IR35- a concern for companies as well as candidates.


If you operate in the interim market, you have probably heard talk of IR35 and the impending changes in the new financial year- I wrote a blog on it a year ago, which you can read here.  Judging by the amount of queries I am getting, there is still an overriding feeling of confusion.

Different organisations seem to be taking varying stances on their views as to the extent of the impact on the changes.  The fact of the matter that its not actually IR35 that is changing, but the liability and decision making that has.  But, as with many government policies, there seems to be some grey areas that is creating conflicting opinion.

And that helps no-one.

I am not going to add to that here, by giving a blanket assessment on who it will affect and how it will do so.  My advice is to look at each and every case on an individual basis, go through the “test” (when it is published), answer it honestly, and make the judgement as to whether you fall inside or outside of IR35 from there.  And after that, if you are still unsure, then you probably fall inside.

The main question I have is why is this discussion mainly happening between Service Providers (i.e. agencies) and candidates only.  Most (not all, but a significant majority) of the queries we are receiving are from candidates, but the truth is, it will impact organisations just as much, and actually the onus lies moreso with them than the candidates.  So why aren’t they talking about it?

We are going to be sitting down with all of our client base to make sure they are prepared and understand the implications.

To illustrate the potential impact it could have, last week we met with a large Housing Provider in London who currently have 70 temporary members of staff in various departments throughout the organisation, 40 of which are working through their own limited company.  Of these 40, the client felt that only 3 of those could truly be classed as working outside IR35.

In this example it left them with 37 individuals who were quite possibly paying themselves as if they were working outside of the IR35 regulations, when their working practice would actually suggest that they are caught by IR35. Therefore all 37 are at risk of either needing to change to a PAYE contract, ask for a Fixed Term Contract, change to working through an umbrella arrangement or switch to an inside IR35 contract and be 20% – 30% worse off. This is going to trigger a number of outcomes:

  1. Current temps looking to renegotiate their contracts to take into account the 20-30% drop in take home pay.  Even if the organisation meets them half way, that is still a sizeable increase in the staffing bill.
  2. Candidates will look for roles closer to home where they won’t have to incur additional expenses, leading to significant holes in staffing levels.
  3. Significant time will be spent on last minute negotiating or changing contract terms with current temp base, or taking on the additional burden of responsibility if taking staff on to Fixed Term Contracts.

If not dealt with in a timely manner, this could have a disastrous effect on the organisations’ ability to function- who could lose 37 staff in one go?

So, if you use temporary staff (and it doesn’t have to be significant numbers), I would advise doing some research, or I’m happy to come out and help you assess the impact that it will have on you.  We are lucky in that our Compliance Officer is also a trained solicitor so she has been studying the minutia of the legislation to ensure we aren’t exposing any of our clients or candidates to any risk.  Putting your head in the sand on this one, will only have a detrimental effect on your service delivery (and/or your bank balance!!)

Equally, candidates should start to bring this to their employers attention- last minute negotiations are never great- you may end up getting what YOU want, but the client may resent being forced into a corner and that is never good for future business.  Communication is key and every successful negotiation should result in a win-win for both parties.  As ever, we’ll also be liaising with you to make sure you have the “correct” information, as soon as we have it.


Top 5 Tips to smash your next interview!


Hopefully, you realised that my last post was tongue in cheek- if you missed it, you can read it here-  How to Trump your Jobsearch.  I’m hoping so.  I haven’t received any complaints yet stating that someone tried the “crotch grab” in interview.

But, I’m not all whimsy- I am a serious career recruiter goddammit, and I have gems of wisdom to hurl at your eyes right now!  To cover myself for the last blog, I thought it worth giving my top 5 tips to succeed in your next interview.  Now, this is a well trodden path with swarms of blogs (what is the collective noun for blogs??) giving the basic advice- you can see a couple here and here.  But most people know this, so I want to help you stand out from the rest of the interviewees (whats the collective noun for interviewees- I’d like to suggest a nerves of interviewees).

So my Top 5 Tips to smash your next interview out of the park are:

  1. Be Yourself– It sounds easy, but it is the one people struggle with the most.  But why?  It’s just a conversation at the end of the day.  A conversation which could change the rest of your life, but it’s still just a conversation.  And the best bit, it is a conversation all about you!!!  How great is that?  That is a topic you probably know quite a bit about!  In all seriousness, interviewers want to feel engaged with the interviewee, and if you are too guarded and trying to force the issue too much, that won’t happen.  The fact is that most people will be very formal, very false, and very unhuman. The robots haven’t taken over yet (quite), so interviewers are still looking for PEOPLE with a PERSONALITY and want to get to know the person behind the CV to ensure they will be a good “fit” for their team/department/company.  So stop pretending to be someone or something else.  Relax, be yourself, be natural, and if they don’t like you- you probably wouldn’t have liked working there anyway, so move on to the next interview.
  2. Tell them a story– I obviously don’t mean take in a copy of Each Peach Pear Plum or The Gruffalo’s Child (spot the man with young kids), but create an engaging answer by making it REAL.  When asked a competency question, set the scene, tell them what you had to do and why you needed to do that and what the resultant outcome was.  Try and add emotion to it too to really create a rich picture which interviewers will remember afterwards (this is also called the STAR technique).
  3. Be aware of “what you are packing” – I don’t mean a suitcase, I mean know what you have to offer- what benefit you can bring to the organisation.  Have a think about your strengths, how you have developed and where you are wanting you career to go, and align that with their organisation.
  4. Have a plan and tell them about it– This is a really useful trick for a number of reasons.  Before the interview, do as much prep as you can- find out what they want for this role and where they see it going, where the department is going, and put together a rough plan of what you would do in the first month, first 3 months and first 6 months.  During the interview, ask questions that will help inform your plan and sell the plan back to them.  This not only shows them that you have put real thought in to working there, it also demonstrates your focus and commitment to the role you haven’t even got yet, but even more so, it puts you in the role in their heads.  If they are picturing you in the role, you are already halfway there!  Try it, I promise it works!
  5. Focus on the future– at the end of the interview, there is always an expectation to ask some questions.  When I’m preparing candidates for interview, it’s one of the things I’m asked most-“what questions should I ask”?  The one most people pedal is “Ask them why they work there”, or “Could you see me working here?”  Neither are necessarily bad, but I feel they are becoming a bit too common and bland, and the second one sometimes make interviewers awkward if they don’t actually see you working there.  I suggest asking them about the future of the organisation, but also identify some future challenges that they may have, and what are they doing to overcome it.  For example, in the Social Housing market, you could ask what they are doing regarding the digital agenda, or what are their long term plans after the 4th year of rent cuts- are they preparing for additional cuts etc?  This not only allows you to assess if they have a clear plan for the future (you should be interested in this for your own career) but it generates an interesting dialogue and may even create an opportunity for you to offer your thoughts and how you feel the market is unfolding.  It also shows that you are thinking about working for them in the mid to long term- another attractive trait!

So, I hope you find the above more useful than my Trump blog, and I’d be interested in your feedback on whether the above has worked for you.  If I can ever help you prepare or practice for the above (if you work in Social Housing in the UK), feel free to contact me.



How to “Trump” the job search….

So today has been the day everyone jumps on the Trump bandwagon and everyone has been thinking of what relevant content they can put out there that includes Trump-isms, Trump observations and learns from his rise from rich joke to Leader of the Free world.

Being a recruiter, the theme seems to be around, “Trump becoming President of the USA is the reason why you should go for that job, even if you don’t have the relevant experience”, or “Set your sights high, as you never know how far you can get”.  As well intentioned as they are, (and I do agree to an extent, more so with the second point), its just feels like content crow-barred in to take advantage of the exposure.

So I won’t resort you to any of that………..

Who am I kidding??  But I want to use his example to make some more accurate, insightful and potentially life-changing observations that may just help you secure that next role!?!?!! *

If we are to take any learns from the last 18 long, arduous (but sometimes funny) months, then it’s the following:

  1. When interviewing for a new job, don’t concentrate on what you can bring to the role, that’s a waste of time and effort.  Just attack the other interviewees and even the interviewing panel (consider claiming that they are rapists, fascists etc).  Just follow Donalds example, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” 
  2. When creating your CV, don’t bother relying on facts, just make things up that sound good. Donald shows you how its done, “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud”
  3. Dress code for interviews is still important- might I suggest a suit, open shirt, but topped off with a nice baseball cap?trump-cap
  4. Don’t be afraid of making huge claims of what you can achieve once you get the role, because by the time they realise you can’t deliver on it, you’ll already be in the role and they’re stuck with you and will have to deal with it, or pay you off.  Donald didn’t fully commit to this during his campaign, and avoided too much detail about what he would actually do, well, other than……trump-wall
  5. If interviewing with a member of the opposite sex, don’t think twice about grabbing them in the crotch- they love it….apparently!?!?!


I think its safe to say that everyone will probably take something from that little list, and we’ll see the unemployment rate across the whole world drop by 237% within 3 minutes.  It helps that I know all the best words, I suppose.

The next blog will be equally appropriately themed- I’ll publish it in about a month and will be covering the topic of, “What to do when you realise you have made a hideous hire!”

*N.B. Please take no heed of any of these points- I feel it necessary to state this, as there are people out there who voted for Trump to be POTUS, so it is feasible that some people may follow my advice and (in this case at least), would be very very bad! 😉 

Agency Mal-Practice#4-Throwing muck at a wall


It has been a while since my last exposé of the poor practices that some recruiters engage in, but something happened earlier this week, that compelled me to write this weeks blog about it.

This one is mainly aimed at the candidates out there- so if you are registered with an agency and see the following happening- you may want to reconsider who you are working with.

Earlier this week, one of my clients contacted me about a mid-level interim position to drive through some projects for them- a Head of Service type.  The client had chosen to use me and one other agency.

Later that day, one of the candidates I’d spoken to called me to say that had received an e-mail from another agency about a role which looked the same but wanted to check with me.  It basically had been sent out to their whole database and said,

“We’re recruiting for this role, give us a call if you are interested”.

Having had a chat about it and establishing that it probably was the same role, he then told me that he gets this all the time, but often not with suitable roles.  The candidate is a really strong Head of Service- bags of experience at this level and only looking for something similar.  This is the first such e-mail he had received that was appropriate- the rest have been Housing officers, income officers and even sheltered scheme manager roles!!

They are essentially saying- “we can’t be bothered to put some thought into who is going to meet the criteria for this role- you tell us if you think it’s right for you”.  The funny thing is that their website claims that they offer a “personal” service and make the candidates’ job search, their responsibility….hmmm

Now there is an argument to say that at least they get to consider anything that comes through and it isn’t too intrusive, but it hardly makes you feel like they are out there trying to find YOU a job, does it?!?!?

But that’s not all.

They obviously can’t be bothered to shortlist either.  Anyone that responds (hopefully within reason) seems to get sent through.  They seem to use the basis of, “if you throw enough muck at the wall, some of it will stick”!

I sent over my shortlist of 3 candidates as requested, and the client commented that she’d been inundated by CVs from the other agency.  They had come through in dribs and drabs (as though they had been sent straight over after every call).

Well that’s good isn’t it?  They have given a wide selection to the client and done it as soon as they could.

Hmmm, no.

  1.  You come to people like us as you don’t have the time to find suitable people yourself.  You want people to be assessed against your criteria so you don’t have to spend time sifting through inappropriate CVs- that’s what you pay us for!
  2. If CVs are being sent through sporadically, how can they have been assessed against the people that you have already been sent?
  3. If you are a candidate being sent over- your CV risks being lost in all the others that have been sent and how much will the agency push YOU in particular forward?

Recruiters justify their existence by their “commitment to quality”, their “extensive networks” and their ability to take the stress out of the recruitment process.

My advice?

If they aren’t genuinely committed to finding you a job- sack them off!

If they aren’t taking the burden of the search and sift process from you- sack them off!

So whether you are a candidate or a client- make sure you DEMAND quality, commitment and honesty from your agency!!  Otherwise you risk being some of the muck being flung at the wall!!


Why Recruitment ISN’T a sales job!


I’m going to be honest, when I first got into recruitment I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.  I’d been made redundant from my role as a German Speaking customer service agent and was desperate to find something that would help pay off the student loan.

“Recruitment pays well” said one friend.

“Will I have to speak German anymore?” I questioned

“Nein” he replied (he thinks he is a comedian).

“Sign me up!” and that’s when I started applying.

During my interview process at my previous company, I had 3 interviews, all of which pushed me on the fact that recruitment is a sales job, do I have the tenacity, am I prepared for the long hours, can I negotiate the deals etc?  I was more than confident I could do the job, even though I never thought I was a salesman.

In the second interview, the cliché was put to me.  “Can you sell me this pen?” (remember, this was 14 years ago now)


I fell in to the usual trap and started extolling my perception of its virtues, rather than information gathering first.  Luckily they were desperate, and so didn’t eject me from the process and eventually appointed me.

Now, 14 years on, I still don’t think I’m a salesman.  I don’t see myself standing out on a metaphorical forecourt, trying to persuade people to buy something that they’re not sure they want, just because I have sales targets to hit.

My role does involve making sales, but that is a by-product of my role as I see it.  My role is a relationship development role- building understanding and trust with my clients and candidates, so that they can entrust me to either find them the RIGHT role, or the RIGHT candidate, rather than just any old role or candidate that suits me.

My best clients used to be my candidates, and often when many of my clients decide to move on or face redundancy, they will seek my advice or assistance.  If I treated my role as a pure sales role, I’d be approaching my role as a more transactional process(usually the one that will make me the most money!)  Do you think those clients and candidates would remember me and bring me future business?

The problem is that many recruiters out there do still see it as a sales role and are peddling their wares on that basis.  Using their candidates like a commodity rather than people on a career path.  Clients will receive relentless approaches from numerous agencies (often from a different consultant each time), pushing forward a faceless candidate who could be anyone, rather than discussing a personality with ambitions and aspirations!

So, if you just look at recruitment as a pure transactional sales role, go for it!  You’ll make money, certainly in the short term- the more muck you throw at the wall, the more will stick.

But, if you want longevity, repeat business and more importantly job satisfaction- remember that your job involves people, not products.  Get to know your customers-clients and candidates- give them your time and interest.  Develop the relationship.  Develop understanding.  Develop Trust.  Then the sales will come …

Know your audience…and where to find them!

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet for the past few weeks (or equally, you probably didn’t).  However I know a couple of you did (thanks Steve and Sue for checking where the next blog was..!;)

I have been away on my first 2 week holiday in I don’t remember how many years and it was lovely.  Admittedly, I had to keep checking in on work but that’s what happens when you are running part of a business.


We went to Turkey.  We often go as we have friends over there, and I would definitely recommend it, despite the bad press it has at the moment.  It was as wonderful, friendly, hot and enjoyable as it always is.  Nothing has changed.

Except one thing.

It was quiet.

Really quiet actually.  Apparently, tourism is down by 40% this year.  And it’s not looking much better for next year!

Now, I’m not emailing to brag about having been on holiday, but some of the behaviours over there got me thinking about my clients (I love you all that much!).

Tourism is down and all the restauranteurs, boat owners, sea sports owners are all down about it.  They complain about how tough it is at the moment- they rely on the summer season to earn money for the rest of the year.  So what are they doing DIFFERENTLY to overcome this issue?


Well, not nothing exactly.  They are doing what they have always done- which is try and tempt people in from the streets, use holiday reps to bring them business etc.  But that’s not going to increase their business, as that’s not really their problem.  They need to get people to their country in the first place!

And it’s the same as many of my clients.  When I ask them how they are recruiting their next role, they’ll often say they are advertising on their own website, local press or putting it in Inside Housing (other Housing publications are available).  And then when I ask what type of person they are hoping to find, the answer is often,

“oh, we want someone a bit different, someone who is a little more commercial, who can bring some fresh ideas and challenge how we currently operate”.

But you’re advertising for that in the same way you always do?

I have just worked with a Housing Association who had created a brand new role, unique to many Housing Associations to help them adapt to this new environment we find ourselves in.  They had advertised themselves in their usual routes and had a disappointing response.


So I met with them and we looked at what they wanted to achieve and tracked back from there.  What we did was actually a targeted Linkedin campaign, approaching people from an entirely different industry, but one that would bring in the right ideas, behaviours and processes.  We ran a targeted Twitter campaign.  We also attended a couple of networking events in the area aimed at private sector companies to find some referrals.  Within 3 weeks, we’d had a really great shortlist of 4 people, all of whom were appointable, so they were spoilt for choice!

So when you are recruiting, think about the following:

  • What does our ideal candidate look like (experience, background)?
  • Where would that person look for work? Also, where does that person go/what do they read/how do they communicate or interact?
  • How can we access that? And how do we need to present ourselves to attract them?


Don’t just do the same old, same old.  There are so many options out there now- use all of them at different times, as long as they are the right ones, for the right audience.

I’d be interested in hearing of any similar experiences, especially any success stories of what worked for you, as it could help me find solutions for other clients in the future!

Should you be using Facebook for your next hire?


I know this may repel a number of you, but bear with me on this, as the numbers make for interesting reading.

One of the biggest issues people talk to me about at the moment is the struggle to attract new talent into their organisations…..and then they pop ANOTHER advert out in the local press.  Its almost become clichéd, but if you do the same thing, you’ll get the same output…or lack of it.

Consider this.

If I told you that you could access a potential 1.5billion people, who will be checking the platform where your job is advert is placed roughly every 7 minutes, would you consider it?  Probably not actually- could you sift through that number of applications???

What about if I told you that you could narrow that pool of potential talent down to location, profession, interests and other demographics?  Then it becomes more appealing.

And then if you add to that the fact that you only pay if someone shows interest and clicks on your advert, then it makes even more sense right?

According to Mashable, 52% of jobseekers used Facebook to search for work in 2012, and a Work4 survey found that 81% of jobseekers want to see vacancies posted to Facebook.  So why aren’t more people giving them what they want?

You are accessing a targeted, attentive pool of talent and only paying for the responses that you get.  And you are fishing in a pool that many of your competitors are ignoring!

Check out the Facebook graph search explanation here,