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How to improve your recruitment strategy and safeguard against mis-hires

Posted on: 09 Aug 2019, admin

We’re back again with our mini-series on mis-hires. If you missed our first blog on ‘The challenges of mis-hires in the workplace’ then click here. Our blog series aims to shed light upon the problems surrounding poor hires, while providing helpful, constructive advice to businesses facing recruitment challenges today.  This time, our Managing Director, Nick Peacock, shares his top tips on how companies and agencies can improve their own recruitment strategies and safeguard against mis-hires. It’s much easier than you think! How do businesses ensure they are hiring suitable candidates?  Placements whereby candidates have remained in their roles for over 6 months are considered successful. Based on this, we [Ascendant Recruitment] have successfully placed 95% of our employees.  Our secret? We speak to our clients and really try to understand exactly who it is they’re looking for and what they want the new hire to bring to the table. Agencies shouldn’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions, such as why the company’s last employee didn’t work out and what their expectations are as an employer.  Employers should always be looking to improve their recruitment strategy, and should put aside plenty of time to sift through CVs and create interview questions that test the candidate’s competencies and suitability for the role. Set clear expectations and consider implementing a trial period.  Candidates too, have a part to play here. They should be honest about their experience and address any skill-gaps that require training or support at the interview stage. Employers value honesty and if the candidate highlights areas that require support, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide the necessary training. What is the key to staff retention? It’s simple really: employees want to be recognised for their hard work, commitment and achievements in the workplace. Tokens of gratitude – whether financial or verbal – really do make all the difference to the general attitude on both an individual and organisational level.   Employers need to recognise that their staff’s mind-set and happiness are an integral part to the success of the business.  So what does this look like in practice? Managers should offer regular 1-2-1’s with their team members, as this gives employees the opportunity to voice concerns, issues or any challenges they are facing.  Employees like to have a career trajectory in mind. Establish goals and dates for when these goals can be met, and be clear as to what their rewards will be, such as promotion, greater responsibility, pay rise etc. Accountability is key. If employees are simply going through the motions, chances are they will get bored and feel demotivated and this will impact their productivity levels too.  Other benefits employers may consider include: flexible working conditions, bonuses, team away days and allowing employees greater responsibility and ownership of projects.  Read our blog post on ‘Six Ways to Keep Employees Happy and Motivated’ for tips on how to achieve and sustain a happy workforce. Can you offer advice to businesses with staffing issues?  In fast-paced environments, companies fall into the trap of hiring ill-equipped candidates. They then put up with poor performance due to lack of time and an increasing workload. It’s a vicious cycle, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  Companies should always be on the lookout for potential candidates and create a talent pool for future hires, as long as it complies with the recent GDPR. Allow for a lengthier recruitment process – plan ahead and start early to avoid making poor decisions.  What can recruitment agencies do to counter mis-hires?  Be thorough and ask the right questions. Find out who the company’s best employee is and why. Only then can you understand where a company places value when it comes to personality traits, skills and competencies.  Understand both the desirable and undesirable aspects of the role as well as the organisation’s culture. I encourage my own employees to spend a morning shadowing the role they’re advertising – this improves their understanding and better-equips them to answer any questions.    How can recruiters improve their hiring strategy? A staggering 85 per cent of HR decision-makers admit their organisation has made a bad hire, and four in ten employers believe that the recruitment strategy should be improved,  including the way interviews and assessments are facilitated. To avoid this, companies should focus on creating a sustainable talent acquisition strategy using fail-safe methods such as referencing and employee referrals, combined with innovative approaches such as programmatic advertising (a new method where automated job ads target suitable candidate profiles).  How often should employers be looking for fresh talent? Managers should aim to meet at least one talent a month. That way they’re in-tune with the marketplace and have a realistic view of the standard within their industry. In turn, this will help them identify any existing employees that are underachieving.  If employers have a fresh talent pool they’re less likely to ‘put up with’ inefficient and disengaged staff. Too many managers make do because they think it’s better to have someone working at 40% than starting the painful process of recruiting.  However an A-rate candidate can outperform a C-rate candidate by 40%. So, for a small fee we [Ascendant Recruitment] can increase departmental productivity by 60%. Let us go and replicate your stars for you! Read our blog post on ‘The Ascendant Recruitment Process: Meeting Every Candidate’ and learn all about our own tried-and-tested recruitment strategy.


Employers: Four Things to Keep in Mind When Employing Staff

Posted on: 29 Jul 2019, admin

At Ascendant Recruitment we care about the whole recruiting process, it’s important to us that we focus our energy on both our job seeker and our client (the employer). So, what should you be thinking about as an employer when employing new staff? Well, Glassdoor recently looked at the top UK recruiting statistics and here are a few of the important findings you need to know!  Attracting passive candidates is challengingGlassdoor found that 75% of hiring managers said that passive candidates (people not actively looking) are difficult to attract - they’re more likely to respond at a much lower rate. Employers should keep this in mind as they draw up their recruiting strategies. At Ascendant Recruitment we’ve found that the most sought after candidates are very often those who aren’t actively looking for work. However, we also know that many of these passive candidates may be happy to move if the opportunity is good enough. Before accepting an offer, job-seekers consider salary, location/commute, work-life balance, benefits and career opportunities As an employer, you want to make sure you’re attracting the best candidates. Ask yourself these questions: are you giving a fair salary for the role? Are you considering their travel time? What’s the work-life balance culture like in your company? What are the benefits available? And is there good career progression in the role? By considering these factors you are increasing the chances of your job adverts reaching the right candidate(s). Your online reviews are very importantGlassdoor’s study revealed that 4 in 5 job seekers research company’s online reviews and rating before applying for a job. What does this mean for you? Have you checked what your online presence is like? If you’re in the process of employing make sure you’ve checked what’s been said about you online.  If it’s not the best, have a look at your organisation and look at the way you’re changing it. Your reputation as a whole is important84% of job seekers say that a company’s reputation is vital when it comes to deciding to apply for a job. How are you looking on social media, do you have an active presence? If you’re not on social media, try putting your company’s achievements in a place which is very visible to those visiting your website. We hope this has helped you to learn more about the key things job seekers are looking for when searching for a new role.  We wrote a blog with more general things to consider when employing staff, so check that out too!

How an agency can help your business

Posted on: 22 Jul 2019, admin

There are over 35,000 Recruitment agencies in the UK. What’s our purpose? How can we help your business grow and see it become the success you’ve envisioned? There are many benefits to using a recruitment agency and here are just a few of them: Saves time Say goodbye to the hours spent on writing job descriptions, hauling through countless CV’s and interviewing candidates who aren’t the right fit for your company. Working with a good agency will save you time on all of this, meaning that you can focus your energy and resources into other important issues.  Extended Talent Reach You’ll often find that the best candidates for roles are those who haven’t advertised themselves on job boards. However, recruitment agencies are able to reach these candidates. This broadens your selection pool and increases the chances of finding the right person for your company.  Industry Knowledge Recruitment agencies are experts on people and a good recruiter knows the perfect candidate when they see one. Agencies will often keep up-to-date with job market trends within particular industries to ensure that their hiring strategies match what’s going on in the world. So you can be rest-assured that we are doing the proper groundwork to give you the best candidates.  Quick and Efficient As recruitment agencies solely focuses on recruitment, we’re able to act quickly on new information. For example, a potential employee may want more information on a role you’re advertising. As a company,  you may not be able to respond to the candidate as quickly as we can. In a more serious example, a candidate may decline a job offer a day before his/her start date. Without an agency, the company would have to begin the recruitment process all over again, however,  with an agency, we are able to quickly solve that problem.  So now you know the benefits of using an agency, we’ve got some more tips from Ascendant Recruitment’s managing director Nick Peacock, about what to look for from an agency: “Ask the agency about their processes. It’s important you have a clear understanding of how the agency functions on the day-to-day. Do your research. Find out who their main clients are. If they work with influential companies or competitors, chances are they have highly-skilled candidates you could hire. You can also request references and testimonials – and check their social media to gauge how active and ‘present’ they are across various channels and platforms.” If you’d like to find out more on choosing the right agency for your business check out the blog we wrote on this!  To discuss your recruitment needs with one of our experienced consultants, please get in touch with our team on or call our Milton Keynes on 01908 200270 or Northampton office on 01604 439380. 

The challenges of mis-hires in the workplace

Posted on: 18 Jul 2019, admin

Little is said about the cost of mis-hires for companies, but the truth is, placing ineffective candidates can be incredibly disruptive and have financial repercussions too.  Inspired by this article on mis-hires for executive-level roles, we thought we’d create a blog series sharing our thoughts on the subject, and offer advice based on attempts to better manage our own recruitment process.  To start the series off, we spoke to Managing Director, Nick Peacock, about the challenges and implications of mis-hires in the workplace. It turns out, they’re much more common than you’d think!  Are mis-hires really that common? Sadly, mis-hires are very common. According to this report by REC (2017), hiring mistakes are costing UK businesses billions of pounds each year. Two out of five roles are deemed as a mis-hire, a shocking figure that highlights the severity of the situation.  Why do mis-hires happen in the first place? Something that is incredibly common is fast-track hiring where businesses rapidly fill roles to address high-employee turnover. This can result in long-term damage, as the employee requires management-level support and is unable to work independently. It can lead to hand-holding, put team players under stress and impact overall staff morale.   What are the financial ramifications?   The financial repercussions of poor recruitment decisions are often exorbitant and include money wasted on training, increased staff turnover and lost productivity among the workforce.  Are there any typical ‘red flags’ businesses can look out for?  Half of the battle is knowing the difference between an employee that needs support and training (to address a skill gap), compared with an employee that isn’t fit for the role.  Here are some key signs employers can look out for: Productivity – Are deadlines and key milestones are being met?Team player – Ask other members of the team how the new hire is getting on and whether they are a good fit. Initiative – Does the new hire require considerable handholding? If so, this demonstrates a lack of confidence and ability. It can become stressful for the colleague offering support and impact their performance. Engagement – Is the new hire demonstrating a realistic and expected level of enthusiasm and interest in the work? This will be obvious in meetings, 1-2-1’s and collaborative projects. Do you have any experiences of bad hires?  Yes, too many to mention, because I’m open to giving people a chance. Sometimes clients give us a very small window to fill a role with, which adds pressure and means we have to act fast. Subsequently our selection process can suffer and the quality of candidates might not be as high. I have a strict criteria and timescale – if people don’t meet these benchmarks, they leave! Do temporary contracts reduce the risk of a mis-hire?  Recruiters can opt for the ‘try before you buy’ approach and offer a temporary contract before agreeing to a long-term arrangement. We’d recommend a minimum of 3–6 months which is the standard probation period, to allow enough time for the new employee to settle in and demonstrate their abilities.  One month in, employers and managers should consider the following questions: Can the new hire can deliver the skills promised at the interview?Do they have good time-keeping and attendance?Can they meet deadlines and manage their own time and workload accordingly?Do they fit in with the organisation’s culture, environment and ethics?  Companies should request references from previous employers – this should be a given with the exception of graduates or inexperienced candidates who are interviewing for their first role.   Watch this space: our next blog post in the series is on ‘How to improve your recruitment strategy and safeguard against mis-hires’ – coming soon! 


Let’s talk about Disability Awareness Day

Posted on: 15 Jul 2019, admin

We often talk about recruitment issues in our blog and tie them into a ‘national day.’ And there seems to be a national day for just about everything. But this particular day - Disability Awareness Day - is one that’s particularly close to my heart and for a very good reason. I have a team of 20 staff working across both offices of Ascendant Recruitment and one day in 2015 the life of one of my consultants was changed forever. Izzy, whilst travelling back from holiday, was involved in a collision on the motorway. Whilst lucky to be alive, she was paralyzed from the waist down.  I can’t explain my feelings when I went to see Izzy in hospital for the first time. However, I decided there and then that no matter what she needed from us, we’d do it, because giving her a sense of normality from a work perspective, was the only practical thing we could do to aid her recovery and show how much we cared. I want to use this blog to raise awareness of disability in the workplace. Since Izzy’s accident, we’ve made adaptations to her workplace so that she could come back to her old job when she was ready and I hope that my experiences might help another employer who is going through the same thing.   But more important than any physical changes, the most important changes we made were in our mindsets.  Aided in no short part by Izzy’s incredible powers of resilience, determination and sunny disposition we have all become far more flexible about how we can get our job done in different ways; whilst still delivering a great service to our candidates and clients.  Changes have included Izzy completing far more skype interviews, working totally flexible hours and completing a lot of her duties from home. Overall we can summarize our changes: EnvironmentLuckily we were in a ground floor office with a ramp outside and toilet facilities, so that was a helpful start.  When she was ready to come back, we worked with the necessary people to look at how we could set up her workspace and equipment to make work as comfortable as possible.“Flexible” Phased ReturnIzzy had been away for an extended period and it wasn’t possible for her to come back to work full time straight away, so we arranged for her to come back on a phased return.  The key thing to the phased return was quickly getting an appreciation that this wouldn't happen in a neat straight line because (we’ve learned) that physical recovery (no matter how hard the person works and Izzy is more tenacious than anyone you’ll meet!) doesn’t happen in neat little spurts.  Our flexible phased return - with no pressure or expectations - we think has taken the pressure off Izzy and allowed her to put all her efforts where they need to be, getting better.Support for Mental HealthI am in awe of Izzy’s mental strength.  I was terrified when I saw her lying in her bed the morning after her accident.  Over the last 4 years, there are many times that I have asked myself if I could have coped?  Izzy has done more than cope, she has thrived. I know that understandably she’s faced many dark days, but I have NEVER ONCE HEARD HER MOAN or show one ounce of self-pity.  Without doubt, watching Izzy over the last 4 years, I have learned more about being mentally strong than I had in the previous 41 years of my life. Time off for appointmentsWhat has shocked me most was that the biggest issue for Izzy now is not her lack of mobility, but the ongoing health conditions that she has as a result of her accident. Izzy is currently off to have an operation which will take her away from her job for a number of months. Luckily, we have a great team here at Ascendant Recruitment, so her work is being covered by the team - we are all pulling together while she is away.Support for colleaguesIzzy was helped by the fact that she was already about the most popular member of our team in 2015 so there was no shortage of offers of help!  But it goes without saying that genuine support from colleagues provides an essential part in speeding up her return to work.  With my background in recruitment, I thought I knew a lot about the law around disability -  however it is really quite complex and involved. I found a number of these resources useful: This guide from the government outlines what your responsibilities are if you are employed and become disabled. There is help from a great scheme called Access to Work which can provide financial support for things like adaptations to the workplace and help getting to and from work.If you are an employer and need to make adaptations for a member of your team, I’d recommend you talk to the specific bodies appertaining to the disability your employee is facing.  In our case, The Spinal Injuries Association have provided Izzy with invaluable support. Back to Disability Awareness Day. This is a great initiative (based in the North of England), however, I really liked the ethos behind it.  Founder Dave Thompson wanted to set up an event with a small amount of money in his budget that showed people with disabilities the options that were available to them to live an independent life.  Back in 1992 when this was just an idea, Dave and his team were told that it would never work because businesses wouldn’t want to support this initiative and because ‘disabled people would be too poorly’ to go to an event. I’m so pleased that some of these issues have been challenged almost 30 years later and that an event such as Disability Awareness Day is showing the world what’s possible.

Entering the job market

Posted on: 08 Jul 2019, admin

Whether you’re re-entering the job market or just beginning your search, job hunting can be daunting for all of us. In this week’s blog, we wanted to give you some tips on how you can confidently take that dive into the job market, regardless of what stage you’re at!  Redundancy  Believe it or not, there’s life after redundancy. Being made redundant can be devastating, but if you use the time wisely, it can also be an opportunity for re-evaluation. Perhaps you weren’t so happy in the industry you were in, now’s the time to really explore your interests. This will help you in your job search as the more specific and passionate you are about particular roles, the more excited you’ll be to apply, which will boost your motivation. TIP: If you realise you want a job within a sector you have zero experience in, find online courses and relevant voluntary roles while you aren’t working. The returning traveller Beginning the process of sitting down and applying for jobs can be a huge lifestyle change if you’ve been away for a long time. If you were constantly on the go and exploring earth’s wonders while you were away, you probably didn’t have much time to prepare or even think about the job-hunting process.  So, where do you begin? Update your CV and if you did some voluntary work, shout about it - employers love this. Next, bring yourself up-to-date with all the relevant industry news as this will help you feel at ease and confident as you enter the job market.  A change in careerSo, you’re experienced in your field and you’ve just realised that you’d like a change in your career. You’ve had a skim through your CV and noticed that you have no experience in the sector you’d like to enter. In this case, we’d suggest volunteering as it’s a great way to gain experience in specific industries. Check out the blog we wrote on this recently! By volunteering, you’re giving yourself a good footing into the job market. You’ll also have transferable skills that you’ve gained from your current and previous jobs - remember to put those on to your CV too!  Maternity Leave Returning to the job market after maternity leave can be extremely daunting. However, the key thing to remember is that you had skills before you left your job and they are still valid. But, be prepared for what’s changed. Spend some time looking for free training courses online so you can bring yourself to speed with what’s changed in your industry - you can also add these courses to your CV.  Think about any transferable skills you’ve gained in your previous jobs and during your maternity, this can also be added to your CV and potentially help you stand out. Graduates As a new graduate, you’ll have done several essays and projects during your studies and you can show these to employers. We recently wrote a blog about job-hunting as a graduate and  it’s worth checking that out for more in-depth information on entering the job market.  School Leavers This time of your life can be both exciting and scary. If possible, get as much experience as you can, you’re still figuring yourself out, anything you do will work towards building your CV and increasing your employability.  Make sure to get a reference from a teacher, this is important as all jobs - even some voluntary roles will require a character reference.  Temporary work Undoubtedly, most people in this ever-changing world aim for the security of a permanent role.  However, the reality is that nothing is truly permanent. So, at this crossroads keep your mind open to the idea of temporary work.  No longer does this type of work have the image that it once had. Previously some less informed people thought that only people not capable of gaining permanent work completed temporary work.  In 2018 the temporary recruitment industry grew again to £35.7 billion in part due to the increasing use of temporary workers to fulfil permanent roles - many employers now use this method (temporary to permanent) as their chosen method of acquiring new talent.  Even if your temporary role does not lead to a permanent role, it’s a great way to improve your skills, network, and earn money whilst looking for your ideal permanent position. We hope this has helped, remember at Ascendant Recruitment we’re always available to help you in your search. Contact either our Milton Keynes or Northampton branch if you need any help with getting back into the job market.

Five Advantages to Temping

Posted on: 25 Jun 2019, admin

A lot of people are reluctant to take on a temporary role, but we think there are lots of advantages to this type of work. As we see a huge increase in new jobs, companies are wary to take on permanent roles so offering temporary contracts is a great solution! If you’re someone who hasn’t considered temping as an option, it is worth keeping in mind! Here are five advantages of temporary work:   It can lead to a permanent job Very often, opportunities are recruited for on a temporary to permanent basis. This means that providing you impress your employer; you stand a very good chance of making the role permanent. Even if you were to take a permanent role, you would most likely have a 3-month probationary period (at least!) so whichever type of role you take you will be expected to prove yourself for the company to employ you on a long-term basis.  It can open up new doors Even if the role you’re in is just a short-term assignment with no possibility of becoming permanent, having your foot in the door can open up other opportunities within the company. If you have impressed an employer (whilst temping), who are they going to think of if and when a permanent role arises? It is an opportunity to prove yourself It’s competitive out there and the more evidence of your greatness, the better! We have often placed candidates in permanent roles with a company that started as temporary with us for another company - we are proud that 6/10 of our temporary staff are taken on permanently by their employer. When you temp for us and our client gives us great feedback about you, it puts you at the forefront of our mind to recommend you to our colleagues and clients for suitable permanent opportunities.  Flexibility  In a temporary role, you are in control of your career and jobs. If you complete your three-month temporary contract and now want to move elsewhere, you can! It would be a very different situation in a permanent role, where you would have to give notice.  It is a great way to build your experience If you’re in the early stages of your career, it can be challenging to get your foot in the door and build your commercial experience. Also, you may not be sure of what kind of company culture is going to be right for you – will you be more suited to a large corporate company or a smaller employer? Temping is a great way to find out what you do want – and what you don’t!  We’d love to help you with your job search, whether you’re looking for temporary or permanent roles. Ascendant Recruitment can find the right fit for you! Check out our latest vacancies to find out more! 

Grad Job-Hunting – Where do I begin?!

Posted on: 20 Jun 2019, admin

You’ve made it! You sat the exams, waved goodbye to the all-nighters and now you’re about to delve into the depths of graduate job-hunting. Sometimes looking for that first jobs can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. We get it, and not only do we want to help you find a job, we also want to give you a guide on how to start looking. Check out a blog post we wrote all about this! 

Men’s Health Week – How to stay healthy in the office

Posted on: 10 Jun 2019, admin

This year’s theme for Men’s Health Week is “By Numbers.” Each year the Men’s Health Network campaign to highlight health issues that specifically affect men. It’s often said that “Health is Wealth” and with the average man spending over 40 hours at work each week, we thought it’d be a good idea to give you guys five tips on how you can stay healthy in the office.  (And although these tips are aimed at men for Men's Health Week, they are all actually good practices for both men and women!) Walk to work If it’s possible, why not walk to work? There are so many benefits to walking only 30-minutes a day. It increases the health of your heart, enhances muscle power and endurance, reduces excess body fat and so much more! We understand that this may not always be possible but when you can, walk!   Have a meeting on the move  This is ties in with our first tip on walking, you don’t have to only walk 30 minutes a day why not get those steps whilst you’re in a meeting. Do you have a phone call meeting? Why not do it on the move. (However, we advise that you do go somewhere quiet)  Stretch Did you know that stretching can reduce workplace stress? Frequent stretching keeps your muscles and tissues working just as they should! This can help improve your mental capabilities throughout the day, leaving you less tired, stressed and keeping you working hard! Say no to sugary snacks and candy  This may be difficult for our sweet-toothed guys out there. Though they may seem like a quick fix to those rumbles, they don’t do anything for you in the long-run. They are digested quickly, leaving you on a rollercoaster of sugar highs and lows. Instead, bring in some healthier snacks in from home or better yet, the healthy left over from dinner the night before.  Drink water Drinking water at work is very important – fun fact: there’s actually a law in place that states that employers must provide drinking water! Drinking water will help you fight off those sugary cravings and leave you feeling hydrated. If you’d like some extra flavour try putting in some fruits - you’ll be extra nutrients too!   We understand that it isn’t always easy to keep healthy in any setting however, it’s important that you do. We hope that this has inspired you to be a little healthier at work. If you’d like some more health tips, we’ve written a blog on the effects of stress in the workplace and you can combat it, check it out.  

Why it’s good to get volunteering experience

Posted on: 07 Jun 2019, admin

This week it’s Volunteers' Week – an opportunity to say thank you to all the wonderful people across the UK who give up their free time to help others.   Though we do not offer volunteering roles at Ascendant Recruitment, we do think it's a great way to help you grow and develop in your career journey. There are so many personal and professional benefits to volunteering, here's our top five!   Gives you valuable skills & experience  Volunteering can provide you with the transferable skills companies look for in their employees. For example, a structured volunteer programme can expose you to the real-life running of the working environment such as communication, line management, teamwork and using your initiative. As long as you’re honest, show your commitment and dedication, volunteering can be a great platform to further your career! Meet new people  Volunteering is diverse; you can come across a mix of people who vary in age, culture, and background. Meeting new people is a great way to broaden your outlook on the world which will help you in the workplace, where the ability to work in a team with a range of people is key.    Boosts your employability The resume coach says that employers look favourably on applicants who have volunteering experience. It demonstrates determination, empathy and drive – all skills employers love! So, if you’re in-between work, a student looking for some extra cash or a fresh graduate looking for a job, volunteering can give you that something extra and help you stand out.   You can get qualifications from volunteering  Students – if you’re still in school, college or university make sure you check out what certificates and awards are available for volunteering. Often times they offer some form of scheme or programme to encourage students to volunteer as they know how important it is.   It allows you to take risks You want to enter a sector you have 0 experience in, how’d you start? Volunteer! There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities, from sports coaching, fundraising and telesales. Volunteering can give you a taste of the industry you’d like to go into and help you improve the skills you want to develop. Online services such as  can help you find the right opportunity for you!  If you'd like to speak to our team about your CV then please send it into and we can help you to find your dream job!