Recruiter - Jul/Aug 2021

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Business intelligence for recruitment and resourcing professionals

INCORPORATING Recruitment Matters

Jul/Aug 2021

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Has Covid-19 affected the growth rate of privately-owned recruitment firms?

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beginning to motor’ Employment minister Mims Davies spoke exclusively to Recruiter The right conversation Conversations will help recruitment leaders coming out of the pandemic REC: ‘strong’ but not ‘complacement’ REC CEO Neil Carberry on the trade organisation bouncing back Alan Whitford: A tribute Fellow recruitment industry leader Matthew Jeffery on the sad passing of the HR tech guru Contracts & Deals

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INTERACTION Viewpoint Danielle Cohen and Katie Dunbar: senior recruitment specialists, RBW Consulting Soundbites

FEATURES

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TRENDS

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Guy Hayward on Pride and inclusive working environments, while Mike Beesley deals with the ‘feast or famine’ mentality Insight Research from The FIRM reveals which metrics matter to in-house recruiters Tech & Tools The latest recruitment technology and services

Recruiter’s FAST 5O An unprecedented year has seen slower growth from privately-owned recruitment companies 24 PROFILE: Keith Rosser The director at Reed Screening believes keeping Right to Work checks digital will make the world of work a safer place 31 SPECIAL REPORT: Software: AI The rise of artificial intelligence and machine technology

24 E COMMUNITY 41 Social 43 My brilliant recruitment career: Jo Sellick

44 Movers & Shakers 45 Recruiter contacts 46 The Last Word:

46 COV E R I M AG E | S H UTTER STO C K

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Alan Furley

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UPDATE

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ou could not operate in the burgeoning recruitment tech world of the millennium without knowing Alan Whitford. A fellow native of Seattle, USA, as he never failed to remind me, Alan was everywhere, smiling and persistent as he fervently preached the rec tech gospel – the wise uncle to the chattering masses. His departure from this world on 8 June leaves a hole in the pantheon of personalities who took knowledge-sharing in new directions in recruitment, to the point of creating a sort of mythology around the practice and the technology that could enhance it. Godspeed Alan. (See the tribute to “Let’s hear him on p7.) You’ve heard about what the good days to drop ‘bad government news’ stories? In the plans to do long hours before England’s term about the match against Denmark, driver shortage” UK transport secretary Grant Shapps slipped in a cheeky ‘hit and run’ announcement on Twitter that the UK would relax the limit on working hours for HGV drivers for a few weeks because of supply-chain problems. Such a casual, ‘oh by the way’ approach to a serious issue. Let’s hear what the government plans to do long term about the driver shortage; at the moment, this seems just another in the ‘rush to judgement, never mind about the consequences’ series of decisions. And some good news – see our FAST 50, compiled and analysed for Recruiter by Clearwater International, for recruitment companies breaking the bonds of earth to soar!

DeeDee Doke, Editor

I M AG E | UK PA R LIA MEN T

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Kickstart scheme ‘motoring’ says employment minister Davies BY DEEDEE DOKE

THE UK GOVERNMENT’S youth employment Kickstart Scheme is “really beginning to motor”, placing “around 400” young people per day into new roles, employment minister Mims Davies has told Recruiter. Davies’ optimism comes in the face of concerns from recruitment’s leading trade bodies that the initiative is not generating the anticipated take-up by its intended beneficiaries, leaving thousands of vacancies on offer unfilled. The Department of Work and Pension has approved more than 219,000 roles for the scheme launched last September, and there are currently over 100,000 positions available for six months for 16-to-24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. “Actually, Kickstart has managed to get those fresh faces and voices into new sectors,

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UPDATE

38,501 FOLLOWERS AS OF 4 JULY 2021

which is really exciting for us,” Davies said. “We got people into Kickstart from December [2020], and it is changing lives; it’s so exciting,” Davies said in an exclusive interview with Recruiter. Over 36,000 young people have now started placements in the scheme, Davies said. She highlighted roles in highly sought-after industries such as film (Pinewood Studios), sport (Liverpool Football Club) and vegan chocolate-making in which Kickstart participants have been placed. However, leaders of recruitment trade bodies the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation are not convinced of the initiative’s success to date. In a joint interview with Recruiter, Neil Carberry and Ann Swain characterised as “negligible” the take-up of numerous jobs offered through their organisations and members. Carberry estimated that 10-15% of the roles on offer through REC members had been filled, with just 7-8% filled of the roles offered through APSCo, Swain said. Carberry and Swain agreed that the enormity of the mission had been underestimated by the government, with reportedly just two employees dedicated to working through hundreds of thousands of vacancies. “I think they thought it was going to be a breeze,” Swain said, “and then the numbers (of applicants) are just negligible.” Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 December 2021. They will receive funding until 30 June 2022 if a young person starts their job on 31 December 2021.

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Leaders: get the conversation right BY VANESSA TOWNSEND

‘A PROBLEM ONLY ever exists in the absence of the right conversation’, Tara Ricks, COO of Elite Leaders, quoted at the start of a recent online event for recruitment leaders. As leaders reset their strategies and navigated the hybrid working concept for their recruitment businesses and clients, Ricks wondered what the critical leadership conversations should be: “Because 18 months ago we all went, ‘What on earth is happening?’ How do you care for your team… I think it requires a different type of conversation and conversations that really matter.” Speaker Kirsty Mac, an international executive coach and leadership consultant, said her conversations with leadership teams to help them navigate through the pandemic has revealed some key trends. “I think one of the biggest things I’ve seen [from] a leadership perspective is that there’s a level of acceptance that this is not the world that we asked for, but this is the world that we have. “We need to navigate the accelerating technologies that are around us ... So, you know, thank goodness that we had Zoom and [Microsoft] Teams, and all of the

different functionality that was available to us, because we wouldn’t have been able to run our businesses otherwise.” She continued: “But are we overusing them in some situations? Are we possibly having too many Teams meetings when it could have just been a phone call?” Mac asked leaders to think about the conversations that needed to take place in their organisations with their teams, with clients and with some candidates. “What would you name it? Be specific about it; what is the conversation that you need to have? “Sometimes we skirt around the issue, or we don’t necessarily have the conversation. What is the specific conversation that you need to have to move your organisation forward to lead in a way that allows you to progress into the opportunities that exist out there in the different sectors?” Giving the leadership audience something to consider, Mac concluded: “We have to have a different conversation. Commitment conversation is understanding the people that work with you. Do you understand everyone in your team? Do you understand what their intention is, what lights them up?”

IMAGES | ISTOCK /SHUT T ERSTOCK

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Alan Whitford: A tribute BY MATTHEW JEFFERY

REC: ‘strong’ but ‘not complacent’ BY DEEDEE DOKE

NEIL CARBERRY SAYS the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) is “confident but not complacent” as the trade body enters the second half of 2021, following the ups and downs of 2020 and the first half of this year. The REC CEO, speaking exclusively to Recruiter following the organisation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June, characterised the trade body as “an organisation that got through a really tough year pretty well”. The trade body’s annual report showed a financial loss of £303,234 after taxes for the year ended December 2020, compared to a profit of £140,502 for 2019. However, the REC’s direct costs for 2020 was £1,034,319, in contrast to £1,592,787 in 2019. Among the high-cost bills in 2020 was for restructuring the organisation, but Carberry underscored the £150k in costs was a “one-time” expense and put the REC in position to bounce

back. “I’m reasonably confident that the REC will bounce back into profit this year. And in cash terms, it’s worth remembering that we actually improved the overall position of the business through 2020, through just good and careful management.” A plus in 2020, Carberry said, was “really strong” membership performance, retaining 88% of corporate members. “We hope we repaid that faith in what we gave to our members during last year in terms of support,” he said. Discussing the immediate state of business affairs in the UK, Carberry warned that the current period in which the Covid-19 pandemic warps and wanes is not going to necessarily result in “a new economic miracle”. “I think there will be a bit of flattening off, driven by a couple of things,” Carberry predicted. “People will begin to see the shape of what’s happening, and I think we’ll continue to see the market for temp and perm in growth, but maybe not at the breakneck speed that we’ve seen over the last couple of months.”

It was a real shock seeing an announcement on social media that Alan Whitford had sadly passed away on 8 June after a brief battle with cancer. He will be sorely missed. Alan had a deep and impressive career, latterly a consultant providing HRIS, talent acquisition, candidate experience, employment brand advice through his company Abtech Partnership. A regular on the speaker circuit, Alan’s reach was far and wide. Those that met Alan will attest that what made him stand out was his humanity. His focus on helping everyone do well, to maximise their abilities. He always made time for everyone. He listened, he cared. And this won the hearts and minds of those that came into contact with him. More than anyone I know, he helped train, support and nurture talent right across the industry. As a person, Alan had a genuinely big heart that championed everyone. He was a very humble guy. Super kind and caring, deeply intelligent, sharp as a tack. He knew his stuff inside and out. He loved the recruitment industry with a real passion. He wanted to make a massive difference – and he did. He cherished debate. He thrived on creativity and innovation, challenging the status quo. He had a deep passion for HR technology – a passion that was infectious. Alan thrived on the art of the possible and making the impossible possible! Alan, as an industry we owe you so much. We hope that you will be waiting on the other side with a glass of wine and ready for a hearty debate on the future of recruitment. RIP. A true legend of recruiting. Matthew Jeffery is director, UKI talent attraction & acquisition (TA2) leader

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CONTRACTS

CONTRACTS & DEALS

Major Recruitment Multi-sector recruiter Major Recruitment has signed a “significant” technology investment with The Access Group, according to an Access statement. The Huddersfield-based recruitment company is implementing a comprehensive suite of recruitment technology, including Access Recruitment CRM, Access Screening and Access Pay and Bill that will give them a flexible, browser-based solution underpinning their business operations from “candidate to cash”, the statement said.

Odro BGF, a capital investor in UK and Ireland, has completed a £5.2m investment in Odro, a Scottish-headquartered technology business that provides video interviewing and engagement software to the recruitment industry. Odro provides its 700-plus client base with a premium video recruitment product that helps them to streamline their processes and drive profitability.

Liquid Friday Umbrella company Liquid Friday has entered into an agreement with job platform Stride (formerly known as JobLab). It will develop the Stride platform and evolve it to become a software solution to allow recruitment agencies to have a digital interface between themselves and their clients through technology automation and AI, so they and their consultants can work more efficiently.

Jepson Holt Legal search firm Jepson Holt has acquired legal recruiter Six Degrees Legal. Greg Williamson, managing director at Six Degrees Legal, will join Jepson Holt as director of the business.

Beamery Talent operating system Beamery has announced $138m (£99.5m) in Series C funding led by The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP). Accenture Ventures also participated in this round, alongside existing investors EQT Ventures, Index Ventures, M12 and Workday Ventures.

DEAL OF THE MONTH

Airswift/Competentia Global workforce solutions giants, Airswift and Competentia, have merged into one of the world’s foremost recruitment providers. Serving the energy, process, infrastructure, mining and technology industries, the combined entity will retain the Airswift name, with Airswift CEO Janette Mark leading the merged organisation. Jayden Wallis, CEO of the Competentia Group, joins the executive team as chief marketing officer and senior vice president of ASPAC. Airswift’s current

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Nine Twenty Pelion, an Internet of Things (IoT) management firm, has turned to Scottish technology recruitment firm Nine Twenty to fill six of its vacancies. These include engineering, DevOps and technical sales roles. Nine Twenty has already placed two software engineers, a programme manager and a people business partner for the technology firm. Nine Twenty, which has a longstanding relationship with Pelion that stretches back to 2014, has sourced eight people for the business since the end of 2020.

CFO, Kyle McClure, retains his position in the merged organisation, a company statement said. Airswift itself was created in January 2016 by the merger of the then-Air Energi and Swift Worldwide Resources. The merged company has corporate hubs in Houston, Manchester and Singapore, and 60 offices worldwide. Competentia, established in 1998 in Norway, has local teams in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia.

Recruitment Entrepreneur Recruitment investment firm Recruitment Entrepreneur, led by businessman James Caan CBE, has announced a partnership with King Recruit, a recruitment firm in Exeter, which works with SME businesses in the South-West. Managing director Helen Plumridge launched King Recruit in 2015, and in January expanded the company with the addition of King Executive. In partnership with Recruitment Entrepreneur, she now plans to develop the group even further, with the addition of King Tech, King Sales, King Finance and King Digital over the next 12 months.

Talent Works Aptean, a US-based global provider of missioncritical enterprise software solutions, is working with flexible recruitment process outsourcing provider Talent Works to review and localise its employer brand to recruit over 150 roles. The roles span 17 departments and eight markets including the US and the UK, with a key focus on upscaling its offering in Madurai and Bangalore, India. Aptean’s industry-specific ERP, supply chain and compliance solutions are used in over 80 countries.

More contract news at recruiter.co.uk/news

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WORKPLACE

The Workplace BY GUY HAYWARD

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allies. Called Pride, it is chaired by one of our directors (Jake Freeman) and has a stated aim to ensure that Goodman Masson becomes a totally inclusive and comfortable environment, a workplace where all can be confident in being their true selves. To stand up to homophobia and transphobia, to engage and educate the wider business and as Jake says, “to party and celebrate Pride until the sun comes up”. We have partnered with Trans in the City on their ‘Trans rights are human rights’ campaign; created new partnerships with the likes of interest.org; normalised and promoted the sharing of pronouns on email signatures and LinkedIn; and hosted an ally-ship seminar with D&I support organization Diversity Dreaming. We launched our podcast series called ‘Real Lives’ with a discussion with Kathryn Downs about her transition journey (a married man with children, who transitioned to a woman, her story provides a real insight). Accenture have more than 110,000 members of their global ally programme and through their own research they found out that LGBTQ employees are three times as

“The creation of building working environments that are inclusive are new chapters to be written” likely to advance to a senior management position or higher. Riot Games added rainbow fruit icons to allow players to show support for each other and are active participants in International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Elsewhere, ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s are a long-standing supporter of marriage equality, Newcastle City Council was named by Stonewall as the most LGBT inclusive employer in the UK, and IKEA has a real focus on transgender inclusion. We’ve recently published our approach to ‘Transitioning at Work’ outlining the support available, such as telling

THE DAYS OF exclusion or the feeling that you cannot bring your true self into work really should be consigned to the pages of history. The creation of building working environments that are inclusive are new chapters to be written. A place where we celebrate individual differences and ensure that the contributions of everyone are recognised and valued. There are a whole host of projects and initiatives that cover the equity, diversity & inclusion (EDI) agenda in the workplace. From ethnicity to gender and gender identity and from religion and disability, to sexual orientation – all making a difference and asking the question: Just how far must we still go? June’s Pride month was a good example when we found ourselves exploring how the LGBTQ+ community fares in the workplace. Does full inclusion exist? Are we creating the environment where LGBTQ+ and trans employees do not feel isolated? I wanted to share what we and others have been doing. We have created our own internal community for LGBTQ+ employees and

GUY HAYWARD – redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

friends and family, dressing differently and changing official documents. You can read many examples of what companies are doing, yet Glassdoor’s recent survey showed more than half (53%) of LGBTQ employees reported that they have experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ comments by co-workers. Collectively, this should also be consigned to the pages of history. ●

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T R E N DS

BUSINESS ADVICE

INSIGHT

DEALING WITH ‘FEAST OR FAMINE’ MENTALITY BEING SUCCESSFUL IN running a recruitment business means living lean for as long as you can to help survive what I call the ‘feast or famine’ principle. You may recognise the scenario: one month the money is pouring in and you’re convinced millionaire status is guaranteed; the next, you’re calling the bank asking for an overdraft. As the world tries to return to normality, even recruitment leaders who have not experienced this to any great degree out of the pandemic will now be aware of this financial rollercoaster. Add in Brexit and IR35, and many organisations found themselves swinging between each extreme. And it’s no wonder. Core data throughout the past 18 months period indicated a severe contraction of the recruitment market for both perm and non-perm roles – which we can call the famine. Monthly market information offered little hope and then: bang! Two months later, the same media is reporting exponential growth particularly in the perm sector and aggressively reporting skills shortages – the feast! Today all we seem to hear about is skills and talent shortages and the war for talent raging again as businesses compete for the best people who don’t just deliver a good job, but fit also with organisational culture and purpose. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I’ve been asked a lot recently about how to navigate this polarisation in recent times. The answer should be completely obvious, but is not always apparent to recruitment company owners, for it is simple: look after your people and your cashflow. These things are always easier said than done, of course. But if I had a penny for the number of recruiters I’ve seen set up on their own and, as soon as there’s cash in the bank, there’s a new sports car on the drive, I’d be going straight to the bank. This is not the road to success. The way is much less glamorous but much more gratifying in the end. So, my advice for both areas is as follows:

Founder TIMESTWO Consulting

1.

Your people: be honest – how often have you sat in front of a client raving about inclusive hiring strategies that bring in the right people and employee engagement programmes that keep them in place, while back at the ranch your own business has high churn and staff dissatisfaction? Your hiring strategy is everything. How did you look after them during furlough? A top London restaurant reported recently (bizarrely) that they weren’t certain that they would be able to open because they didn’t know where their staff were – why not?! Employee engagement is so important in all market conditions, and effort made in difficult times will result in huge rewards in the good times for all concerned. Your money: don’t spend it all as soon as it lands. Just because it’s in the bank does not mean it can leave as quick as it came in. Saving and investing is critical to weather storms and allows you to focus mainly on hiring and keeping the right people when the chips are down. Cash is your foundation; look after it, because without it your empire will fall.

2.

Let’s face it, no one knew what was going to happen at the beginning of 2020. And, while we are still not 100% certain what the future holds, the decisions you make now will have a big impact a year or two from now. Be prudent and cautious as you grow and you’ll sleep much better at night – even if it’s not in a deluxe king-size bed in your new penthouse flat (yet)... ●

“Cash is your foundation; look after it, because without it your empire will fall”

Mike Beesley

MIKE BEESLEY is co-founder of TIMESTWO Consulting. He is also a serial entrepreneur and investor

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INSIGHT

DEALING WITH THE DATA

64% spend 3 to 10 hours per month on data, metrics and reporting

New findings from The FIRM (Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers) reveal the different metrics in-house recruiters are using – and how effective they are

of talent acquisition specialists decide on the metrics used with the broader HR team

BY DEEDEE DOKE

recent report has flagged up how in-house recruiters measure recruitment effectiveness, but also revealed how only a little more than a third (39%) say they are satisfied with their ability to make decisions based on their recruitment data. The report, ‘Data and Measurement: Key Insights’, was published by The FIRM, in partnership with Eploy. Information for the report was gathered via surveys and roundtable events with members of the FIRM [the Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers]. While the report reinforces that well-established metrics such as Time-to-hire and Cost-of-hire are still heavily relied upon, it also points out that in-house recruiters want “more time to do the ‘fun stuff ’ with their data. They want data insights that help them make decisions, improve processes, deliver a stellar candidate experience with a super-efficient workflow and maximise their return on recruitment advertising investment”. Also, the report notes that in-house recruiters encounter “many challenges” in gathering and collating data such as “data in different systems, unreliable data and delays in getting information back from hiring managers”. The means of accessing and presenting data can also be problematic, with Excel and Powerpoint identified as the top two (81% and 72% respectively) methods for presenting metrics.

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59%

54% Cost-of-hire is the most popular quality metric

51% Hiring Manager Satisfaction is the second most popular quality metric

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use Time-inrole/Attrition to measure quality of hire

Source: Data and Measurement: Key Insights Report, The FIRM in partnership with Eploy

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T R E N DS

INSIGHT

90% capture and track data through an applicant tracking system

The biggest challenge in measuring Source-of-hire is perceived to be the accuracy of the data, in terms of candidate response and lack of integration between systems

60% consider requisition approval as start point for Time-to-hire

81% use Source-ofhire to measure sourcing channels

80% use Time-to-hire to measure and monitor the speed of their recruitment

42%

think written acceptance is the end point for Time-to-hire

I M AG E S | SH UT T E R STO C K

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TECHNOLOGY AND SERVICES Tech comparison site to expand into other services

Talent operating system integration Beamery’s Talent Operating System can now be integrated with SAP SuccessFactors human capital management suite following its availability on the SAP Store digital marketplace. The Talent Operating System was designed to support more modern, digital methods of recruitment and allows recruiters to unify candidate and applicant data and redefine how they manage talent acquisition management. It also enables them to efficiently build talent pipelines, engage with qualified talent and resurface ‘silver medallist’ candidates. Teams can access end-to-end insights with custom reporting and dashboards around recruiting performance, diversity, attribution, engagement and more. Beamery is a partner in the SAP PartnerEdge programme, which enables it to build, market and sell software applications on top of SAP technology platforms. www.beamery.com

The Rectec recruitment technology comparison site is to expand its offering to include services such as screening, video-interviewing and onboarding. Rectec Compare launched earlier this year to help recruiters find the right customer relationship management (CRM) and applicant tracking systems (ATS). The site works by technology vendors providing information about their products and services, which Rectec then validates in an onboarding process. If successful, the vendors are listed on the site. Recruiters, who access the service for free, input their requirements and Rectec’s algorithms come up with a shortlist of providers. Around 50 vendors currently populate the site but more are set to join. https://rectec.io/

TECH & TOOLS BY SUE WEEKES

A look at some AI services with recruiters and employers in mind

Module aims to speed up preemployment checks Recruitment software provider Hireserve is aiming to make pre-employment tasks and checks “simpler, safer and faster” for employers with the Hirechecks module for its applicant tracking system (ATS). It claims to automatically trigger, track and action all pre-employment checks and onboarding tasks from reviewing reference checks to recording Right to Work documentation. It also features a photograph upload tool: users can access their smartphone camera from within Hireserve ATS and photograph required documentation such as a passport or work permit. It says the image is securely stored against the candidate in the system and no images are saved on the user’s phone. Hireserve does not perform any background checks itself. https://hireserve.com/

I M AG E S | I STO C K

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Giving workers wider access Access Recruitment has launched a mobile work app that aims to help recruiters better engage with candidates. WorkView has been developed with input from multiple recruitment agencies and workers to identify specific pain points. Candidates can search and apply for positions on the mobile app and advise recruiters when they want to work. Among concerns was stress induced by getting to an assignment. Access has addressed this by providing embedded maps with jobs. Completion and submission of timesheets also ranked as one of the chief hassles. Using the app, workers can clock in and out using a QR code. Pay details can also be easily accessed. www.theaccessgroup.com/

Tech helps build a more inclusive recruiting future E-recruitment specialist Eploy is partnering with assistive technology provider Recite Me to help customers deliver an inclusive candidate experience. Customers can offer candidates the opportunity to access a toolbar providing accessibility and language support options, including text-to-speech functionality, fully customisable styling, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices. According to the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative, more than half (54%) find hurdles at multiple stages of the recruitment process. www.eploy.co.uk

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C VIEWPOINT INTE R AC TIO N

All take and no give Contribute to your client’s industry to be seen as a partner BY DANIELLE COHEN AND KATIE DUNBAR

s search consultants, we do our best work when we’re allowed to be partners – rather than just service providers – to our clients. We need to know what makes them tick and what their goals are so we can attract the people and personalities that will make them great. We know this, our team knows this, and you probably know this too. So how do we convince our clients to take this step with us? It’s not enough to show them we’re great. We need to show them we care as well. To do this, we need to bring to life our personality, knowledge and provide a proper contribution to the industry they inhabit.

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Show off your knowledge We spend every day around our brilliant recruitment teams. We absorb nuggets of knowledge, experience and all the inside tips to keep us on top of our client’s industry. But how does the client know this? By identifying a gap, problem or potential issue in a client’s sector, we can get ahead of the game and be proactive in recommending a solution, showing that we know them as well as they know themselves. If we’re able to think laterally when solving problems in their industry, then we’re able to do the same in bringing the right people to their business.

DANIELLE COHEN is senior practice specialist at RBW Consulting

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KATIE DUNBAR is senior consultant at RBW Consulting

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People and personality At RBW, we’ve built a team of people who care about the same things as us. This doesn’t mean we’re all the same (thank goodness!), but it means we’re on a shared mission. The same principle stands for recruiting. Good relationships are built by two things – people and personality. In our recruitment efforts, we don’t just look at the top line of a CV, but the person instead. How will they fit into the company? Do they have the right attitude? Are they on the same page? We ask these questions of the people we look to place, and clients ask them of us.

Putting it into practice

From diversity initiatives to fundraising for support groups, contributing to a client’s industry can take a variety of forms. Most importantly a contribution to your client’s industry should be an authentic, genuine, ideally mutual cause that you’re both passionate about. There’s no ‘fake it till you make it’. It needs to mean something to your business. RBW Consulting is a specialist search consultancy in the life sciences sector. This year, we’re using a percentage of the money earned from our rare disease clients to fund research into the mental health impact of a rare disease diagnosis. We’re not doing this for commercial benefit, but because, like our clients, we care about improving the lives of those dealing with this situation. It’s something important to us as a team, and it’s personal to a number of members of staff too. We want to be part of the solution. The possibilities for fostering a partnership are endless. But what is key is a real, authentic commitment to the things a client cares about most. ●

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I N T E R AC T I O N

SOUNDBITES

WEBCHAT FCSA CODES ‘STILL WORTHLESS’ In response to your article ‘FCSA toughens codes of compliance and transparency’ (6 July, recruiter.co.uk), in my opinion, the new Code is still worthless because it still says (and I quote): “In conducting the review, FCSA’s assessors will rely on the information supplied by the business in question and will not conduct any independent verification as regards the accuracy or completeness of this. “Accordingly, the FCSA and its assessors accept no responsibility whatsoever for any error or inaccuracy contained in the information, or for any loss or damage suffered by any person who relies on such information. For the avoidance of doubt, the FCSA (and its assessors’) review does not constitute any form of independent audit of the business in question and should not be held out to be, or be taken, as such. “The review cannot, in itself, guarantee current, past or future compliance with relevant legislation, regulations and appropriate industry practices and neither should it be taken to mean that HMRC or any other professional or regulatory body will not enquire into any matter that is subject to the requirements of the FCSA Code of Compliance.” Fred Dures

“What are you most looking forward to when lockdown restrictions are finally lifted?” DANIEL JEFFERY S EN I OR PA RT N ER , CON CI L I UM S EA RCH

“There are so many things to look forward to currently. I am excited for the in-person connection with friends and colleagues on days we are all in the office, as well as finally meeting in-person the colleagues who have started with Concilium during lockdown. The past 16 months have allowed us to make some fantastic changes to how we work day-to-day at Concilium, so I am also very eager to see the further growth that occurs when these positive changes are coupled with a post-pandemic market.”

RHYS JONES MA N AG I N G D I REC TOR , DAV I DS ON G R AY

“As a massive live sports fan, it has to be having full stadiums again to help bring back the atmosphere. Being able to return to music gigs is another big plus. But from a business perspective, it’s seeing the speed of economic recovery really ramp up. We’ve already seen a boost in the economy in Q1 and Q2 due to an increase in consumer confidence because of the success of the vaccine roll-out. The cash injection from consumer spending post-19 July will cascade into virtually all sectors, so seeing the recruitment industry in boom time will be awesome.”

CELIA PERRY MA N AG I N G D I REC TOR , P ERT EMP S

“We are a people-centric business in a people industry. There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings to build relationships, understand client needs and getting to know what makes a candidate tick. I’m looking forward to our staff being able to get back to that level of direct contact. We have made best use of available technology to keep in touch with employees, candidates and clients, but only when you actually meet someone do the ‘touchyfeely’ elements come to life and you really understand them. Plus, like most people I expect, I am looking forward to being able to go abroad on holiday again!”

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RECRU I T E R FA ST 5 0 2021

An unprecedented year infiltrated by Covid-19 has seen privately-owned recruitment firms’ growth rates slow aking the time to reflect on previous FAST 50 submissions, it appears we may have been somewhat hasty in characterising years beleaguered by Brexit and Article 50 as ‘years like no other’. Data produced by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation recently stated that, for the first time since March 2011, the number of UK recruitment agencies decreased, evidencing the significant impact of Brexit and more recently Covid-19. This is further borne out in the growth rates of this year’s FAST 50 constituents, which fell to an average compound annual growth rate of 27%, down from the 36% witnessed in 2020 and the lowest level over the last five years.

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IM AG E | SH UTT ER STO C K

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As businesses scrambled to put in place risk mitigation strategies to attempt to manage the impact of Covid-19, hiring plans were quickly scaled back or placed on hold. This is true across almost all sectors with the obvious exception of healthcare, while sectors such as life sciences and digital transformation recovered quickly to meet increasing demand through the pandemic. This is reflected in this year’s data with the IT/technology category once again the most highly represented, accounting for 16% of constituents. Technology has been fundamental in helping companies to pivot their business models to facilitate remote working and react to changing consumer behaviours. Recruitment agencies play a fundamental role in

+ DANIEL SHRIMPTON, associate director at corporate finance house and international M&A specialist Clearwater International compiles the Recruiter FAST 50

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RE C RUITE R FAST 50 202 1

Rank

2019 ranking

Company

Sectors

Revenue (£000s)

Compound annual growth rate (%)

1

RE Recruitment

Multi-sector

39,843

70.8%

2

Meet Recruitment

Life sciences

30,274

68.3%

3

WRS

Technical

45,129

49.8%

4

16

Omni RMS

RPO

30,257

46.6%

5

10

Kintec

Technical

83,664

45.1%

6

Mach Recruitment

Industrial

110,312

43.0%

7

NES Fircroft

Technical

1,299,070

40.1%

Gravitas

Finance, IT/technology

48,379

39.9%

9

Leathwaite

Executive search

25,233

39.6%

10

Winner Recruitment

Industrial

32,920

37.2%

11

Eaglecliff

Multi-sector

95,841

35.5%

12

Eximius

Professional

17,935

31.9%

8

19

13

30

SOS Group

Construction, rail, technical

30,215

28.7%

14

20

Frank Recruitment Group

IT/technology

297,127

28.4%

15

34

Templeton Recruitment

IT/technology

13,216

27.9%

First Recruitment Group

Technical, technology

110,388

26.7%

Nicholas Associates

Technical, executive search, graduate

100,059

26.5%

LHi Group

Professional

56,879

26.2%

16 17 18

9

19

39

20 21

IT/technology

23,574

25.9%

Multi-sector

60,687

25.6% 25.3%

Quest Employment

Multi-sector

60,362

22

PiC

Finance

12,569

25.1%

23

Oscar Technology

IT/technology

24,834

24.5%

24

17

Levy Recruitment Bluestones Group

22

La Fosse Associates

IT/technology

130,914

24.0%

Major Recruitment

Multi-sector

29,806

23.8%

Core-Asset Consulting

Finance, professional

14,991

22.6%

Venturi Group

IT/technology

29,052

22.3%

28

Your World Recruitment Group

Healthcare

152,545

22.1%

29

24/7 Recruitment

Multi-sector

120,665

21.7%

25 26 27

44

30

Coulter Partners

Life sciences, executive search

15,070

21.3%

31

Goodman Masson

Finance, IT/technology

62,176

21.1%

32

42

Oliver James Associates

Professional

172,373

20.7%

33

12

Amoria Bond

IT/technology

74,259

20.4%

34

47

Twenty Recruitment

IT, financial services

25,762

20.2%

New Street Consulting Group

Executive search, interim

43,327

20.2% 19.7%

35 36

X4 Group

IT, engineering, pharma

37,228

37

Tangent International

IT/technology

63,342

19.5%

38

KPI Recruiting

Industrial

20,017

19.4%

39

Futures

Multi-sector

19,217

19.3%

40

G2V Group

IT, engineering, pharma, construction

85,677

17.5%

41

21

14

42 43

23

MPA Recruitment

Multi-sector

21,097

17.4%

Extraman

Industrial

9,473

17.2% 17.1%

Falcon Green

Construction

41,506

44

Leap29

Multi-sector

11,678

16.6%

45

Oakleaf Partnership

Human resources

19,384

15.7%

46

Taylor Hopkinson

Renewable energy

29,270

15.5%

47

Navartis

Technical

42,254

15.4% 14.8%

48

5

Green Park

Executive search, interim

83,447

49

43

Stanton House

Technology, professional

35,523

14.7%

50

25

Tripod Partners

Healthcare

58,525

14.7%

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Key shareholders

Website

Headquarters

Financial year-end

Richard East

www.rerecruitment.com

Cheltenham

Jul 20

Paul McGuire

www.peoplewithchemistry.com

London

Dec 20

Mark Brown, Luana Brown

www.worldwide-rs.com

Altrincham

Dec 19

Robert Leggett, Kay Leggett

www.omnirms.com

Altrincham

Feb 20

Neil McCarthy

www.kintecglobal.com

Manchester

Mar 20

Tom Zyzak

www.mach.co.uk

Leeds

Jul 20 Oct 19

AEA Investors

www.nesfircroft.com

Manchester

Alcuin Capital Partners, Jonathan Ellerbeck, Daniel Wallis

www.gravitasrecruitmentgroup.com

London

Nov 19

Richard Buckingham, Chris Rowe, David Carden

www.leathwaite.com

London

Jul 20

Leander Jain, Vish Jain

www.winnerrecruitment.co.uk

Birmingham

Mar 20

Carla Newton, Adrian Newton

www.eaglecliff.co.uk

Sevenoaks

Mar 20

Nick Harrington

www.eximius.com

London

Jun 19

Mark Thirkettle, Samuel Poots

www.sosgroup.uk

Upminster

Sep 19

TPG Capital, Nigel O'Donoghue, Sean Wadsworth

www.frankgroup.com

Newcastle

Nov 19

Nadeem Ahmad

www.templeton-recruitment.com

London

Dec 19

Andrew Cartledge, Steve Farthing

www.firstrecruitmentgroup.com

Warrington

Dec 19

Nick Cragg

www.nicholasassociates.co.uk

Rotherham

Dec 19

Thomas Glanfield

www.wearelhi.com

London

Dec 19

Matt Murphy, Lawrence Levy

www.levy.eu.com

St Albans

Dec 19

Steve Pendergast

www.bluestonesgroup.co.uk

Chester

Oct 19

David Parker, Mark Russell

www.questemployment.co.uk

Northampton

Dec 19

Joe Marshall

www.pic.co.uk

London

Mar 20

Thomas Parker, Anna Leach, Andy Morrell,

www.oscar-tech.com

Manchester

Aug 20

Simon La Fosse, Linda La Fosse

www.lafosse.com

London

Dec 19

Phil Bottomley

www.major-recruitment.com

Huddersfield

Mar 20

Betsy Williamson

www.core-asset.co.uk

Edinburgh

Jun 20

Brad Lamb

www.venturi-group.com

London

Tony Moss, Richard Phillips

www.yourworldrecruitmentgroup.com London

Dec-19

Phil Williams

www.247recruitment.co.uk

Leeds

Mar 20

Bianca Coulter, Joe Coulter

www.coulterpartners.com

London

Mar 20

Avi Bradman, Paul Goodman

www.goodmanmasson.com

London

Dec 19

Nicholas Rogers, Oliver Castle

www.ojassociates.com

London

Dec 19

Daniel Daw, Gareth Lloyd, Nicholas Barrow

www.amoriabond.com

Manchester

Nov 19

Mar 20

Paul Marsden

www.twentyrecruitment.com

London

Dec 19

Doug Baird

www.nscg.com

London

Dec 19

Glenn Norris, Mike Norris, Peter Rabey

www.x4group.co.uk

London

Sep 19

Walter Smallbone, Linda Smallbone

www.tanint.com

Billericay

Mar 20

Ryan Jardine

www.kpir.co.uk

Crewe

Dec 19

Tom Liptrot, David House, Tom Ryan

www.futures.co.uk

Leeds

Jul 20

James Gorfin, Simon Gillings

www.g2vgroup.com

Bristol

Mar 20

Conall Anderson, Rory Anderson, Paul McQue

www.mparecruitment.co.uk

Derry/Londonderry

Feb 20

Adrian Gregory, Lisa Gregory

www.extramanrecruitment.co.uk

London

Dec 19

Jack O'Connell, Joseph Sweeney, Kieran Nestor

www.falcongreen.co.uk

London

Mar 20

Patrick Keely

www.leap29.com

Wilmslow

Jun 19

Richard Colgan, Simon Hunt, Brendan Forster

www.oakleafpartnership.com

London

Mar 20

Longacre Group, Tom Hopkinson

www.taylorhopkinson.com

Glasgow

Dec 20

Jim Sloan

www.navartis.co.uk

Doncaster

Mar 20

Raj Tulsiani

www.green-park.co.uk

London

Jan 20

Neil Wilson, Nick Eaves

www.stantonhouse.com

London

Dec 19

Dean Covill

www.tripodpartners.com

London

Sep 19

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RE C RUITE R FAST 50 202 1

“It is encouraging to see progressive independent recruitment firms continue to report such high levels of growth” helping to marry businesses with the right talent; however, acute talent shortages continue to impact the sector and is commonly cited as the limiting factor holding back a higher growth rate. Agencies which have been able to source such talent have and will continue to prosper. The 2021 FAST 50 also witnessed the return of the multi-sector agency, which has the greatest representation with eight companies placed. Included in the nine is RE Recruitment, which topped the list with an impressive growth rate of 71%. The results indicate the resilience of the broader recruitment sector and the benefit of broad exposure to multiple sectors during more turbulent times. Consistent with previous years, technical recruitment specialists continued to feature strongly. A notable returning entrant is NES Fircroft (formerly NES Global Talent), which placed seventh on the list, an incredible achievement for a business with over £1bn in revenue. We anticipate NES will feature in next year’s list following the merger with Fircroft in September 2020, which post-dated this year’s financials. There remains a continued theme of technical recruiters further building presence in the highly attractive renewables market and diversifying into life sciences, specialist IT and related sectors in the built environment to broaden the customer base and reduce concentration on oil & gas. Historically, the recruitment sector is one of the most active in

22 RECRUITER

terms of M&A; however, as expected activity levels reduced significantly through 2020. This year’s constituents of the FAST 50 almost exclusively focused on organic growth strategies, doubling down on core sectors and selectively entering new attractive verticals. Unlike in previous years, international expansion was, in the main, placed on hold as Covid-19 hampered travel arrangements and banks became more reluctant to fund international invoice discounting lines. It is incredibly encouraging to see progressive independent recruitment firms continue to report such high levels of growth despite the challenges and a real testament to the agility and

entrepreneurialism of agencies who were able to rapidly pivot to a fully operational remote set-up. The next 12 months is a key period as government support unwinds and the level of employment and unemployment stabilises. The increased use of contractors is expected to persist as companies continue to value the greater flexibility and potential cost savings, although IR35 could still impact pricing. The market has also seen an even greater focus on employer branding as companies look to target the highest quality candidates and be the ‘employer of choice’, while diversity & inclusion initiatives remain high up the boardroom agenda. ●

METHODOLOGY The Recruiter FAST 50 prepared by Clearwater International lists the fastest growing, privately-owned recruitment companies in the UK according to a revenue compound annual growth rate over the three most recent annual reporting periods.

CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION: To qualify, companies must be unquoted, registered in the UK and not subsidiaries, although their ultimate holding companies may be based offshore. Companies which are backed by private equity or other financial investors, either minority or majority equity stake, are also considered for inclusion. All companies considered for inclusion must achieve minimum annual sales of £5m in each of their last three financial years.

EXCLUSIONS: Companies that have filed abbreviated accounts at Companies House without disclosing audited sales are excluded from the FAST 50. Companies whose latest available filed accounts are 2018 or before are excluded. Companies that are not pure play recruitment companies are also not considered. Recruiters that are co-owned by foreign trade recruitment companies or where a listed recruitment firm holds a minority stake are also discounted.

DATA COLLECTION METHODS: Qualifying companies are identified through independent research which utilises a number of financial databases, Companies House information, press coverage and other research sources. Entry submissions are therefore not required, although any firm which believes that it may not be automatically assessed in the 2022 FAST 50 may contact Clearwater International to discuss. Please email dan. shrimpton@cwicf.com

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PRO FILE : K E ITH ROSSER

MAKING THE WORLD OF WORK

SAFER Keith Rosser, director at Reed Screening, believes Right to Work checks and hiring must become more digital to increase the safety for workers and jobseekers. Sue Weekes reports

hen Recruiter caught up with Keith Rosser, group director of recruitment business, Reed, and director of Reed Screening, he had just finished speaking to MPs about the need for digital Right to Work checks to remain in place after the pandemic. Rosser played a decisive role in the campaign to get the digital checks extended until 1 September when, at the time of writing, the plan is for them to revert to physical checks. “Right to Work is going backwards,” he says. “We’ve got this new-found flexible or hybrid remote working model, which sees people in Cornwall working for an IT firm in Manchester, so it’s simply not practical to go back to physical checks.” Rosser’s overarching mission is to make the world of work safer for workers, jobseekers and employers. To achieve this, he contends hiring must become more digital. And there is also an economic imperative for this to happen. “We’re about to embark on a post-lockdown labour market, and the things we need to underpin seamless recruitment aren’t in place yet,” he says. Continuing, he says: “We need to be able to validate people’s credentials digitally whether that be via blockchain or some other method. We have an outdated way of supporting hiring

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and recruitment in the UK and we need to change that after Covid, which is why I’m pushing the digital hiring agenda.” Rosser’s own credentials to lead such campaigns as well as define and implement this digital future are top-class. Reed Screening, established in 2011, has grown into one of the UK’s largest screening organisations and runs as a separate business. It provides employment background checks on permanent and supply workers for a range of companies and sectors, as well as Reed clients. He is also responsible for Reed Group’s risk and corporate governance agenda, sitting on the audit and risk committee at board level. While these are the day jobs, he wears a number of different hats that help to further the cause, including being chair of the Better Hiring Institute (BHI). Set up as a partnership between the UK government and industry, the BHI aims to help modernise hiring, steer ethical hiring and develop digital pathways. Its advisory board includes the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) and Cifas, the non-profit that aims to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime in the UK, of which Rosser is also an advisory board member. He is also a council member of the European global pre-employment vetting trade association, the PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association), and chair of the

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P RO F I L E : K E I T H ROS S E R

IM AG E S | U NP

“We have an outdated way of supporting hiring and recruitment in the UK and we need to change that after Covid”

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PRO FILE : K E ITH ROSSER

Criminal Records Trade Body (CRTB). In addition, he is chair of JobsAware, a charity founded by the Metropolitan Police that tackles labour market exploitation targeting vulnerable workers.

“A lot of these people will have non-normalised CVs with gaps in them”

Supporting digital hiring

education credentialling, he is involved in a project with the Open University and a tech start-up to explore the use of a system that educationalists can use for free to validate school, college and university qualifications, that private sector training providers could use for free to validate qualifications, while employers would pay a small transactional fee to use it. Another approach could involve a digital wallet that the employer pays to access.

To push the digital hiring agenda, Rosser knows he is up against a chequered landscape when it comes to the use of digital tools that support hiring and screening. “As well as plans for Right to Work to go back to physical checks and the problems this brings, we’ve also got the issue of employment blackspots. So, people who live in areas where there’s low employment won’t have physical offices to go and get a job in. Then you’ve got things like qualification checks: you can’t really say it’s technology-driven if someone emails a certificate. Referencing is tech-enabled, in some cases, but you still have a lot of people doing it the old-fashioned way and phoning people up.” There are pockets of more progressive practices with Disclosure Scotland, at which Rosser has served five years as a non-executive director, having gone digital but this is by no means the norm. Unless the shift to more digital processes and mindsets is made, there is no doubt in Rosser’s mind that the UK is storing up serious labour market problems for the future. Employers will find it faster, easier and cheaper to hire non-UK nationals, who are able to validate themselves to work digitally online. “So, you’ll have this imbalance in the labour market. In addition, we’ll have an even bigger problem with skills shortages because people can’t be recruited fast enough.” Rosser has no shortage of ideas or projects in mind and underway to enable digital hiring. He advocates a Right to Work system that enables employers to validate whether a British or Irish passport is accurate with the Passport Office. For

26 RECRUITER

Two steps for change Rosser reckons bringing about the required change will mean a two-step process. Step one is to realise “digital hiring lite” – so interviewing a person online, offering them the job and screening them digitally before physically meeting them. Step two is taking this as a base and turning it into a fully effective digitised process using, perhaps, a distributed ledger technology such as blockchain or similar. Unless step one is achieved within a calendar year, he fears the UK will lose competitive edge. “If we are to build back better and compete internationally, we’ve got to be able to do this in a year,” he says. “We’ve heard from global employers who say that if they’re going to have to go back to physical documents, they’ll move the jobs out of the UK because it’s easier for them recruit from outside.” He goes on to say: “The timeline for ambition two is more like five years away because of the massive different datasets and different government departments involved to bring it altogether in a coherent process.” Rosser acknowledges that the use of technology has potential

Making the world of work a safer place continues to drive Rosser

downsides and stresses how ethical hiring priorities must be embedded into digital processes. This is particularly pertinent to any discussion on non-normalised careers and how these might be adversely impacted by any kind of filtering technology. This understanding stems from another role he holds – chair of Release Scotland, which works with the Scottish Government on criminal record reforms and helping those with convictions find work. “A lot of these people will have non-normalised CVs with gaps in them and what we worry about is that the rise of technology makes it even harder for them to enter the labour market,” he says, adding that he continues to be amazed that recruitment is still “clinging on to things like CVs”. In his view, a job advert should present the set of skills, experience, competencies that the organisation

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P RO F I L E : K E I T H ROS S E R

Rosser’s returnto-office model will be a flexible, hybrid one

70% Fake job adverts increased by 70% during the pandemic

I M AG E S | X X X X X X X

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needs and a job application should be a response to how the individual meets them. “A CV is pretty irrelevant now,” he says. It isn’t just in the area of tools and processes that hiring needs to evolve but also the bigger picture, believes Rosser, highlighting how legislation related to recruitment agencies was first written in 1973 at a time when the industry was more about cards in shop windows than what it is today. The regulatory position around ‘What is a recruiter?’ is another area of focus for him and, with the rise of technology, the questions of ‘What are an app and a platform?’ must be considered in a recruiting context. He has been in discussion about what future recruitment agency legislation might look like with Labour Market Enforcement officials and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial

Strategy, and warns that increased digitisation could find a marketplace that is offshored, with recruitment operations effectively platforms. “So, what will they be regulating?” he asks. “With my JobsAware hat on, I think the Employment Bill [Editor’s note: this Bill does not yet exist] is a big opportunity to make sure that we’re balancing the progress of technology without eroding worker rights. There is a scenario in my mind that a recruitment app, for instance based in Germany, is operating in the UK and placing people into work with a disguised employment relationship, where it isn’t clear to the worker who their employer is or what their rights are. The legislation needs to be future-proofed.” Like many, Rosser has first-hand experience of living in the new world of work. He’s welcomed the additional quality time lockdown has given him with his three young children, although admits being on Microsoft Teams for a meeting while a home learning class is also taking place can have its challenges. He lives in Glasgow and with Reed Screening’s office in Manchester, his return-to-office model will be a flexible, hybrid one. As well as his various hats, he’s keen to highlight the rise of recruitment scams, ranging from fake job adverts (which increased by 70% during the pandemic) designed to extract personal information from jobseekers or in some cases money in exchange for a uniform or training. Also on the rise, he says, is fraud by contractors against recruitment agencies. His motivation to make the world of work a safer place for everyone will continue to drive him – and the more hats he wears, he believes, the more likely he is to achieve his aims: “Could I achieve as much if I was only at Reed? I think it would be more difficult. Could I achieve as much without Reed? I also think it would be more difficult.” ●

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Advertisement Feature

FCSA launches revised Codes of Compliance What does that mean for agencies and contractors? The UK’s leading membership organisation for compliant payroll intermediary providers, the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has announced the launch of revised Codes of Compliance (the “Codes”), outlining the most rigorous industry standards expected from member firms. This latest comprehensive review has made them tougher and even more transparent providing added assurance for agencies, end hirers, and contractors.

FCSA Recruiter DP Advert 270x420 REC.JulAug21_026-027.indd 26 July 21.indd All Pages

Extending to over 540 areas of evidence-based assessment, the FCSA Codes continue to set the benchmark for best practice compliance and ethical standards in the industry. “As market conditions change so too must our Codes. This is to ensure the highest standards of compliance are continued to be met by our member firms. Which is why now, we’re announcing the launch of our latest Code revisions,” said FCSA Chief Executive, Phil Pluck when commenting on this latest Code review.

13/07/2021 17:39


The FCSA Codes – what’s changed? The Codes now provide greater transparency on the financial illustrations that our member firms need to provide to contractors. Member firms are required to provide greater transparency regarding holiday pay in every umbrella employment contract and payslip. Members must also submit independently audited accounts. In addition, the FCSA has also introduced new pre-requisite and due diligence checks on all new applicants that they must pass before proceeding to the accreditation assessment stage. “We are grateful to our independent assessors Ernst & Young, Saffery Champness, BDO, Brabners, and JMW who contributed to this review and provided the expert challenge that give the Codes the rigour they need. And, of course for the engagement we received from HMRC, BEIS, and industry-leading trade bodies who we consulted with during this process,” added Phil.

“The most comprehensive and compliant set of evidencebased standards now exist in our sector. No one else in the sector can give agencies, end hirers, or contractors this level of assurance.”

What makes FCSA accreditation unique? Members adhere to rigorous ethical standards assessed against published Codes Independently tested by regulated chartered accountants, tax specialists and solicitors with vast expertise in the sector Members are required to demonstrate compliance annually Commit to the FCSA Charter Non-compliance by FCSA members will result in suspension or termination FCSA is a firmly established not-for-profit accreditation body CEO is appointed by the members and is independent, with no commercial conflict of interest The only compliance standard to be recognised by the UK’s leading recruitment trade bodies REC, APSCo, and TEAM.

How this applies to new applicants and current members The revised FCSA Codes will apply to all new applicants from the 26th May 2021 and to current FCSA members from the 1st October 2021. The latter is to enable our independent assessors to evidence test current members against the newly revised codes.

To view the FCSA’s latest set of Codes for umbrella employers, limited company advisors, and self-employed/CIS providers, please visit: www.fcsa.org.uk

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ENTRY DEADLINE 1 October 2021 www.investingintalent.co.uk

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THE VIEW AND THE INTELLIGENCE

Opportuni es for recruiters to add value p3 BI G TALKI NG POI NT

Talent shortages – a perfect storm? p4

Recruitment Issue 93 Ma ers July-August 2021

LEGAL U PDATE

Can recruiters sponsor EU migrant staff? p6 REC2021 CONFE RE NCE

Highlights from the virtual event p8

Employment law

Digital Right to Work checks must be made permanent

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hen the Home Office announced that digital Right to Work (RTW) checks would con nue to be allowed un l the end of August, there was celebra on and a sigh of relief. This was a big win for the REC, for the recruitment industry and for common sense a er weeks of concerted effort. It came just in me, only two working days before the planned end date for digital RTW checks. The next step is to ensure the change is made permanent, and the REC has con nued those conversa ons over the past few weeks. Digital RTW checks were originally introduced to help slow the spread of Covid-19, and they have been a huge success in the pandemic for various reasons. It would be an easy win for the government to allow their use to con nue a er restric ons have been li ed. The REC es mates that members conduct over 300,000 RTW checks each week. The digital system has made this process far more efficient, saving companies me and resources and allowing them to hire more quickly.

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Demand for workers remains high and staff shortages are hi ng sectors across the economy. It is vital that we make the hiring process as smooth as possible to help businesses re-open, recover and grow again. Digital checks have also improved compliance and levelled the playing field between UK and foreign na onals, for whom digital checks have been in place since January 2019. The rest of Home Office policy aims to incen vise

Making great work happen

employers to rely less on workers from abroad, so it would be nonsensical to go back to a RTW checks system that disadvantages UK na onals. The Home Office may take some convincing. But, as we know, it is not impossible to force a change of heart, even at the last minute. Digital RTW checks must be made permanent, and the REC will con nue to work with members and the government to make that a reality.

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Leading the industry

the view... Candidate shortages present opportuniঞes as well as challenges for recruiters, says

Neil Carberry,

REC Chief Execuঞve

A

s the economy has opened up over the past few months, it’s been great for the jobs market. Employer confidence has jumped, and hiring has followed. In May, permanent recruitment ac vity grew at the fastest pace we’ve ever seen, and that growth has con nued. Vacancy and job advert numbers are rising as well. The labour market’s recovery is well underway, with a slower unlocking tempering, not stopping, this trend. But there is one problem I keep hearing about from recruiters and employers across almost every sector – a serious shortage of candidates. Some of this is because of the pace of growth. The pentup demand caused by the pandemic made a rush for staff once restric ons started to li inevitable. Covid-19 forced some people to move jobs and others to leave the country, with no guarantee they will return. But you and I know this is not just about Covid. There were already serious candidate shortages in sectors such as IT and driving. The pandemic has accelerated those trends, while Brexit caused some people to emigrate. However, all this sits within a wider demographic context. We have an ageing popula on – 50% more people were born in 1964 than in 1977 – and as the Baby Boomer genera on re res, there simply aren’t as many younger people to fill the gap. The shortages will be with us for some me and they’re going to make hiring much more difficult. This creates huge opportuni es for the professional recruitment sector. It’s where you can really make your exper se count – advising clients on workforce planning, how best to grow their business and helping them to a ract the best talent. But we also need to push government for change, which is where the REC comes in. Pragma c reforms to the immigra on regime and skills system, including the Appren ceship Levy, are part of the solu on and, to win those campaigns, we all need to explain how they will benefit the whole of the UK. Look out for more on this in the coming months, as we set out why economic growth – and flexible staffing – ma ers. If you want to keep up to speed with all things recruitment then follow me on Twi er @RECNeil

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CAMPAIGNS

Umbrella companies and the new SEB Shazia Ejaz, Director of Campaigns

at the REC

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ast month, the government formally announced its proposals to establish a new single enforcement body (SEB) for employment rights – two years a er the ini al consulta on on the Good Work Plan and as set out in its 2019 manifesto. The proposal is to pool the exis ng labour market enforcement bodies – HMRC (Na onal Minimum Wage enforcement), the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate – in a single body with new powers to tackle non-compliance. It will be able to issue fines to tackle unpaid NMW arrears and to enforce statutory sick pay, holiday pay and transparency in supply chains – including umbrella companies. The REC has been campaigning to ensure umbrella companies are regulated, so we are keen to see speedy ac on on that. It is not all about wielding a ‘big s ck’. The SEB will also ensure that businesses have informa on and detailed guidance on best prac ce to complement what Acas provides. But do not hold your breath! The crea on of the SEB requires primary legisla on, perhaps in the form of an Employment Bill. This didn’t feature in the recent Queen’s Speech, so we may have to wait un l 2022. It will be complicated to amalgamate the func ons and resources of three bodies, and there are also complexi es around funding. Importantly, funding for new areas, such as enforcement of holiday pay for vulnerable workers, will be considered in the next Spending Review in late 2021. In the mean me, we have urged BEIS to adopt the defini on of an umbrella company set out in the Agency Worker Regula ons. The lack of a clear defini on has delayed regula on. BEIS must act to prevent bad-faith umbrella companies taking advantage of workers.

Recruitment Ma ers July-August 2021

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Leading the industry

the intelligence... Is the five-day office week dead? By Atanas Nikolaev, Research Manager

It has been a turbulent 15 months for the UK economy, characterised by uncertainty and ques on marks over many aspects of life. Whole industries shut down to tackle the spread of coronavirus and, while some employees con nued to work rela vely normally throughout the lockdowns, others had to adapt quickly to remote working un l it was safe to return to their offices. At the me of wri ng, more than half of the UK’s adult popula on has had two doses of a Covid vaccine, according to government sta s cs. With the news that the vaccine has been offered to everyone over the age of 18 just six months a er the rollout of the programme, we can hope for a brighter second half of the year. But what does that mean for the businesses and employees who adopted remote working?

At the ঞme of wriঞng, more than half of the UK’s adult populaঞon has had two doses of a Covid vaccine.

A study of more than

16,000

workers over a nine-month period by Stanford University found that produc vity rose by as much as

13%

A survey by the 4 Day Week Campaign found that four in five people don’t want to go back to working five days a week in the office, and backed the idea of a hybrid model of work. Furthermore, 55% of the respondents believed the changes should be permanent. Many businesses in tradi onal industries, such as law firms and financial ins tu ons, returned to offices as soon as restric ons eased and the economy reopened – employees who deal with sensi ve client informa on in these industries were deemed to be ‘essen al workers’. Some analysts think that the fiveday office week will become the norm again in a few years’ me. There are some aspects of office life that remote working

can’t replicate: employees miss opportuni es to exchange ideas, innovate, collaborate and network with peers in person. Video calls can feel awkward compared with more natural interac ons. When office workers were forced to work remotely in March 2020, the biggest concern a er the virus itself was employees’ produc vity. However, a study of more than 16,000 workers over a nine-month period by Stanford University found that produc vity rose by as much as 13%. Four out of five people who worked remotely even a few days each month showed produc vity improvements. The same study also reported increases in job sa sfac on and a 50% decrease in staff a ri on. Whether we return to working full me in an office or adopt a hybrid model, one thing is certain: the pandemic has changed our percep on of work. Businesses have an opportunity to create a more inclusive and agile work environment that celebrates produc vity and values physical and mental wellbeing and staff engagement. Now is the me to start making those changes. July-August 2021 Recruitment Ma ers

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Talent shortages

big talking point

A perfect storm? T

he jobs market is buoyant and the ONS expects unemployment to reach a maximum of 6.5% once the furlough scheme ends, as opposed to predic ons of up to 15% last year. So, good news for business, jobseekers and the recruitment sector? If only. The jobs are there, but not the people to do them. This is true at all skill levels and in most sectors, but is par cularly acute in healthcare, drivers, hospitality and retail, according to Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC. She points to a “perfect storm” of factors behind the shortage of qualified, skilled people to meet the booming demand. “You need to look at pre-pandemic trends and then at other factors coming into play because of Covid-19 – for example, many EU na onals didn’t leave the UK a er the Brexit vote or when the deal was signed, but they went home when the pandemic struck and can’t or won’t return now,” she says. “Whereas we used to see a shortage of doctors and

75.2%

UK employment rate in April 2021

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21%

UK economic inacঞvity rate in April 2021

nurses, now we’re seeing shortages of radiographers as well. Bars, hotels and restaurants can’t get chefs as well as waiters. The UK has a shor all of 30,000 LGV drivers.” The list goes on. People who have found alterna ve jobs, or who are currently on furlough, won’t return to roles in hospitality or leisure if they know their employer will close if Covid surges again, as they risk losing their furlough payments. Others are enjoying a be er work/life balance or less an -social hours. The logjam may ease if candidates become more confident, but even if a company finds a recruit, they face challenges induc ng and training them while working remotely – so many only want to employ someone who can hit the ground running. This is borne out in REC members’ experiences. Ka e Mellor, Managing Director at CJUK and Cummins Mellor, is seeing shortages in all sectors, but par cularly in hospitality. “We’re seeing huge demand – businesses are desperate for chefs. We have 30% of the candidates

we had before the pandemic, and we were short of candidates then,” she says. “It’s not even a case of offering be er benefits or pay. Companies are having to do all they can to keep their exis ng staff because people are being poached and are leaving mid-contract.” She believes these acute shortages will take me to ease. Some will return to the sector if they see that hospitality venues stay open when the furlough period ends. In the short term, many restaurants and pubs are limi ng the days they can open or serve food. “Our business is mainly temps and businesses want an experienced chef who can go straight into the kitchen. They haven’t got me to train them up.” In the mean me, Ka e is working to keep her own team mo vated when they are unable to offer stressed clients the people they need. “We also recruit into other sectors and they’re seeing shortages, but nothing like the situa on in hospitality,” she says.

7.2m hours

increase in total weekly hours worked in the UK in February to April 2021, compared with the previous quarter

www.rec.uk.com

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The REC’s role

28.5m

the number of payrolled employees in the UK in May 2021 (553,000 fewer than before the pandemic)

Kelly Dunn, Managing Director of KD Recruitment, has seen a similar fall in applica ons for all roles. “The recruitment market in Yorkshire is flying, but the candidates aren’t there,” she says. “Our manufacturing, engineering and agricultural sectors are performing strongly, but even household names can’t get people. The skills shortages in the hospitality and leisure sector are far worse because candidates lack confidence. Adver sing isn’t working – we need to find new ways to a ract people.” She wants the government to do more. “Kickstart and appren ceships are good, but they don’t help the people who lost their jobs early in the pandemic and can’t risk temping because they’d lose their benefits,” she says. “If they could take a temporary job and restart their benefits easily when it ended, they would gain be er skills and more confidence. Similarly, working parents need free childcare for children under three.” Meanwhile, Kelly suggests that firms reskill exis ng staff. “We stress the importance of looking at behaviours and a tude as well as skills when discussing our clients’ recruitment strategy. Restructuring, reskilling and redeploying exis ng people may solve future needs, whereas simply plugging a gap may create other problems,” she warns. This approach is shared by David www.rec.uk.com

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“We’ve responded to government ini a ves – for example, we are a gateway employer for the DWP scheme Kickstart, which provides grants for employers who offer six-month placements to young unemployed people on universal credit,” says Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC. “We campaigned for this scheme, but the administra on is problema c. We’ve had lots of interest from recruiters and employers, but the approval process has been slow and the applica ons via Job Centres disappoin ng.” Delays are occurring because the administra on is under-resourced and candidates can access the roles only via a Job Centre. “The scheme needs a communica ons campaign targe ng the people who can benefit and more effec ve administra on placing applicants in available roles,” she says. “We’re saying: ‘This is our job, let us help you do it’.” Improving Kickstart is just part of a key role that recruiters can play in the pandemic recovery, she adds. The REC has also been talking to BEIS about what businesses need now, to the Treasury about the financial package for business growth and to the Department for Educa on about the UK’s skills policy. “We recently hosted an event for chief execu ves and asked Gillian Keegan, Minister for Appren ceships and Skills, how we can forge connec ons to improve workforce skills,” Shoesmith says. “The appren ceship scheme is good, but what support is there for other types of job? Companies need non-technical skills as well as formal training for specific roles – we need shorter, sharper schemes that lead to a job.” Recruiters can provide the in-depth local and sectoral knowledge that careers services and colleges need. “Careers advice needs to be more local and specific. We have lots of members who work in partnership with colleges and we need to grow these so that all par es can work together,” she says. Her message to members is clear. “Make sure that people are aware of the great work you do and the benefits of your market intelligence – speak to your local MP and local authority and tell us about your partnerships so that we can share these and use them when we speak to government bodies.” Chamberlain, Director of Tribus People, which recruits people into leadership roles in SMEs. He stresses that it’s more important than ever for companies to consider their brand, recruitment process, development and succession planning, and culture to a ract and retain staff. “Every SME should now see themselves as a na onal company – if a role can be done from anywhere, they have to compete with employers across the UK,” he explains. “We tell clients to pause and think about their vision, values and culture. What can they offer to tempt the right person into that role?” He points to a poll that found that 42% of people were unhappy in their current role, but are not yet looking for another. “Employers should think about their strategy now, before people start moving jobs. I expect September to December to be very busy,” he says.

Pay and benefits are only part of the story, he adds. “Companies should think about their compe tors for staff. What is their culture and how will staff progress? You need diversity in competencies and personali es, but a shared vision and values.”

758,000 job vacancies between March and May 2021

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UK immigraঞon rules

legal update Can a recruitment business sponsor EU naঞonal workers? By Kinali Patel, REC Legal Advisor

T

he UK’s exit from the EU in December 2020 has led to significant changes, especially in rela on to the free movement of workers. The UK now has a points-based immigra on system, which applies to workers who entered the UK a er 1 January 2021. Those who entered the country before December 2020 had to have se led or pre-se led status under the EU se lement scheme before the deadline of 30 June 2021 to remain in the UK. The new points-based system is a route for skilled workers to enter the UK via an approved employer’s sponsorship. The Skilled Worker route is open for those with a job offer from a licenced sponsor. To be eligible for sponsorship, an individual worker must have: • skill level RQF 3 or above (A-Level and equivalent); • English proficiency to a required standard; • a role which meets the minimum salary

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threshold – either the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher. The REC has raised concerns about the new immigra on system, and the impact it has on recrui ng lower-skilled workers from abroad. The REC also asked the Home Office to confirm whether an employment business can sponsor temporary workers under the new system. We received confirma on that employment businesses cannot act as sponsors because the workers must be directly employed by the sponsor, and the sponsor must have full responsibility for all the du es of the worker. The Home Office also confirmed that employment businesses cannot sponsor a worker and then supply them as labour to another organisa on, despite any genuine contractual arrangement between the par es.

Temporary workers on er 5 visas could get sponsorships by sa sfying cultural, charitable, religious or interna onal objec ves, or by mee ng seasonal employment needs in the agricultural sector (seasonal worker visa) or the Youth Mobility Scheme. However, there are specific criteria for these types of sponsorships and the type of work carried out by those workers is also restricted. The REC is aware that this is problema c for the industry and we have been pushing for a temporary route. Unfortunately, the government has maintained its posi on that it seeks to invest in, and rely on, domes c labour to meet the current demand for workers. We will con nue to make our case to the Home Office.

www.rec.uk.com

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Pandemic lessons

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Steve Ingham, CEO, PageGroup

Q&A

What I know

Two speakers at REC2021 explain their key messages for the recruitment profession.

A vital role in D&I

Learn from staff

Diversity and inclusion is on everyone’s agenda, and the recruitment industry must help clients to understand its benefits.

Employees in their 20s think differently from those in their 50s, and managers need to listen to them. Many of the reasons why young people leave jobs is because their company fails to encourage diversity and inclusion or social responsibility.

Posi ve focus What CEO would not want to a ract the most mo vated and resourceful people? Two years ago I had a near-fatal accident and am now in a wheelchair. I was in my 50s and a CEO – imagine what it’s like for someone in their 20s. Applying for a job with a disability itself demonstrates resilience, problemsolving and determina on to overcome challenges. Managers who worry about disabled people needing special equipment miss far more important issues about the quality of the individual and the effect on staff reten on and culture.

Be authen c Many managers conceal a disability or diversity issue. This is likely to affect the authen city of their messages to others. Diverse organisa ons draw on mul ple experiences to educate and increase understanding of the key issues.

Provide proof A percep on that a business does not treat people equally damages produc vity and culture. Do the analysis and publish it to prove how well you perform.

Tina McKenzie, Managing

Director, Staffline Group How has Covid changed recruitment? We need to ask: How did we do? What did we learn? What will we keep and what will we not keep? But nothing’s changed fundamentally. You will s ll succeed if you put a quality candidate in place and go the extra mile to ensure the candidate and the client are happy.

What are the key lessons? Hybrid working will stay – the pandemic showed that if we trust people they will rise to the challenge. At Staffline, we enhanced our bonus schemes and extended them to every employee. We introduced private medical insurance for every member of the team before the pandemic and

have now increased holiday to 35 days, because we believe we should prac se what we preach. You get back what you invest in people.

Where next? People will move when the pandemic ends if you haven’t treated them well. A crisis is when you show leadership and your apprecia on – don’t assume staff are cap ve because the market slows. There will be a perfect storm for talent when furlough ends, the economy opens up and we face the consequences of Brexit. People will be picky. Most firms are recrui ng and it’s a candidate-driven market. The best people are scouring the market looking at company reputa ons and how they treat their staff.

July-August 2021 Recruitment Ma ers

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Virtual conference

REC2021 virtual conference What a day we had at REC2021! Our annual conference this year looked at how the recruitment industry can lead the recovery, and we heard from inspiring speakers including Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the CBI's Lord Bilimoria and Nicholas Hamilton. Missed out on all this? Find out more and sign up for future events at www.rec.uk.com

Recruitment Ma ers

8

The official magazine of The Recruitment & Employment Confedera on Dorset House, 1st Floor, 27-45 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NT Tel: 020 7009 2100 www.rec.uk.com

Recruitment Ma ers July-August 2021

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Membership Department: Membership: 020 7009 2100, Customer Services: 020 7009 2100 Publishers: Redac ve Publishing Ltd, Level 5, 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL Tel: 020 7880 6200. www.redac ve.co.uk Editorial: Editor Ruth Pricke . Produc on Editor: Vanessa Townsend Producঞon: Produc on Execu ve: Rachel Young rachel.young@redac ve.co.uk Tel: 020 7880 6209 Prinঞng: Printed by Precision Colour Prin ng © 2020 Recruitment Ma ers. Although every effort is made to ensure accuracy, neither REC, Redac ve Publishing Ltd nor the authors can accept liability for errors or omissions. Views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the REC or Redac ve Publishing Ltd. No responsibility can be accepted for unsolicited manuscripts or transparencies. No reproduc on in whole or part without wri en permission.

www.rec.uk.com

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Special Report

SOFTWARE:

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Special Report

RISE OF

EDITOR’S COMMENT

EDITOR’S COMMENT Along with hybrid working, and the most appropriate way of handling online abuse, artificial intelligence is one of those hotly debated subjects about which many clever people have opinions – but have little in-depth knowledge about how to work with it in practice. Recruiter’s technology journalist Sue Weekes shines a light on greater understanding of AI and its potential benefits in recruitment and beyond in our Special Report, featuring conversations with passionate practitioners of this science as well as two exciting case studies. Involving recruiter Hydro Energy Group, Creed Communications and delivery firm Hermes, these thought-provoking case studies will definitely stimulate your strategic thinking about how AI might work for you and your firm. We also explore the complex regulatory picture, with the European Commission having published draft regulations around AI this past spring. This is a ‘must read’ in this issue of Recruiter.

DeeDee Doke Editor Recruiter/ recruiter.co.uk 32 RECRUITER

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THE

As the relentless rise of artificial intelligence and machine technology marches on, recruiters need to be both on board but wary of the challenges IMAG ES | SH UTT ERSTOCK

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SOFTWARE: AI

hile we are still very much at the dawn of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in recruitment, both application developers and recruiters are already starting to realise the huge potential the technology offers. And it isn’t just about using AI to more intelligently match candidates to jobs, it is even being used to tackle issues such as wellbeing and mental health (see Case study 2). The application of AI, in which machines simulate human intelligence and actions, is also laced with controversy. Replacing a recruiter with a machine will naturally raise concerns in the profession but there are also ethical and data privacy concerns. Recruiters need to be aware that the area will increasingly be bound by regulation with the European Commission’s recently released draft legislation including fines for non-compliance. Amid the discussion around its use though, one thing is certain: it is impossible to stop its march, and those recruiters who understand both its potential, and the warnings that come with it, will be the ones best placed to realise its benefits.

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SOFTWARE: AI

It is perhaps talent assessment and screening where AI can deliver the most obvious ones, whether that be when sifting through a high volume of applicants or to predict the performance and behaviours of shortlisted candidates. Guy Thornton is founder of Picked, a set of analytics and predictive hiring tools for recruiters that make use of AI. He has seen more widespread acceptance of the technology since his product launched in 2018. “Originally, there was a healthy scepticism about the role of AI and predictive hiring in recruitment. There was a real feeling of ‘How can computers do my job better than me?’, but this is perfectly understandable,” he says. “However,

“Originally, there was a healthy scepticism about the role of AI and predictive hiring in recruitment” GUY THORNTON Founder of Picked

now the technology is becoming increasingly used, recruiters have seen the benefits in enhancing what they do, not replacing what they do. This has led to an increasingly positive sentiment and growing uptake.”

He said recruiters need to move away from the notion that AI and machine learning means “clicking a button” and letting the machine do all the hiring for you. “Rather, it can be used to increase speed and efficacy of the hiring process,” he says. “This could be by improving sourcing, screening, assessment and more.” Picked’s clients include search and media company Reverse Media Group, which uses data and AI in all of its business units and had wanted a more scientific approach to recruitment. Greg Burgess, CEO, says it had tried

CASE STUDY 1 HOW AI HELPED HERMES TACKLE ITS CHRISTMAS RECRUITMENT CHALLENGES Hermes is one of the largest courier companies in the UK, delivering more than 400m parcels every year. The logistical challenge of making so many next-day deliveries is huge, as is the demand to provide self-employed courier coverage to every postcode in the country. Meanwhile, the pandemic has compounded existing – and brought new – challenges. Initially, it led to a wave of extra applications as the economy locked down, but as 2020 progressed the competition intensified and drove the cost-per-hire (CPH) up. In the run-up to the peak

season before Christmas, the demand for couriers rises exponentially leading to increased competition, so Hermes knew it would need a fresh approach to recruit all the self-employed couriers it needed to fulfil its busy Christmas delivery schedule. This new approach came in the form of Creed Communications’ Programmatic Performance model. It was developed by the full-service recruitment marketing agency to enable clients to advertise on lots of different channels, buying inventory on the right channel at the right time for the best price. Hermes became the first client to benefit from the platform that uses advanced machine learning programmatic job board software to drive performance. Hermes used it to deliver job applications where they

I M AG E S | SH UT T E R STO C K

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were most needed while delivering a cost-effective cost-per-action (CPA). Creed Communications explains that commercial agreements with different channels shifted the balance of power between employer and advertiser so rather than a guaranteed investment upfront irrespective of performance, money would be invested on whichever channels were most effective. The software’s AI learns over time to continually improve performance, ensuring that Hermes kept on delivering during the most demanding Christmas peak it has ever encountered. The metrics proved to be impressive. The approach delivered a 52% lower CPA than

comparable channels, a 45% increase in hires compared to 2019 and a 25% reduction in CPH. Hermes supported by Creed Communications won the Best Use of AI Award at this year’s The FIRM Awards, sponsored by Recruiter. Jonny Heyhoe, client partner at Creed Communications, believes the Programmatic Performance is a great platform for showcasing the best of AI in recruitment. “The way it automates the bidding process with numerous channels, learns and improves performance is a step-change from manual set-ups and analysis on each channel,” he says. “It improves performance and return whilst giving our digital team more control and insight than ever before.”

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Special Report

CASE STUDY 2 HOW AI IS HELPING SUPPORT THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CONTRACTORS Recruitment can sometimes get “stuck” in its traditional methodologies, believes Benjamin Burns, group CEO of Hydro Energy Group, which specialises in the offshore and marine, renewables and hydrographic survey markets. Hence his attitude has always been to keep a close eye on technological developments and how the business can evolve and this, in turn, he says, hopefully leads to a better experience for the contractor. “Our motto is to try things and, if they don’t work, fail fast and move on,” he says. One of the areas he wanted to address was the wellbeing of the business’ contractors who, by the very nature of the industry, are often located in far-flung parts of the world, such as the middle of an ocean. He felt there had to be a better way of checking in on their happiness and mental health, and so the company invested in AI technology from San Francisco. Using AI, the software assesses comments and picks up on negative emotions or signs of stress and then alerts consultants who can get in touch with candidates. “The real intelligence in the system is how it learns the person’s personality and the words they use,” says Burns. “If we’re happy

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or sad we may use certain words. Over a period of time the system learns this and feeds it back to us.” As well as keeping a check on their wellbeing, it also enables the recruiters to feed back to clients. “For instance, if the contractor is unhappy with the food they are getting, we can advise the client on this and help to fix the experience, which means they are far more likely to work for that company again.” Burns sees this as just the start of the AI journey though. The company is currently developing a platform it has named Human Dynamics, which looks at the whole lifecycle of a person – from college or university, through to active working life, and AI will feed in to this and help in areas such as upskilling. It will also input into content on a new television channel that Hydro Energy plans to launch called Hydro TV. “For instance, this will give contractors access to nutrition and workouts in tight spaces if they are on a vessel in the middle of the ocean, and it will all link into the AI system for future learning.” Burns says the company will continue to research evolving technologies and look at how it is being applied in other industries. “How might that work in our sector?” he says. “I’m trying to drag recruitment from the dinosaur days of ‘You’ve got to do three hours on the phone’ to ‘How can we actually make it a lot more enjoyable experience for candidates?’.”

other matching and automated tools for talent acquisition but they hadn’t lived up to their promise. He says the data that Picked’s tools provide is extremely granular and provides a strong indication of the capabilities of applicants, as well as whether they will fit in to the team and have the right value set for the company. “This has vastly improved our hiring over the past year and has now allowed us to proudly say that talent acquisition is not just aligned with the rest of our business, it’s actually one of our leading areas,” he says. There has been an explosion in AI tools in the past three years and, as Barb Hyman, CEO of Predictive Hire, explains, it is important for recruiters to understand that “not all AI is equal” and calls for a lot more education in the market. “Video interviews which use AI have become popular, for example, but they can lead to much more biased outcomes for candidates than text-based AI interviews, which are blind,” she says. Indeed, one of AI’s boasts is that it can remove human bias but how can recruiters trust the algorithms deliver on such claims? Hyman reckons recruiters need to take it upon themselves “to get educated” about the technology they are using. “On our end, we try to be as transparent as we can about our technology, rather than have it operate in a black box,” she says. “We also publish all our research so it’s peer-reviewed, and recently released a framework called FAIR (Fairness in Recruiting), which aims to set a global standard for ethical AI in recruitment so that recruiters can get educated on the topic.” Elin Öberg Mårtenzon, CEO of Tengai, which has a suite of AI-based solutions that seek to remove unconscious prejudice, including Tengai Robot and Tengai Digital Interview, agrees that the use of technology must be prompted by “a deep understanding” of how technology works to serve its purpose. “By understanding the components of the technology that recruiters use and by critically examining the outcome,

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SOFTWARE: AI

REGULATING THE USE OF AI In April, the European Commission published its draft regulations for artificial intelligence. Its aim is to preserve the safety and rights of individuals and organisations, as well as help to foster innovation. Although the UK has left the European Union, there are clearly implications for those UK companies that are both developing and likely to use AI-based applications in the recruitment sector. The international legal practice Osborne Clarke explains that the legislation envisages a full regulatory framework that will include new EU and national bodies with strong enforcement powers and heavy fines for noncompliance. It adds that the proposed legislation is shaped around the level of risk created by different applications of AI. Three levels are identified under the headings of: Prohibited AI systems High-risk AI systems Codes of conduct and transparency for all other AI systems The legal practice anticipates that the draft provisions are likely

to be subject to extensive lobbying and do not expect it to become law before 2023 at the earliest. That said, it is important recruiters become aware of how the legislation could impact their practices sooner rather than later. John Buyers, Osborne Clarke’s head of AI and machine learning, answers some of the key questions for recruiters. What are the main areas of concern for recruiters in the framework? The main concern in the draft EU framework is the classification of AI, which is used to ‘select individuals for recruitment; for filtering applications or evaluating candidates’ as ‘High Risk’ (see Annex III to the Reg, Section 4 [a]) and also AI, which is used to make decisions for ‘task allocation and for monitoring or evaluating performance’ (see Annex III, Section 4[b]). High Risk AI is subject to a raft of mandatory requirements too comprehensive to list

here, but in short will require considerable levels of investment in appropriate tools and people to ensure compliance, including ensuring, for example, appropriate demographic representation in datasets used by AI systems, and avoiding bias on an ongoing basis. Which applications of AI in recruitment could most lead to non-compliance/unethical behaviour? Automated (biometric) facial recognition systems used to detect autonomic responses in AI interview contexts – particularly to filter out unconscious responses to determine whether or not the candidate is telling the truth. These are typically used more in the US. These systems are questionably ethical, functionally variable and arguably unlawful in GDPR-governed countries, without specific user consent (which would seem to be very difficult to obtain on a lawful basis in that context given the circumstances of an interview). Automated filtering of CVs, especially using deep

neural networks (which are opaque ‘black boxes’). These systems can create real bias and discrimination issues, particularly where they make ‘false correlations’ (as was shown when one automated system equated membership of golf clubs with success). In your experience so far, what are recruiters’ main concerns when using AI in the recruitment process? Currently the industry is very personal data and GDPRfocused (rightly). There is little or no awareness of the risks – whether legal or ethical – in the use of AI. How can they ensure they behave ethically and compliantly? Only use AI in demonstrable and verifiable cases where it is really needed – not as a “niceto-have”. Run proper GDPR Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) to ensure this is the case (and AI risk assessments on the AI side). Make it clear to candidates precisely what technology is being used. Understand the pitfalls of machine learning and the ‘black box paradigm’ (for example, you don’t necessarily understand how or why such a system reaches the decisions it does). Invest in independent ethical and legal advice, and not exclusively from software providers who often have a vested interest in selling such systems.

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ccording to a survey of 2,000 UK companies most are planning to allow employees greater flexibility on where and when they do their jobs. CIPD, the professional group for human resources staff, said two-thirds of companies are developing a hybrid work model where people spend only part of the time in the office. So how can recruitment leaders continue to drive productivity with a hybrid team? “Since COVID, technology has gained a more strategic importance. It’s now a critical part of every business, not just a cost-effective solution. It’s become the enabler that connects and allows consultants to work from any location, be it the office, home, or the local coffee house. Communication tools like Teams, Zoom and WhatsApp have quickly been adopted to become the norm. Remote working on the scale necessitated by the pandemic would simply not have been a viable option only a few years ago before cloud-based technology. However, there is still a gap for most agencies that needs to be bridged

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HOW RECRUITMENT AGENCIES CAN MANAGE HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS IN A HYBRID WORK ENVIRONMENT Charlie Voller Barnes, Product Manager, Access NorthStar, and Matt Comber, Head of Strategy, explain how to help employees perform at their best now that working from home is here to stay. 38 RECRUITER

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A DV E RTO R I A L

employee flexibility to ensure there are enough experienced consultants in the office to support new staff joining the business. This mentorship is essential to help new consultants learn, improve and achieve. At the other end of the spectrum managing and retaining senior consultants can be equally challenging unless they feel engaged with the business. What has been missing for many is constructive feedback on what they can do to grow in their role, given the lack of in person direction. People are still looking to build their careers and having a platform that guides their development makes it a more level playing field whether they are in the office or not. As Access NorthStar visualises data from within the recruitment CRM it also makes for more objective decision making.”

Top 3 tips to manage a hybrid team Invest in technology so your consultants have all the tools to succeed - whether that be cloud-based CRM, video conferencing, or productivity and performance tools. Give your consultants full visibility of their goals and empower them to deliver on outcomes. In a self-serve world consultants don’t want to wait for a call from their manager to understand how they are performing. Put staff engagement top of the agenda. With a disparate workforce, feedback and growth goals are key to retaining your top performers and developing those with potential.

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between the data that is held in their recruitment CRM and how this is manipulated daily across the business to drive better results. Isn’t it time for recruitment leaders to replace their daily stand ups, whiteboard or notepad scribblings and start to give their teams instant online visibility and transparency of their performance? Access NorthStar does just that. It’s a productivity and performance tool that empowers individual consultants to become outcome driven, to identify where they are performing well and show areas of specific activity for improvement. Scores can be shared across teams to create healthy competition - the driving force for many successful agencies and hard to replicate whilst the majority are now home-based. Performance dashboards serve up a ready-made appraisal tool for managers to use with their consultants and back-office staff. There will always be

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consultants who will shout about their successes - but it’s not necessarily the ones who shout the loudest who are truly performing the best. With Access NorthStar, team leaders have an accurate view of who the high performers truly are - and can spot potential superstars who are coming to the fore by visualising activity compared to their KPIs.”

What potential impact is there if consultants continue to work from home full time? “The boundaries between work and home life are increasingly blurred, so that work can creep into every moment and place causing mental health issues and burnout. Whilst some consultants may have a quiet space to work from at home, there are many, especially those starting out on their journey in recruitment, who do not. Some of our customers have questioned how they can work out

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NorthStar enables better staff performance and engagement by highlighting areas where productivity can be enhanced. For more information visit www. theaccessgroup.com/recruitment or call 0845 345 3300.

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recruiters can also better understand whether the technology they use is keeping its promise to search out, handle and process great talent,” she says. “Technology used wisely and in the right stage of the funnel can definitely deliver on its aims.” Mårtenzon identifies three main ways where AI can bring benefit to recruiters: collecting objective data for making more informed decisions; creating unique and customised experiences and ensuring applicants get fair and equal treatment; and increasing efficiency throughout the funnel by relieving them of repetitive tasks. Predictive Hire’s Hyman believes its tools are of most benefit “at the

“Over the past year, the technology adoption in both recruiters and candidates has skyrocketed” ELIN ÖBERG MÅRTENZON CEO of Tengai

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top of the funnel” when organisations have thousands of candidates applying for positions. Its Phai machine learning tool allows recruiters to literally interview everyone who has applied for a position via text chat and claims to do so in a fair and equal way to see who is the best fit, “no matter what age, gender, sexuality, experience, ethnicity”. “And we can send every one of them personalised feedback. We can understand immediately what soft skills a person has, something you cannot tell from a CV. You can’t do any of this without AI.” Users include grocery retailer Iceland, which faced huge recruitment challenges in the pandemic. The tools helped them to recruit 5,500 new team members in a month even though they had zero capacity for recruitment. It was receiving 50,000 applications a month and Predictive Hire’s mobile-first solution asked candidates five customised questions and gave each one personalised feedback. The cost per hire was reportedly £5. In the short time since Tengai launched, Mårtenzon has seen a shift in both perceptions and use of its platform, partly fuelled by the

KEY RECRUITMENT AI TERMS EXPLAINED Programmatic advertising: this is where computer algorithms decide where and when to buy and place job advertising and for how much. It makes use of big data to target job ads and real-time bidding to place them. Machine learning: this is a branch of AI where algorithms can be trained to learn by repeatedly accessing data without being programmed. In recruitment, such algorithms can be trained to perform repetitive tasks. Facial recognition software: a system which can match a human face to a digital or video image, which could be stored in a database. When combined with AI, the database can be searched and matches instantly made.

pandemic. Initially, they met resistance for a number of reasons but mainly because recruiters weren’t technically mature enough to insert technology in at the interview-phase and were also afraid that their candidates weren’t technically mature enough. “Over the past year, we can see that the technology adoption in both recruiters and candidates has skyrocketed and people are now very used to conducting several stages of the funnel with the help of technology,” she says. “That said, the need for our product has increased since our initial launch and is now not only focusing on use of technology but around the purpose it serves: for instance to mitigate bias, increase efficiency, create data-driven processes, secure overall candidate experience and more. “Since technology development is exponential, it is only natural that the use of technology follows that pattern.” ●

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CO M M U N I T Y

SOCIAL NETWORK

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WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO? GET IN TOUCH! From climbing Three Peaks, running 100 half marathons and joining 100 other recruiters, you’ve been busy since the last Recruiter…

…AS 100 RECRUITERS IMPACT HOMELESSNESS

BENEFER TAKES UP THE 100 CHALLENGE… cruiter.co.uk may recognise the name Regular readers of Recruiter and recruiter.co.uk Peter Benefer – champion fundraiser, and chief hedgehog and wildlife supporter. A headhunter for CSG Talent, in the past Benefer has completed half marathons and the Three Peaks Challenge (going round three times, though). He has now decided to accept the challenge of the Captain Tom Foundation and complete the 100 Challenge. Not one to do anything by halves, Benefer is trying to complete 100 consecutive half marathons. He normally runs before work, trying to be out the door at 5.30am and taking 2 to 2.30 hours. “The first 50 were awful,” he told Recruiter. “I had constant aches, which interrupted my sleep. However, the aches are gone and I’m all good now!” By the time Recruiter goes to press, hopefully he would have completed the challenge on behalf of two hedgehog rescue centres – Hog House in Leeds and HERBY in Bingley. If you want to show your admiration, please go to his Justgiving page and donate https://bit.ly/36vQihu

Social enterprise Beam has launched the ‘100 Recruiters for Impact’ campaign with the goal of having 100 recruitment and headhunting companies helping homeless people into jobs by the end of this year. Over a dozen companies have already signed up to the initiative, including La Fosse, The Up Group, Otta, Leathwaite, Founders Keepers, JBM and 3Search. So far, the initiative has supported more than 100 homeless people into stable jobs in careers ranging from construction to healthcare. Recruiters looking to join the campaign can email recruiters@beam.org

MCG GROUP ‘PEAKY MINDERS’ SCALE THREE HEIGHTS FOR CHARITY A tteam off 13 volunteers l t f it t company from recruitment The MCG Group have completed the Three Peaks Challenge and raised over £5k for mental health charity, Mind. The ‘Peaky Minders’ scaled the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours, battling with harsh weather and tricky terrain. To add your support, visit the fundraising page here https://bit.ly/36uCPqh

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CO M M U N I T Y

CAREERS

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“I find the challenges of running and growing a business really rewarding” MY BRILLIANT RECRUITMENT CAREER What was your earliest dream job? When I was 11, I liked the idea of being a teacher. I loved school and had some great teachers that I really respected.

What was your first job in recruitment and how did you come into it?

Like many people, I hadn’t really considered it as a career path until a good job opportunity came my way. I was in my early 20s when I spotted a job advert for a role at professional services ces recruiter Badenoch + Clark. I was looking for a new challenge so applied ed on a whim.

JO SELLICK Managing director, Sellick Partnership

JO SELLICK

Who is your role model – in life or in recruitment? In recruitment, my role model is my first boss, Robert Dawkins. One of the biggest takeaways from him is while work is really important, it should never overshadow other aspects of your life.

What do you love most about your current role? I love the variety and diversity of my role as managing director. I still work closely with clients and candidates during the recruitment process – it is an aspect of the business I’ve never wanted to give up. I find the challenges of running and growing a business really rewarding.

What would you consider to be the most brilliant moment of your career? When we sold a

majority stake of Sellick Partnership in 2019. It was amazing to see the accumulation of almost two decades of hard work pay off, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to reflect on how far the business has come.

Laugh or cry, what did your most memorable candidate make you want to do and why? There have been lots of weird and wonderful things but probably my most memorable is the candidate who refused to take a job because there were too many roundabouts between their home and the office. I have no idea why this h was such a deal w breaker, but they were not up for reconsidering or finding an alternative route to the office.

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What would you regard as your signature tune? One from my university days – Back To Love (Graeme Park Remix) by The Brand New Heavies. I might not go clubbing anymore, but I’m still a big clubber at heart.

What was your sanity go-to during Covid-19 and various lockdowns? Can I say wine? Like everyone, the first lockdown was challenging. I have four children and having us all at home all the time was a massive adjustment.

What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic? How much I dislike working from home. I’ve always loved the office environment, but never realised the impact remote working would have on me. The pandemic reinforced my belief that communication needs to be at the heart of every business decision.

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E CAREERS CO M M UNITY

ACORN RECRUITMENT Multi-specialist recruiter Acorn, part of global recruitment giant Synergie, has appointed Bernard Ward as new managing director, succeeding Matt Southall.

BIE EXECUTIVE The search specialist has promoted Claire Paramo to executive director. Paramo joined BIE in 2019 to help further develop the HR Search practice and has achieved rapid promotion to BIE’s senior leadership team.

CARTER MURRAY Part of the SR Group, the

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specialist marketing search and recruitment firm has promoted Wendy Gray to partner. Gray has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, communications and sales recruitment. She leads Carter Murray in the UK, focusing on assignments from management to chief marketing officer level.

HEIDRICK & STRUGGLES The global leadership advisory and on-demand talent solutions firm has announced four new appointments to its business. Laryssa Topolnytsky has been appointed as partner in its Toronto office. Kelley Brack Jamison has joined as a partner in the Los Angeles office. Marcelo Conteçote has been appointed principal in the São Paulo office and Laura Gironda joins as a principal in the San Francisco office.

Samantha Ramsay (right) and Rebecca Foden (left) have joined professional services firm EY in senior leadership roles. Ramsay is EY’s new head of experienced hire UK&I, joining from the UK head of resourcing role at construction firm Balfour Beatty, where she oversaw employment brand, exec search, emerging talent & strategic workforce planning. She was previously head of recruitment and employment brand at House of Fraser. Foden joins as EY’s new head of student recruitment UK&I from international professional services firm Capita, where she was head of resourcing – Government services. Before that, she was head of talent acquisition – D&I & talent directorate at Transport for London. Matthew Jeffery (above, middle), director, UKI talent attraction & acquisition (TA2) leader, said: “Both Sam and Becky have built massive reputations in the recruitment industry. Both have appeared on the industry benchmark Recruiter magazine list ‘Most Influential Recruiters’ and have won multiple awards with their teams. I cannot wait for them to weave their magic and cast their winning success spells over their respective teams.”

solicitor, before moving into legal recruitment. Her new role as in-house recruiter means the firm has a dedicated person in place to search for talent.

HIGGS & SONS The law firm has hired Claire Rankovic in a new in-house specialist role. Rankovic began her career as a

Email people moves for use online and in print, including a short biography, to recruiter.editorial@redactive.co.uk

INVENTUM GROUP Russell Thompson, former CEO of LMA Recruitment, has joined the newly rebranded Inventum Group

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(formerly Wells Tobias), as a co-founder, alongside Joe Wells and Adam Tobias. The business consultancy delivers inclusion consulting, executive search and recruitment, based in Clerkenwell, London.

defence and related markets. She has worked both in SME and global companies across a variety of industry sectors.

CONTACTS EDITORIAL +44 (0)20 7880 7603 Editor DeeDee Doke

METRO BANK Simi Dubb has been appointed as director of colleague experience and inclusion for the UK bank. In this newly-created role, Dubb will be responsible for continuing to evolve and embed a truly diverse and inclusive colleague experience across the bank.

Redactive Publishing Ltd 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL 020 7880 6200

deedee.doke@recruiter.co.uk

OYSTER PARTNERSHIP The recruitment agency has promoted Robert Murray to associate director. His latest role has seen him manage a team of property recruitment consultants as divisional manager.

Contributing writers Sue Weekes, Roisin Woolnough Production editor Vanessa Townsend vanessa.townsend@recruiter.co.uk

MM SEARCH The executive search firm in Scotland has promoted Rory Cleat to business delivery manager after just nine months in the company.

NEW STREET CONSULTING GROUP

The recruitment consultancy has hired five new team members to its US team. Bianca Bernardo joins the client engagement team and Alexandra Greene joins as general manager, people. Dan Sidell has been appointed as a functional expert in biometrics and Josh Jess in pharmacovigilance and drug safety. Kade Kramer also joins the cross functional team.

SAMUEL KNIGHT INTERNATIONAL

Leadership and people solutions consultancy has appointed Dave Lea as managing partner. Lea will head up the talent acquisition division, leading the executive search, interim management and agile talent solutions teams. He will also take a seat on the board.

The global manpower provider has appointed former UNW corporate finance partner, Paul Kaiser, as its new chairman. Kaiser brings more than 30 years of experience having advised on mergers & acquisitions, disposals and private equity sponsored transactions.

NGAGE SPECIALIST RECRUITMENT

STHREE

The specialist recruiter has appointed Louise Hindley as HR director. Most recently, Hindley worked at Cohort, the parent company of six businesses operating in

The international specialist STEM staffing business has appointed Andrew Beach as chief financial officer, with more than 13 years’ experience as CFO in listed firms.

rachel.young@redactive.co.uk

PUBLISHING +44 (0)20 7880 8547 Publishing director Aaron Nicholls

Senior designer Will Williams Picture editor Akin Falope

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PRODUCTION +44 (0)20 7880 6209 Senior production executive Rachel Young

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CIRCULATION and SUBSCRIPTIONS Recruiter is the leading magazine for recruitment and resourcing professionals. To ensure each issue of Recruiter magazine is delivered to your desk or door, subscribe now at https://subs. recruiter.co.uk/subscribe. Annual subscription rate for 12 issues: £35 UK; £45 Europe and £50 Rest of the world • Recruiter is also available to people who meet our terms of control: http://bit.ly/RecruiterCC • To purchase reprints or multiple copies, or any other enquiries, please contact subs@redactive.co.uk or +44 (0)1580 883844 CONTRIBUTIONS Contributions are invited, but when not accepted will be returned only if accompanied by a fully stamped and addressed envelope. Articles should be emailed. No responsibility can be taken for drawings, photographs or literary contributions during delivery, transmission or in the editor’s hands. © 2021 Redactive Media Group. All rights reserved. This publication (and any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in print or electronic format (including but not limited to any online service, any database or any part of the internet) or in any other format in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of Redactive Media Group. Redactive Media Group accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein. The publishers cannot accept liability for any loss arising from the late appearance or non-publication of any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. ISSN 1475-7478

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E THE LAST WORD CO M M UNITY

“Now the phrase ‘evolve or die’ springs to mind”

Alan Furley Recruitment is dead, long live recruitment! t’s a funny old world, recruitment. Sales, by its very nature, is a very ‘in-the-moment’ experience. While I’d not go so far as to say it’s exactly mindful, you need to be present in what you’re doing to ensure opportunities are not missed. But recruitment businesses must stay ahead of the game. And the job of industry leaders is to look in front and see where the road is heading to help our teams navigate, receive the right information, skills and tools to do their job to the best of their ability. It feels like we’ve not done too badly so far. In some ways, our industry feels more robust and sure of itself since the pandemic. After all, we’ve weathered a storm that few of us could have predicted or planned for. Our definition of ‘BAU’ (business as usual) has gone through, in some cases, a week-by-week transition.

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This hopefully means we’re more agile, more focused and more aware of what the market and our clients need. But these changes have led me to look at the world in a different way and realise that, in fact, we don’t want it to go back to the ‘norm’. Instead, I believe looking ahead at different kinds of recruitment models is now business critical. The area we see this most rapidly evolving is in diversity & inclusion. I don’t know of many recruiters that have really, fully grasped what this means and how to properly make the changes many of us are talking about in client pitches and meetings. Whether it’s lack of talent pool, misunderstanding of what the issues are or mis-matching candidates with roles, it feels we’re still struggling – and indeed could even be going backwards. I’ve done a lot of work with tech companies recently

whose sole purpose is to create a fairer playing field for everyone. Some of these businesses have been started by recruiters and some have come from the D&I or academic side of the issue. It’s taught me that, while traditional recruitment will always have its place, we are being seriously challenged by innovative thinking that will be less obvious than the damage of a global pandemic, but fairly lethal nonetheless. The reason is that the people behind the tech come at these issues with a completely new perspective, unhampered by years of phone bashing and rejection. And the more I am around it, the more I realise that this is exactly the kind of mindset needed if we are to help business solve today’s biggest problems. This may not be ‘new’ news, but as we do truly emerge from the pandemic the world of innovation and

technological advancement has only – and in some cases exponentially – increased the march on our city walls. Up until the pandemic I think I was, like many other founders and owners of recruitment businesses, pretty confident in the level of tech we used as it was mixed with so many traditionally sound and effective methods. Now the phrase ‘evolve or die’ springs to mind. While that may sound a bit dramatic, we cannot just sit back and celebrate our recent victories too much without moving forward with technological solutions at the forefront of our thinking. Otherwise, we will indeed be crowning the new kings and queens of tomorrow’s hiring industry – and they won’t be anyone we know. ●

Alan Furley is a director at ISL Recruitment

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