Category: Motivation


By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I have always been a big fan of Maslow (click here to learn more) and despite modern Psychological doctrine having exposed flaws in this theory of motivation I cannot help but feel that it has a great deal of relevance to how many candidates manage their job search today. I believe that the recession has fundamentally changed how many candidates view their future job selection and crucially what is most important. Having spoken to a number of colleagues within recruitment, and admittedly this evidence is purely anecdotal; we have seen a very real shift towards a ‘hierarchy of needs.’

Having spoken to many hundreds if not thousands of candidates over the course of the recession the first question that the majority of candidates will ask is; does it pay enough? Interestingly, prior to the recession the same question was probably being asked with a slightly different emphasis; how much can I earn? The key difference is that candidates are now focused on whether the salary will cover their costs rather than enabling them to invest. Arguably, it amounts to the same thing but it does indicate a rather different mind-set. I have found that salary has acted as a much smaller ‘barrier to entry’ than prior to the recession when candidates were more focused on achieving a significant uplift in package rather than merely covering their costs.

The second most important element is Job Security. Prior to 2008 the majority of candidates barely talked about security. Unsurprisingly, and against a backdrop of numerous business collapses this has become the second most important criteria.

The third element that most candidates will tend to want to judge is their cultural fit. One key consequence of the recession is that many people have taken jobs under duress (whether that is financial or emotional) that they might not otherwise have done so. Often, these individuals have been perfectly capable of doing the job but for whatever reason have not been a good cultural fit. In the early to mid part of the recession that led to further turnover and as a result, increased anxiety in the market.


These first three elements, in blue in my pyramid, are I feel the most essential for candidates today. The next two elements tend to be asked by fewer candidates but interestingly they are perhaps the most important for future financial, intellectual and emotional prosperity.

The fourth element is a two way street! Will I be valued and will I value them (employer & colleagues)? Many candidates tend not to think about this prior to accepting an offer as the first three elements can often be all consuming in importance. However, this will often determine the longevity of the role. It has a particular relevance for Gen Y candidates whom often place this as a key requirement for future positions.

The final element, the famous ‘self-actualisation,’ in my pyramid is; will I grow?

Many candidates will ask what the opportunities for progression are but I think they are missing an opportunity here. In truth most companies will, during a hiring process, indicate there is room for progression without committing to anything specific. The more savvy candidates will ascertain what the company does to ‘grow’ their people. What is the performance review process, what support and development is there, do they even have an L&D team post recession, how much money are they prepared to spend on external education?

So what does this mean for recruiters? The way in which we attract candidates through technology and social media continues to evolve at a dramatic rate.  I believe that most candidates seek to satisfy the first three elements early in their job search with the further two elements being a focus further in to an interview process. Given the lack of confidence in the current jobs market it has become crucial that employers and their recruiters seek to address these basic needs early in any recruitment campaign. A failure to do so will only serve to reduce the pool of available talent!

NB: You will note that I haven’t placed any emphasis on whether candidates question their level of capability / competence to do the job. The reason behind this is that I believe most candidates have a much higher level of self-confidence in today’s market and to some extent rely upon the employer’s ability to select on capability.

Click here to Follow us on LinkedIn Today.

By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


juggling mum

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

A friend of mine started a new job a month ago. For her, this wasn’t a straightforward decision as this was her first role after leaving work to have twins 2 years ago. This was a role she was perfectly suited to and qualified for and which, crucially, would allow her to work part-time. Given that they need to pay for 2 nursery places (in Greater London, this cost is extortionate…), the family was going to be only £50 per month better off however she was keen to work. Being career minded, she was also conscious of not leaving too big a gap given that, once the children start school, she will need to refocus on her career. So, she went through the process of selecting a nursery, leaving the children for settling in days and making the other arrangements necessary for a return to work.  She has been through the emotional wrench of leaving her children who have taken a while to adjust but who have started to settle into their new routine. 4 weeks in however, and her (female) boss has  questioned why she has had to take a couple of days off because the children were sick and now feels she is over qualified for the role.

I decided to write this post to highlight the difficulty women can face when re-entering the workplace. I thought that my own less than positive experience was unique, being in the cut throat world of agency recruitment, however I have spoken to several women recently who have faced similar challenges in different industries.

When I left the office to start my maternity leave, I cried all the way home. It dawned on me that for the next 6 months, I was no longer needed at work. I was, like all of us, fundamentally dispensible. For someone who enjoyed her job, this was a sobering thought.

When I had broken the news of my pregnancy 6 months earlier, I was shocked by  the number of younger female colleagues who came up to me and expressed genuine surprise that I was pregnant – their thought process being that the corporate work ethic was such that this would surely not be tolerated by the powers at be! A sad indictment that, although only in their mid 20’s, they clearly thought that having a family would be at odds with a long term career in that business. Of course, there were working mothers at the company however they generally held one of 2 positions – in office support where they were able to work part-time or senior Directors who employed full time au pairs. There were few role-models at middle management level.

I returned after 7 months to a very different environment. My (very supportive) boss had left along with several trusted colleagues. On my first day back, I received a 30 minute ‘handover’ and was left to crack on. I had no pipeline.  Although I returned to work 4 days a week, I spent the 5th day taking calls, dealing with escalation issues or managing offers when a member of my team was on holiday. Doing any of these things with a screaming baby in the background was difficult and unprofessional – not my usual modus operandi but I was determined that people at work wouldn’t get any sense that I wasn’t pulling my weight.  I needed to work ‘normal’ office hours so I could do the nursery run and so I was arriving later and leaving earlier than everyone else on my team, an uncomfortable situation in a culture of long working hours.  In my first month back, my childcare provider changed their opening hours meaning that I had to change my day off, further compounding my ever increasing feeling of guilt.  A few months later, in only my second conversation with my Director since my return, he expressed concern about my lack of progress. I was mortified and despite his comments about ‘understanding what it’s like to be a working mum’ (really?!), I realised that things had to change. I sought out support, enquired about other roles I could do internally until ultimately I took the decision to leave.

It is a subject I feel passionate about and so, on International Women’s Day  , here are my thoughts on the challenges women face when returning to work and what employers should bear in mind:

  • Lack of confidence. Even the most effective, professional and successful woman can be reduced to a quivering wreck by the challenges of parenthood. Add to this a long period away from the working environment (up to a year), with adult conversation generally limited to discussing feeding and sleeping routines and it gradually erodes your self-belief. This is also a symptom of women undergoing such a dramatic change in body shape and weight. Chances are they won’t fit into their pre-baby power suit and won’t have the time (or money) to buy new clothes. All these things affect confidence levels.  The biggest piece of advice I can give is to use your allowance of 10 KIT (Keep in Touch days) to make the transition easier.
  • What people never tell you about when you have a baby is that they are ill ALL THE TIME! And, whatsmore, they incubate germs so effectively that by the time they pass them on to you, they have taken on the equivalent potency of the Ebola virus. I have never been more ill than in the months after my son went to nursery, coinciding of course with my return to work.  New parents (men and women) WILL undoubtedly take time off because their child is ill or they are ill themselves. It won’t last forever and showing flexibility in those difficult early months will really help.
  • New parents are sleep deprived – I have witnessed several male colleagues whose performance at work has been affected by an insomniac baby. A new parent returning to work may well have had a disturbed night’s sleep and have been up for several hours before they even get to the office. Again, some of these issues are short-lived and giving extra leeway for a few months is surely worth doing for someone who is a valued member of staff.
  • Handovers. Unless you have been through a period of redundancy or been on maternity leave yourself, it is likely that you simply will not know what it is like to have 6-12 months away from your role and to try to pick it back up again. In a sales environment this is particularly challenging however in any role, there should be a period of time spent enabling the employee to re-familiarise themselves with the business. So much can change in a 6 month period – companies can restructure, people come and go, priorities change. If you do a formal induction for new employees, you could argue that this would be equally useful for mat leave returnees.
  • Take the time at the outset to really iron out details regarding working hours and any implications this may have on performance targets. Both parties have a responsibility to do this to ensure that there is transparency and above all fairness.
  • Emotional stress. I hesitated to talk about this for fear of compounding stereotypical views however returning to work is always going to be an emotional wrench, however career focused the employee is.  In my case, I took great pains to hide my emotions about leaving my son to show that I was just as work focused as my colleagues (as if the 2 things are mutually exclusive?!).
  • Be patient. It will take some time for those confidence levels to creep up but when they do, you may find you have a formidable employee. Most mothers I know can achieve more in an hour than you would think humanly possible and are even more focused in order to cover their workload in fewer hours.
  • Don’t make the following assumptions:

a. that the employee will have ‘gone soft’ since having a baby. Frankly anyone who endures a painful 24 hour labour culminating in an emergency C-section has reserves of strength you will never fathom. Yes, I do cry at anything emotional on the telly (but so does my husband) and I pretty much did that before anyway – it’s called compassion.

b. that the employee is passing time before she gets pregnant again.

c. that the employee is no longer interested in progressing her career. That assumption is never made of new fathers and arguably new parents have even more motivation to earn and achieve more.

Of course there are exceptions to all my points however, in my view, if a woman wants a fulfilling career in addition to being a mum, she has, in the 21st century, every right to have one.  It will be interesting to see what the take-up is of the new paternity rights for men which take effect in 2014 enabling them to share equally the period of maternity leave and what affect this has on the level of understanding in the workplace for returning parents.

What is your experience of returning to work post mat leave?

 Useful links:

Smart Resourcing

By Sophie Mackenzie , AdMore Recruitment Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I was lucky enough to attend Smart Resourcing 2013 last week – an event organised and hosted by Recruiter Magazine. The conference is aimed at in-house recruitment professionals however, following our recent shortlisting for Best Newcomer at the Recruiter Awards to be held in May, we were offered the opportunity to attend with one of our clients. Despite being significantly outnumbered by my in-house opposite numbers (and feeling like the proverbial fox in the hen coup as a result!), I thoroughly enjoyed the event and found much of value to learn and to take back to the agency environment.

The event was introduced by the charming Editor of Recruiter Magazine, DeeDee Doke and after a ‘seductive’ opening statement by the chairman, Roopesh Panchasra (which is difficult to do justice to on the written page but suffice to say involved Barry White!) the keynote speaker, John Vlastelica, took to the stage. Making his UK speaking ‘debut’, John shared his significant experience and numerous amusing anecdotes about recruitment and the challenges of influencing successfully in a recruiting role. I strongly urge you, if you have the opportunity to hear John speak, to seek him out – he provided a highly energetic and inspirational start to the day.

Chris Bogh, the Founding Director of Eploy presented with one of their key clients, Matalan, represented by their Head Office Recruitment Manager Paul McNulty. Paul described the benefits they have seen following the implementation of their web based candidate management system which has seen a reduction in agency spend of 87%!

There followed a series of parallel sessions covering a range of topics from training, board level engagement and an insight into the RAF’s recruitment strategy and process. This was a great idea, enabling the audience to choose which subject was most relevant to them and their business. I chose to hear Catherine Possamai, Director of Internal Resourcing at Capita talk about the challenges of engaging the board in a business with staggering complexity and scale.

Following lunch, there was a panel discussion about Big Data, a subject which provoked a range of opinions. I have to say, I struggled to get my head around the issue and my main learning was that it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that counts!?

In the second parallel session of the day, I heard about the significant recruitment project delivered by the Network Rail team and how they effectively managed a volume campaign and an effective onboarding programme which has positively affected retention within the business.

The final afternoon session was fascinating, opened by Paul Modley, Head of Recruitment at LOCOG. We took a visual trip back to London 2012 before Paul explained the phenomenal task faced by the team to deliver recruitment on such an immense scale against specific timescales and with the added challenge of working with an RPO and against a significant political backdrop. Through all of this, the commitment to diversity was evident and what was interesting was how Paul and his team engaged the relevant local communities to achieve the results they wanted. I certainly hadn’t fully appreciated the implications of keeping a workforce motivated when faced with the ‘cliff edge’ once the Games had taken place and clearly, the LOCOG team took the lessons from Sydney and took steps to limit the impact of this.

The final ‘slot’ fell to Ryan Broad, Head of Global Recruitment for MPC, the company responsible for visual effects on Prometheus and Life of Pi. This was a real eye opener for me, never having recruited in a creative space before, and Ryan outlined the issues involved in delivering a pipeline of creative talent and ensuring that at any one time, he knows who is available, what their skillset is, where in the world they are and at what price! Quite staggering and even more so considering the fact that Ryan manages all this information through Taleo. The key message I took from Ryan’s presentation was the importance of understanding your candidate market and what motivates them to take a role – in this case, the opportunity to work on cutting edge technology, on a cool movie and ideally with their friends!

All in all, it was a brilliant day – well organised, useful and inspirational. Although aimed at in-house professionals, I found it useful to get a greater insight into the challenges faced by my clients and got plenty of tips to take back to the office. If you get the chance to attend next year, I strongly urge you to do so.

Having this opportunity to hear some of the best recruitment minds share their experience made me reflect on the industry as a whole.

What struck me about the day was the willingness amongst the presenters, panellists and delegates attending to openly share best practice and the over-riding commitment to everyone involved to raise the profile of Recruitment as a profession both internally in their own organisations and amongst the wider business community. I couldn’t help but wonder why there are so few events of a similar nature on the agency side? Are recruitment agencies so competitive that they wouldn’t see the benefit in coming together to discuss how to improve? Surely the in-house representatives at Smart Resourcing are ultimately competing with each other when it comes to attracting the best candidates; however they ultimately consider themselves as ‘on the same side’. Equally, I wonder why the two sides of the recruitment profession are so polarised? Do both sides feel they have so little to learn from their opposite number? Adrian Thomas, former Head of Resourcing at Network Rail, spoke passionately about Recruitment as a profession and the need for it to have greater appreciation for the role it can play in delivering strategic advantage for companies.

Whether in-house or as an agency supplier, we all have a part to play in this and we should all be thinking about how we can do things better to ensure our industry gets the recognition it deserves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about other useful industry events you have attended…

Thanks to all involved with Smart Resourcing for giving me the opportunity to attend!

Smart Resourcing 2013

Smart Resourcing 2013 Speakers

By Sophie Mackenzie , AdMore Recruitment – Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.


Giles  Gallimore – Director, AdMore Recruitment

January. Dark, cold and alcohol free. You have stocked up on soup, joined the gym, you’re wearing your new jumpers / shirts / shoes / socks / ties (maybe all of them…) that you were given for Xmas and trying to block out the ‘sporty’ one on the team who is trying to start five-a- side / squash / badminton or even worse, the dreaded lunch time run.

You were 2012’s hero. You had the Xmas party, enjoyed the awards ceremony, went for beers with the Directors and generally celebrated as everyone worshipped your high- flying biller status.  There you were at the top of the league table across all the KPI’s but more importantly, you were a country mile ahead of the competition in the only one that really counts, REVENUE.

And then, January.  “So what are you predicting for this month?”  Reality bites like a cold arctic blast. Hero to zero. “2012 has gone. This is 2013. It’s all about now. How is your pipeline looking?”

January. The recruitment consultant’s most challenging month? There is certainly an argument to suggest so. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

No matter how diligent you were in December trying to land that all important fee to beat ‘Miss Sporty,’ you would have eased off at some stage. Who is going to arrange interviews over Xmas anyway? Between a few client lunches (long ones) and preparing your end of year appraisal, it’s safe to say you were not operating at the level of intensity that you normally do. You may have had a full 2 weeks off or popped in to tidy your desk but whichever it was, the chances are that you were not driving your business.

Before a two week holiday in June, you manage your pipeline very closely and build a high level of interviews before handing over your work to your colleague to manage in your absence.  This doesn’t happen at Xmas because everyone is off and there is little work to handover.  So, back you come with minimal activity facing a boss demanding that you continue last year’s billings (and do more) now that you had raised everyone’s expectations and clients that are being bombarded by every other consultant in the market doing the traditional January ring round to pick up some jobs. It seems that every candidate in your market has decided that the first week in January is the best time to apply for as many jobs as possible and you need to handle the response.  It’s not an easy time in recruitment.

In my many years in recruitment, I have observed the following about this crucial month.

You MUST have a plan and a clear focus about what you are doing and where you are spending your time. While January won’t make your year, it can certainly put you behind the curve and make it difficult to catch up.

You MUST know who your key clients and key contacts are. Do you really understand what THEY are doing in January and how you can HELP them with their business or are you just ringing them to get as many vacancies on as quickly as possible. How many agency calls are they getting? How often are they hearing the same old patter? Are you helping or hindering? Do you really understand their business and sector and the value that you can add? They will be discussing their business plans, succession and manpower plans for the next 12 months. What value can you add? What market information do you have that could prove to be very beneficial to them during this process?

Visiting your clients is absolutely key in maintaining and developing your relationships. Should you be aiming to visit them all in January or are you just trying to get your activity levels up? Is this the best time for them or merely convenient to you?

You MUST have written your personal business plan for the forthcoming 12 months with a specific focus on the next 6 months in particular. If not, why not? A clear strategy may alert you to key actions you could be taking NOW to improve the quality and productivity of your business in 3 – 6 months time. Have you really taken the time to analyse your Personal Development Plan and identify where you need to make improvements? More importantly, what actions can be taken to close your skill gaps and push your development? Do you have a clear idea of the support and guidance you need to build upon last year’s performance and deliver even more? Have you identified who else in the business can help you with these development opportunities and have you approached them to be your mentor and coach?

It is essential to service your new candidates as they apply for roles in the New Year and a timely registration conversation is paramount to this. Surely this is also a good time to catch up also with those key candidates that you have already got good relationships with. Again – what can you offer them in the form of advice and guidance? How can you add value to them as individuals?

In my experience, “Plan your work and Work your plan” is often spouted by senior management shortly followed by the banging of the ‘do more’ drum:  “send more CV’s, make more calls, get more interviews, do more client visits etc…” which in my opinion somewhat contradicts the aforementioned.

Yes, the pressure is on in January. Yes, it is a key month to get right. You must push for high levels of activity to generate opportunities and ‘push’ the market and you must ‘own’ your output and drive your business. However, before diving head long into high levels of activity it is worth thinking very carefully about what you are doing and why, keeping in mind the short, medium and long term.

The most successful billers I have met over the years all approached January with passion, drive and energy. Above all they had a clear focus, a clear plan and a clear strategy that meant their time was thoroughly thought out and they always had an understanding of what their clients and candidates needed at the start of the year.

It can be a long, hard month so make the most of it with a clear focus.

Giles Gallimore – Director, AdMore Recruitment

So what is a FedEx day, and why would a recruitment company want to hold one? Dan Pink talks about it in great detail in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth What Motivates Us’, but to summarise, it is a 24 hour window to develop a new product. The deal is, you have to deliver overnight, hence a ‘FedEx’ day. When this is finished everyone meets up and votes on what they feel is the best product.

There is no input from management, no agenda, just you and a blank pad of paper. For us, it was about engagement of our people. We constantly share ideas with each other in the office, this was a perfect way to develop them and ensure our team know they are a huge part of our growth plans.

So why would a recruitment company want to hold such a day?  In our view, there is a lot to change in our industry and this would allow us to step back from the day job and think – is what we do the best for our customers?

Secondly, we are a relatively small company and delivering innovation is time consuming and will often take you away from the all important day job. The Fed ex approach was perfect for us as it allowed us to ring fence time to work on projects which we wanted to deliver but couldn’t find room in the diary for.

Firstly, the biggest challenge, getting a team of recruiters off the phone! We began at 1pm, and were due to finish the same time the next day (with a very nice Nepalese curry in the middle!) Our approach was geared to be slightly different – we wanted to focus on a short, medium and long term plans, rather than a pure new product. As we split into groups of 3, it soon became obvious there was no right approach. With plenty of mind maps and post it notes covering walls there was a huge amount of information flowing and soon it was clear we would not be able to cover all we wanted to in 24 hours.

What was interesting, is that initially we felt we couldn’t necessarily deliver a new product (how do you invent a new product in an industry that hasn’t fundamentally changed in 30 years?), however by the end of the day we were sitting on something that we feel could well change what clients and candidates expect from a consultancy.

It has been alleged that by nature Recruitment Consultants are control freaks, opinionated, and suffer from big egos! However, we all agreed the best ideas were mine…..(only joking!!). We agreed the best ideas were those that would challenge the status quo and offer exceptional service to our customers.

The 24 hours were incredibly productive; it allowed us to bring together many ideas, thoughts and some great blue sky thinking without the fear of rejection or failure. Anything goes! And it was this approach that led us to a couple of products that we feel could be ‘game-changers’.  The question for us is “what now”? It is great to formulate the plan but how do we decide what to move forward. We all have the day job to do, but what was apparent, is if we all focus on a project we can complete a huge amount of work in a short period of time. Great for a recruitment company where time really is of the essence.

To say everyone was ‘bought in’ from the outset would be a little off the mark. Could we afford to lose a day’s productivity? Think of those hours not spent on the phone! However, the output on the day, was well worth the input, and all agreed it was a great way to share ideas, work together on projects and come up with something tangible at the end.

So from here, we have agreed to hold the next day in early January where we will develop the products to completion. Without giving too much away they are focused on Social Media and Employer branding, to be revealed early 2013!

From there the plan will be to hold similar events every quarter. Did we deliver overnight, yes, most certainly. Federal Express have ‘expressed’ some concern over the use of their brand name for these events, so…we even thought of an alternative name for the day;

IDEA Day –





Has anyone run a Fed Ex day that is service rather than product driven? Also, how have small companies approached the fed ex day differently?  We would be interested to hear how you planned the day.

Shane Horn


You are out of work, made redundant after spending the best years of your life working your way up the career ladder. The pay out is good, but won’t last forever. You have taken some time-out to ‘re-charge the batteries,’ the summer of sport is over  and the September transfer window has been and gone. Time to get out there and find that dream job. But hold on, the phone isn’t ringing. The jobs don’t seem to be out there, only those that don’t really appeal.  However,  you need to get back into work. Better to be in work than out of it, right?

This is a dilemma we discuss a great deal in the office, both  with clients or candidates and it is a very tough call. As the market picks up, it is a problem that more and more people will face. So, do you stick or twist?

Unfortunately, there is no right answer; it will depend on your personal circumstances. However, there are some factors to take into account. As you become a little more flexible in what you are looking for, you will get interviews. You interview well, and the process moves forwards, but there is a nagging doubt in the back of your mind. Is this the role you see yourself doing?

Firstly, as a candidate you are in control of the process as much as the client. When the offer comes, don’t feel bullied into accepting. Take your time; if you have other options consider them. A good hiring manager/recruiter will be fully aware of your situation and will not put undue pressure on you. If it is the right business they will understand it has to be the right move for you. If you do feel you are being boxed into a corner, ask why?  Why do they need a decision today? Why do they need you to start Monday? There maybe a valid reason which, again, a hiring manager would explain. However, if the pressure is coming to accept within a short time frame then question if you are the best hire or are you just a ‘filling a gap’.

Secondly, how will the move look on your CV? Consider how the role will be perceived by future employers. If you take a drop from say, Regional Manager to Area Manager, it could well pigeon hole you for future roles. Take a look at our blog is the recession creating a lost generation of middle management in retail for more detail on this. If the role can offer you progression and stretch then it must be considered as an option. Client side, we hear a great deal of feedback stating that the candidate was ‘too senior’ or ‘would leave when the market picks up.’ Personally, I would prefer a Premiership- standard right back playing for my team rather than a Conference League one! Let’s not underestimate how difficult it is to find employment. It is a process that most people don’t enjoy! If the business is the right one and they delivered on all they spoke about while courting you, then you would have no reason to look elsewhere, would you?

Do your research. Can the company back up what is says?  A quick check on Linkedin will give you an idea of how many present employees are at your level (and also tell you how many are looking for ‘opportunities!’)

What if you do accept the offer and it doesn’t work out? Do you really want to be going through the recruitment process again? Contacting recruitment agencies, picking up with your Linkedin contacts, sifting through the job boards? No, you don’t. It’s a pain, and one that not many people enjoy. After all, who wants to be talking to recruitment consultants all day?!  Do consider the impact this could have on your CV. One or two short term career moves are acceptable, any more than that can put off potential employers.

Finally, and most importantly, you may just need to be back earning a salary. Do your sums, work out when you need to be back in employment. A recruitment process can typically take anywhere from 3 weeks to 4 months! If you do turn down the first offer, make sure you have weighed up all the options. The market is not as bad as you think. Good clients are still hiring good people. The first offer you get maybe your dream job, but if it isn’t, don’t accept what could potentially be a damaging move.

Shane Horn

As the only woman at AdMore, my working life is a daily education into the male psyche. The intricacies of the Premier League (or Conference League for some of my less fortunate colleagues), the relative advantages of petrol versus diesel and the latest plot line of Game of Thrones – the list is endless.  I have great affection for my colleagues and men in general (I even married one and gave birth to another) and really appreciate the positive aspects of the male character: their sense of humour, their competitiveness and their penchant for giving direct and open feedback and in turn, to take it and move on without holding a grudge. However, I sometimes find myself yearning for the company of a female colleague in order to restore the balance.

This got me thinking. I have always believed that working environments are generally more positive and effective when there is an equal balance of men and women. Having worked in both male and female-dominated workplaces, I know this to be true.

This poses an interesting dilemma for HR and Recruitment professionals – one which is as old as time and still exists today. When it comes to recruitment, how do companies ensure that they achieve a balance, while still ensuring that they are hiring the best-qualified person to do the job?

I found this was a particular issue when I was a Recruitment Manager in the IT sector where there was a shortage of women entering the industry. This caused problems in some areas where, in roles which were client facing, requiring employees to build relationships and diffuse conflict situations in order to deliver on key accounts, it was widely acknowledged that women were better placed to succeed as they tended to possess the skills and behavioural qualities required. Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?  I don’t have the answers however my point is this – we all perform better when we are in the company of our metaphorical ‘other half’.  At the risk of reverting to gender stereotypes, male employees temper the emotional intensity of women and in turn, female employees can diffuse some of the aggression that comes with a concentration of testosterone.

Take my son’s nursery as an example. The balance has been disturbed in the last month by older children starting school (of which there were 4 girls), now leaving the boys in the majority. I received a note last night informing us that they are now having issues with the increasing tendency to play games involving guns and weapons and accompanying language – the words ‘kill’ and ‘dead’ are creeping in – the children are 3?!!!!).  An interesting insight into the nature/nurture debate perhaps but certainly an illustration of my point – by ensuring that there is an equal balance of genders, we bring out the best in each other and each bring different strengths to the equation.

I am interested to know what companies are doing to attract more female candidates (if indeed they have a policy to do so).  What are the best attraction techniques to ensure that there is a representation of both genders amongst applicants?

Until we eventually hire another female, I will continue my efforts to bring out the feminine side in my colleagues. In the meantime, I heard an interesting piece of news recently. Research in the US has discovered that groups of male mice, when in the company of just one female, are able to sing in perfect harmony….what an interesting thought!

  • Is positive discrimination sometimes the only way to ensure equality and in turn, balance?
  • What are companies doing to attract more female employees?
  • What are the best attraction techniques to ensure an equal representation amongst applicants?

Sophie Mackenzie


AdMore Recruitment – Sophie Mackenzie

They say doctors make the worst patients – is the same true for ex-agency consultants who move in-house? Sometimes, certainly. Take a recent case when one of my colleagues drove to the other end of the country (a 5 hour drive) for a client meeting scheduled at 4pm. This was a new client, there was no history, good or bad and so this should have been an amiable introduction to form the foundation for the relationship going forward. Instead he received a frosty response and a grilling for 40 minutes where he was tarred with the same brush as the agencies preceding him and left with little or no inclination to work on the account. The client was an ex-agency consultant, full of bitterness about the agency world and rather than leveraging her background to build rapport and influence the agencies to deliver for her, she has taken the other path – looking down on the very industry that trained her.

This is a rare case however and I strongly support the view that the best in-house recruiters will have some experience in the agency world.

That said, it doesn’t follow that every consultant can make the move in-house. I know that there is a widespread view that in-house recruiters are failed agency consultants:  (those that can, recruit; those that can’t recruit in-house etc…) however in my experience of the industry this is certainly not the case.  Those making the move in-house generally do so for positive reasons – to find an environment where they can better employ their skills.

I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t the best agency consultant. I had colleagues who were more tenacious, competitive and better sellers. However the very skills which weren’t recognised in the target-driven agency environment were skills which I think made me a good in-house recruiter: relationship management, diplomacy, candidate control, communication skills, attention to detail and time management. Combine these ‘softer’ skills with a strong work ethic, a sense of urgency and a commercial outlook and this works really well in a challenging in-house role which can be highly pressured.

Some of my former colleagues just wouldn’t have cut it in-house – they wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with the internal politics and bureaucracy which forms the back drop for many resourcing teams. In an in-house role there is nowhere to hide –you can’t take a commercial decision not to work on a role if you feel it isn’t worth your while and your internal ‘clients’ are often high profile and incredibly demanding. This is a test of your influencing and communication skills – you need to be able to maximise your internal ‘brand’ in order to have some control over the hiring managers who left unchecked, have a tendency to hinder the process rather than expedite it!

There is increased pressure to source directly for obvious cost reasons however there is often little time to do this properly so you become adept at focusing your efforts and using agencies only on those roles where you really can’t do it yourself. There is also a massive difference in how you organise your time, driven by the incredible volume of email communication you receive in-house. Agency consultants are quite rightly encouraged to do everything on the phone and this is at odds with a corporate HR department where by definition, you are encouraged to keep an audit trail of absolutely everything.

Coming from an agency background was extremely powerful when working in-house. I knew all the tricks of the trade and so I was able to challenge agencies (in what I hope was a humorous and positive way) and ensure that our process was followed. I took a direct approach and tried to treat the agency consultant how I had hoped to be treated when I was in the same position – communicating openly about issues and time delays and trying to respond as quickly as possible to ensure they were able to manage their candidates’ expectations and therefore protect our employer brand in the market.

There were times when I could visualise some of my agencies mentally throwing darts at my Linkedin profile when I was forced to postpone an assignment due a corporate restructure or cancel an interview at short notice. It was embarrassing as I knew the work that the better agencies would have put in and the difficult position they would be in letting the candidates know.

Experiencing the ‘other side’ made me realise that there are some appalling practitioners in our industry but equally that there are some excellent recruitment professionals out there and I really enjoyed the relationships we made with these companies. I was genuinely pleased when they made a placement with us and was vocal in championing their brand internally.

My agency training enabled me to control the process and manage candidate offers effectively, negotiate to get the best commercial outcome for the business and, I hope, build genuine relationships with agencies based on mutual respect rather than disdain.

Most importantly, I never forgot what it was like to make that business development call and receive the inevitable frosty reception – this didn’t mean I tolerated the really poor sales approaches but it certainly made me treat consultants courteously and with respect.

I am interested to hear your opinion on this – what, in your view, is the best background for an in-house recruiter? Is it necessary to have experienced the agency world first-hand or are other backgrounds equally relevant?

Sophie Mackenzie

My twin brother is presently a ‘Gamesmaker’ based at the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park and he’s loving it! So what makes a married, father of two with limited interest in sport take two weeks off work unpaid to show people to their seats or guard a highly important fire door? It may not be what you think.

He certainly had doubts. Once his training began he was told pretty clearly that he would have ‘no responsibility whatsoever’. This was a little bit of a disappointment. He is an intelligent, upstanding member of the community. Surely he could handle a bit of responsibility? What about a walkie-talkie? No, sorry, that is too much to ask of our volunteers.  So, the thought of dealing with customer queries and not knowing what he would be doing on a daily basis was not filling him with happy thoughts, but you know what, this is the OLYMPIC GAMES, it was going to be awesome!

So how do you motivate 70,000 volunteers to turn up, day in, day out, sometime starting before dawn to deal with the general public (who we all know aren’t always nice to deal with!). Well, you reward them. Not with much – a handbook here, a pin badge there – but you offer them something they cannot get elsewhere. They are in a ‘club’ and let’s face it, we all like being part of something exclusive. The most important factor here is that they are told they are making a difference, they are rewarded with praise. We hear it on the TV every day what a great job the Games Makers are doing. How many of you are told to an audience of millions that you are good at what you do? What is interesting is that there are also paid marshals, they are not called Gamesmakers, even the job title is significant, and as a rule my brother noted they were far less motivated to be there than the volunteers. It is a job for them so they have to be there to get paid. The volunteers turn up because they want to be part of something, because they want to make a difference. Daniel Pink’s excellent book  ‘Drive, The Surprising Truth That Motivates Us’ is an excellent read for those that wish to understand this more.

So how does this relate to the working world? People are motivated by a number of things but rarely is this money, or a nice car, or free fruit everyday. It is the intangible reward, being told you are doing a great job, being part of something exciting and challenging. It is stretching people to improve, giving them the opportunity to grow as individuals.

When was the last time you told someone they were doing a great job? Try it, you may get a big smile (and a more motivated employee) in return!  So my brother is half way through his last week, and something extra special happened – he was rewarded with some responsibility, he got a Walkie-Talkie! Now that’s power!

Shane Horn

%d bloggers like this: