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Supporting Local Businesses – reasons to #LoveMK

Posted on: 01 Jun 2018, admin

We were planning to talk about Local Business Week, which ran from 18th–24th May, but what with the frenzied emails and general panic about GDPR, we thought we'd hold back and share our thoughts when everyone's inbox has calmed down a bit! Since opening our doors in 2003, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with some fantastic businesses; another reason (if you need one) to #LoveMK. As a local business, we use any opportunity to spread the word about business in Milton Keynes. It’s our mission to help local business thrive by supporting them with developing a robust recruitment strategy. There are a number of reasons Ascendant Recruitment decided to establish itself in Milton Keynes. Firstly, it’s a large town built with careful planning and solid infrastructure. The various districts are easily accessible making it commuter-friendly, and it’s in close proximity to Northampton and Oxford, where our many of our clients are based. A whole host of corporate brands have their head offices here as it’s financially feasible compared to sprawling cities such as London and Birmingham. It’s technologically advanced, and certainly appeals to a number of weary city-dwellers and young professionals who are looking to create a family of their own. Since we started out 15 years ago, we’ve seen a number of changes here in MK. The business landscape has changed dramatically, as we see independent coffee shops, start-ups and small businesses grow and flourish. Fortunately, the concept of ‘local’ has become extremely fashionable, which means there’s greater need for supply and demand. We are proud to work with a number of local dynamic companies who seek unique individuals to help their team and business succeed. Over 96% of our candidates remain in-post beyond their probationary period, which is testament to our team of passionate and conscientious recruiters. Our list of long-term clients includes the esteemed local business, Rightmove, the UK’s largest online property website. Here at Ascendant Recruitment we’re excited to see the landscape of Milton Keynes change shape as we continue to do what we do best: supply quality candidates to local businesses. We’d love to hear about your favourite local businesses and the reasons you #LoveMK. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and feel free to tweet, share and like this post. More soon!


Mental Health in the workplace – don’t suffer in silence!

Posted on: 15 May 2018, admin

We wanted to focus this week’s blog on Mental Health Awareness Week – the theme for 2018 is something that can affect us all – stress! The week runs from 14-20 May and I’m sure you’ll find lots of information available on social media, but we wanted to add in some useful hints and tips related to job hunting and work in general.  Gemma Jones, the driving force behind our very busy Milton Keynes temporary division is hosting the blog and shares some of her thoughts about stress and mental health in the workplace and tells you about some of her top hints and tips to keep her stress levels at bay! “I’m really lucky that I really enjoy my job – I’ve got a really supportive team and we work well together. But, saying that, recruitment is one of THE most stressful industries; it’s very fast paced, especially when you’re recruiting temporary workers because the clients need staff and they need them NOW.  I really thrive on the buzz, but I do need to make sure I manage my stress levels as it’s so important for your overall wellbeing. I feel very strongly about employers understanding and recognising stress in the workplace.  In a 2016/17 survey by the Health & Safety Executive, it was reported that 12.5 million working days were lost due to stress, depression and anxiety.  Of this number, each person suffering took off an average of 23.8 days.  This is a huge number and I strongly believe that many of these days lost could be avoided if employers either don’t know how to help their staff or don’t want to.  There is a useful page on the Mental Health Foundation’s website that gives employers some hints and tips about how to manage work life balance to support positive mental health. For me, the most important thing to do is to have somewhere people can be signposted to for advice if they are struggling and a culture where people talk openly about mental health and stress in particular.  There is a lot being done to raise awareness of mental health issues and stress and it’s great that people are talking about it more openly, however there’s still a lot of people suffering and it’s resulting in loads of days off and an impact on people’s general health and wellbeing. No matter the stress you’re feeling, please take time out and try your best to put things in perspective. Secondly, seek support from someone within your company that can help remedy the things that are contributing to your work stress.  Check your contract of employment or employee handbook to find out who can help you, or speak to your HR team in confidence if you need some support. The charity MIND has a branch that works across Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Luton. They offer support and training for companies in the local area and I think that this is really encouraging. If you think you might need to train your staff and managers about how to spot the signs of stress in the workplace and put some measures in place to reduce this, then please check out their site here.  If you’re an individual and need some help with your mental health and wellbeing, please check out the services on offer for people here.  If you’re based in Northamptonshire, the branch that covers the area can be found here. The things that help me to de-stress are my cat Lola (pictured). You can find out more about the benefits of pets on mental health and wellbeing on this post.  I also really enjoy exercise, which is widely known to help reduce the stress levels – so you’ll often find me at a Spin class or boxing to take out the day’s frustrations.  This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I also like to tidy up and clear out things that I’m not using any more. Holding on to things I don’t need any more is a ‘clutter’ that I don’t need – both physically and mentally.  But my biggest piece of advice is to try different things – you might be surprised by what helps you to destress and unwind.” If you’re struggling with stress in the workplace, please don’t suffer in silence and try to get some help. If you want to discuss your career options, please give the Ascendant Recruitment team a call on 01908 200270 for our MK office or 01604 439380 for Northampton.


Making the impossible…possible

Posted on: 04 May 2018, admin

This is the last in this series of blog posts about flexible working, having previously shared Sharan and Sue’s stories.  We want to share some practical hints and tips so that if you’re in a position and hoping to alter your hours to work flexibly, you’ve got some resources to access to help you prepare. There’s some useful resources on the government’s flexible working web pages and that’s a great place to start. If you’ve been in a role for over 26 weeks, then you are entitled to put a request forward for your employer.  The website explains the steps you should take and what the employers’ responsibility is. There are lots of ways you can request flexible working, including: Job sharing Working from home Part time hours Compressed hours Use of flexi time Annualised hours – a certain number of hours spread over the year Different start and finish times to other employees Phased retirement If you prepare your case properly and do your research, your employer will need a solid business reason as to why they cannot uphold your request for flexible working.  If you take a look at this page on the government’s website, you’ll find out more about how you can make a request and how an employer should respond to it. Throughout this series of blog posts, we’ve featured some of our staff and this time, we’re sharing Anna’s story.  Anna is one of our consultants working in the permanent placements team.  Anna is mum to Zachary who’s 4 and Mia who is 3. “Nick really did make the impossible seem possible when he approached me about a role at Ascendant Recruitment.  I had my children quite close together and then spent over 2 years as a stay at home mum. Like many women, I found that life with children wasn’t all coffee shops and play dates, but isolating, not mentally stimulating and sometimes thankless!  I was also concerned about having too long a gap away from the workplace – it would have affected my employability and my confidence. Initially, it was difficult trying to learn the ropes in a new organisation, but the team are really supportive and understanding.  We communicate well and have great systems in place to make sure we can respond to clients and candidates. I often take my laptop home and screen CV’s and call candidates once the kids are in bed. From a candidate perspective, it’s better for them that I can speak to them when they aren’t at work – so flexible working can be a real benefit in recruitment. There are times when I must adjust my work to fit around my family, but I’m never made to feel guilty and the team know I put the hours in – just not always in core office hours.  I think a lot of employers should consider offering flexibility as they’re missing out on great people otherwise.” If you would like advice about how to approach your employer to discuss flexible working or want to find out more about the flexible roles that we have available through Ascendant Recruitment, please get in touch on


Flexible working shouldn’t be about ‘luck’

Posted on: 02 May 2018, admin

We’re running a series of blog posts featuring some of our own working parents from Ascendant Recruitment. On Monday, we heard from Sharan who talked about her experience of working part time, full time and her time as a stay at home mum. Next, we focus on our HR Recruitment expert Sue Robinson, who has two boys aged 7 and 10 years old. Unfortunately, not everybody is as lucky as Sue and manages to land two very flexible roles. People are talking more about flexible working, but it will take time to develop.  Organisations such as Working Families are a voluntary organisation campaigning to make sure that people can fulfil their work and family commitments. They are working to support both employers and employees to examine working practices and making sure that they are set up to support flexible working in a realistic and fair way.  Their Modern Families 2018 report outlines in more detail what they are doing to work with organisations and policy makers. There’s lots of guidance on the Working Families website and they’ve created a simple video explaining more about the rights of people wanting to request flexible working. It’s key to remember the 3 E’s: • Flexible working is for EVERYONE • Remember your EMPLOYER (flexible working must work for them) • Get your request in EARLY If you’re interested in finding out more about the flexible working opportunities we can provide for our candidates, please get in touch on


Flexible working – why we’re passionate about it at Ascendant Recruitment

Posted on: 30 Apr 2018, admin

The subject of working parents and flexibility comes up time and time again at Ascendant Recruitment from two angles – what can we provide for our candidates and what can we provide for our staff.  I’m going to write a few blog posts about the topic as it’s huge, but first I wanted to talk about why I offer flexible working for my own team here at Ascendant Recruitment. I think that being a good mum is difficult.  I think many of the skills such as plate spinning and constantly changing and re-changing your plans that come with being a parent make you ideally suited for recruitment.  I've seen lots of fantastic people sidelined from work because the cost of organising childcare is prohibitive and the inflexibility of  nurseries/employers make it a nightmare for many working parents.  I'm pleased that at Ascendant Recruitment, I've got the chance to change that for my team. Research has showed that there is a ‘parent penalty’ in place – whereby parents, often mothers (but not always) are taking deliberate steps to stall their careers so that they can look after their families.  I’m a working parent myself (I have three teenage children) and I have managed to build a successful business and managed to do my fair share of school runs, sports days and assemblies and this is something I’m passionate about offering to my staff.  Hopefully, this blog will inspire other companies to consider flexible working for their team. At Ascendant Recruitment, I have three part-time members of the team. All are recruitment consultants and over the next few weeks, we will be sharing their stories.  First up is Sharan Lidder, who is mum to two daughters Jaspreet aged 10) and Amrit aged 6. “Since I became a parent, I have worked part-time, taken a career break and I now work 5 days a week to fit in with school hours.   I enjoyed being off for 12 months’ maternity leave, but I found that 3 years off as a full-time mum was a bit too much – part time is the perfect balance for me now. I have struggled to find roles to fit in with my family.  After my first maternity leave nearly 10 years ago, I was due to return to a full-time role, but I was lucky enough to find a recruitment company happy for me to do 3 days per week.  After my career break I was lucky again to find Ascendant who were happy for me to do hours to fit in with my girls schooling.  Nick was actively seeking people who were looking for part-time as well as full time roles. I don’t think finding a flexible role should be down to luck though – employers can potentially miss out on the skill and experience of great people if they rule out part time or job-sharing candidates.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen enough flexible and part time job options and I hope that this is a balance that’s addressed by the time my daughters go out to work.” Sharan on: ‘mum guilt’  “You will always feel guilty when you drop your kids off at nursery, but for me, working was important for my emotional and mental wellbeing.  Growing up, my dad taught me to be independent and confident – to work hard and be able to stand on my own two feet.  It’s a crucial lesson and something I want to teach my daughters. For them, seeing me go out to work is my way of teaching this.” Sharan on: flexible working and career progression  “Unfortunately, it has had an impact on my career.  When I worked as an internal recruiter, there was the possibility of progression and that’s something I lost when I became pregnant.  However, I think I’m incredibly lucky to have a job that I love, working with a great team and that allows me the flexibility to fit in around my family.” We are currently recruiting for part time and full-time consultants at both our offices in Milton Keynes and Northampton. If you’re interested in coming to work for a dynamic team that’s deliberately different, please contact me directly with a copy of your CV to


Life after redundancy – what next?

Posted on: 27 Apr 2018, admin

Finding out your role is being made redundant can be a stressful time and you’re likely to go through lots of emotions between the moment you find out you’re losing your job and the time you start your next one. All of the following responses are perfectly normal: anger, sadness, disappointment, rejection, worry and even relief! The prospect of getting a new job might at first seem overwhelming, especially if you have been in your current role for a long time. However there are a number of steps you can take to make the process more painless. Here are my top tips: Try not to take it personally: Remember it’s your ROLE that has been made redundant, not you. Redundancy is something that affects a lot of people at some point during their career. Typical reasons include company restructuring, office relocation, outsourcing a particular function, two companies merging or a business simply closing down. Unfortunately in the majority of cases the situation will have been out of your hands and there’s nothing you could have done to avoid it. Stay positive: With this in mind, the key to getting through any situation is to try to remain upbeat and positive. What could initially appear to be a set-back could turn out to be an opportunity to find something better and more fulfilling! It’s a good idea to consider your options and review things you liked and didn’t like about your previous job, so that you can focus on finding a role and a company that is right for you. Keep reminding yourself that it’s not a case of IF you find a job, it’s a case of WHEN you find a job! Update your CV: One of the first things you’ll need to do is to update your CV to reflect your most recent experience. You’ll find a wealth of handy CV do’s and don’ts online. We’ve also put together some blogs on the topic too – you can find them here and here. Try and target each application to the specific job you’re applying to. Make sure you highlight your most relevant skills for that particular job and any achievements you’re particularly proud of. Get references: If possible, try and get a character reference from your company before you leave. This will help highlight your skills and strengths to a potential employer. LinkedIn is also a great platform to use, not just for networking but also for asking your contacts for endorsements and recommendations. Be proactive: Take as much control as you can over your situation by being as proactive as possible. This could include reaching out to your network through social media platforms and making sure you have registered with reputable recruitment agencies who can act as an ambassador on your behalf and find new opportunities. You can also use a professional social network such as LinkedIn to start following companies of interest and connecting with key people in your industry. Tip: If you’ve registered on job board e.g. Reed and Monster etc, it’s a good idea to log in on a regular basis and not solely rely on job alerts to be sent to your inbox. Recruitment Consultants and employers will often search for prospective employees based on when they last logged in. If you want to be found, it’s a good idea to log in at least once a week! Another tip! Adding ‘Seeking new opportunities’ to your LinkedIn profile will also help prospective employers to find you! Consider temporary work: You can avoid using up all your redundancy pay by taking on temporary work while you look for something permanent. Temping is a great way of keeping money coming in as well as being an opportunity to show a prospective employer what you’re capable of. Many companies also offer temp-to perm contracts, meaning that your temp job could lead to a permanent opportunity. Throughout your redundancy journey, try to keep in mind that you’re not going to be right for every role and not every role is going to be right for you. If you’re unsuccessful at interview, ask for constructive feedback and use it for the next interview. By remaining proactive, focused and positive you’ll be in a great position to find yourself moving onto bigger and better things in the future. Nick Peacock is the owner and Managing Director of Ascendant Recruitment, a leading recruitment agency in Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire.


Ascendant Recruitment – celebrating 15 years in business!

Posted on: 04 Apr 2018, admin

I hope you all had a great Easter break!  I wanted to take some time to write the latest Ascendant Recruitment blog post as we’ve hit a huge landmark – 15 successful years in business.  The official date was actually 3rd March (I set the business up on 03.03.03 so I’d always remember the date!). However, our plans were scuppered by the ‘Beast from the East’ and the team had to pull out all the stops to make sure our temporary teams were able to make their placements.  There was also the little matter of my recent holiday so we’ve decided to put our proper plans to celebrate on hold! I wanted the focus of this blog to be around what I’ve learned in business over the last 15 years.  Lots has changed in business over the past 15 years - I started Ascendant Recruitment before everyone had smart phones and Facebook – imagine that!  I’ve personally learned a lot throughout the years and wanted to share 15 things I’ve learned in 15 years.  Here goes. 1.  Invest in yourself When you run your own business, there is no training department, appraisal system or boss to breathe down your neck! You need to constantly push yourself.  Make the time to take courses, find people you can learn from and who will inspire you and if you can afford it, hire a business coach to help you take your business to the next level. 2.  Cash really is king You need to be really good at credit control. You may be the most talented person in your field, but if you don’t have good cash flow, your business will fail.  This article shows that 90% of small businesses fail because of cash flow. 3.  Be clear on what you stand for Ascendant Recruitment is deliberately different, and we pride ourselves on providing an excellent service to businesses in our local area.  I have built this reputation up in Milton Keynes and Northampton alongside the excellent team I have working with me and to be successful you need to recruit people who buy into your vision. 4.  Surround yourself with the best people you can find I have a great team of consultants and support staff at Ascendant Recruitment – you can learn more about them on our website. 5.  If you can’t change your people, change your people This is a great quote by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great.  What Jim is saying is, try to develop your people to embrace your vision and goals, but if you have to admit defeat then you’ll need to change the person by replacing them.  When I’m recruiting within my own team, I’m really clear about my business goals and I’ve been really lucky to have been able to recruit a team that really ‘get’ where Ascendant Recruitment is going. 6.  Selling = listening It’s true; you have 2 ears and 1 mouth! Listening is a very hard skill believe it or not. Pay attention to the choice of words that somebody uses and their body language. Not what you’ve got to tell them next! 7.  Be obsessive about what your customers say This goes back to the earlier point. Customers are such a wealth of information – fail to listen to what they’ve got to say is the worst mistake you can make in business. 8.  Remember it’s a marathon.  Not a sprint Some of the biggest companies started out being based in people’s homes (Apple, Disney, Google). Author JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series was turned down multiple times.  You won’t achieve overnight success but if you have a strong plan, pace yourself by setting some realistic goals and keep going, you’ll get there (but only if you’ve sorted out your cash flow!) 9.  Remember you can do anything but not everything Make sure you’re using your time as wisely as possible. If you’re a great salesperson but rubbish at administration, get out there and sell and outsource your admin! If you can’t afford to pay somebody full time then consider a virtual assistant.  Find somebody through the Society of Virtual Assistants website. 10.  Make sure you have at least 1 win everyday If you’ve got your plan and set yourself a daily goal, make sure you strive to achieve something every day.  Sometimes, my win is to secure a new client, sometimes it might be something personal, like leaving the office on time. 11.  Not all business is good business It’s really hard to turn business away when it’s your own company. But if a client or candidate doesn’t fit in with your values as a business, then it’s better in the long run to turn away and let them be a bad customer for somebody else. 12.  Build a business that you want This goes back to the point about knowing your values and the type of company you want to be.  You need to be profitable and deliver a service that the market wants but be true to yourself and passionate about the business that you’re running – this will lead to success. 13.  Beware of toxic people There have been many times in the last 15 years that I’ve met someone, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what didn’t feel right about them. Generally, they had their own self-interests to serve so try to avoid these people! If somebody wants you to do something for nothing, then they won’t value what you’ve got to give – trust your instincts! 14.  Get a coach I mentioned this earlier. Not everybody can afford it, but as a business owner, it’s really tough without a boss to guide you. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes is a good thing for your business – there could be an easy win that you can’t see because you’re too close to it.  If a coach is unaffordable, try to find an accountability buddy – somebody who can spur you on to achieve more who perhaps works in the same sector but in a different location.  Make sure you use an accountant who can give you good business advice.  And don’t forget Linked In – find someone who has been there and done it and ask for their help. Lots of business  owners, if approached politely will be generous with their time. 15.  Every setback is an opportunity I’m incredibly passionate about setbacks being an opportunity for greater things.  As the old saying by Churchill goes: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.”  In business, there will be things that knock you down. In my second month of trading, my main client went bust and owed me £5,000.  It put me in a really difficult position (note again the point about cash flow). But I used it as an opportunity to do more and do better next time.  And 15 years later, I’m still learning these lessons but I’m still here! If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, we’d love to send you our regular updates – subscribe to the blog here to find out the latest news and views from the Ascendant Recruitment team. We are a growing team – if you’re interested in a role as a consultant in our Northampton or Milton Keynes office, please drop us a line at  We’re looking for full time and part time roles and are offering a £1,000 incentive! Best wishes Nick Peacock Managing Director Ascendant Recruitment


Estelle- Temp of the month for Northampton

Posted on: 26 Mar 2018, admin

Congratulations Estelle! For her exceptional hard work, she’s won Northampton’s temp of the month and received a £20 voucher! Estelle is in the middle with her managers Patricia (left) and Abby (right) Estelle has kindly given Shaun Rickard, our consultant some gifts to say thank you!


Don’t let social media ruin your career!

Posted on: 20 Mar 2018, admin

BBC Radio 1 are featuring stories from people who have had their career ruined by social media posts in their ‘Life Hacks’ show.  The stories vary from people who have hobbies that an employer may raise an eyebrow at, have joined a group that maybe they shouldn’t and even lost their job by doing something a bit silly at work!  You can view the stories here: We all know that social media is here to stay.  It’s a big part of everybody’s lives – but more so for some more than others.  Although it may seem quite harmless to post updates about everything you do, at Ascendant Recruitment we have a few top tips that may be helpful to make sure your potential – or current – employer won’t see anything you don’t want them to see! 1.  Privacy settings Our advice is to make sure you set your privacy settings to an appropriate level.  If you don’t want to risk colleagues or employers seeing your social media, go in to the settings and limit who can see your post only to connections. 2.  Restrict who you connect with Some people see social media as a ‘numbers’ game and want as many fans and followers as possible.  If you think your employers or colleagues may have an issue with what you post then don’t allow them to follow you on social media.  It’s fine to say: “I like to keep my social media separate from work.” 3.  Use a Linked In profile This should be where you showcase your professional self on social media – so make sure you have a profile shot that’s appropriate for the industry you work in (or want to work in).  Our advice is to have a photograph of you as you would appear at work – not from a night out!  Make sure your details are up to date and accurately reflect the skills and experience you have. 4.  Think about it! Stop and think before you post. It’s so easy to take a quick selfie or video and post it up without considering the impact it may have on your career. 5.  Be informed Speak to your boss or HR department and review the terms of your contract as there may be some guidance in there about what is appropriate and what isn’t. If you have any concerns about your social media profiles and the impact it may have on you finding your dream job, then get in touch with the Ascendant Recruitment team and we can discuss this with you. Please call 01908 200270 (Milton Keynes) or 01604 439380 (Northampton) or email


How to Write a Curriculum Vitae For Temporary Jobs

Posted on: , admin

Applying for temporary roles is a slightly different process than applying for a permanent position, and will require an alternative approach. A temporary role may have far more specific requirements than a permanent job – where an employee will be given more opportunity to develop – and decisions as to who to accept for a temporary role can be made on a narrower set of criteria. This is why it’s important to make sure that your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is geared up for temporary as opposed to permanent work – here are a few tips on how to do it: 1. Organise your CV. There is little point in submitting a ten page document for a temporary position, as the recruiter is unlikely to make it past the first page. Your CV needs to be concise and filled with relevant information. Relevant is defined as demonstrating skills and abilities that the temporary role demands. Limit it to two pages and don’t include anything that isn’t relevant for the role you’re applying for. 2. Don’t list employment agencies. When listing your relevant employment experience, you should always list the employer, rather than the employment agency that you worked for. Listing the agency doesn’t give any information about the specific position and if you worked for the same agency numerous times there will be little on your CV to show the real range of your experience. 3. Tailor your CV content. There can be a temptation with a CV for temporary roles to throw everything onto it – and if you have been temping for a while then you probably have a lot of different jobs to include. Try to avoid listing everything in your CV, the important bits (read relevant) could be missed in the mass of information. Recruitment Consultants, the normal gatekeepers to temporary work, are inundated with up to 200 CV’s a day, they will not spend time trying to find a needle in a haystack. A recent survey of Consultants concluded they spend two to five seconds glimpsing at a CV before deciding whether to read on! If you have a lot of experience try grouping it by sector, employer, or roles. Alternatively, only include those positions that best demonstrate your aptitude for the current job, or that demonstrate the skill set required for this position. 4. Make it personal. Nowadays, even in the temporary market employers will be looking for an applicant that fits their ethos because temporaries are viewed as potential permanent recruits. To be prepared, include your achievements from previous roles, any overall career objectives that you have and the qualities that you feel make you exactly right for their position. This will give your CV more personality and help you stand out from the other applicants. Preparing a temporary CV should take just as much time and attention as for a permanent role. A great temporary position can be a confidence builder, can give your career a real boost and might be a leg up into a new and exciting permanent position. For more career tips, visit the Ascendant Recruitment blog today.