Repelling Top Talent? Five Mistakes That Could Be Pushing Good Candidates Away

Repelling Top Talent? Five Mistakes That Could Be Pushing Good Candidates Away

Picture this… You’ve worked hard to find some great candidates for the important role you have in your organisation, they all match the specification and person fit and they have all attended the first interview. The hiring manager likes them all but decides to invite three back in an effort to get to a hiring decision.

You pick up the phone in order to tie up dates and, somewhat surprisingly, two pull out (including the best fit) and now you’re left with one. Sound familiar?

We’ve worked with thousands of businesses and candidates across the country and have a unique understanding of what both parties at the table want to achieve. A placement is a two-way street and failing to meet the needs of candidates can result in them becoming disinterested from the get-go.

With that in mind, here are five common mistakes that could be pushing talented candidates away.

#1 Not understanding the candidate’s motivation

This can lead to a mismatch between what you’re offering and what they’re looking for, or unmet expectations from the outset. If you have approached these candidates who were passive about moving to start with then you must sell the opportunity to the candidate at the first interview stage. This may sound a little bit strange to you – why wouldn’t they want to work for your company in the first place as you have a great brand? The answer is quite simple, you approached them!

At the first interview stage make them feel special and wanted but let them know that should they progress then they would be expected to present to you at the second interview as to why you should hire them.

What are their career aspirations, what can you offer their development and how can this role help them to reach these goals? This will get them interested in the strength of your offering but also add gravitas to the process when they present at the interview.

#2 Lack of preparation

Secondly, the lack of upfront preparation along with poor initial contact on the day of the interview sets a tone which can last. Make sure the receptionist is expecting your candidate on the day and have any inductions planned along with visitor badges. If you are organised it demonstrates mutual respect and that you’ve taken the process (and them) seriously.

#3 Poor communication

Thirdly, always make sure expectations are clearly laid out at the end of the interview. When will you be in touch with them to offer feedback? Who will do that? Should they progress to the next stage, when can they expect the second interview to take place? Sharing this information upfront will give the candidate a good idea of what to expect from you and when.

#4 Unplanned interview

Fourthly, have the interview prepared in terms of both the questions themselves and who is asking them. The process should be smooth and organised, as this makes the candidate feel more comfortable instead of rushed or awkward. To plan out your interview, you should:

  • Define the interview structure and agenda
  • Decide who will ask questions, when and why
  • Create a list of questions (in advance)

If you do this then it will enable you to be in control of the process while also giving candidates an opportunity to talk through their skills, experience and expertise. 

#5 Stay focused

Don’t test them at stage one and don’t talk about salary expectations (unless the candidate raises them first). Keep focused on the job and the fit and leave the testing to the second stage when it’s far more appropriate and cost-effective. The salary conversation needs to happen at the qualification stage way before the first interview and then again at stage two. Your recruitment consultant should do this for you.

By avoiding these pitfalls you can create an engaging process for the candidate which will keep them interested and enthused about the opportunity to work with you.

If you are tired of the same old recruitment methods, we’re here to help. The Staffing Experts are an end-to-end recruitment consultancy specialising in placing talent with businesses of all sizes. Get in touch today and let us know how we can help you find the best fit for your organisation.

Contingent vs Retained vs Contained Recruitment

With the holiday season in full swing, I thought I should provide some easy reading to help you while the hours away on the beach!

Within the recruitment world, there are many offerings all aimed at making the fee valuable, palatable and worthwhile and they are all variations on a theme of contingent and retained recruitment. This article is designed to explain how these methods differ and which to select for a particular role. We will start with contingent recruitment and then move through to retained recruitment, which sets the context for contained recruitment. Enjoy the read.

This diagram shows you what solution would be suitable depending on the assignment that you have, remember it’s the balance between generic and specific which determines what approach you should use and ensure you check on the experience of the recruitment company and consultant before embarking on a retained or contained project as with any kind of headhunting the training and skills are paramount in the outcome.

To learn about contained we must first set the current context of contingent and retained so please read through to the end to really understand the whole concept. Let’s start with the recruitment method we are often most familiar with.

Contingent Recruitment

For the uninitiated; contingent recruitment could be considered a success-based fee, in other words, once the successful candidate has started in the role then a fee based on a percentage of the salary is paid to the recruitment consultant, this typically involves a rebate payable should anything happen to the placement during a cooling off period.

Retained is the other most common approach to providing a recruitment solution and is typically employed when the role is of a high-value nature. The recruitment consultant in this case is usually referred to as a head-hunter and the process is known as paid search. There are benefits to this and there are some disadvantages.

In essence, there shouldn’t be any disadvantages at all as the process is aimed at ensuring the depth of search will be sufficient to source the candidate and the search company shouldn’t take on an assignment, which they believe is a paid search process unless they are certain that the role will be filled.

If we were to look at the two processes in terms of fees then it would look something like this:

The contingent world is effective in a generic application, high supply and a balanced demand make this approach a sensible way to provide the recruitment solution. The client company will typically be working with a number of recruitment companies and the consultant who provides the most suitable candidate in the quickest time wins the race for the placement.

This approach drives quantity and lowers quality over the longer term. You can also expect to have the same CV from a number of agents as the contingent world is mainly focused on the job seeker, the active market. Fee levels in this market are usually around 10% to 22%, there is little risk to the client in terms of cash outlay but there is risk in terms of time as if the role demands any kind of niche skill or trait then contingent will not resolve the process.

When a role demands a niche skill, culture or trait then contingent recruitment becomes much less effective as the number of candidates is reduced with each and every specific demand. This is in fact the method that head-hunters use to disqualify people, the tighter the search the more definitive the recruiter can be. We now enter the world of the retained search, which seems to be surrounded by secrecy and mystique.

Retained Recruitment

Retained searches have a mixed reputation within the marketplace; the reason for this is poor delivery of service and management of expectations on the client and candidate sides. Carrying out a headhunt takes skill and experience and isn’t something that should be taken on irresponsibly by the recruitment consultant.

The challenges the recruiter would face are a very narrow market, difficulty in contacting a suitable candidate with PAs and gatekeepers and high expectations from the client, as promises made to secure the retainer and justify the fee are high. Significant training should be given before any of the recruitment consultants can embark on a fully retained search and the job role should be analysed in depth to ensure the retained route is the most suitable solution.

One aspect of retained searches, which usually baffles the market, is that retained searches are a much higher fee than contingent despite the fact that the search is much more targeted and the client is working on an exclusive basis. The reality is that the search is very in-depth and gaining traction in a particular part of the market is difficult.

For example; I once carried out a retained search for a major FMCG company, the search led me to Italy, as I don’t speak Italian I needed some help with getting past the gatekeepers so I employed a local waiter from the Italian restaurant to open the doors for me and get me through to the potential candidate at which point the level of candidate was able to speak English.

So retained searches do take much more time than a contingent CV race hence the higher cost. The fee is structured as 1/3rd on assignment, 1/3rd on shortlist and 1/3rd on success. The structure of the assignment is such due to the high level of research required to source the candidates and the time required by the consultant to open the market up gently.

Contained Recruitment

Our experience in recruitment led us to develop the contained solution from a demand from our clients to end the CV race, repeat CVs and low quality that they had been experiencing from their providers at the time. They wanted a different result and as such they needed to find a different approach in order to change what was happening to them.

The way in which Contained differs from Contingent is the ‘Contained’ search allows more depth of search than Contingent would, this allows the consultant to deal with the more niche elements of the job specs and person specs which contingent recruitment does not allow.

If you can imagine a pond out in a field, around the pond are a series of fishermen all using their hands to reach into the water to try and catch a fish, the fish they would typically catch would be those fish that swim near the surface, it’s possible that the same fish would be approached by different fishermen and whichever fishermen dipped their hands in the most would probably find the most fish.

Now consider what would happen if another fisherman can to the pond and were to use a fishing rod? This would allow the fisherman to send his line out further and his bait down deeper meaning the fisherman would be working with different fish than those feeding on the top, his approach would be more controlled and the other fishermen wouldn’t bother the fish.

This analogy would try to explain the difference between Contingent and Contained recruitment. To add Retained to this then the analogy would be a diver and a harpoon, this approach would be expensive and very targeted.

With regard to the fee in a Contained search, the structure is a mix of the two previous solutions, an assignment fee (typically 1/3rd) is applicable to allow for the more in-depth search technique and the balance (2/3rds) is payable on success much the same as a contingent role.

As this type of assignment means exclusivity with the client and consultant the fee level can mitigate this meaning that this method is much more cost effective than retained and usually competitive with contingent. As the balance between candidate and client is specific but not actually niche then the search is more efficient in terms of time which is reflected in the fee charged.

In Summary

The Contingent assignment is useful when the role is more generic and the market is balanced well in terms of demand and supply.

Contained is very useful when it comes to a candidate-driven role when the demand and supply are balanced more toward demand. This method allows more depth of search and some head hunting along with some of the other methods such as DB and boards.

Retained is a pure search assignment when the market is totally candidate-driven and demand is far greater than supply.

We hope we’ve answered most of the commonly asked questions around these recruitment methods, however, if you’re not sure which one is most applicable to your situation, get in touch for a no-obligation chat. We’d be more than happy to talk through the options with you.

5 CV Blunders That Could Cost You Your Dream Job

At The Staffing Experts, we’ve reviewed thousands of CVs from candidates across the width and breadth of the UK.  So we’d like to think we know a thing or two about what employers are looking for and, unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that we know can cost you your dream job.

Remember that the CV is your first opportunity to impress, so don’t let it slip by in a blur of words and pictures. Here go the top 5 common mistakes that set candidates up for failure:

#1 – Use a Professional Picture or No Picture At All

Leave out the dodgy picture! Especially the ones that were taken a few years ago on a Polaroid and have a few creases on them, they don’t scan well or do you any favours. If you choose to include a picture, make sure it is of professional quality – get a nice headshot done by a professional photographer.

#2 – Put Important Info at the Forefront

The hiring manager wants to know what you can bring to the table and how you can benefit their organisation, so it’s always best to get into the nitty gritty early on – please don’t waste page after page with acronyms. It’s likely somebody in Human Resources (rather than somebody with specialist knowledge) will look at the CV first, so they may not be a subject matter expert.

#3 – Highlight Your Qualifications

You have an immediate opportunity to let the reader know how highly qualified you are, so tell them! Put your qualification letters after your name, for example, Elizabeth Windsor CEng MSc BEng. So there we are, the Queen is a Chartered Engineer with a Master’s (you heard it here first). Ensure you include all qualifications that are relevant to the role you are applying for and make sure to emphasise your technical skills in order to stand out.

#4  – Leave Your Address at the End

Ok, so your home is important to you and you probably paid a lot of money for it, but guess what? The hiring manager really doesn’t care where you live until they think they want to see you so put this information at the end of the CV. It’s also the first piece of information a recruiter will remove,  so don’t make it prominent. 

Privacy is increasingly important for many of us, so it is completely acceptable to simply state the area you live in rather than the exact street address and house number.

#5 – Demonstrate Your Value

Remember the main buying motives aka the reasons why anyone buys anything ever! You must relate what you do and what you have achieved to…

  • Making money
  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Improving compliance – in other words: looking good!

So, make sure you clearly demonstrate how your past experience and skills have saved the organisation money or grown profits – this is the key to getting through to the next stage of selection.

There you have it, don’t make these common mistakes and your world will get infinitely better. Well, at least your CV will. Don’t forget to explore our Candidate Corner where you can find more tips for landing your dream job.

Unlock Your Potential: 5 Interview Tips You Need to Know

There isn’t any exact science when it comes down to interviewing, but you can stack the percentages in your favour by following these simple tips:

#1 – Dress Well!

Now, I don’t mean Mickey Mouse Ties (yes, I’ve had one of these) and bright red and green socks. I mean a clean, tidy business suit, plain shirt/blouse and a matching tie – follow this simple rule a little bird once told me; 1 plain and 2 stripes or 1 stripe and 2 plain. The trick here is to look smart, neat and tidy – don’t be the one who stands out for all the wrong reasons!

#2 – Take Time to Prepare

Make sure you prepare well. It’s no surprise that the candidates who prepare the most thoroughly get the best jobs, it’s a fact and it’s something that there can be no excuse for. The internet has been around long enough to ensure that there is information about the company and sector you’re working in, so instead of watching the TV get busy reading and researching. Here are our favourite preparation tips:

  1. Research the company in detail
  2. Find out who you are meeting with and research their backgrounds
  3. Check out the company’s social media profiles to get a feel for the culture 
  4. Think about potential questions that may be asked during the interview and practice answering them.

#3 – Consider What Questions to Ask

Have plenty of questions written down for the inevitable “Do you have any questions?” section at the end of the interview. It will happen and you know it will so make sure you’re ready for it. This bit is straightforward and you can easily generate the questions from your preparation time. For example, ask about company culture or the routes of progression; basically, anything that’s important to you.

Don’t forget – interviews are a two-way thing. Asking questions you want to know the answer to is the perfect way to get to know the employer and the interviewer! Make sure that you have enough company information so that you feel comfortable, confident and excited going forward.

#4 – Use the STAR Method

Use the STAR method for delivering your answers to questions you’re asked: Now many of you will have heard of this and it’s a common thing. The beauty of this is it allows you to elaborate in context and it opens the door for further questions about the topic you have chosen to respond with. It’s a clear, structured and concise method and the best way of minimising the number of questions that you just “don’t know”. Here’s a recap:

Situation: The position I was in

Task: What I was asked to do while in that situation

Action: What I did after I was asked to do what I was doing in the situation

Result: What was the end product of the action?

For example,  if you are asked a question about teamwork:

Situation: The position I was in was part of a team in my current job. 

Task:  My team was asked to develop a marketing strategy for a new product launch. 

Action: I worked with my team to come up with ideas, delegate tasks and create an action plan. 

Result: We successfully launched the product on time and delivered better-than-expected results.

This structure will help you ensure your answers remain focused, relevant and clear.

#5 – Don’t Be Late!

DO NOT BE LATE FOR ANY REASON IN THE WORLD (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF NUCLEAR DISASTERS). If you’re going to be late then it would probably be best to rearrange the whole thing! A minute here and there isn’t going to kill you or the interviewer, but it may be the difference between two equally matched candidates and it’s just not worth the risk. To avoid being late, you should:

  • Plot your route on a map the day before. 
  • Leave plenty of time to get there – say up to an extra hour if you think public transport will be slow/busy (it usually is). 
  • Wake up early and double-check everything – luggage, documents, keys etc. 
  • Leave at least half an hour earlier than you would do if it were a normal working day to account for traffic.

Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to success. For more candidate tips, check out our Candidate Corner where you can learn more about what employers are looking for and how to ace that all-important interview. Good luck!

All Eyes on the Market

If being inquisitive is all about continued curiosity, never giving up and just being determined to keep quizzing then yes, we are going to hold our hands up and admit, that’s absolutely us!

That feels great, to be able to get that out there and not only because we are just keen on communication but we also love being up front about how we operate.  Its about having our expert eyes all over the place!

So, back to the topic of “inquisitivity” if that’s a word (we have made it one for the purpose of this blog)  – for us, this is all about eagerness to research and look at market trends, behaviours and the movement in the employment world. 

Something we talk about in great depth is the formula of “Research, Recognise, Recruit, Retain”

Let’s start with research and just how we look at this as part of our service provision.  As The Staffing Experts, its absolutely essential that we use our experience and professionalism to keep up to date with how the job market is taking shape.  The wider scope of business often dictates skills that are in demand closely followed by salary expectations and demands.  Given the range of sectors we work in, we know as recruitment professionals, it’s our responsibility to our clients to ensure we are always on point with what’s happening in the staffing environment.  Its fair say that “staffing” is more than just recruitment.  Its like thinking that accounting is just a trial balance!  Staffing is all about knowledge, expertise, application and heaps of amazing communication skills.

Research is a vital component in this.  On a regular basis we are exploring the salaries for a variety of roles and being up to date on not just local but regional and national trends.  We see it as essential to invest in this as part of our service.  Our research takes on a variety of forms and we use a range of techniques to help us with this.  Whilst time is spent on the jobs market and associated salaries and movement of people, we also focus on sector developments.  I guess there is a detective in all of us and we don’t mind admitting we love the research we do.  Ultimately, this is all to ensure we provide the best level of service to our clients and candidates. 

If we could offer any advice to a potential client or candidate of a recruitment organisation, take the time to ask more of them – probe more into the understanding of the market – it really makes a difference and will help you determine if you are in fact, dealing with experts!

Research studies is just one part of the complete service we offer.

If you would like a confidential discussion and ask us more about our style and standard of service, please just contact