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There’s something sneaking into your interviews and you’re probably not even aware of it. Yet this very thing – bias - could be preventing you from hiring the best person. Bias happens whether we want it to or not, because we’re simply programmed that way as humans.
Our experiences shape our perceptions and we do this subconsciously, boxing information into categories to better understand the world around us. Unfortunately this often leads us to make assumptions about situations, and more importantly in the hiring process, we make assumptions towards people that can influence our decision to hire them.

Human instinct is flawed

As much as instinct plays an important role in recruiting it can often tip the scales in favour of one candidate over another. We might see a certain accolade that impresses us and because of this gloss over other critical details. This is called the halo effect.
If we aren’t blinded by accolades, we could be blinded by appearances. While we hate to admit it, the reality is that more attractive looking people often become the preferred shortlisted candidates. It’s one of the reasons candidate are advised to dress up for interviews, because first impressions count. And unfortunately they can also count against a candidate if they’re nervous or don’t look or act like the interviewer expects them to.
Then there is the mirroring or mini-me effect where we are impressed by people who are similar to us, that think, act or even dress in a similar way. Some recruiters like to play it safe, choosing to hire only those people they’ve worked with before. While this is a more obvious bias, it’s quite common when it comes to recruiting for more senior positions. The reason usually cited is better the devil you know….

But you don’t “know” for sure

A 2015 CIPD[1] study on the behavioural science of recruitment cited that bias is more prevalent than most people are aware of and hiring decisions are wide open to being influenced by a wide range of factors – factors that are often unrelated to their actual ability to do the job effectively. So the next time you’re hiring, prompt yourself to venture outside those neatly ordered boxes in your mind. That might just be where you find the candidate that’s an unexpected but ideal fit for the role.


When writing your CV you need to cover your basic job responsibilities but without just mentioning the routine. Keep your duty summaries concise and try to concentrate on the results that came out of your everyday work.

So, highlight your achievements, not your duties

Achievements are things you did that had a lasting impact for your company or client. It is a result that you personally bring about while fulfilling a particular role. Typically they are things that you created, built, designed, sold or initiated. It is not the same as responsibilities that come under a job description, as these remain fixed no matter who is employed in the post.

An achievement is unique to your experience and tells the employer that you can deliver. So, keep your duty summaries concise, and focus instead on unique accomplishments.

Many people are uncertain how to express their achievements vs. responsibilities. This is because many responsibilities can often seem to be achievements and most achievements can appear to be responsibilities.

To avoid any confusion, you must focus on determining which of the experiences that you have gained through the workforce can be classified as achievements and which ones can be classified as responsibilities.

Structure of an Achievement:
An achievement consists of three components:
  1. Using a particular skill.
  2. Carrying out a particular activity
  3. Getting a measurable / quantifiable result / benefit.

The “What? / So What?” Formula
Successfully writing the achievements section of your CV is perhaps the most difficult part of your CV The simplest means of doing this is to employ the 'What?/So What?' formula, a two-step process that asks:

  • What did I do?
  • So what? What was the quantifiable result?Rather than stating that 'you were responsible for a team of 20 people', you could instead say that you 'planned, arranged and hosted a team building away day, which resulted in improved communications within the office.

Examples of Achievement Statements:

  • 3-fold increase in profit margin by implementing operational improvement plans and adopting a more commercial approach to bidding
  • Leading the successful £45M tender for the sole design and consultancy position within the industry leading @one alliance, including participation in executive team interview
  • Building strong relationships with JV partner to allow for successful negotiation of commercial issues between partners, to move to a trust based relationship, resulting in a 5 year extension to the JV
  • Leading a cultural change programme to professionalise business development including a ‘Client First’ competency programme resulting in client satisfaction improvement from 86% to 97%
  • Leading a Group ‘Water Growth Segment’ to share capability, knowledge and continuous improvements to harness the power of the 2,500 water professionals across seven countries for the benefit of clients

List of achievements
  • Re-organized something to make it work better
  • Identified a problem and solved it
  • Come up with a new idea that improved things
  • Developed or implemented new procedures or systems
  • Worked on special projects
  • Received awards
  • Increased revenue or sales for the company
  • Saved money for the company
  • Saved time for the company
  • Contributed to good customer service

One of the most corrosive effects on any company's success and longevity is an inability to retain good quality people. Many businesses genuinely struggle to keep hold of talented individuals once they have been recruited and embedded them within the organisation.

As a recruitment organisation, we are in a somewhat unique position at the “cutting edge” of dealing with people leaving organisations on a day-to-day basis. A common misconception is that, as a headhunting/search company, we somehow have mystical powers to “spirit” people away from blissfully happy jobs. The reality is completely different. On average, over 60% of individuals we pro-actively approach will rebuff our advances, as they are happy with their present situation. Unless there is an underlying issue there, we are unable to persuade that person to talk about moving.

The #1 biggest issue that causes staff to become unsettled and leave is communication. The most common reasons for good staff wanting to leave companies are issues such as “I feel undervalued”, “no career progression”, “worried about the companys’ future” & “someone’s been promoted above me”.

The nub of every single one of these issues is communication, or the lack of it in most cases!

It is human nature to want to know what is going on, good or bad. In most situations, not knowing anything is worse than knowing something bad is happening, as the mind is free to wildly speculate if there is no information.

So – the advice is very much to communicate to your people as much as possible, both on a macro (company) and micro (personal) level. The best employers are consistently very good at communicating to their people, helping them formulate individual career and goal plans and working with them to achieve their personal career objectives. It’s great for individual performance, makes people happy and optimises the overall performance of the business.

It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it significantly increases staff retention levels.
On a macro level, the vast majority of people want visibility as to the company's overall strategy and goals. Anyone working as part of a team will perform better and will give that extra 10% if they are clear in their understanding of the teams overall goal.

This stuff is simple, but is surprisingly rarely implemented effectively. We regularly hear stories of individuals being overlooked for promotion, so then want to move on. What’s much rarer, but is relatively easy to facilitate, is the situation where the individual accepts the decision because it is efficiently communicated with the true reasons and justifications being discussed. They may not like it, but if it’s justified and communicated then they will at least understand the decision and resentment is minimised.

To discuss this or other recruitment related issues please call Rupert on 020 7183 0255
we know the best talent is very much in demand and the 'balance of power' is drifting back in favour of the candidate.

However many employers, especially CEOs and directors, are still of the belief that it is only a matter of hanging up a vacancy sign and a queue of good applicants will appear.

Not so. Indeed, quality candidates are being well looked after by their current employers and in many cases, being wooed by more than one prospective company if they are considering a move.

So what are the 3 most common reasons that your employment offer will be refused? I conducted a snap survey and here are the top 3 issues that lead to rejection:

1. The interview process taking too long. (This was by far the biggest issue). Whilst candidates expect to have to work hard for the best jobs, protracted selection procedures are a big turn-off. People read in to this that the organisation is slow to make all decisions and they also feel under-valued.

2. Too much grilling and not enough selling. As I say above, people have no problem answering difficult questions or tough interviews but they will make their decision on the basis of the opportunity, quality of the team and very importantly growth prospects. Interviewing should involve buying and selling.

3. Poor handling of the actual offer process. This often includes trying to secure the candidate at lower than the indicated range. It can be a terrible waste of time and money having got through a recruitment campaign and then needing to start again perhaps for the sake of only a few thousand pounds.

To discuss this article or your recruitment needs please call Rupert on 020 7183 0255


There is an old adage in the business world that applies to the hiring process more than you may think. You may know it better as “time kills all deals.” Whether we like to admit it or not, a sense of urgency is an integral part of two sides coming together for mutual benefit. In this case, that means you securing top talent for your organization.

Competition for talent has heated up. If you are not creating urgency within your recruiting process you are creating talent vulnerability. Below are some tips on how to create urgency within your hiring process to help secure your next hire.

• Keep the interview process efficient and timely. Sure, it can be hectic when you have other deadlines to meet. However, making the time to conduct multiple interviews in a relatively short time period can help keep the candidate engaged and attracted to your group. If significant time passes between meetings, they may start to think you have lost interest and in turn they start to lose interest.

• Be decisive in your selection. This applies to who to interview, who to bring back to meet again, and to whom an offer is made. From time to time, we all wonder in the back of our minds if there is something better out there. This is not the time to let that thought get in the way. If you wait around to see one or two more candidates, your lead candidate may be gone by the time you’re ready to pull the trigger.

• Beware the search for the legendary “Purple Squirrel”! You know, the perfect candidate that may not actually exist but is so tempting to land. In the meantime, don’t pass up on that great, “real life” candidate as you continue hunting for this mythical beast.
Reference checking when done correctly can be very powerful. Most employers check references, but the important factor is how the reference check is performed.

Most reference checking is more of a box checking exercise than what it really should be, which is validating that the candidate really did what they told you in the interview. That should be the focus of a reference check.

Good reference checking starts with good interviewing. Train your people to ask for examples in the interview. Probe deeply into those examples to get time frames, budget, size, issues they overcame, problems they solved, why they did X instead of Y and so on.

Then, instead of asking the standard box checking questions everyone asks, change the reference check. Ask the reference, “During the interview, Tom indicated he did X, can you tell me more about what his role was and some of the more difficult issues he had to overcome?”

Does the reference’s story validate what the candidate told you, or is it something different? Was the candidate accurate, or did they embellish? When references are done properly they can provide a wealth of valuable information.


If you've ever employed an overachiever, you will know that they need special attention so that you can take advantage of what they have to offer. Constant communication works best, but be inspirational, not commandeering.

Overachievers don't like to be told what to do. Managers get the best results from them if they involve them in decisions and planning as much as possible. If there's a problem with their work, rather than telling them how to fix it, ask them what they think the solution should be.

Praise them for a job well done, tap into their creativity and be sincere. Remove obstacles and help pave the way to success. While overachievers may demand more, their output often goes much higher than that of other employees.

To discuss this or other recruitment related issues please call Rupert on 020 7183 0255

The rule of thumb among recruiters is that 70 to 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within a year.

So, you've accepted an offer to work for a new company and it's time to quit your current job. Shouldn't be too difficult.

You do all the right things: give notice, offer to help in the transition, finish projects, say thanks for the opportunity. But instead of just shaking your hand and wishing you good luck, your boss hits you with a counteroffer – one that includes more money, more holidays, and better benefits.

While a counteroffer can be flattering, chances are your boss has ulterior motives. Employee resignations can hurt a manager's record. Or, maybe, he or she wants to keep you on long enough to find a replacement. Perhaps it’s their motive because it's cheaper to pay you a bit more than it is to recruit, hire, and train a new employee.

In some instances, accepting a counteroffer may be a good move. But before you say yes, consider these reasons why you should decline.

1. You had to quit to get a raise. Suddenly you became more valuable after you give notice? It should make you wonder why you weren't valuable enough to deserve a raise before–when you were coming into the office every day and dutifully attending to your job duties.

2. Things won't change. The frustration, the stifling feelings, and the dissatisfaction that led you to seek new job opportunities will remain, and it's unlikely that the bump in pay will make those things any more bearable. Whatever turned you off about your job prior to the new offer will continue to be irksome after you accept it.

3. You may be shunned. When you give notice, you are, in effect, dumping your boss. As in many types of relationships, the rebuffed party begins to bargain: Give me another chance. Things will get better. I can change! No one, after all, wants to be the dumpee. But once your boss' anxiety is eased and you've agreed to the counteroffer, new emotions will set in: resentment, suspicion, distrust. You will likely spend your remaining time at the company on the fringes–excised from the inner circle for your show of disloyalty (and coworkers may resent the raise and how you got it).

4. Job security will diminish. Your boss fought to keep you from quitting, sure. But when it comes time to lay off some people, it's a safe bet that you'll be somewhere toward the top of the list. Remember: Your boss wanted you to stay for his benefit, not yours. If he has the opportunity to get rid of you on his terms– now that you've revealed a willingness to be a turncoat–he’s likely going to take it.

5. You're going to leave anyway. Four out of five employees who accept counteroffers end up leaving the company within nine months.

6. You've already accepted an offer. And what about the new job offer you already accepted? By virtue of hiring you, that employer already has demonstrated a belief that you are valuable–and you haven't even had your first day yet. Your current employer, on the other hand, has begrudgingly offered you more money to get you to stay to suit his purposes. Also, leading on prospective employer–attending interviews, negotiating, accepting an offer, allowing the them to think the job has been filled–is a bad career strategy in general.

It is always the same when someone resigns - they walk into the room, smiling sheepishly and close the door behind them. The next few minutes are key. The manager dealing with the resignation needs to be armed with these 10 important questions:
  1. Where are you going next?
  2. Why are you resigning?
  3. Have you already signed a contract with a new employer?
  4. When have you agreed to start?
  5. Who else inside and outside the organisation knows about your plans to leave?
  6. Is anyone else planning to leave?
  7. What handover will be required?
  8. Who do you recommend should step into your shoes?
  9. Have you got in your possession confidential information belonging to the organisation and, if so, where is it stored?
  10. Are you intending to abide by your confidentiality and post-termination restrictions?
If these questions are not asked, the manager is blind-sided and loses a valuable opportunity to probe the employee. It is far less effective to leave these questions to an exit interview, which is usually very perfunctory.

To discuss this or other recruitment related issues please call Rupert on 020 7183 0255

  1. Initiative - Can you give me an example of where you’ve demonstrated high initiative in your last position – going above and beyond the call of duty?
  2. Flawless Execution - Could you share with me a task or assignment where you had to overcome significant obstacles and hurdles?
  3. Leadership - Could you illustrate your leadership by telling us about an example – where you either were part of the team or led the team? What did you do specifically to help the team achieve their goals or results?
  4. Success Factors - One of our most critical success factors for this role is X. What have you done that is most similar, comparable, like that expectation?
  5. Adaptability - How would achieving this success factor in our environment differ from attempting to achieve it in your previous company?