Recruitment

We expect that if you are interested in working together with us you will be interested in hearing what people say about us. Below are a range of case studies on selected recruitment campaigns. We don’t name the organisations, but we are happy to put you in contact with people who can give you an insight into services relevent to your plans or query.

We don’t specialise in any sector or role. We recruit at Asssitant Director level or above, in any function across an organisation. Our track record features roles from finance to communications, from social care to housing, from commercial services to legal services. We believe that armed with a detailed brief we can source good people in any sector or function, and are able to differentiate between those who can dleiver and those who can’t.

Are we different from competitor consultancies? We think the Chief Executive of a repeat client sums us up.

Director (circa £135k) and Chief Officer (circa £100k) Adult Social Care – large city council

We have worked with this large and innovative council on Director and Chief Officer roles including Legal Services, Economy and Adult Social Care.  Adults and Children’s roles are difficult to fill, with intense public focus and career threatening risks creating caution amongst candidates.  This campaign ran across Christmas and the New year, required phased search and advertising and careful planning to enable the newly appointed Director to select their first Chief Officer.  This was followed by a successful search only campaign to recruit the Chair of the Safeguarding Board (following an unsuccessful in-house campaign).

The search focused heavily on engaging candidates with positive messages about the city-wide health and social care agenda, the scope for change and the profile of the city and the roles.  Targetted candidates needed a highly corporate approach, with significant experience of working with demanding partners and able to perform in one of the larger councils in England.  In the search focussed campaign we made up to 100 contacts per role, reducing significantly advertising costs.

Both roles were appointed to the first time.  For the Director role, 9 candidates taken forward to technical longlist interview (8 search generated).  4 of the 5 shortlisted candidates were from search, as was the appointed candidate.

For the Chief Officer 7 applications were taken forward to technical longlist interview (3 search generated).  At final stage all 3 shortlisted candidates were search generated, hence the appointed candidate was from search.

Both campaigns included assessment centres with a wide range of stakeholders across health, the VCS, service users, departmental and corporate managers and a wider cohort of elected members.  We facilitated these sessions, collected feedback and summarised to the final panel, highlighting key strengths/areas to probe and shaped specific candidate questioning.   Members valued independent, clear and forensic feedback provided by consultants working with them throughout the campaign.

Key features:

  • High ratio of search to advertised candidate,
  • Reduced advertising costs
  • Technical interview at longlist before assessment centre
  • Comprehensive assessment centre after technical interview
  • Search generated candidates appointed
  • Onboarding for appointed candidates

Assistant Director – Children and Families (circa £90k) – metropolitan council

Context: A good authority with a positive reputation and capable combined Adults and Children’s Services Director; good salary in the market, large travel to work area, supportive politicians and senior leadership. In-house campaign generated a poor response, with no candidates strong enough after assessment centre to go forward to member final interview.  We ran a second campaign to bring new, stronger candidates within a tight tightframe.  The market in childrens social care is exceptionally tight after years of a critical and challenging Ofsted regime and financial cuts.  There are very few experienced, capable candidates – and a lot of high-risk, weak candidates.

Our full service was commissioned, with a national campaign combining advertising and search telling the “good story” of the service, the council the future and using the positive reputation of the Director to encourage candidates.

We secured a much stronger, but small field.  All 8 applications (6 from search) advanced to an initial technical longlist interview with 4 candidates (all search) taken forward to assessment centre with psychometrics.  2 candidates progressed to member panel and were both appointable. At a time when other councils were not appointing or making weak appointments, the council made a strong appointment of an experienced Assistant Director.

Key Features:

  • Full process search and selection
  • Recent, failed campaign
  • National search
  • Longlist technical interviewer
  • Support to member panel
  • Onboarding for appointed candidate
  • Career support feedback to unsuccessful candidates

Director of Resources (circa £123k) – large city council

Context/challenges: Salary significantly below market rate and the previous salary of the outgoing Director, who had a national reputation.  This reputation discouraged applications with many candidates seeing these as ‘big shoes to fill’. The salary was under significant scrutiny and downward pressure.  Other competing vacancies further reduced an already small market.  Candidates were reluctant to move or relocate, lacked sufficient experience for a big city hadn’t been a s151 officer.

The council had specific requirements, with a major corporate change agenda, a new Chief Executive and a relatively new Leader.  We needed a special candidate to meet a challenging agenda.

We ran a search driven campaign, with some specialist advertising. We had a ‘rolling’ longlist, rather than a fixed timetable.  This meant we had to work hard to keep candidates engaged.  As part of the search we conducted a comprehensive salary survey on relevant and comparable organisations, which was presented to members.  This supported decisions on salary.

We supported a flexible assessment process, with the Chief Executive meeting candidates for a values-led interview to ensure culture fit.  Technical capacity was assessed prior to the final member interview.

The role was appointed to first time within salary parameters after extensive national search.  We contacted 84 people in the search, generating 13 applications.  4 candidates were taken to first client interview, 3 of whom progressed to final member interview. 

Key Features:

  • Extended, national search
  • Rolling longlist
  • Values-led interview
  • Comprehensive salary survey, report and presentation to members
  • Support to shortlist only

City Solicitor (Director of Legal and Democratic services, circa £100k) – large city council

Context/challenges: A large, stable council, with a new Chief Executive and a developing senior team that lacked diversity and was unrepresentative of its locality. They wanted a commercial, progressive and ambitious city solicitor to take risks, support change and improve services, whilst bringing a corporate focus.  With a strong regeneration focus and the devolution agenda the contractual, advisory and political elements of the role were key.  Candidates needed to prove they could genuinely engage with change and the emerging brand of the council whilst being ‘can-do’ not ‘hold-on’.

The search was difficult. The private sector attracts a lot of senior lawyers, it can pay more and often has higher status (for less varied work).  Whilst there was a large travel to work area, commuting was difficult, so relocation was likely. 6 applications (a combination of rising stars and current Directors) were taken to longlist interview with a leading technical assessor with 3 candidates taken forward to final stage assessment and interview with elected members.

Key Features:

  • Full process support
  • Technical search, cross-sector
  • Technical interview

Director of Investment and Development (circa £110k) – large city authority

Context/challenges:  Regeneration was at the heart of this council’s future growth strategy.  We delivered a rolling search for a new role (Development Director) – a private sector approach to recruitment. The council had specific requirements, with a major corporate change agenda, a new Chief Executive and a relatively new Leader.  We needed a special candidate to meet a challenging agenda.

This campaign was search focused, with less advertising, reducing overall costs.  We were handing over a pre-screened shortlist.  This included taking confidential soundings on candidates before approaching them, combined with focused conversations with target candidates. We facilitated a flexible process that involved candidates meeting the Chief Executive and Council Leader before progressing to final member interview. This ensured cultural fit and shared values could be carefully assessed alongside technical capacity.

The Development Director role was appointed to in one campaign, with rolling search and limited advertising.  We contacted 44 candidates with 8 of 11 applications generated by search.  All of the 4 longlisted and the 3 final panel candidates were generated by search. The search covered private developers, government agencies and local government at regional and national level. This exemplifies our search capacity across different specialisms and locations, alongside the flexibility to adapt our pitch to reflect local political sensitivities.

Key Features

  • Search only with candidate screening
  • Cross-sector, national search
  • Rolling search and shortlist
  • Values-led interviews

Director Delivery – regional organisation

Context/challenges: A newly established organisation with a small number of organisational members, a significant number of stakeholders, with budgets and influence growing and changing rapidly and set against a high level of scrutiny.  We wanted someone with large scale programme delivery experience, high level political skills and depth around complex relationship management. Candidates needed a track record of delivery and could come from any sector.

The campaign generated 26 applications from private sector developers, skills and enterprise sector, consultancies, large scale infrastructure development and local government programme management. The depth of quality and experience was high. We say 9 candidates at longlist interview and handed over a shortlist of 3 candidates to be taken to final interview.

Key Features:

  • Complex stakeholder management
  • National, cross-sector search
  • Longlist interview, detailed screening and report
  • Hand over at shortlist

Board Trustees & Chair – major social care provider

Context/challenges: A large award winning £75m pa. social care charity employing around 2000 staff. We initially worked with them to recruit a new Chair. Their founding Chair had retired as they moved from having a Board more suited to a small charity to one more appropriate to one of the UKs top 100 charities. They had advertised themselves in national media, spending more that £20k, but only received four applications (one of whom was already a board member).

We generated 8 Chair applications through search only (no advertising) with 3 candidates seen at final interview. The appointed Chair was generated by our search. Following on from this, we worked as their partner to refresh their Board, appointing a further 7 new trustees in 2 campaigns over 2 years, entirely through search activity. Our search activity found candidates from all sectors with experience of corporate finance, MBOs, social care, health, business development, financial management, legal and marketing.  This met the brief for a wide range of skills, technical experience and empathy with the organisation’s users.

This exemplifies our depth in search, our sensitivity when recruiting Non-Executive Directors and the diversity of our networks. Each campaign took between 3 and 5 months to complete, with no advertising support, recruiting a Chair, 3 trustees and then 4 trustees. The Chair has since retired from the Board. One trustee went on to become a consultant to the charity and four more trustees are still Board members.

Key Features:

  • Full process commissioned
  • National, non-executive Director search
  • No advertising support
  • Ensured values as well as culture fit
  • Identified wide range of technical expertise

Chief Executive – large national membership/charitable organisation

Context/challenges: A national profile organisation with complex governance, aims and service range and a chequered history.  This required someone with excellent political, financial, advisory, and leadership skills combined with the ability to communicate in testing environments with a large range or partners and stakeholders. We were commissioned for a fully supported process.  We spoke to 36 stakeholders in the briefings to capture a full range of diverse views.  These insights were consolidated into a report to confirm the recruitment brief and person profile and gain consensus from key stakeholders before beginning the campaign.  All stakeholders had strong views on the candidates and the search, including where candidates should come from, pay levels and personal characteristics. Tensions were increased because the previous Chief Executive had only lasted a year, was seen as a weak appointment who had failed the organisation, damaged confidence and created concern in the market.

A highly sensitive search was launched across the third sector, the arts and similar bodies with comparable structures, supported by national advertising. We contacted 65 senior leaders, with more than 100 conversations.  This honest dialogue balanced out misperceptions and talked about a history of achieving major change.

The role attracted a wide range of candidates, from every sector, resulting in 30 applications, 11 of whom were taken forward to first stage longlist interviews.  4 candidates (two generated by search) were taken forward to an assessment centre (which included 25 stakeholders) and a final interview. A search candidate was appointed.  At final interview, the agreed person profile was used as a final checklist to verify that the many requirements had been met.

Key Features

  • Full process, search, selection, onboarding
  • History of a failed incumbent
  • Organisation low on confidence
  • Complex stakeholder engagement and management
  • Board report to achieve consensus
  • National profile and highly visible