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Why candidate experience really matters

In today’s candidate led market, job seekers should be treated more like consumers and businesses need to strive for high levels of candidate satisfaction, like they do with customers. The chances of your company winning the war for top talent can be drastically increased by focusing on creating a positive ‘candidate experience’. Also, with many applicants already consumers of the company that they apply to, treating them well is not only vital for your employer brand, but also your overall business brand too. Unfortunately, Virgin Media found out about this the hard way when 7,500 candidates who had a bad experience cancelled their subscriptions and switched to a competitor, costing the business £4.4 million. And this is just one of many examples which shows why candidate experience matters so much.

What exactly is candidate experience?

There isn’t an official definition for ‘candidate experience’, however it can be described as the overall feeling prospective employees are left with during and after the recruitment process. This opinion often starts to form the moment the person reads the job description and continues right through to the onboarding stage. It’s important to engage with applicants effectively throughout each touch point as this can influence whether they decide to accept the role or re-apply in the future. It’s also vital to remember that regardless of what the hiring outcome is, the applicant is likely to share their experience with their social circles both online and in person.

Why outdated recruitment processes can turn applicants off

There are several things that can make a candidate lose interest. And in this highly competitive, technology-driven job market, there certainly is no room for outdated recruitment processes. Lengthy applications, a lack of utilising AI and impersonalised engagement will all quickly switch valuable people off and turn them to your competitors.

Time is important for both candidates and employers

Many leading companies like Apple, Netflix and Facebook all have some of the fastest application times. They understand that there is no need to complicate processes and that many high-value candidates don’t have the time to spend on lengthy forms. According to a recent study, 30% of all applicants – and 57% of those earning over £86,000  – won’t spend longer than 15 minutes on an application. In addition, companies with 45 or more screening questions are losing almost 90% of their potential candidates as they abandon the process before completion. Expecting top level employees to trudge along a gruelling procedure risks you limiting your access to talent. Instead, focus on condensing this stage and perhaps investigate utilising one-click applications.

Candidates can see through generic systems

The way we recruit and engage top talent has changed drastically. People expect a personalised experience and can see through generic systems. By tailoring the process, candidates will feel more like a valued individual rather than just another job seeker among hundreds of others. Therefore, it’s important to review all questions and steps so that they are relevant to the applicant and not just there because they are ‘traditional’ methods. For example, if you know that an applicant lives far away or is currently in a job, why not utilise video software rather than asking them to take multiple trips to the office for interviews?

Why candidate experience really matters the most to internal talent acquisition teams?

The main method to create a positive and personalised candidate experience is good communication. This includes being honest and transparent about the role, providing thorough feedback and treating them as valued potential employees from the start. This may be difficult for an external recruiter to do as well as an in-house team member as they have less insight into the company and, in some circumstances, less authentic care for finding the best fit. According to the Human Capital Institute, a major cause of dissatisfied candidates is disinterested interviewers – so to avoid this, it is best to have your own, trusted people dealing with your company’s future talent .

The recruitment process should constantly be under careful review, tested and adapted following feedback. In-house teams are best positioned to drive change and challenge processes with key decision makers. They can transition talent from having a positive candidate experience to an excellent employee experience and increase the chances of achieving maximum productivity and retention.

For more information about creating a positive candidate experience and the benefits of an in-house recruitment team please visit our knowledge centre.

June 19, 2019
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Implementing an employee referral scheme – the fast track to top talent

Did you know that 88% of employers said that referrals are the number one source for above-average applicants? There are, of course, many fantastic ways to attract top talent, but none have quite as many benefits as an employee referral scheme. We have written about how powerful this method is before, and we believe that as the war for talent intensifies, all great companies should actively work on implementing an effective employee referral scheme.

What are the benefits of implementing an effective employee referral scheme?

Reduce the cost of hiring

If a company is working with a recruitment agency to source talent, the average cost of hiring can be between 15-20% of the employee’s annual salary, and up to 30% for hard to fill roles – and if you are recruiting a large number of employees, this figure can quickly become a financial burden. Employee referral schemes, however, can help reduce this figure by £2500 or more per employee, according to

Reduce the time to hire

Sourcing your company’s most valuable asset can not only be an expensive process, but a time-consuming one too. There’s no doubt that the quicker an employee can be onboarded and working to their full potential, the better. According to HR technologist, referred candidates are 55% faster to hire compared with employees sourced through career sites. This means it’s much quicker for employees to be integrated, and produce a return on investment for the company.

Reduce turnover rates

While it’s fantastic to secure top talent at a reduced cost and within a fraction of the time it usually takes, the most important aspect to consider when hiring is maintaining high retention levels. On average, the cost of replacing a single member of staff is more than £30,000, according to a recent report from Oxford Economics. Employing through referrals, however, can help you avoid this problem as team members who are referred tend to stay at their jobs longer than traditional hires.

How to introduce an employee referral programme

Studies show that on average, team members have 10 times as many connections as a company has social followers. So, by getting your people involved in an employee referral scheme, you can maximise your chances of attracting the valuable talent your company needs. However, implementing a successful referral programme doesn’t happen overnight, and takes strategic planning to ensure that it works effectively and is utilised to its full capacity. Here are some steps to help you think about where to begin.


Although an employee referral scheme sounds simple in practice, it does require careful planning. It is important to understand and identify your hiring needs before you begin, so that you can succinctly explain to your team what the company is looking for – creating a candidate persona can help you with this. Providing a detailed description will allow your team to find better matches and will create an overall smoother process. It is also important to spend time on planning rewards and how you will settle disputes, such as two employees referring the same person.


The design of an effective employee referral scheme can’t be overlooked. As you want your team to recommend as many people as possible, you must ensure that the process is quick and easy for them. Automating the process with a user-friendly system will allow you to do this, and will also save the hiring team from manually tracking all the recommendations. Having a system in place that will enable you to collect analytics will help you create a streamlined and organised process.


Offering perks and rewards for participating in the referral scheme may not be enough motivation for everyone. Therefore, you must find ways of promoting the programme to your people in an engaging and effective way which fits in with your company culture. Try not to overload people with too much information as this risks making the process sound more difficult than it is. Explain only the most important details, how it will benefit them and focus on exciting your employees to take part in this brand new project.


To keep employees motivated, and to encourage them to continue suggesting new referrals, it is important to maintain a healthy relationship and show them that they are valued. You can do this with personalised thank you messages, regardless of if their proposed candidate was hired or not. For those who successfully recommend prospective employees, it is important to compensate them with something that they will appreciate.

Why a dedicated internal talent acquisition team is best placed to implement a referral programme

An in-house talent acquisition team is best placed to plan your employee referral scheme, motivate your people to get involved and nurture a positive attitude. They will genuinely care about finding the right candidates that will be a good cultural fit, they will be able to authentically encourage team members to participate and will be empathetic regarding employee friendships and relationships. The way employee referral schemes are executed differs in each business, and it is important to have a bespoke system tailored with the company culture in mind for yours.

For more help with implementing an effective employee referral system at your firm, get in touch today.

June 7, 2019
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Why employers need workplace flexibility

A secure, office-based, nine-to-five job was once considered to be the best working position to be in, and for many, the ultimate or only goal. However, today millennials, gen Z and baby boomers are turning these offers down and instead joining the flexible workforce in masses. According to the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE), 4.8 million people are self-employed in the UK, and in 2017, freelancers contributed £271bn to the economy, up from £119bn in 2016, and experts predict that this number will continue to grow. This phenomenon clearly shows no signs of slowing down which is why employers need to plan for workplace flexibility now.

Why is the flexible workforce growing?

The world of work is evolving. We now have innovative technology to help us make our jobs more efficient and the latest artificial intelligence to help us with laborious tasks, so why are we still using the nine-to-five work model which dates back to the late 19th century? This is a question that employees are asking themselves, and many have realised that following this system is, in fact, not always necessary.

Digital technology enables remote working

We all know that there is technology and automation available to make jobs in every profession easier. There is also technology out there to help create virtual offices or host round-the-clock team meetings too. Thanks to cloud-based interfaces and real-time mobile apps, people can be brought together and collaborate seamlessly regardless of where they are. Businesses have noticed that having employees under one roof does not impact work being done, and all people really need is their laptop loaded with the key software and internet access.

An appetite for work-life balance

The term ‘work-life balance’ has been gaining popularity and importance over the last few years, and with an increasing amount of people aware of the significance of mental health, a positive relationship with working is now taking priority. More and more employees are expressing that they want their jobs to revolve around their lives and not the other way around.

Growth of the gig economy

Technology combined with the freedom to work flexibly has given birth to the phenomenal gig-economy. This system allows professionals to take on temporary or short-term contracts as and when they wish. With more businesses acknowledging this way of working and embracing it, there are even more opportunities available.

Why do employers need workplace flexibility and what are the benefits?


Embracing the rise of the flexible workforce and adapting your business to meet its needs can, in fact, significantly improve performance and productivity. According to a recent study by EY and Timewise, 87% of full-time employees in the UK either work flexibly or would prefer to. So why not give your people what they want?

By listening to your employees and giving them what they wish for, you will undoubtedly make them feel more valued and happier at work, and according to a recent study by economists at the University of Warwick, happiness leads to a 12% spike in productivity.

The positive effect that flexibility has on outputs has been shown in countless pieces of research. For example, a study by Vodafone found that 54% of employees said that working flexibly makes them more productive. Additionally, three-in-four workers even said that this boosted their job satisfaction.

And a recent poll by the Association of Accounting Technicians, found that employees who are offered the option of flexible working are taking less leave.


For many people, like parents, carers and disabled workers, flexibility is not a desire but a necessity. By having non-traditional working options available, you are able to increase your talent pool and diversity by appealing to a wider range of people. This will inevitably boost your employer brand and help you attract more valuable skills.

Niche skills

Embracing flexibility allows you to bring in niche skills that would be hard to secure on a full time or permanent basis. Several the leading professionals in niche roles within industries such as IT and tech are turning to non-permanent work. Many are doing this because they know that their talents are highly sought after and, in many circumstances, better remunerated in flexible positions.

Encourage flexibility with an internal talent acquisition team

To create and manage a flexible workforce effectively, you need an agile approach to hiring. That’s why we recommend that you have an internal talent acquisition team to handle your recruitment processes. An in-house team is best placed to make key decisions and fit roles around people, rather than vice versa to secure top talent. Because internal recruiters have a helicopter view of the company, they can map talent and see the bigger picture of where flexible positions are suitable. This allows for a more streamlined process, and ease of communication with key decision makers.

For more information on how to manage and create your own flexible workforce through an internal talent acquisition team, get in touch today.

May 29, 2019
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Why passive candidates are valuable and how to source them

Around 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive candidates who aren’t currently job searching. This enormous and extremely valuable talent pool is often underutilised during recruitment processes, however, businesses can’t afford to do this any longer if they want to source the very best employees. There are numerous reasons why passive candidates are valuable, and with the war for talent intensifying due to a shortage of skills, your company must know how to get ahead of the curve and effectively target these individuals.

Why passive candidates are valuable

Access to top-skilled workers

The tables have turned, and in this candidate-led market, it is often the job seekers that hold the power. As we know, competition for the best talent is fierce, and many of the top workers have already been chosen and offered jobs in leading roles. There is a reason why these individuals have been employed and still hold their position – because they are good at what they do, are valued by their firm and are reliable. These people will undoubtedly be an asset to any business and employers can count on them for being more than just capable.

Access to niche skills

While active candidates do offer value, it is often the passive candidates that have the necessary skills needed to make a business really thrive. This is particularly true when it comes to niche skills and hard-to-fill roles. It is well known that there is a severe shortage of skills disrupting a wide range of sectors, and that many companies are having to invest in future generations to get access to the talent they need. However, by attracting those already in jobs, you are able to acquire trained, and high-value employees.

Get ahead of competitors

The digitalisation of recruitment means that ‘post-and-pray’ strategies are no longer effective. Businesses must now become even more active in their search for candidates and utilise technology to source the best talent. Effective planning, use of social media and networking will allow you to access passive candidates and get ahead of competitors by finding the people your business needs to thrive. By mapping external markets, companies will be able to plan for the long-term.

How to source passive candidates

Employer branding

Although passive candidates are likely to be happy in their current role, it doesn’t mean that they are not open to genuinely attractive offers. According to a LinkedIn study, 87% of active and passive candidates are, in fact, open to new job opportunities. However, to ensure that your offer has the maximum chance of being accepted, it is vital to ensure that you have a strong employer brand. A loyal employee is unlikely to leave their job for anything less than outstanding, which is why it is vital to continuously maintain a credible reputation. This can be achieved by providing an excellent candidate experience during the recruitment process, being active on social media and by nurturing your company culture.


As passive candidate will not be on job boards, it is important to use your networks to identify the people you need, and ensure that your job opportunities get in front of them. This is the perfect time to promote an employee referral scheme. On average, staff have 10 times as many connections as a company has social followers, so it is certainly is worth utilising their networks. Having a connection within the workplace will also likely entice the passive candidate to join the company or at least research the offer.

Why a dedicated internal talent acquisition team is needed

Attracting passive candidates requires a completely different approach to engaging active candidates, and typically more effort. The person best suited to be successful in doing this is often situated in an in-house team. This is because the person presenting the opportunity must have extensive market knowledge and know the business inside out. Being able to sell the role to high-value candidates requires an authentic passion, dedication and answers that may sway from the script.

For more help with attracting and sourcing passive candidates through an internal talent acquisition team, get in touch today.

May 24, 2019
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Closing the gender pay gap in SMEs: What you need to do

Following countless studies, we have now accepted that closing the gender pay gap is not only ethical, but hugely beneficial to businesses too. However, despite ongoing conversations across the boardroom and in the media – the gender pay gap figure has barely budged, having improved by just 0.1% in a year.

The current gap, which sits at 9.6%, was calculated following the government’s initiative to make it compulsory for employers with 250 or more workers to publish their figures comparing men and women’s average pay. This public approach is meant to encourage large businesses to tackle the problem, but this should not stop SMEs in taking action too.

How can closing the gender pay gap benefit SMEs?

A wider talent pool

As the ‘war for talent’ intensifies across many sectors, excluding half of the population certainly makes no sense. By widening your talent pool, you drastically increase your chance of hiring the valuable skills your business needs to thrive.

Diversity in thought

An inclusive workforce that utilises both genders, means more diversity in thought and action. There’s no doubt that a mix of skills, experiences and capabilities will strengthen a firm’s ability to tackle challenges more creatively, essentially improving its bottom line. According to McKinsey’s ‘Why diversity matters’ report, businesses with a healthy balance of men and women are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors.


A business that has good diversity and inclusivity practices not only looks good on paper, but has a higher chance of attracting more candidates. A recent study by PwC cited that 83% of women seek careers with businesses which demonstrate strong records of diversity and equality.

How businesses can improve their reputation of females at the top

Target female returners

Businesses have an important part to play in helping women back into the workplace and to make sure that opportunities to progress are equal for all. According to a study conducted by a working parents magazine, MMB, only 18% of maternity returners felt happy and confident about work – blaming the way previous returners had been dealt with by their employers. To ensure that this is not the case in your firm, there must be a supportive culture and system in place that will help guide women back into work.  Numerous elite companies, such as Santander and EY, have introduced ‘returnships’ into their recruitment and retention strategy to ensure that they are attracting highly-skilled individuals who may be lacking in confidence following their career break.

Flexible working

Implement practical measures in your workplace to truly show that you support women, like flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home. As females often bear the brunt of care work both with children and aging parents, a flexible schedule may be the difference in what allows someone to work effectively or not at all. By offering this, employees will likely feel valued and know that you have their interests in mind too. This will undoubtedly create a better environment, and foster a positive culture.

Retain existing talent

Targeting new female employees is fantastic, but it is just as important to retain your existing talent. Offering and promoting flexible working or support groups to your current employees will certainly be appreciated. Extending this help to your male workers will also help cultivate more diverse and inclusive workforce more generally. Keeping in touch during maternity or paternity leave is a simple, yet effective way to show that you care and look forward to having them back at work.

How an internal talent acquisition team can help

Closing the gender pay gap in SMEs starts by addressing the recruitment strategy. A dedicated internal talent acquisition team, which is motivated in pushing your employee value proposition, will help spread a positive and welcoming message to female candidates. As people who are ingrained into the business and know the culture inside out, an internal team are best placed to identify strong employees that can be trained into top positions.

For more help in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, get in touch today.

May 13, 2019
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How to secure niche talent in a candidate short market

If you find yourself wondering how to secure niche talent for your company, don’t worry, you are not alone. PwC research shows that 63 percent of global CEOs are concerned about not being able to find employees with the necessary skills and innovative mindsets to fill vacancies. It’s unsurprising that this is such a big concern, as the ‘war for talent’ is felt across many industries. Demand is beginning to outstrip supply for a number of professions — especially for experts with digital skills — and McKinsey estimates that there will be a shortage of about 85 million qualified workers by 2020.

To make matters worse, recruitment agency fees for these specialists can be up to 15-20% of the salary, or a staggering 30% for hard to fill positions. Yes – things have been quite bleak up until this point – however, there are several steps you can take to help you secure top talent in a candidate short market – without being held ransom by staffing agencies.

Shift your mindset and “lower” your standards

We don’t suggest that you actually drop your standards in terms of skills, but perhaps stop looking for the ‘perfect candidate’ as this person likely doesn’t exist and only keeps the vacancy dormant longer than necessary. Moving away from the ‘typical profile’ and giving yourself more flexibility in what core competencies the role requires can be advantageous, as this will allow you to still capture top talent and invest in employees with potential for growth. Leading businesses like Google and Facebook are known to hire based on cultural fit and potential rather than the ‘perfect fit’ on paper.

Open the doors to everyone – explore underutilised talent

Sourcing specialist skills means that you are dipping into a small talent pool, so it is important to explore all available talent. It is easy to fall into a routine of searching for employees from the same university, or company, but this often perpetuates an unnecessary cycle of excluding valuable talent. For example, many of the in-demand roles are currently in digital, fintech and STEM, which have historically been dominated by men, meaning many women were not given a chance to prove their capability. However, recruiting on ability to do the job, rather than specific prior experience, will ensure candidates are treated fairly, and also increase your access to niche skills.

Boost your Employee Value Proposition

As we have written before, a strong employee value proposition (EVP) will help to retain top performers and attract the best external talent. According to Gartner, organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%. Letting potential employees know how they can benefit from your company can be the key difference in why a candidate chooses to work for you instead of a competitor, or what makes a passive job seeker’s ears perk up. Proactively engage potential employees by promoting a compelling EVP on social media, your careers page, and throughout the recruitment process, as this will ensure you are engaging passive candidates without any competition.

How to secure niche talent through an internal talent acquisition team

As mentioned above, securing niche skills in a candidate short market requires quite a lot of leeway, flexibility and creativity in approach. Although recruitment agencies promise to get employees through the door, they are often also known for being rigid and formulaic, which is understandable as they are following a specific brief. An in-house team, however, has the power to control situations and negotiate with internal managers if they identify potential candidates that may not fit the exact job specifications, but at same time, are a perfect cultural match.

Internal hiring teams have a greater understanding of what is needed from the candidate, a more passionate reason to promote the EVP and are positioned best to draw in valuable niche candidates.

For more help with recruiting niche talent for your business through an internal talent acquisition team, get in touch today.

May 7, 2019
Image for How to successfully attract more direct applicants to your company

How to successfully attract more direct applicants to your company

Sourcing and securing quality employees for your company is key to ensuring that your business will thrive. However, this task is not only arduous, but time-consuming and costly too. A reliable method for cutting back the time taken to hire and the expense, while also boosting the calibre of candidates, is increasing the capability to attract more direct candidates to your company. This won’t happen overnight, and will certainly require strategic planning and a fresh approach, but in the long run, it will strengthen and cement your employer brand.

What are the benefits of directly sourcing candidates?

By attracting applicants directly to your business, you are able to curb the heavy costs that come with working with recruitment agencies. On average, firms spend up to 15-20% of an employee’s salary on fees alone, with this figure jumping to 30% for hard to fill positions. This means one hire with a salary of £50,000 could cost your company a staggering figure between £7,500 and £15,000. Eliminating expensive third-party suppliers means that your firm will be able to invest more resources in other crucial areas such as training and development, or bringing on board even more fantastic employees.

Enhancing your direct sourcing capabilities also puts you in the driving seat when it comes to dealing with your business’ most valuable asset. You will be able to ensure that the employees sourced are a perfect fit with your company’s culture and can also guarantee that they are treated in line with how you want your employer brand to be recognised by applicants. Direct recruitment channels also help a company promote its values on diversity and inclusion authentically, which enables it to appeal to a wider pool of suitable candidates

How to attract more direct applicants – turning theory into reality

A dedicated careers page

If you would like candidates to come to you directly, you need a dedicated, applicant-friendly, careers page. With current job seekers increasingly more active in researching a role before accepting an offer, it is vital that there is a well-designed, and easily accessible page to welcome them. According to Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research Report, 64% of jobseekers say company career websites are the most valuable research channels. Therefore, it is crucial that information regarding roles is easily accessible. To enhance the applicant’s experience, try implementing rich-media to show what day-to-day life in the office is like, or to demonstrate exciting staff stories.

Utilise social media

As we have written about before, the internet is a powerful tool for increasing the percentage of direct candidates. With the number of internet users worldwide in 2018 over four billion – up 7% year-on-year – and global social media users now more than three billion, it is clear that social media is a crucial avenue that cannot be ignored. Capitalising on this tool will allow you to develop and promote an authentic employer brand to potential employees.  It is also worth checking what incumbent, and former, employees have shared about the company on platforms such as Indeed and Glassdoor. By doing this you can address any negative comments and be honest about what the company is doing to change. A strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) can often be the deciding factor for top talent.

Employee referral schemes

It is important to harness every channel at your disposal, both online and offline. Implementing an employee referral scheme is a fantastic way to boost direct applicants. On average, staff have 10 times as many connections as a company has social followers, so it is certainly is worth utilising their networks. This, of course, will help slash the costs associated with hiring, but perhaps more importantly, will likely find the most compatible candidates for your company. As your employees are ingrained in the culture, they know what sort of character will thrive in the environment and can provide honest opinions when discussing the role. This type of scheme also helps in futureproofing your workforce, as research shows a referred employee is more likely to remain with a company longer than a member hired through career sites or job boards. This approach is, unsurprisingly, most effective when a workforce already benefits from diversity of thought: if a company is not inclusive, then there is a risk that this approach could amplify a homogenous environment through the practice of ‘recruiting in your own image’.

How an internal talent acquisition team can help drive an increase in direct applications

Utilising these methods under the wing of an internal talent acquisition team is the best, and safest, way to ensure consistency and quality in approach. It is important to have a unified system that will safeguard your vital employer brand and promote an authentic message. To attract more direct candidates, a business must be recognised for being a strong employer, consistently. By putting the recruitment process in external agencies’ hands, you risk mishandling candidates, and damage to your brand, and sales. Through putting in place systems to manage recruitment internally, businesses retain control of brand messaging and build workforces which are conducive to long-term success.

To find out more about how we can help you attract more direct applicants, get in touch today.

April 29, 2019
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IR35 changes are coming – What business leaders need to know now

Businesses in the private sector that work with contractors have until April 2020 to become fully familiar and compliant with the updated off payroll rules in the private sector (IR35). Although the one-year extension from the original April 2019 deadline which was floated allows managers to have some breathing space, there certainly is no time to delay preparation for what will be a significant and arduous period of change. It is expected that this will affect a third of the contingent workforce, and that new systems will take time to implement, so it is advised that all companies begin planning in good time – and the clock is ticking.

While the consultation on how the changes will be implemented is still open, fundamentally they will be an extension of the rules that were rolled out to the public sector in 2017 which were designed to tackle the loss of tax and NI revenue from ‘disguised employment’ – people whose working practices are more akin to those of traditional employees.

What are the IR35 changes?

If the updated IR35 rules are extended in their current form, they will place a greater responsibility on employers. It will no longer be the contractor’s obligation to determine their IR35 status, but the company which engages them. Private sector employers will have to take on the role of ‘tax assessor’ and decide whether to deduct tax and national insurance (NI) from them via payroll, depending on if they are ‘inside IR35’ or not.

How does this impact businesses?


The penalty for intentional or unintentional non-compliance with the new IR35 regulations could result in a substantial fine. Employers who hide ‘disguised employees’ can be ordered to repay anywhere between 30%-100% of unpaid tax depending on the circumstances. For organisations with hundreds of contractors, ignoring the legislation is simply not worth the risk.

Access to talent

When the IR35 reform was introduced to the public sector, many public bodies experienced a mass exodus of talent and it is feared that there will be the same outcome for the private sector. During a time of extreme skills shortages across a wide spectrum of industries, this could be a detrimental hit to the strength of the UK’s labour market and wider economy at a critical time. Another aspect that limited access to talent during the public rollout in 2017 was employers’ lack of preparation. Due to the limited timeframe, many organisations were classifying contractors as ‘inside IR35’ to be safe and avoid penalties, creating distrust and further talent shortages.

Rates for contractors go up

Along with contractors relocating outside of the country to mitigate a drop-in net pay during the 2017 rollout, many decided to increase their rates to counteract the tax hike too. Research from APSCo found that 45% of professional recruiters had seen contractor rates rise since the new rules were introduced, with 46% of these witnessing increases of more than 15%. This is also expected to occur in the private sector once the updated 2020 IR35 changes are implemented.

How to manage these changes

With this in mind, businesses should look at developing their in-house team to manage staffing budgets and workforce plans. This will enable smooth relationships with contractors and possibly increase permanent headcount within the firm. With the penalty for non-compliance too high to risk, companies must ensure that they have a dedicated team that is able to deal with the management of contingent staff and that can also conduct appropriate status determinations. This may take some planning and upskilling; however, it is a much more reliable method than working with third-party companies or the government’s existing Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool- which has received heavy criticism in the past.

To find out more information or to get advice with developing an in-house team to combat the new IR35 regulations, get in touch today

April 18, 2019
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Building a diverse workforce: Why diversity matters

The business and ethical case for building a diverse workforce has been well documented, encouraged and enforced in recent years, however, following Google’s disheartening recent annual diversity report, which shows that there has been a decline in females hired at an organisational leadership level, it is clear that more must be done to achieve a fair system for all. From tech giants to small businesses, every company can benefit from reflecting their diverse clientele within their own teams.

Why diversity matters? It goes beyond abiding by the law

There is, of course, the legal case for why managers must make building a diverse workforce a priority. The Equality Act 2010, which replaced the previous Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, places a duty on all organisations to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups and foster good relations between individuals of diverse backgrounds. A number of leading businesses that have failed to adhere to the Equality Act, or have simply not done enough, have been criticised by the media and journalists, until change was made.

However, followings laws and regulations because of a fear of being “named and shamed” is of course not the healthiest way to achieve diversity. A better approach would be to have managers aware of how diversity positively impacts a business’ bottom-line and is crucial going forward.

According to McKinsey’s “Why diversity matters report,” companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the executive level are 33 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. The same goes for gender diversity, with companies in the top quartile for gender diversity being 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

The study shows an undeniable correlation between diversity and financial performance and can perhaps be explained by the range of skills, experience and outlook that a mixed team brings to the table. Diversifying the workforce will allow problems to be approached from different perspectives and allow for new solutions to be reached, which perhaps would not be possible from a team that were educated in the same way. A uniform approach in thinking and behaving runs a risk of creating an echo chamber where problems are tackled with the same attitude that may have caused it in the first place.

How to boost inclusion?

Moving towards an inclusive workforce begins with the recruitment process. Placing diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your talent sourcing strategy will allow for an authentic, natural and diverse team to flourish, with diversity present at all levels of the hierarchy.


To build a diverse workforce companies must seek talent through a range of channels. For example, employing all new staff through social media may exclude those who do not have access to such technology. No matter how effective an individual initiative is, such as employee referral schemes,  it cannot be relied on exclusively. By utilising a range of sources, you can reach individuals who work, live and seek employment in different ways.


Companies must adapt the way that they engage with different groups to ensure that their sourcing techniques are as effective as can be. For example, flexible or part-time work may be highly attractive to mothers, however, opportunities to travel or staff day outs may lure in graduates. The language used in job listings plays an important role in attracting talent, and research shows that certain words, such as ‘competitive’ or ‘determined’ can discourage female applicants, where as vocabulary such as ‘collaborative’ and ‘cooperative’ attract more women. This shows how important it is to consider or even tailor job listings and all forms of interaction when engaging with potential candidates.

Reassess candidate criteria

Many businesses tend to have fixed candidate criteria when seeking new hires. Whether that is a certain level of education, work experience or consistency in work, this requirement can, in fact, unintentionally cause discrimination. For example, a disabled person may have struggled to find employment previously due to bias, causing a lack of work experience, however this does not reflect a lack of skill, passion or ability and hiring only based on experience would isolate this person.

‘Blind’ CVs

To address the unconscious bias which is rampant and proven in recruitment, a number of companies have turned to the removal of personal data on CVs to create a ‘blind’ and objective process. For example, EY’s decision to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process has shown to be very successful, with the number of recruits from state schools jumping by 10 percentage points to 49 percent for graduates and to 59 percent for school leavers. Following this model can help create a level playing field from the beginning.

Building a diverse workforce in-house

Internal talent acquisition teams are best positioned to manage a transparent and consistent recruitment process. By having a bird’s eye view of how the business operates and because they are plugged into the corporate culture, internal teams hold the power to promote authentic messages and have an honest approach to what needs to be done. Unfortunately, a number of recruitment agencies interpret diversity goals as mere quotas, and neglect factors such as company and cultural fit. By bringing all talent sourcing in-house, companies can gain full control of hiring and ensure that their most valuable resource is in safe hands.

If you’re looking for support building an internal talent acquisition function to improve diversity and inclusion, get in touch today.


April 12, 2019
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In-house vs. agency recruitment

The success of any business can be linked directly to both the quality and volume of talent it possesses. However, accessing and securing skills that will propel a venture to the next level can often be more difficult than originally anticipated.

In fact, according to PwC’s 2019 CEO Survey the availability of talent is the number one business concern for top bosses in the UK, with 79% citing this as their primary worry. This is despite the same report finding that 61% of UK CEOs expect to increase headcount in 2019, which is notably higher than the global average of 53%.

The ‘in-house vs. agency’ recruitment predicament is familiar to many firms with plans to expand their teams – but which option will really achieve optimum results?

In favour of agencies

According to data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the UK staffing market was worth £35.7 billion in 2018. The trade association also revealed that there are now in excess of 30,000 recruitment businesses operating in Britain, employing approximately 115,000 people. Together, these individuals placed 1.1 million people into permanent jobs in 2017/18, and were responsible for placing more than a million agency workers on any given day.

However, while the sector is clearly lucrative, what benefits do businesses gain from choosing to appoint an agency – or multiple consultancies – to manage their hiring?

Recruitment firms often cite established relationships with jobseekers and superior market knowledge as key differentiators – and it’s true that many specialise in niche sectors where talent is scarce and candidate pools are limited.

According to LinkedIn Business Solutions, only around 30% of the global workforce is actively seeking opportunities – and specialist consultancies also habitually promise they have unique access to passive candidates who would otherwise remain undiscovered.

However, amid the rise of digital technology, an increasing number of businesses are realising the benefits of bringing recruitment in-house.

The growth of internal talent acquisition

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the number of companies choosing to establish their own internal talent acquisition functions – and although there are many contributing factors to this overall shift, this change has ultimately been enabled by the growth in online sourcing platforms.

While it would be remiss to discount the value of the market knowledge that recruiters have long traded on, specialist agencies are no longer the gatekeepers of niche and highly sought-after professionals.

In the past, decision makers have instinctively turned to external recruitment partners because of the access to talent they promised – but now digital technology has levelled the playing field, the benefits of managing recruitment in-house have never been more compelling.

As the ‘war for talent’ intensifies, high-value candidates are seeking more than a call from a recruiter with no vested interest in the company – or the role they are selling – when deciding on their next career move. Internal talent acquisition teams are perfectly placed to communicate their company’s employer brand – and at a time when, according to Glassdoor, 84% of professionals would consider leaving their current role if they were offered another in a company that had an excellent corporate reputation, it is clear that being able to share authentic messages is key.

Rather than viewing each role in silo, dedicated in-house recruiters also have the freedom to flex job specifications so that workforces run to optimum efficiency. By matching a great candidate’s skills to business needs – rather than working to a ridged shortlist index – firms can ensure there are never skills gaps, or skills surplus.

Through taking a more holistic and strategic approach to hiring, internal teams can also ensure that future talent pipelines are built and that diversity and inclusion initiatives are monitored and managed well.

In-house vs. agency recruitment: which wins?

While, historically, recruitment agencies have promised unrivalled access to top talent, in the digital age this USP is all but redundant. Through putting in place systems to manage talent acquisition internally, businesses retain control of brand messaging and build workforces which are conducive to long-term success.

And with the REC finding that each hire, on average, costs £4,238 when filled through an external agency, the financial benefits associated with developing an internal recruitment function shouldn’t be overlooked.

If you’re looking for support building an internal talent acquisition function, get in touch today.


April 8, 2019
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Achieving efficiencies in the assessment process

We have previously written on the power of employer brand, which is communicated through the entire recruitment lifecycle – and candidate assessment is no exception. Efficient processes not only improve the number of qualified candidates in your pipeline, but also clearly and accurately measure the suitability of each applicant. All whilst simultaneously helping to enshrine your employer, and therefore consumer, brand. Conversely, inefficient assessment processes could mean that high-potential candidates are overlooked.

Assessment begins at the earliest stage of recruitment

The assessment process begins at the very earliest stage on the recruitment journey, when role requirements are initially formalised. It is here that needs in areas such as technical knowledge, career aspiration, team fit and leadership and learning ability are determined – thus ensuring that decision makers have a solid starting block to measure potential candidates against the hiring process. It is also crucial that gap tolerance and minimum thresholds are identified as early as possible to reduce subjectivity – and therefore minimise the risk of unconscious bias – during the latter stages.

Once applications have been collected, collated, sorted and sifted in line with the above criteria, first interviews can be conducted. It is here that hiring managers have the opportunity to glimpse the personalities behind the shortlist index and explore the experiences and mind-sets of candidates to get a feel for whether they will excel in the role in question. At this stage, decision makers will be able to determine who should realistically progress on to personality or ability tests – and only if these are relevant for the role.

Too often, external recruitment providers will, as a matter of course, present each and every candidate with generic tests which seldom assess for the specific competencies required for the actual role in question. There are three major problems associated with this approach: time and resources are habitually wasted on unsuitable candidates; jobseekers who are well suited to the particular role they are applying for may be unfairly deselected because they don’t hit the mark; and, perhaps more importantly, individuals may become frustrated and disengaged with the process because they are being asked to complete irrelevant tasks.

Talent lost through outdated assessment

It is worth noting that a recent study by Indeed found that 30% of all candidates – and 57% of those earning over $100K (£86,172) – won’t spend longer than 15 minutes on an application. In addition, companies with 45 or more screening questions are losing 88.7% of their potential applicants who abandon the process before completion. A sobering thought for anyone with talent management responsibility.

It is clear, then, that a rigid approach to assessment is outdated and unfit for purpose. Dedicated internal talent acquisition teams who truly understand not only the intricacies for the roles they are recruiting for, but also the types of personality that will fit well with existing teams, will be able to suggest and implement suitable assessment methods for individual vacancies. For example, graduates may be required to attend an assessment day, while functional managers may instead be invited to present to a panel.

Once candidates have undergone relevant and tailored testing, the best performers can then be invited back for second – and perhaps third – stage interviews, where they can meet additional stakeholders, perhaps from other functional areas, and a final decision can be made.

Making efficiencies in candidate assessment

Assessment must always be about delivering the right person for the right role – and this should never be compromised. However, given this starting point it is vital that every candidate is provided with an experience that is positive, professional, understandable and relevant.

It is worth noting that organisations with unusually high brand equity are more likely to offer particularly short application processes. According to further data from Indeed, Netflix, for example, has just five screening questions  and a total one-minute time to apply – for vacancies at all levels, with Apple, Facebook and Amazon also recording some of the fastest application times.

If you are looking for support in formalising a best-practice recruitment process, get in touch today

April 2, 2019
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Talent Acquisition in the Digital Age

According to the REC’s annual Recruitment Industry Trends report for 2017/18, the talent acquisition sector’s current worth is over £35 billion to the UK economy, showing how much advancement there has been in recent years. Similarly to most industries, this remarkable growth has, in part, been fuelled and shaped by the introduction of advanced technology and automation. The use of digital technologies in talent acquisition is now commonplace, and arguably necessary to be competitive in today’s market by offering a leading candidate and client experience. However, when focussing on implementing the latest technologies, managers must ensure that they do not compromise on human interaction, and the highly valuable skills that real people bring to the table.

From directly shaping the way that individuals seek employment, to the types of jobs now available, robotics and automation are moulding both the workplace and the way in which HR leaders are approaching talent acquisition.

The capabilities of technology in talent acquisition

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, 72% of HR leaders believe that AI is ‘important’. This is unsurprising when you consider that artificial intelligence has facilitated more streamlined recruitment strategies for many and increased hiring capabilities in several ways.

Automation has freed up days that were historically spent on repetitive, mundane tasks to allow hiring managers to dedicate more time to focus on what they’re really good at – engaging talent. Most companies are sitting on a bank of data when it comes to candidates, however stale CRM systems mean that capabilities are not always being utilised sufficiently. AI can help address this issue by extracting information that becomes highly valuable leads. This does much of the legwork for HR professionals, who can then focus their efforts on other pressing tasks.

According to We Are Social, the number of internet users worldwide in 2018 was 4,021 billion, up 7% year-on-year, with social media users worldwide now sitting at 3,196 million. The internet has allowed us to expand our reach and visibility globally, enabling companies to capture both active and passive applicants. The limitless exposure to candidates around the clock can certainly improve a company’s visibility and also provide more opportunities to manage its brand identity. Strategic social media use can develop a company’s employer brand and increase direct sourcing.

As leaders are aware, the current market is candidate-led and populated with tech-savvy individuals. Automation helps businesses capture these individuals’ attention in effective ways, and also at the right time thanks to data from complex analytics. Advanced algorithms can now predict for example when someone is likely to be looking for their next opportunity based on subtle changes in how they engage online – and thanks to machine learning the information that we collect in this way is becoming increasingly accurate.

The limitations of digital tools in talent acquisition

There are, of course, limitations to use of digital tools in talent acquisition. While the rhetoric that robots are coming for our jobs will be familiar to many, HR can sit quite comfortably knowing that they are safe from this mythical attack. That is because people buy from people, and when it comes to hiring, in particular, only humans have the capacity for empathy, care and the attention to detail required when life-changing decisions are involved.

Candidates do not just want a job description when seeking employment, but a comprehensive understanding of who they will be working with, in what type of culture and what they will learn. That is why video is increasingly popular in recruitment, as it allows candidates to have more of a connection to the people in the workplace.

Beyond the risk of falling short on candidate engagement, the potential of more serious ramification should also be considered. Examples where technology has unintentionally reflected the racist and sexist biases that exist in society are rare – but nonetheless demonstrate the limitations of AI enabled-recruitment perfectly.

When St George’s Medical Hospital School in London decided to automate parts of its admissions workflow in the 80s, the system learned from previous admission data to discriminate against non-white and female applicants and those with postcodes revealing their working-class background were also given lower priority.

While only just last year, Amazon scrapped its “sexist” tool that used artificial intelligence to select the ‘best’ candidates to hire. During the four years that it was in operation, the system quickly learned to favour male applicants, while penalising key words such as “women’s champion.”

Why in-house expertise beats automation

Automation should do the heavy lifting for businesses recruiting, and inhouse experts and leaders should be positioned in the driving seat. Technology must be harnessed to monitor activity, improve visibility, and manage brand identity – but it is important to remember that people are at the heart of all business success.

Digital tools in talent acquisition should be a part of a wider strategic workforce plan, with in-house leaders selecting individuals based on how likely they will fit in with the current culture, and projected growth plans. While AI may identify and favour candidates with skills and education that are typically associated with a role, a professional invested in the business will be able to build on this insight to spot characteristics and potential that technology simply isn’t programmed to recognise.

An in-house team can take a bird’s eye view of all hiring activity and ensure talent acquisition is following the expected route, setting your firm up for future success.

For more help with utilising technology for your talent acquisition, get in touch today.

March 27, 2019
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Avoiding costly mistakes when rapidly growing headcount

Rapidly growing headcount because of business growth is generally considered positive, however, this period opens businesses up to vulnerability through rash hiring decisions. During this significant stage it is important to slow down, follow a strategic workforce plan and assess all risks involved.

When a business is in its growth mode, one of the most burdening challenges is getting the right people cost effectively and within the timescales to meet the company’s goals. While rapidly increasing headcount can be essential to meet customer demand, it is crucial that the quality of hires is put above all else. In our experience of working with companies in the process of scaling their business, we have found that firms often feel the pressure to increase headcount too swiftly without considering unwanted consequences.

Do venture capitalists feel the most pressure?

This certainly is true among many venture capitalists, who need to develop businesses as quick as possible. To ensure recruitment is handled efficiently, many may believe that turning to recruitment agencies will be the best move, however this can be a mistake. In fact, this is often where investors that are scaling their companies expose themselves to risks of breakage and also a weakened workforce.

What are the risks when rapidly growing headcount?

When hiring activity is reactionary as opposed to strategic, managers risk swapping one problem for another. Relying on recruitment agencies to sort your company’s most important resource often involves dealing with people who may just be keen on filling a quota to a set deadline. While this method might mean you have enough people to run your business, it does not necessarily equal people who will do it well. If managers are not responsible for overseeing all recruitment activity, it leaves businesses at risk of future problems when it comes to aspects such as honing company culture, developing employer branding and pipelining future talent.

According to a new report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), UK firms are failing to hire the right person for two out of five roles. The likelihood of this happening increases greatly when talent sourcing is put in the hands of someone who may have a less passionate take on your business goals. The use of multiple agencies certainly can add danger to misinterpretation and threat to the handling of valuable candidates. Deterring the right employee or onboarding the wrong one can have a detrimental impact on business. In addition to risking disruption to a high-performing team, creating imbalances in diversity and inclusion, it can also cost greatly too. According to the REC, a poor hire at mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can cost a business more than £132,000.

On top of wrong hires, another costly mistake is overspending on agency fees. Data from the REC shows that the average recruitment fee for a single permanent placement increased by 6.4% in 2017/18 to reach £4,238. When combined with separate figures from LinkedIn, which reveal that the average global staff turnover rate now stands at 11%, it can be deduced that a company with a headcount of 1,500 can expect to spend at least £699,270 annually on agency fees, while a firm with 5,000 staff will hand over a staggering £2,330,900 each year – and that is before growth is even considered.

How to strategically tackle this issue

Slashing such costs will certainly be of interest to private equity and every venture capitalist, and there are in fact several steps that can drastically reduce spend. The most effective and beneficial tactic will be to bring talent acquisition in-house with a focus on direct sourcing. On top of saving on agency fees, you will be able to ensure that the calibre of hire is in line with your standards and in accordance to your taskforce planning. As we have written before, by taking a bird’s eye view of all sourcing activity, in-house recruiters can plan and execute detailed hiring roadmaps to ensure the right roles are filled at the right time. This, in turn, offers the freedom to pipeline talent and guarantee that you are setting your firm up for future success and a return on investment. By bringing recruitment in-house, private equity and venture capitalists will find the profitability that they seek.

If you would like any further help with strategically growing your headcount, get in touch today.

March 15, 2019
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Five quick fixes to curb recruitment agency fees

The financial burden which comes with the reliance on recruitment agencies to sort what is arguably your company’s most important resource should not be underestimated. According to the latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) annual Recruitment Industry Trends report, the average fee for a permanent hire was £4,238 in 2018. And this number can be considerably higher for rare executive positions, with some agencies charging up to 30% of the salary. After several hires, these charges certainly do add up, but the good news is that there are several quick fixes you can use to minimise recruitment agency spend.

1. Invest in channels that will attract direct candidates

A lengthy list of potential employees sourced through direct recruitment channels may seem impressive at first, however it is crucial to always remember that it is the quality of candidates that matters above all else. Social media, word of mouth and job boards can generate numerous leads, but if these applicants lack the skills required to drive your business forward, they are simply obstructing your reach to valuable talent. In fact, a surplus of applicants demands more time and resources to identify the most compatible hire. By evaluating which channels deliver the highest quality result, businesses will be able to concentrate their efforts and funds into proven, successful avenues and reduce recruitment agency fees. Direct recruitment channels also facilitate a company in promoting its values on diversity and inclusion authentically, which enables it to appeal to a wider pool of suitable candidates.

2. Implement an employee referral scheme

A channel that has long been proven to be cost-effective and productive is an employee referral scheme. Staff tend to have larger social circles compared to companies, and by utilising their networks, managers can drastically reduce the time taken to hire and the costs too. Your people are also likely to excel in identifying quality candidates that will fit in with the company culture. Due to their first-hand experience they are able to engage truthfully with prospective employees and scout the most suitable talent. Additionally, this type of scheme helps in futureproofing your workforce as research shows a referred employee is more likely to remain with a company longer than a member hired through career sites or job boards.

3. Enhance your company website to attract more direct candidate applications

While attracting staff through direct sourcing is fantastic for reducing recruitment agency fees, it is crucial that businesses are prepared for scrutiny from potential employees. Current job seekers are increasingly more active in researching a role before accepting an offer and according to Talent Board’s Candidate Experience Research Report, 64% say company career websites are the most valuable research channels. That’s why it is crucial to tailor your website to be user-friendly and designed with the candidate experience in mind. Answers to common questions regarding company culture, values and expectations should be easily accessible and if possible, delivered in engaging forms such as blogs and videos. Utilising AI in systems such as chatbots can also ensure candidates remain on the page until they are satisfied.

4. Push incumbent suppliers to renegotiate terms and reduce recruitment agency fees

Having healthy communication with your existing agencies will ensure stale approaches that are no longer working are not being unnecessarily continued. Engaging in frequent discussions regarding what is working and what is not will also identify where excess money is being spent. After thorough analysis, you will understand which terms can be renegotiated with your supplier – and how.

5. Explore the possibility of bringing talent acquisition inhouse

Taking talent acquisition into your own hands can be the most effective way to reduce the cost of hiring. Minimising the usage of third-party suppliers by identifying and employing prospective candidates directly ensures that only quality hires are made which are in line with your strategic talent planning. Making this move will require knowledge on where to prioritise budget and resources, which technology platforms to select and how to build a scalable direct hiring function. This certainly is no easy task, but as our previous work with clients across a variety of sectors shows, it can indeed be done.

For more advice on how to we can help reduce your agency spend, contact us today.

March 8, 2019
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The power of an employer brand

Amid the battle for top talent, a strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) can be the difference between attracting the skills and expertise your business needs to flourish – or losing them to the competition.

While many stakeholders play a part in shaping an organisation’s overall employer brand – including marketing, communications, executives and HR functions – those responsible for promoting a company to the employees of tomorrow arguably have the greatest influence over the EVP attractiveness.

External brand perception is a delicate commodity which can be built or destroyed throughout the recruitment process: LinkedIn has found that 83% of jobseekers say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or a company they once liked. A positive interview experience, however, can make 87% of candidates reconsider a position or business they once doubted.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) defines employer brand as ‘a set of attributes and qualities, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture’. With or without intention, every company has established an employer brand, but it is only through taking control of the narrative that businesses can harness it to their advantage.

The value of a strong employer brand

The value of a great employer brand is undisputable: according to research from Glassdoor, 11% of candidates would decline a job offer from a business with a bad reputation – even if they were unemployed.

Separate research from CareerBuilder, meanwhile, found that 69% of candidates are less likely to buy from companies which provided a negative candidate experience – and 9% said they will tell others not to purchase from businesses they have had a bad experience with during the hiring process. What’s more, research from CareerArc has found that 72% of jobseekers that had a bad interview experience have told others about it, either online or in-person. Clearly, a respectable reputation as an employer will provide a clear competitive edge in today’s fierce market for talent.

Handle with care

While the threat of losing out in the ‘war for talent’ may be enough to encourage many business leaders to explore how their employer brand is perceived on the ground, the wider risks associated with not monitoring and nurturing a strong EVP should not be underestimated.

A firm’s employer brand and consumer brands are intrinsically linked, and the way that candidates and employees are sourced, recruited and managed will inevitably have a knock-on effect not only on wider brand value, but also a business’s bottom line.

The reality is that the consequences of poor recruitment processes can ripple throughout a business – and the results can be shocking. For example, when Virgin Media discovered that 18% of rejected candidates were also Virgin Media customers, the firm dug a little deeper and found 6% of these disgruntled jobseekers cancelled their monthly subscriptions: a poor recruitment experience was costing the company £4.4 million per year.

Retaining autonomy over the recruitment process key to authentic messaging

In-house talent acquisition teams are not only fully invested in communicating a brand’s ethos to potential recruits, they are also better equipped to share strong, accurate messaging.

While an external recruiter may be comprehensively briefed on a brand’s values and policies – and what the role they are recruiting for is likely to entail – only those who have lived and breathed the corporate culture can communicate the reality of the position passionately and authentically.

This is particularly apparent when warm candidates begin to truly engage with hiring managers. While an agency recruiter may flounder when forced to go ‘off script’, their internal contemporaries have a wealth of genuine, first-hand experience to call on – regardless of whether they are sharing examples of individuals who have climbed rapidly within the business to demonstrate opportunities for progression, or the best train to catch to an interview.

Managing recruitment in-house ensures that your business retains complete control of candidate experience which, as the Virgin Media example highlighted above illustrates, is vital. Internal recruitment teams are also best-positioned to collect candidate feedback, which can then be fed back into the assessment process to improve experiences in real time.

A strong employer brand also has the added benefit of making long-term recruitment strategies move efficient: companies with a great EVP are actively sought-out by potential recruits, which saves resources on sourcing and attracting talent.

Finally, internal recruiters are perfectly placed to work in collaboration with wider HR and leadership teams to ensure that candidate and employee experience is consistent across every touchpoint, throughout the on-boarding process and beyond.

For more help with developing your employer brand through a great recruitment experience, get in touch today.

February 28, 2019
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Why strategic workforce planning matters

The benefits of strategic workforce planning are now almost universally accepted within business circles – and with good reason. By predicting both the behaviours of internal employees and market demand fluctuations, the ability to map out a coherent plan to overcome forecasted skills gaps and bring in expertise can both encourage growth and help to push an organisation into new markets.

However, despite the obvious benefits that robust and dedicated people strategies bring, a historic overreliance on agency recruitment can be a barrier to implementing effective workforce plans.

This may explain why a recent Workday/Human Capital Institute survey of 400 professionals who deal with strategic workforce planning within their business revealed that 69% consider the function either an “essential” or “high” priority – but that only 44% actively engage in it.

Strategic workforce planning benefits

Through analysing skills demand based on growth projections, transformation strategy and expected attrition – and then referencing this against talent supply both internally and within the wider workforce – business can effectively determine, and plan to overcome, skills gaps. However, success in this area relies on a cohesive and coherent recruitment and wider HR strategy.

The benefits to those organisations which get it right are valuable and far reaching.  As well as aiding a reduction in expensive contracts in the use of external recruitment agencies, robust workforce plans enable leaders to identify not only skills gaps, but also skills surplus. Essentially, effective talent planning boosts productivity by ensuring that the right people are in the right place at the right time – while simultaneously providing the flexibility for workforces to expand and contract as demand dictates.

This strategy also enables businesses to identify strengths and training opportunities within their teams so that investment into development can be directed accordingly. This, in turn, boosts not only staff retention, but also engagement and profitability through the preservation of skills, culture and relationships within a business.

Tools to aid strategies

Both internal data and industry trends are usually an excellent source of knowledge of individual jobs’ attrition rates, which can lead to a surprisingly detailed forecast of skills needed for the future.

Senior leadership teams now have access to reliable information regarding which employees are eligible for up-skilling and re-skilling, helping to predict gaps within the workforce – although these may open and close as market demand fluctuates. In this way, the data can also be used to implement a policy of growing your own internal talent, which can subsequently help to close projected managerial gaps in the future. In addition, technological tools can also be used to predict likelihood of employees jumping ship, including through social media monitoring applications.

One common misconception about a successful workforce plan is that it is rigid and set in stone when, in fact, exactly the opposite is the case; what might be needed for a business now may be totally different in five years’ time. Naturally, it is important to address the organisation’s most critical needs first, and not rush to implement an overarching strategy.

This allows for progression and, critically, facilitates the avoidance of paying premium rates associated with external recruitment fees while trying to fill immediate skills gaps. An effective plan must be adaptable and almost constantly fine-tuned in order to stay in line with market demand, new products and emerging markets – especially when reacting to or predicting competitors’ moves.

In fact, it is vital to keep your competition at the very front of your mind when constructing a workforce strategy. It is highly likely that you will be fishing from the same talent pool down the line, and predicting skills gaps means that your business will be able to create pipelines and contacts within these areas long before anyone is needed on board. This provides the best chance of winning top talent – and these acquisitions can make the difference to staying a step ahead of your competitors.

Dedicated recruitment function key to unlocking benefits

Strategies to overcome existing or incoming skills gaps include not only recruitment, but also development, retention and restructuring. With this in mind, in order to create and manage truly effective workforce plans, full autonomy around hiring is key.

Internal talent acquisition teams have the significant advantage of full visibility of the company’s wider talent management plans. By taking a bird’s eye view of the people strategy, in-house recruiters can plan and execute detailed hiring roadmaps to ensure the right roles are filled at the right time. This, in turn, offers the freedom to pipeline talent for future or alternative positions – or to flex role criteria to increase access to hard-to-source skills.

An external recruiter may be able to run with a rigid job spec and fill it accordingly. However, only an internal recruiter will have the oversight to understand and map complex workforce interdependencies – and shift role requirements in real-time – in order to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce today.

To find out how strategic workforce planning can impact organisational outcomes in your business, get in touch today.


February 27, 2019
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Getting a handle on recruitment agency spend

Investing in talent is crucial to set your company up for business growth. The right hires will strengthen your existing foundations by bringing in vital skills and fresh perspectives. However, sourcing and securing the correct employees is not only time-consuming, but can also be highly costly. To facilitate the hiring process, many companies involve third-party recruitment consultancies, however, this often results in businesses outlaying more than they anticipated. Due to a lack of transparency and incorrect auditing of spending, firms are finding it difficult to stay on top of hiring spend and end up paying far more than necessary. By getting a handle on recruitment agency spend, companies can utilise their budget better.

How expensive are recruitment agencies?

Calculating the cost of working with talent acquisition agencies is not always straightforward. Working with a third-party recruiter entails a fee for their service, however this figure is not set in stone and can depend on a number of variables. For example, the job role, location and type of hire in regards to contract or permanent staff, can all effect the overall fee. On average, this figure is 15-20% of the annual salary for an executive role, but can increase to 30% for hard to fill positions. This means one hire with a salary of £50,000 could cost your company between £7,500 and £15,000 in fees alone. If a business is hoping to recruit a team of senior staff, the cost can quickly become a financial burden.

An external agency may help bring potential employees through the door, however it is even more crucial to think about retention strategies for future employees. In this current candidate-led market, it is vital to put emphasis on retaining staff as soon as they onboard. This is where the spending that was used on agencies can be better utilised. Financial benefits and bonuses can be effective motivators for employees to stay with a company, and can also drive productivity in the long run. The money can also be used for other perks such as continued professional development, which HR professionals are increasingly using as a mechanism to encourage staff retention. When it comes to recruitment, it is always smart to think ahead, and consider how you will create a loyal team that will stick with you as your business expands. While an external agency is motivated to get people through the door – it is in-house HR teams which are best placed to implement and facilitate long-term strategic workforce plans.

Where do things go wrong?

With many firms working with a number of external recruiters at once, it is difficult to keep track of total expenditure. With no in-house team managing all hiring activity, it is easy for things to be miscommunicated. If there are various staff taking responsibility for different recruitment projects, it is quite possible that the total being spent is not being tracked efficiently. Monitoring recruitment agency spend accurately is imperative to stay within the budget and assess areas for improvement.

A lack of transparency between firms and their external recruiters is also hindering growth opportunities. Many firms are left in the dark with regards to how much time and money is being spent on each hire. With clarity into the process, many businesses may find that they do, in fact, have the resources to take the job into their own hands.

How to cut back on recruitment agency spend

To take control of how much your company is spending on hiring it is vital to have a robust and transparent recruitment and a talent acquisition strategy in place. It is important to work systematically and address any issues in your current process. To move forward, businesses should begin by focusing on mapping their spending. By conducting a full audit, you will have in-depth insight of previous recruitment activities and be able to highlight any issues with sourcing, controls and costs.

The results from the audit can be used to identify solutions to your current and future challenges. Careful assessment of your procedures will allow expert strategies to be implemented that enable your company to reduce the time-to-hire and costs by subsequently improving the quality of talent you engage and attract. By truly understanding your workflows and key performance indicators, you will have greater business intelligence that can aid decision making.

For more information on how to take control of your recruitment agency spend, get in touch today

February 18, 2019
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The Growth of Direct Sourcing

The growth of dedicated in-house talent acquisition departments has been well documented in recent years, with an increasing number of senior strategists realising the numerous benefits of direct sourcing, and building sophisticated internal recruitment teams in response. However, while this phenomenon has been widespread within blue-chip organisations for some time, the vast majority of smaller firms have – until very recently – continued to rely on external partners to identify, engage and secure the skills their businesses need to thrive. That is about to change.

The benefits of managing recruitment in house, rather than relying on external agencies, are self-evident. By taking full control of the function, business leaders can guarantee that employer brand messages are communicated effectively and that metrics such as quality of hire are prioritised over the time it takes fill a vacancy. Taking this approach also ensures that individual hires are not made in silo, but are fully connected to a wider people strategy designed in line with mid and long-term organisational objectives.

In the digital age, external recruiters have lost their key differentiator

Historically, the arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ bringing talent acquisition in-house were fairly balanced. Businesses essentially had to weigh up whether they were willing to forgo the relationships and reach that their external providers boasted, in order to retain control of recruitment decisions and ownership of their brand. Today, though, an increase in digital capabilities and the accessibility of data and tools means that you don’t need to be a sector specialist to enjoy access to valuable talent. It seems that external recruiters no longer have the ‘edge’ that they once sold as their key differentiator.

As a result, small and medium enterprises which would previously have housed talent acquisition activity within more generalist HR functions – or allocated resource to focus on administering the relationship between external agencies and business hiring managers – are considering alternative options.

Controlling employer brand

One of the key drivers for doing so is the significant impact that having a resource solely committed to hiring for a single company has on external brand perception. According to data from LinkedIn, companies with stronger employer brands enjoy a 43% decrease in the cost per candidate they hire – and grow 20% faster than their competitors as a result.

With this in mind, being able to communicate a company’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP) authentically is vital. External recruitment partners may be comprehensively briefed on the cultural vison that should be sold to potential recruits – but there is no substitute for living and breathing a company’s values when it comes to sharing an accurate and compelling picture of what a career with an employer will look like.

As the keeper of candidate experience, in-house teams are also able to ensure a favourable – and consistent – recruitment process, from the first touchpoint to on-boarding. This includes making sure that unsuccessful applicants are also left with a positive impression of the company, which will, of course, help to enshrine wider consumer brand perception.

The bigger picture

The wider organisational understanding that internal talent acquisition teams inevitably possess also has value beyond effective EVP messaging. Internal hiring teams, whether consciously or not, are undoubtedly invested in ensuring that the talent they bring on board is fit to grow and develop within and alongside the organisation itself. The nature of the role means a short-term approach to staffing is simply not feasible: the calibre of candidates matters above all else.

In house teams also have the significant advantage of full visibility of the company’s wider talent management plans. By taking a bird’s eye view of the people strategy, internal recruiters can plan and execute detailed hiring roadmaps – in line with strategic workforce plans – that ensure the right roles are filled at the right times. This, in turn, offers the freedom to pipeline talent for future or alternative positions – or to flex role criteria to increase access to hard to source skills.

In a similar vein, internal talent acquisition teams are also perfectly placed to harness the benefits of internal mobility to influence organisational success. Deloitte has reported that companies which promoted internally are 32% more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their new hires. We can assume this is largely because those who find a new role within the same organisation are already culturally aligned to the brand and have knowledge and relationships which means that they can hit the ground running.  Despite this, external recruiters are often actively discouraged from targeting those who are looking within the organisation for professional opportunities. This disjointed approach can clearly have an adverse impact on staff retention, productivity and long-term profitability.

The business case for direct sourcing

While the above reasons as to why companies are increasingly turning to direct sourcing are compelling, the financial burden which comes with relying on recruitment agencies to manage the procurement of your business’s most valuable assets should also not be underestimated.

According to the latest Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) annual Recruitment Industry Trends report, the average fee for a permanent placement across the recruitment industry was £4,238 in 2018. To put this in perspective, a company hiring just 50 people a year is handing over in excess of £200,000 to recruiters annually – and that is without taking into account factors such as the inflated fees associated with senior hires, attrition due to poor recruitment decisions and the cost of sourcing and managing contingent workers.

That’s not to say that, for those setting up an internal talent acquisition function, knowing where to prioritise resources, the technology platforms to select and how to build a scalable direct hiring function isn’t challenging. However, by taking the reins on recruitment, business leaders can ultimately monetise all the benefits that direct sourcing brings.

For more information on how we can help your business to attract talent directly, improve efficiencies and reduce costs, get in touch today

February 11, 2019

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