• Category: Recruitment


As a full service agency one of the things we offer clients is that every technical candidate undergoes tests before they’re sent for interview. This way we know that they are capable of operating in the coding languages that the client needs. People wonder how we do this so this will throw a little light on the matter.

All the tests relate to specific coding languages and consist of multi-choice questions. Each question has one 100% right answer and other alternatives that are right, but not quite as specific as they could be.
The questions are mixed up relating to various aspects of the subject being tested and, if the candidate gets question 1 absolutely spot on, the next time a question around that particular aspect comes up it will be harder, adapting to the candidate’s skills.

So, for instance, if question 1 is about PHP namespaces and the candidate chooses the best answer, when PHP namespaces comes up again, perhaps at question 15, the question will be harder than if the candidate has chosen one of the alternative answers in question 1.

The results are given in categories 10 up to 18 (the highest). Sometimes a client will request a bespoke test and this can be arranged too.

What the tests don’t reveal is whether a candidate can code a project in a specific environment – only that they are competent at the level required in understanding the code and know what they’re talking about.  

This is important as many candidates list a long string of codes that they ‘can use’, but their depth of understanding can be shaky in some of these. Sending people for interview without evidence that they are fluent in the code is a huge waste of everybody’s time.

When a tested candidate arrives for interview the interviewers are starting from a place where they can be confident that the candidate is competent in the code they require. However, we do advise them to give them the opportunity to show what the can do with something that is specific to the project.

In effect, interviewing a pre-tested and interviewed candidate is like starting at the short-list without having to go through that tedious first interview ‘weeding out’ process.

  • Category: Recruitment

The cost of recruitment

Everyone ‘knows’ that recruitment is expensive, but few companies actually stop to calculate the actual costs.
The biggest cost relates to the time invested in the recruitment process. It’s important to remember that the cost of a member of staff is not confined to the hourly rate they are paid, but needs to include the cost of employing them, including office space, furniture, equipment and much more. When the is calculated accurately, an hour of staff time, especially when a senior manager is involved, can soar into the hundreds of pounds.
Saving our clients money is one of the core values we have, so we have actually thought this one through! These are the costs that you need to consider:

Job description: Not only the time of the department manager who is looking for a new member of staff, but also the people in the HR team who will need to review the current job description/role profile and update it or, in the case of a new appointment, create one from scratch. It may seem a straightforward exercise, but, in reality, you’re talking about several hours as the department manager and HR team compare notes and discuss, tweak and arrive at agreement on the final job outline.

Advertising the role: Whether you decide to brief an agency, place an ad in the press or place the job on one or more job boards, engage a head hunter – or a combination of any or all of these – this not only takes time, but there are fees involved.

Reviewing applications: Every application has to be reviewed and matched to the essential criteria you’ve established for that particular vacancy. If you have a bespoke application form then, at least, you are comparing like with like, but if, as in most organisations, you’re comparing CVs or a standard application form, it’s going to take longer to find the key pieces of information to draw up the interview list.

Organising interviews: Working out when the interviewer(s) is free and scheduling time for interviews, a suitable venue (possibly another cost if you’re interviewing off site) and then inviting your chosen list of candidates all take time and effort.

Interviewing: Quite apart from the interviewer’s time in each interview, don’t forget the preparation time each interviewer will need to invest in reviewing every application to ensure they have the right questions ready. With a long list of matching candidates this can run to days rather than hours, especially when they’re technical candidates and testing is needed too.

Short-listing: After the first round of interviews the selection of a final short-list is usually the next step. These people then need to be invited back for a more in-depth discussion. More organising of interviews is required!

Final interviews: More interviewer’s time – both for review and, if there is more than one interviewer, discussion and collaboration before the actual interviews.

Final selection: Sometimes this is straightforward, but often there are two or more suitable candidates or, worse still, no really suitable candidates. Then there is the admin time in sending out contracts, advice to those unsuccessful candidates, etc.

If you tot all this up, you’ll find that even a conservative estimate will be well over £10,000 – and often two or three times that in unseen costs. No wonder recruitment is considered expensive!

If you’re recruiting IT staff you could cut a large chunk of that process out. All candidates submitted to our clients have been interviewed, tested and matched to the culture of the organisation. This means that you only see a handful of candidates that are, effectively, the short list. The fees you pay are far, far less than the in-house costs of going through a two tier interviewing process. Give us a call on 020 3762 2020 if you’d like to discuss more.

  • Category: Recruitment

What’s in the package?

When you’re looking for a new job the first priority is finding a job that offers you the type of work you want to do, a good salary, the level of responsibility you’re ready for and that the employer looks like a company you’ll enjoy working for.

Then there’s the benefits package.

In today’s world you’re legally entitled to so many days holiday and a pension; but there’s much more to it than that.

There are surveys about what people want from work, but they tend to be blanket reviews of the workforce in general. We’ve noticed that the benefits people want vary enormously.

  • People in their 20s are often more interested in gym membership than pensions.
  • When the employees have young families, crèche facilities and holidays can be important.
  • A nice bonus is useful for those who have growing families and want to look at upsizing their home.
  • Some people prefer a car allowance to a company car, simply so that they can get a better model, even if it’s not new.
  • As they pass 50 pensions become higher focus – and companies that offer more than just the minimum required get more attention.

The interesting thing is that many of our applicants see training as a benefit too. Whilst this may seem to be a given as part of keeping staff up-to-date with the latest technology and systems, in reality not every company has the budget for accredited training – and there’s a big difference between low level training and fully accredited courses.

All the big technology companies, like Microsoft and Cisco, have accredited training – but it’s not cheap. Smaller organisations don’t always have a big enough training budget to keep their staff up-to-date with all the latest advances – so those that make the investment do have an edge.

If it’s a choice between offering attractive benefits like gym membership, car allowances, loans for season tickets and crèche places – or investing in certified training, some companies feel that the benefits package is a bigger magnet. However, most employees are looking to keep their skills up-to-date and, if they don’t get certificated training, will move on before they’re so far behind that they’ll struggle to get another job. It costs the employer less to keep good staff than to search for and employ new people.

As people move into management, accredited training is less important as they’re more interested in developing their people skills. But, as an employer, how do you win at the benefits game?
There really isn’t a single ‘right’ answer – but surveying your current staff isn’t a bad place to start. Just be aware that there are tax implications to many of the benefits you might offer – and it’s wise to advise your employees to consult a tax expert before making a decision; the tax side of benefits is really complex.

Be creative, be flexible – and remember that helping people to keep their skills current is as good as a gym membership for keeping good people.

If you’d like to discuss benefits packages with us we’d be happy to give you some guidance. Give us a call on 020 3762 2020.

  • Category: Recruitment

How to use LinkedIn to find star candidates

LinkedIn started life as a ‘dating agency’ for employers looking for staff and candidates looking for jobs. Today it is much more sophisticated and operates as a networking platform that combines connecting people with added value in groups where members help each other and discuss topics of common interest. That doesn’t mean it no longer works as means of finding good candidates.
Here are our top tips:
  1. Make sure your contact details are showing on your profile – phone, email and website. Don’t make it difficult for people to contact you. This is just as important as an employer as it is for candidates.
  2. Ensure your website is up-to-date and looks attractive. There’s nothing worse (and quicker to put good candidates off) than a dated website; it says ‘we’re behind the times’ – not the message you want candidates to get. Better still, if you have a job opportunities page, use one of your three website links directly to that page labelled ‘careers with us’ or ‘job opportunities’ or something self-evident.
  3. Don’t use the article function to post job ads. People expect LinkedIn Pulse to be a source of wisdom, learning, knowledge-sharing, opinion and, occasionally, a rant. You won’t win any friends if you post your job specs instead of articles. Be smart and write a really good article about the area you want to recruit in and add a footnote to say ‘If you can recommend anyone who is looking for this kind or role – please put is in touch’.
  4. Use the Advanced search functions to find good matches. If you’re doing this often then you probably need a Premium account to give you more options. Enter all the key words you want to match – not just one or two, you’ll get better results.
  5. Never use LinkedIn’s templates for messages – even the ‘I'd like to join your LinkedIn network’, use your own messages. It’s a small thing, but makes a big difference and gets a huge increase in response rates.
  6. Don’t spam your connections with job ads. At best you’ll be ignored, at worst they’ll just disconnect or block you.
  7. Do make the effort to write articles regularly – even if it’s one you’ve featured on your company blog already. It sets you out as a thought-leader and expert – and good candidates want to work with that kind of boss.
  8. Don’t rely on your company page – far fewer people bother to follow company pages, people buy people and personal relationships are the key to success.
  9. Use your LinkedIn contacts to check out likely people. If you find a good candidate, see if your network is connected to them and find out what they think of that person. It might take a while, but it does mean you don’t invest expensive management time interviewing unsuitable candidates.
  10. Use your relationships to find good candidates. You do have relationships with your LinkedIn contacts, don’t you? Or did you just see it as a numbers exercise?
If you still can’t find the right candidates for your IT roles, give us a call on 020 3762 2020.
  • Category: Recruitment

IT people are different!


In most organisations IT people are seen as some alien breed who speak – or at least write – incomprehensible languages and actually understand technology! Many people are actually surprised to learn that some of them do actually wear suits. Of course, they are human like the rest of us, but they do have specialist skills.

If you’re recruiting a human resources manager so you first test their expertise? Does a salesman have to undergo a sales ‘exam’ before being considered for interview? There will be some searching questions during the interview, but these skills can be polished and developed in the role.

If you put a programmer in place – who turns out not to be very good at coding, the results can be disastrous. In today’s world most organisations cannot function without IT and if it doesn’t work the whole place grinds to a halt.

If you already have good people in place who know their stuff carrying out a test of candidates coding skills is possible, but if you’re recruiting for a new role with no existing in-house expertise, how do you know you’re getting someone who can actually cut it?

If you’re using the same agency you use to recruit admin staff or for management they probably know even less than you do about IT skills and how to measure them. If you’re advertising the brief may be precise, but unfortunately candidates often mistake their surface knowledge of a particular protocol as fulfilling the criteria of ‘in-depth experience of ...’ This can mean lots of time wasted testing and interviewing people who turn out to be not up to the job.

It’s surprising that, in today’s world, many organisations waste huge amounts of time trying to find the right people for their IT roles. Some of them even go so far as employing someone who interviewed well and talked a good talk, but fell over at the first hurdle once in post.

This is expensive! It wastes time, it holds the organisation back and it’s just not a practical solution to getting the best IT people for your business.
Fortunately, there is a solution – call this number 020 3762 2020 and you’ll be talking to a team of specialist IT recruiters. You’ll get candidates who have already been interviewed and tested – so all you have to do is find out if they’re a good fit for your team.

  • Category: Recruitment

Is recruitment an endless task?

How long do your staff stay in your organisation? If they’re constantly moving on and you feel like the recruitment process is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge – it’s time to take a step back and discover why they’re leaving.

Firstly – unless you’re paying way below the market rate, it’s almost certainly NOT to do with pay. It’s been proven time and time again that most staff’s number one priority is not the salary.

In the majority of cases the reason for people moving on is that nebulous thing known as ‘job satisfaction’.

This can mean different things to different people.

Future possibilities: People like to see there’s a career path ahead of them. Even those at junior level want to feel their potential will be noticed and rewarded with promotion or more responsibilities.

Community: Most people like to feel they work among ‘friends’. If there’s a negative atmosphere in the workplace, people don’t stay around for long. If you’re going to spend eight hours a day somewhere you want to enjoy being there. What do you do to make your place a pleasure to work in?

Good management: A good manager nurtures his or her people. They know what is important to each person and what’s going on in their team. They appreciate and recognise effort and achievements – and their staff like working for them. That doesn’t mean they’re a pushover – but poor management is a common problem – and reason for leaving. Make sure your managers get training in management.

 That means flexi-hours, remote working and the ability to create a flexible working environment that allows for family commitments, without work necessarily suffering. This is no long the preserve of working Mums – working Dads play just as important a role in the home today and with both partners working being able to deliver results without having to be present in the office is appreciated.

If you’ve ticked all these boxes perhaps you do need to examine your rewards package. Is it just a salary or are there other benefits – a crèche, gym membership, holiday scheme, private healthcare, generous pension? These are all part of your employee feeling valued.

If you’ve addressed all these and, perhaps, have made some adjustments you’ll almost certainly find you need to recruit less often and retain your best staff.

When you want to ensure that you get the best qualified IT staff call us on 020 3762 2020 – and then it’s up to you to ensure they want to stay.

  • Category: Recruitment

Why engage an agency?

If you’ve got a professional HR team in-house, why would you even think about working with an agency? After all you have highly qualified professionals on tap. They know how to create job ads, they understand how to use job boards, they know where to look for likely candidates.

If you’re thinking of the average high street agency that operates as a people-processing system, then you’re probably right. You will be getting the same applicants as your in-house team already have access to. However, a full service agency offers more than your in-house team could do.

An agency that deals in a niche area – as we do with IT staff – knows the market in detail. They know where to find people who would be a perfect fit – even if they’re not currently looking for a new role. These are known as ‘passive candidates’.

If you’re recruiting for a high-flying position you may engage a head-hunter, but it can be an expensive exercise for lower-level positions, even if they’re critical roles. A full-service agency usually keeps a database of potential candidates for a range of positions and knows where to find the right people at the right time.

On the other side of the coin they’ll also know who is worth interviewing and who just applies for every position even vaguely in the same ball-park as their skills and is on the books of literally hundreds of agencies.

This kind of knowledge isn’t usually easy for even the most seasoned HR professional to keep track of. They have other responsibilities and it is pretty much a full time job. That’s why a good agency is worth investing in – they have highly specialised knowledge of how to find the perfect matches for your roles.

It’s the difference between a GP and a heart surgeon – which one would you rather have on your case if you had to have a heart bypass operation?

Having a professional, highly-focused, specialist agency on your recruitment team is just good sense – and often a much more cost effective way to find first class employees.