was approached by three separate companies, all hoping to incorporate the brand into their already existing outfits. Neither operation offered comparable methodology or outlooks, so the invitations were politely declined. However this convinced Jude that there was a market for the website offering recruitment, career development and lifestyle management. Recognising that not everyone uses Facebook, she launched @theunitlist for Twitter and set up a blog as a temporary website to publish vacancies on at www.theunitlist.com
Running a busy full time , staff job as a Production Manager at a documentaries company, it took until 2012 for Jude to further develop plans for the site and 2013 for the independent launch.