The right fit

Unemployment in the UK may be creeping upwards, but that doesn’t mean all businesses are wielding the axe.


Unemployment in the UK may be creeping upwards, but that doesn’t mean all businesses are wielding the axe.

Unemployment in the UK may be creeping inexorably towards three million, but that doesn’t mean all businesses are wielding the axe.

Simon Marshall, the European managing director for The Marketing Store, has hired a number of senior staff this year. For him, establishing that a candidate has the technical skills is simply ‘the entry level’. Chemistry is everything.

‘The last senior hire we made entailed five interviews. The process basically ensures that during the first couple of interviews the person has the right skill set. After that, we’ll have two or three interviews that may require meeting other members of the management team with whom this person will be working closely,’ says Marshall.

Clarity about the role is also vital for both the candidate and employees within the company. Joel Barnett, founder of recruitment firm Fortune Hill, observes that when hiring top-level staff you have to ‘make sure that the structure of the business is clear’ and that the role that person is undertaking is equally transparent to all concerned. Similarly, John Maxted, the chief executive of HR search and selection agency Digby Morgan, states that responsibilities must be outlined from the start.

For Marshall, that’s standard practice. ‘The first thing is to be really clear about what changes we are trying to drive through the business, and that means being aligned with the business’s objectives,’ he notes, adding that getting the process right starts very much with the job description. ‘Often, it can feel mechanical and clichéd but it has to get to the heart of what the expectations are for this hire. What change are we trying to achieve?’

Some companies use psychometric tests when hiring at senior level, but as Maxted notes, these will only be effective up to a point and certainly won’t reveal everything. For one thing, people react differently to such examinations of character.

Marshall admits to having learnt the hard way before honing the recruitment process at The Marketing Store.

‘The most important thing is getting the team right as well as the job spec filled,’ he states. ‘It’s been my experience that the cultural and chemistry issues have not always been the most important things, but they need to be.’

So if you’ve used the recession to eject some of the dead wood in your business and you have an eye on hiring again, now is the time to think about your needs. ‘There’s definitely talent out there,’ Marshall insists. ‘Good, highly skilled people aren’t sitting still; they’re moving for the same reasons they moved before the recession. They want a new challenge as they need to grow.’

Nick Britton

Lexus Ernser

Nick was the Managing Editor for growthbusiness.co.uk when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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