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How to overcome the skills shortage

Posted on: September 29th, 2015 by admin No Comments


There’s no hiding from the truth: the UK is in the midst of a major skills shortage.

  • 146,0001 vacancies remain unfilled because of a lack of candidates with the relevant skills, experience or qualifications.
  • 15% of employers report that even their current employees are not ‘fully proficient’ in their roles – equivalent to 1.4 million British workers.

Politicians, educators and big-time businesses are busy pointing accusatory fingers at each other, but it’s the executives and small business owners who are suffering day-to-day limitations of productivity and competitiveness.

With each job advert placed, a new flurry of lacklustre CVs pile in, and it’s this underwhelming waste of time that can make it seem like you’ve got no other option than to give up on your recruitment drives altogether. But succumbing to defeat never ends well; your existing employees will likely be obliged to take on the extra work, and after months of being inundated with tasks outside of their job descriptions, one-by-one they’ll hand in their resignations until you’re left staring gormlessly around an empty office.

This unfortunate sequence of events can be prevented with the following tips. By actively working to overcome the skills shortage, you’ll be able to secure the qualities you need staff to possess, no matter what state your industry or the wider job market is in.

Adopt a staff retention strategy

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to overcome a skills shortage is to train from within.

Whether you do it internally, or if you choose to send your staff on external training courses, employee training is an essential component of any retention strategy; it allows managers to ensure their staff are taught the skills necessary to perform their roles efficiently, plus it makes workers feel valued, which means they’re less likely to look for a job elsewhere and leave you panic-searching for an adequately skilled replacement.

You can read more about when, why and how to implement a staff retention strategy here.

Hire for development (i.e. change the wording on your jobs specs!)

Sometimes you’ve got to be honest with yourself and ask: Is there a skills shortage, or am I just asking too much?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a multi-talented workforce, and in certain industries such as the media, it’s not uncommon to find execs that are knowledgeable across disciplines, from strategy to campaign delivery. However, many candidates are coming from workplaces in which they’ve had one function; they may be hunting for a new job because they want to expand their skillset, but those knowledge-hungry candidates may never apply if they feel they can’t tick all of the boxes on your job specification.

This transpires into your interview process too. Competency-based interviews, for example, serve to highlight past experiences, theorising that the candidate will replicate these behaviours if you offer them the role. The information you’ll draw out here is limited because the opportunities may never arise to discuss the ways in which the candidate wants to develop and how malleable they are.

In this sense, changing the wording on your job specs and the criteria boxes within your interview assessments can prove valuable. It may be as simple as shifting some of your ‘essential’ competencies into the ‘desired’ category, so once you’ve found an eager and hard-working new employee, you can start working on developing those missing or underdeveloped skills.

Look in new places

Another question you should ask yourself is: Am I just looking in the wrong places?

Recruitment methods can get stale, which is why it’s essential to dust yours off every now and then, and look for new avenues to explore for talent. This may mean switching recruitment agencies, attending job fairs, or using social media in ways you’ve not done before; candidates don’t always come directly to the vacancies page on your website, and they don’t all use the same recruitment agents, so there are plenty of skilled, talented workers out there who you’ve not come across yet. You may even discover perfect matches who are not actively looking for a new job, but if you can reach out to them with a fantastic job offer, they may be enticeable.

Implement a graduate scheme

Graduates are cheap to hire, quick to learn and well practiced in transferable skills, such as written and oral communication, organisation, and data analysis. However, graduate schemes are a really competitive field right now because huge numbers of businesses recognise that securing top-tier university graduates is one of the most logical recruitment methods during a skills shortage.

Many businesses will start taking applications from graduates a year before they finish their degree or masters course in order to secure the highest level of talent before they’re off the job market. It’s a yearlong task for your HR team, but if you’ve got the resources to advertise and run a graduate scheme (or if you can enlist the assistance of a recruitment agency), doing so can really pay off.

You can read more about producing an effective graduate scheme here.

Run an apprenticeship programme

Trade industries, such as construction and plumbing, have felt the real brunt of the UK’s skills shortage, with a reported 35%2 of trades companies struggling to find qualified workers. The UK is currently undergoing a major residential and commercial development drive as the population grows, but without suitably skilled engineers available, many firms have to turn down work.

To challenge the shortfall, trades companies have demonstrated their resourcefulness by initiating a high percentage of apprenticeships: on-the-job training, backed up by nationally recognised qualifications, taught at a college.

Any industry can run apprenticeships, from events to business management. Whilst in training, businesses have additional hands-on-deck at a lower cost than the average employee, and once qualified, you’ve got a fully trained professional who is already completely accustomed to your company’s way of working.

If your business is suffering a skills shortage, our consultants are here to help. We can assess the needs of your company and source reputable talent at all levels to help your business grow. Call us on 08456 182 750, email us at or submit your enquiry via our online contact form today.

1 BBC, 2015. How job and skills shortage affect the UK. [Online] Available at:
2 Liverpool Echo, 2015. Construction skills shortages may lead to shortfall of new North West homes, claims recruiter. [Online] Available at:
All information sources accessed 25th September 2015.

Employers, this is how to get the best out of your recruitment agency

Posted on: September 2nd, 2015 by admin No Comments


Most businesses reach a point when they need to enlist the assistance of a recruitment agency. You may choose to do so because you’re hiring in a new location or for a new role, thus need specialist advice and connections, or because you simply don’t have the time or resources to find the best candidates internally.

Some companies will continue to use external recruiters on an ad hoc basis whilst others will use their recruiter all year round to fill each position that becomes available.

Whichever recruitment strategy you adopt, this simple fact remains the same: you’re paying your recruitment agent for their services, so you want to ensure you get the most for your spend.

These are our top tips for employers using a recruitment agency:

  1. Determine what’s most cost-effective – paying per candidate placement or on a retainer.

    Recruiter fees are usually liable on the day that the successful candidate starts working at your company, charged at a rate of anywhere between 15% and 30% of the candidate’s salary. If you’re only hiring a handful of times each year, this is likely to be the most affordable method of finding professional, reference-checked and dedicated new members of staff. However, if you’re hiring regularly, the per-placement payment plan will get expensive quickly.

    In this scenario, speak to your recruitment agent about their retained payment plans, as these usually work out cheaper percentage-wise per successful placement, and you can spread your expenses out over the year.

  2. It sounds obvious but a clear, unique job spec is essential.

    Many companies create generic job specifications to save time. This technique is flawed because it results in applicants trying to prove their suitability for the wrong criteria, so you’ll end up wasting more time trying to evaluate their CV against the real job at hand.

    The following must feature on the job spec you send to your recruitment agency, so they can find you qualified candidates:

    • Job title, department, and to whom the employee would report
    • Location
    • Type of employment (e.g. full-time, part-time, shift pattern)
    • Main duties and objectives of the job (provide detailed explanation for between five and ten of the key responsibilities)
    • Likely changes or developments in the role and the scope for progression or promotion
    • Essential skills or qualifications required to perform the job (e.g. PRINCE2)
    • Soft skills, preferred experience or personality traits in a desirable candidate
    • Salary and benefits

    Really think about what your company has to offer because you need to sell the job to the best candidates just as much as they need to sell themselves to you. You can do this by including a company overview with all of your organisation’s unique selling points, as you are likely to be fighting with your competitors for the top talent.

  3. Set up a face-to-face with your recruitment consultant and block out regular appointments in your diary to check in with them.

    Find out who the recruitment consultant handling your account is, make sure that you’re happy with their credentials, and confirm that they understand your requirements and the deadlines you wish to set.

    Undoubtedly, the initial meeting should be in person, and then you can set aside time slots to go through any correspondence they send you, such as candidate CVs, interview bookings, and feedback requests.

    The goal is to create a partnership with your recruitment consultant, not just a soulless transaction, as this will bring in much stronger results and you’ll reduce the risk of losing quality talent through a lack of communication.

  4. Consider giving exclusivity.

    Advertising your job vacancy with several different recruiters won’t necessarily bring you more talent, as you’re likely to end up with duplicate CVs, plus a whole heap of extra tasks on your to-do list when you need to respond to all of the consultants you’re working with.

    If you want to test the waters with this approach before throwing out all of your other contacts altogether, give one recruitment agency a 2-4 week head start on finding the right candidate on an exclusive contract. If they don’t deliver within this time period, you can then open up the job vacancy to other recruiters.

  5. Nurture the relationship.

    Your recruitment agency gets paid when you’re happy, so they will always be looking for ways to add value to your business. This is why it’s great to regularly check in with your best performing recruitment consultants and provide them with insights into your business; they’ll then be in the best position to inform you of the latest industry news and when desirable talent is on the market.

    No two recruitment agencies are the same; there are generic agencies that draw in large candidate volumes and niche agencies that bring in specialist talent. The important thing is to find one that is bringing in the right results for your business model, whether that’s talent innovation, employee loyalty, or brand exposure.

Keen to read more? Click here for tips on improving your interview process.

Your 2-minute interview audit

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by admin No Comments


The job interview is arguably the most important part of your recruitment process. Fall victim to the common mess-ups of interviewer bias and lack of interview technique training, and your business could spend months enduring the pitfalls of hiring the wrong person, wasted budget and painfully stretched resources included.

This action-orientated guide aims to inform you of some genuinely useful improvements you can make to your interview process, in less than a two-minute read.

Let’s get started:

1. Implement a consistent structure

Start by defining the key requirements for the job and create a standard set of questions based upon them. Use these exact questions for each applicant, even if several interviewers will be conducting the interviews.

It’s wise to determine acceptable answers to each question before you start interviewing so you can perform a stronger and more objective evaluation of each candidate.

Once you have a consistent structure in place, bias issues are eliminated, and you’ll also be able to prevent interviewees from directing their own interviews by travelling off topic.

2. Establish some ground rules on non-verbal cues

Interviewers are only human, thus a candidate’s body language, posture, mannerisms, and appearance, may naturally affect their decisions. However, the business landscape is ever-changing and job interviews are becoming increasingly relaxed, so it’s important for hiring companies to decide which non-verbal cues they deem to be acceptable or unacceptable.

For instance, you may choose not to discredit an individual for failing to wear a suit to their job interview, but you may think twice about offering them the role if they struggle to maintain eye contact throughout, as this attribute wouldn’t sit well in the client-facing position you’re hiring for.

3. Remember that the interview has a dual purpose

A job interview has two functions: firstly, it must discern if the candidate is qualified for the job, and secondly, it must provide information on that job, your organisation and the company culture.
Therefore, it is essential to set aside enough time to deliver on your side too. Many good candidates may be in the process of interviewing at several different companies, and if you fail to make them feel adequately prepared and wanted, you may lose them to a competitor.

4. Ensure all of your interviewers are equally effective

Some interviewers are great ambassadors for your company who’ll apply great detail to their interviews and may be able to draw out real insights into candidates’ capabilities. Others may not be so efficient.

This is where experienced management and added training courses prove essential.

5. Take candidates’ promises with a pinch of salt

Candidates predict what you will ask them before the interview using the job specification, your company’s public communications, and insights from their peers or online resources, such as Glassdoor. They’ll then say what they think you want to hear on the day of the interview.

If you are hiring through a recruitment agency, you’ll get a more honest representation of the candidate. After all, the agent only gets paid if you hire the person they put forward for the role, so they will extensively research and assess their candidate before introducing you.

Another way to garner a true representation of an applicant’s capabilities is to test them on job-specific skills using automated technologies, or ask to see their portfolio if you’re working in the creative industry environment.

6. Don’t let a valuable candidate slip through the net

A lot of offices are set up in a way that the meeting rooms are near the reception, or down a corridor away from where the hive of your business activities are taking place. This means that an interviewee can easily have their interview on-site without ever really seeing your office.

Candidates need to see the environment they’ll be working in so they can envision themselves there for the foreseeable future. If it means taking them the long-route round to the meeting room, do it! It could be the deal-clincher you need to secure that model employee.

For more recruitment guides and industry insights, connect with us on LinkedIn.

Hiring graduates: how to overcome the challenges

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by admin No Comments


This year, 30%1 of companies are expected to hire more graduates than ever before.

Businesses hire graduates because university-leavers are:

  • Cheaper to hire
  • Quicker to learn
  • Practiced in transferable skills, such as written and oral communication, organisation and data analysis
  • Brimming with new ideas that can significantly improve the bottom line
  • Fundamental for succession planning.

However, the hard part is finding the right graduates; the ones who will meet and exceed your business needs, and stay loyal whilst they’re at it.

Below you will find three of the most common challenges experienced by employers running graduate programmes along with advice on how to find the solution.

1 in 42 graduates plan to leave their first employer within a year.

The problem is that many graduates apply for any job simply to secure a role straight out of university whilst they look for the career they actually want.

However, this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the generic job adverts employers run, designed to appeal to the masses in order to fulfil application quotas.

Graduates want to understand the opportunities available to them that will allow them to demonstrate the skills they have, and to develop and progress within an organisation. This is why your job descriptions must be specific; it’s the difference between finding talent that will settle into your company structure and culture to become integral to your business, and simply finding a fleeting, costly ex-employee.

77%1 of HR professionals believe their graduate employees lack the people skills necessary to protect the future of their organisation.

Technical skills are important but most businesses recognise that employees need emotional and social skills, or soft skills, to become a high performer in the workplace.

It can take six months to two years to develop these soft skills, and the employer will play an essential role in ensuring they are acquired to a high standard through adequate training.

Graduates, having just left a learner-centric environment, are often thought of as blank canvases and are more receptive to being moulded by a company’s culture. Therefore, the attitudes you encourage during your graduate training and development programme are likely to stick, which is why it’s imperative to instil all of the behaviours you want your graduate employee to be demonstrating in five years time right from day one.

Many employers don’t have the time or resources to run a graduate scheme.

Most application processes for graduate schemes will start a year in advance as employers attempt to nab the highest level of talent before they’re off the market. However, with an application period open for that long, the pool of candidate submissions is exhaustive, and it’s your hiring managers who will be up to their necks.

Outsourcing this responsibility is perhaps the most logical thing to do. Recruitment agencies will often visit universities, research top-tier candidates and run industry-specific marketing campaigns to attract the right graduates for your position. That frees up your HR team’s time to concentrate purely on the interview stages and the training plan for once your new graduate employees begin working with you.

Once you’ve found a star employee, you want them to stay. Click here to read about six of the best staff retention strategies »

1 Talent Culture, 2015. Hiring Graduates: The Challenges. [Online] Available at:
2 Recruiter, 2014. Employers face challenges retaining graduate recruits. [Online] Available at:
[All information sources accessed 16th July 2015].

Employee referrals: the good, the bad and the ugly

Posted on: June 23rd, 2015 by admin No Comments


An employee referral programme (ERP) is an internal recruitment method used by hiring managers to identify potential candidates through their existing employees’ social and professional networks. In return for these introductions, employees are given incentives, usually in monetary form, which is awarded once the new hire has passed their probation period.

Many HR managers swear by ERPs because they are a quick, cost effective way of sourcing ‘good fit’ candidates. However, the method isn’t without its drawbacks, the most severe of which can end in a lawsuit.

Welcome to the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly sides of employee referrals.


  • You’ll gain access to passive candidates

    It’s possible that the people your employees refer will be in employment elsewhere, thus not actively seeking a job. This gives you the opportunity to browse the pool of talent that is not on the market for your competitors, and as they’re already working, you’ll have some indication that they are valuable assets.

  • Referrals may be higher quality

    Existing employees put their own reputation on the line each time they refer a friend hence are likely to closely screen their referrals before you receive their CV.

  • An ERP can cost less than traditional recruitment methods

    Offering a one-off incentive may be cheaper than placing a job advert in the newspaper, hiring a recruiter or booking a place at a job fair. However, it’s important to get the incentive right; offer something too valuable and you may be inundated with unsuitable CVs because your existing employees are desperate for the reward, but offer something meagre, and you may not receive any applications in return.

  • It may be easier to find specialists in your field

    People tend to associate with others in their profession, thus an ERP could enable you to access rare talent that is harder to find through conventional recruitment strategies.


  • Cliques may form within your organisation, breeding resentment amongst your workforce

    Excessive reliance on ERPs can stunt creativity within your organisation, because if certain employees are overly loyal to each other, they’ll be less open to communications with other teams, which could hinder the performance of your business.

    Furthermore, if managers perceive a bias towards employee referrals, they may begin to resent their colleagues and the organisation because job offers appear to be won as favours rather than secured on merit.

  • Restrictive qualification criteria for incentives may produce employee disillusion

    If you’re offering a £1,000 incentive for employee referrals but the qualifying criteria to receive it are too far-fetched, your employees may lose faith in your integrity. This can lead to staff retention problems for an organisation, as workers leave for employers they believe won’t ‘screw them over’.

    What’s more, if you do hire an existing employee’s friend and this new hire doesn’t pass their probation period, your original employee could suffer hurt or embarrassment in the process, creating tension in the workplace.


  • You could be sued for discrimination

    Studies show that employees are more likely to refer candidates of the same sex and ethnicity1, and in the UK, you could be liable if any discrimination occurs during the recruitment process.

  • Your business may be deemed as complicit to mass unemployment

    Young people and the long-term unemployed are likely to have fewer connections than those already in work. Unemployment levels are a festering issue in Britain, and if you favour ERPs over inclusive recruitment techniques, your company could face criticism for contributing to the problem.

  • Your competitors could take action against you for poaching

    Many companies write poaching clauses into their employees’ contacts, and if they have reason to believe that you have induced their employee to breach this contract, they could take you to court.

So there you have it: the good, the bad and the ugly sides of employee referral programmes.

If you can run a successful ERP, not only could you find rare talent at a minimal cost, but you’ll also get a good indication that the culture within your organisation is thriving. After all, what kind of friend puts their friend forward for a miserable job?

However, the cons of running an ERP should not be ignored, as there’s a very real possibility that your employees’ referrals could negatively impact the performance and morale of your current workforce, leading to revenue losses for the business.

Therefore, it’s worth adopting a strategic approach to recruitment – limiting the number of employee referrals you take on – so you can discover talent through other portals to diversify your workforce and expand your business.

Stuck for ideas on how to attract top talent? Click here to discover three of the best (and most unusual) ways to create a buzz around your job openings.

1 Role Point, 2012. The dark side of employee referrals. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 22nd June 2015].

10 common CV lies – and how to spot them

Posted on: June 15th, 2015 by admin No Comments


A third1 of job applicants lie on their CVs. In fact, it’s become such a problem that the UK’s fraud prevention office has stepped in; last year, fraud officers sent a notice to every university in the country, warning students that inflating their grades and inventing extra-curricular activities can be classed as ‘fraud by false representation’, which carries a maximum ten-year jail sentence.

Dialling 999 may seem like a drastic response to the Sales Executive candidate fibbing about a bungee jump last summer, but if a job applicant is dishonest on their CV, there can be real repercussions for employers and employees. The consequence may be as simple as the employee being unable to perform aspects of their job without the heightened experience they claimed to have, or it could be as severe as an entire company going out of business following a lawsuit against an unqualified worker.

Below is a list of the ten most common lies found on CVs in the UK and tell-tale ways to spot them.

1. Exaggerated education grades

In fields where qualifications are necessary for insurance and legal purposes, such as lifeguarding and childcare, candidates seldom exaggerate their education because they know that copies will need to be submitted before they begin work. However, 2:2s easily become 2:1s during a job hunt within the media industry because employers almost never ask to see degree certificates.

As media professionals can go their entire career without ever having to present written proof of their qualifications, certificates may be misplaced and lost, but the governing body can reissue copies relatively quickly – so if you have serious doubts about a candidate’s credentials, ask to see the evidence.

2. Beefing up day-to-day responsibilities

Competency-based questions at the interview stage should help sift through any lies because candidates will be required to use real-life experiences to answer your questions.

You can also use body language indictors to detect when someone is lying, as they may become fidgety, lose eye contact with you and begin to touch their mouth when fibbing.

3. Improved job title

If a Marketing Executive is telling you that they’re a Marketing Manager, you should be able to catch them out by visiting their current employer’s ‘meet the team’ page on the company website.

4. Personal achievements and rewards

Subtle verbal indicators should always be monitored when interviewing candidates. If a person is telling you about a personal achievement, you’d expect them to say ‘I’ a lot – if ‘we’ or ‘us’ is being dropped into the conversation, this may suggest that the candidate was not as heavily involved in a project as they’re claiming to have been.

5. Having a sporty hobby

It may seem like an odd thing to lie about but candidates tell fibs of daily yoga sessions and extreme sporting passions to make them appear more well rounded.

A social media background check is often the best way to substantiate these tales, as a candidate is likely to have posted pictures of their adventures on Facebook or Instagram.

6. Companies worked for

A candidate’s Linkedin profile should provide a comprehensive overview of their employment history. Of course, LinkedIn profiles are self-edited, so ensure you check their connections as well as their online CV.

7. References

Be careful that a candidate isn’t using a friend or other colleague (rather than their manager) for a reference.

Working with a recruitment company is an effective way to ensure you receive a valid reference, and it’ll often be a faster method, as many recruiters build a solid relationship with candidates that enables them to source references before sending a candidate out to interviews. When candidates approach a company directly, they’re less inclined to hand over their manager’s contact details to the hiring manager they’ve never met before.

Outsourcing the responsibility of capturing references is also less time-consuming, as it can require weeks of correspondence to track down a candidate’s manager and arrange for them to submit a reference.

8. Speaking a language

If a foreign language is an essential skill necessary to perform the job, it’s essential to test your candidate’s fluency prior to or at the interview stage. Conducting an oral proficiency interview (OPI) is an effective way to measure a candidate’s speaking abilities whilst printed tests can be used to establish their written skills.

9. Covering up being fired from a previous position

The three questions to ask a candidate who you suspect may have been fired from a previous position are:

Why did you leave your last job?
What caused you to lose your job?
What have you learned from being fired?

These questions will help you initiate the discussion, understand why they were fired and determine if the candidate has matured from the situation.

10. Using industry jargon without fully understanding its meaning

Uncovering the truth in this scenario is easy with a little probing – simply ask the candidate to expand on their answer or ask them to tell you about specific tools and working practices related to the suspect jargon. For instance, if a candidate is talking about CTRs and bounce rates with little context, you may ask them about Google Analytics or other data analysis programmes.

If you do unearth a CV lie, it’s important to put it into context. After all, it may not be a deal breaker the SEO Executive you’re interviewing is not that sporty, but if they have no idea what a meta description is, that’s a problem.

For more FREE recruitment advice, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn today.

1 The Big Choice, 2015. 10 most popular CV lies for job hunting Brits. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 12th June 2015].

3 unusual recruitment techniques to attract talent

Posted on: May 29th, 2015 by admin No Comments


There’s an estimated 5.2 million1 businesses in the UK, all competing to find the best talent to drive their company forward.

So what attracts talent? These are three tried-and-tested modern recruitment tactics:

1. Trendy offices

You can blame Google for upping everyone’s office decor expectations; workers now expect slides and games rooms galore.

With the average employee working up to 48 hours per week, and many rarely leaving the workplace for their lunch break, it’s no wonder a little light relief inside the office is highly sought after.

Some inspiring examples of attention grabbing, workplace interior design include:

  • Innocent Drinks
    Affectionately known as ‘Fruity Towers’, the smoothie creator’s headquarters in Kensal Rise have been decked with faux grass, picnic benches, comfy booths and even an archetypal red telephone box.
  • Red Bull
    Giant slide: check. Ping-Pong meeting room: check. Red Bull’s Soho HQ oozes fun.
  • Mother London
    Shoreditch-based advertising giants Mother London have one of the coolest offices in town. The entire company sits around one enormous concrete workbench, allowing ideas to flow freely.

2. Flexible working

Wider adoption of flexible working policies has perhaps been the biggest recruitment success of recent years with businesses reporting higher productivity levels and larger revenues as a direct result.

Flexible working can be implemented by allowing employees to work flexible hours (e.g. 8am-4pm or 10am-6pm) or by providing them with the equipment to work at home, such as a laptop and business telephone.

Key benefits of this approach include:

  • Talented workers with children are more likely to join your company if they’re given the freedom to work around their family commitments. In fact, 83%2 of workers cite flexibility as an important factor they consider when accepting a job offer.
  • 70% of managers say that productivity levels soar after shifting to flexi-working, and far from the assumption that workers will skive if allowed to work outside of the office, studies have found that people actually work harder to compensate for their lack of visibility.
  • The average worker takes five sick days a year but absenteeism declines when flexible working practices are instructed. Why? A better work/life balance is brilliant for fighting stress-related illnesses, and let’s face it, employees can get a little creative when it comes to taking sick days but they’re less likely to call in sick when given more autonomy to work in ways that suit them.

3. Enviable social media profiles

Social media recruitment is one of the most powerful forms of attracting new talent, which is why 93%3 of companies are doing it.

It works because:

  • Running job ads on social media, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn, allows for extremely precise targeting, so you can find candidates with the right experience. Social media advertising can work out a lot cheaper than running an advert on Google too, and if you’ve got a large enough following, free organic reach may even do the job.
  • People want to work for companies they like. Most importantly, your staff retention levels are likely to increase if you’re hiring people that were fans of your brand before they started working for you, hence follows, likes and retweets from potential employees should all be encouraged.
  • More than 2 billion4 people are active on social media – the numbers using job boards don’t even come close to that figure. Businesses can therefore engage with potential employees who may not be actively searching for a job, yet would consider a career move if provided with the right opportunity.

These are the reasons why businesses are signing up to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on, and simply posting pictures and quips about their staff and projects. This recruitment tactic is about marketing the company culture, driving potential talent to seek out career opportunities within the organisation.

For more recruitment tips, don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

1 Federation of Small Business, 2015. [Online] Available at:
2 London Loves Business, 2015. 10 killer statistics that prove how transformative flexible working is. [Online] Available at:
3 acas, 2012. The use of social media in the recruitment process. [Online] Available at:
4 We Are Social, 2015. Digital, social & mobile in 2015. [Online] Available at:
All information sources accessed 29th May 2015.

How to incorporate social media into your recruitment strategy

Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by admin No Comments


Nearly 2.1 billion1 people use social media around the globe, and one of them could be your next best employee.

LinkedIn is currently the most popular social network for recruitment, with 93%2 of employers using the site to source potential employees, closely followed by Facebook (66%) and Twitter (53%).

Perhaps the most surprising fact about social recruitment is that it’s not simply a tool adopted by tech-dominated, startup companies, as more and more industries have come around to the idea of taking their talent search into the digital realm – even the Church of Scotland announced this week that they’ve turned to Facebook and Twitter to find new ministers!

So, if your company is ready to incorporate social media into your recruitment strategy, this is how to do it.

  1. First, be realistic about where social media should place within your overall recruitment strategy.

    Social recruitment is exciting but it’s important to note that most job hunters in the UK still rely on traditional routes, such as headhunters and recruitment agencies.

    For this reason, don’t spread your efforts too thin, and continue to place job adverts in the paper, with recruiters and on online job boards, alongside the ads you run via your social media accounts.

  2. Set up specified recruitment accounts on social media.

    It’s worth keeping your B2B, B2C and recruitment initiatives separate. L’Oreal, for example, understand that their customers are interested in seeing beauty-related content pop up in their newsfeeds, not job roles, so they have separate career accounts to target potential talent.

    The company uses a dedicated recruitment website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to market their jobs, posting specific positions, as well as written, photographic and video content to demonstrate what it’s like to work for the world’s biggest beauty brand. Combined, these accounts have over 860,000 followers.

    For smaller businesses, it may not be feasible (or necessary) to invest as many resources in to your social recruitment strategy but every business should be taking their online employer presence seriously. After all, to get noticed by the best talent, you’ve got to show off the culture and prospects you can offer them.

  3. Be wary when conducting ‘social media background checks’.

    An exceptional CV can be tarred by a little social media research, and 48%3 of hiring managers have reported finding content that has stopped them hiring a candidate, including inappropriate photographs, proof of drug-use and discriminatory comments.

    However, a third of employers have found material on a candidate’s social media profile that has led to a job offer, such as background information that supported their qualifications, personality traits that would match the company culture, good communication skills and displays of creativity.

    The big takeaway from research into the practice of social media background checks is that 35% of employers are not willing to interview candidates without an online profile. Whilst it’s true that a lack of online presence may be an issue if you’re hiring a digital marketing or PR professional, it’s important to remember that social media skills are not vital for all roles, and you can always get your new employee to set up an account to promote your business once you hire them.

Social recruitment is largely a long-term strategy to expand the pool of talent available to you rather than a last-minute initiative to action when a position needs filling.

With this in mind, set aside a couple of hours each week to build your online presence as an employer; set up your recruitment accounts, post interesting content about the activities happening within your organisation and make a conscious effort to make connections with professionals and recruiters to grow your online and offline network.

1 Jeff Bullas, 2015. 33 Social Media Facts and Statistics You Should Know in 2015. [Online] Available at:
2 acas, 2012. The use of social media in the recruitment process. [Online] Available at:
3 PR Newswire, 2015. 35 percent of employers less likely to interview applicants they can’t find online, according to annual CareerBuilder social media recruitment survey. [Online] Available at:
[All information sources accessed 14th May 2015].

“Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” and 4 other bizarre interview questions

Posted on: May 9th, 2015 by admin No Comments


Your phone rings. It’s your recruitment agent calling to say you’ve landed a job interview at that super-cool company in London you’ve always wanted to work for.

You spend the next week going over every possible question the hiring manager could ask you, preparing each answer with heavily-researched precision and carefully reciting your responses, facial expressions and body language in front of the mirror until you’re 100% sure you’ll nail this.

And then the day arrives. You don your smartest suit, arrive at the ideal 10-minutes-early mark, and deliver each answer like a pro, until out of nowhere, the interviewer drops the following line:

“Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?”

What?! You’re thrown. Red and flustered, you mumble something about kryptonite and wonder how this suddenly went so wrong.

Difficult interview questions like this are not just bad luck. Hiring managers use them to determine how you handle unrehearsed situations and to reveal more about your personality.

We’ve put together a list of the strangest interview questions that interviewers have asked our candidates during past interviews, along with the best ways to answer them.

1. How many pairs of shoes are there in the UK?

If an interviewer asks you this, they want to test how logical you are.

You’re not expected to know the definitive answer but you should explain how you’re calculating it. So, if the average woman owns 21 pairs of shoes and the average man owns 12, and the UK population is 64 million, you’re looking at around 2,112,000000 pairs of shoes inside peoples’ closets.

You’ll want to do a thorough job here, so you’ll need to then take into consideration the amount of shoes that have yet to be bought. How many shops stock shoes throughout the UK? What are their average stock levels? How many shoes are being manufactured in UK factories right now? How many pairs of shoes are currently out for delivery?

The more factors you consider along the production and distribution line, the better, as this will show the interviewer that you understand how businesses function. And don’t forget to double-check your sums to demonstrate your attention to detail.

2. What would you rate your skillset out of 10? I’d give you a 2.

This one is about how you respond to criticism and how you approach self-improvement.

Tell the interviewer that you understand how they have come to that conclusion with the limited experience they have working with you but assure them that you can and will deliver in the role you are applying for.

Have you had to prove your capabilities to a doubting colleague or client in the past? This is your chance to tell the interviewer how you surpassed their expectations and the skills you hope to develop in your next role.

3. Where does your boss think you are right now?

Hint: The answer to this one is not “Oh, my boss thinks I’m stuck in bed with the flu.”

Hiring managers don’t want to employ people that will lie to them and they certainly don’t want to recruit anyone who thinks it’s ok to call in sick when they’re perfectly well.

Your best option is to tell the interviewer that you booked the day off work in anticipation for your interview. Expand on your answer here by letting the interviewer know that you value honesty and integrity in every working relationship.

4. Tell me what your biggest weakness is.

This question is common so it shouldn’t take you by surprise but it is difficult nonetheless.

“I’m a perfectionist” is the go-to answer for most candidates, and it makes employers glaze over in boredom, so avoid it.

Are you a people pleaser, self-critic or new to the industry? Tell the interviewer but follow it up with a swift recovery clause – after all, you’re easy to work with because you’re keen to please people, you always produce quality work due to your tough critique and you may be new to the industry but you’re a real fast learner.

5. Who would win a fight, Batman or Superman?

Do you prefer Eastenders to Coronation Street? If you were a dinosaur, which type would you be? Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?

These are all personality probes – so keep it professional but do take the opportunity to show some humour and connect with your potential future colleagues.

Oh, and for the record, the answer is Batman.

3 facts they didn’t tell you about your job search

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by admin No Comments


David Cameron claims that his government have created 1,0001 new jobs a day since the coalition came to power in 2010. Yet the majority of job searchers will tell you that they’re not exactly inundated with job offers on a daily basis.

The truth is that those headline figures are masking the rise of zero-hours contracts, self-employment and low wages, hence finding permanent employment remains a challenge.

If you’re looking for a new role, these are the important facts you need to know about your job search.

  1. The average job search takes more than 5 months2.

    If you’re currently in work, keep this 5-month-average in mind, as it’s likely you’ll need to save your annual leave in order to book time off to attend interviews over the coming months.

    For unemployed jobseekers, the likelihood of receiving a job offer decreases as each month passes, particularly once you’ve reached long-term unemployment status at twelve months. This is why starting your job search at full throttle from the get-go is so important; perfect your CV, apply for jobs online and speak to recruiters, friends and ex-colleagues about suitable roles that they may know of.

  2. Around 1183 people apply for every job opening but only 20% of applicants are invited in for an interview.

    Many companies now use talent management software to scan applications for relevant keywords upon receipt – if your CV doesn’t contain the data that the system is crawling it for, nobody in HR will even read it.

    Sarah Lloyd, senior consultant at Dragonfly Recruitment, stresses the importance of refining a CV in accordance to each individual job specification.

    She suggests: “Tailor your CV to each job you apply for, ensuring you include key buzzwords that are relevant to that role. For example, if you’re applying for a conference producer role, make sure you include any relevant experience in terms of speaker recruitment, extensive topic research and building a good rapport with major industry figures.”

    In addition to fine-tuning your CV, conferring with a recruitment agency is another way to beat competition and get your foot through the door. Working with a recruiter will enable you to gain prevalence over those who apply directly via an employer’s website because your agent has the distinct advantage of being in verbal and face-to-face contact with the hiring manager. This relationship will allow them to bring your CV to life, fully advertise your skills and personality, and potentially increase the likelihood of your application going through to the interview stage.

  3. The average interview lasts 40 minutes but interviewees can expect to wait up to two weeks for a reply.

    A longer interview indicates that the interviewer is interested but you shouldn’t press the ‘pause’ button on your job hunt just yet as it may be several weeks before you hear whether you’ve got the job or not.

    Why does it take so long? It’s usually because they have other candidates to interview or because an important decision-maker in the company is not present to give the go-ahead, or unfortunately, it could be because you are not their first choice.

    You’re more likely to receive updates on the process if you’ve applied through a recruitment agency, but if you’ve applied for the role directly, just be patient – it’s reasonable to send one or two email prompts to the company’s HR department but any more and you may be considered a nuisance.

    During the wait, it’s perfectly acceptable to attend other interviews. Of course, this may eventuate in you being offered several positions at the same time, at which point you’ll need to decide which company you’d feel most comfortable working for in terms of the role, workplace atmosphere and the compensation package.

    Sarah Lloyd concludes that it’s all about being open and honest throughout the process, surmising: “It’s a two-way street. Make sure you’re honest with recruiters about what you’re looking for, your motivations for moving, and most importantly, how each interview goes along the way. This way, we can ensure we get you the right role.”

Did you find this information useful? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more industry insights.

1 The Guardian, 2015. Has David Cameron really created 1,000 jobs a day?. [Online] Available at:
2 eHow, 2015. The Average Length of the Job Hunt. [Online] Available at:
3 Interview Success Formula, 2015. The Job Search Today. [Online] Available at:
[All information sources accessed 21st April 2015].

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