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Blog posts tagged recruitment

Hiring interns: top tips

June 10, 2014 by Guest contributor

Hiring interns: Dos and Don'ts/Work experience{{}}I co-founded the cleaner-booking platform Mopp in April 2013. For us, hiring interns (ie a student or trainee who works in order to gain experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification) has been a great way to help grow the business while staying lean. But how do you find great candidates and motivate them to really contribute to your business?


  • Write a standout job ad. Show you’re offering an opportunity to shine, not just do the grunt work. We’ve made statements such as: “This is an awesome opportunity to really make a difference. You will not just be a cog in the machine, we really want you to show us what you can do.”
  • Try different sites. We’ve used Workinstartups, Internwise, and UKStartupJobs, which were great. Inspiring Interns, a specialist agency, is another option, but you'll need to pay them as well as the intern.
  • Set them a test. Before we hire an intern we always ask them to submit a piece of written work (if it’s for a content role) or test their phone skills if we need them to be confident on the phone. At the end of the day they will also play a role in representing your business, so you need to be sure they are up to the job.
  • Consider apprentices. Depending on your business, this is a low-cost option that could be great, as long as you have the time to train them. We’ve used JustIT and have some great young apprentices on our team.
  • Set targets. Give your interns real projects to own and set them targets. We track our interns’ results weekly, from PR leads generated, to blog posts written, to social media traffic generated. It helps them focus and feel motivated to excel.
  • Involve them. Make them feel a part of the business you’re building. Our interns are involved in everything – from company socials, to team presentations, to planning the new office design.  
  • Teach them. Taking the time to teach your interns new skills will motivate them, while taking the burden off your staff. We do a one-hour training session once a week on topics from Google Analytics to search engine optimisation.


  • Be too busy to manage them. If nobody has time to manage your interns, they won’t grow in skills or confidence – and they won’t be able to bring value to your business.
  • Expect them to know everything. Hire people with the ability to do the job, but teach them the skills so they can develop into an indispensible team member.
  • Micro-manage. Allow your interns the room to solve their own problems. It’s the best way to learn – otherwise you will end up doing all their work yourself.
  • Undervalue them. This is an obvious, but important, one. You can get some really bright, enthusiastic candidates that in the right environment can be real assets to your business. Just make sure they don’t feel like all they’re doing is making the teas and coffees.

Blog written by Pete Dowds, co-founder of cleaner-booking platform Mopp.

Further reading


The rise of the video job interview

March 26, 2014 by Guest contributor

The rise of the video job interview/Man with headphones and computer{{}}One of the biggest recent changes to recruitment has been the rise of the video interview. Enabled by lower cost, easy-to-use video conferencing software-based systems, an increasingly global job market and cuts in HR budgets have been key drivers. And with businesses facing pressure to speed up the recruitment process, a first or second interview can be conducted via video conference, played back and reviewed quickly and easily.

So with the traditional face-to-face interview being replaced by video, how can candidates and prospective employers better prepare themselves and what should both be aware of during a video interview?

First, a video interview features the same elements as an in-person interview, so the same rules of engagement, attention and acknowledgement must be observed. This means dressing to impress, looking alert, engaged and professional throughout.

Remember, 93% of communication is thought to be non-verbal, so don't forget to pay attention to body language. Positive body language includes nodding your head, smiling genuinely and leaning forward to show interest or understanding. A furrowed brow, frowning and leaning back can all be perceived negatively.

Also ensure that you have the proper hardware and test it before you start. A good webcam is essential to maintain eye contact without losing sight of the other person, and make sure you adjust your seat/computer to frame your face.

Use headphones too, because they are much better than speakerphones, which can amplify background noise, disturb and distract you from the conversation. Make sure you have a neutral backdrop, because a distracting or messy background may cause the other person to lose their attention. Proper lighting is important to make you look your best, and you also need to be aware of any reflective surfaces that can be distracting. Finally, be prepared. Just because it is remote, a video interview should be treated just like a face-to-face one.

Blog provided by video conferencing solutions provider Vidyo.

Further reading

Posted in Employees | Tagged recruitment, HR | 0 comments

Five reasons you need to outsource

December 10, 2013 by Guest contributor

Five reasons you need to outsource /outsource{{}}For many reasons small and large businesses choose to outsource particular tasks or services to third parties and agencies. As outsourcing continues to evolve, so do the reasons for SMEs and bigger organisations to consider adopting those methods for the good of their business.

The primary reason for outsourcing and outsourcing immediately is to cut costs, because this is the main driver for many businesses that choose to outsource work. But let’s look beyond the pound signs and see some of the other popular reasons for outsourcing services in 2012 and beyond.

1 Saving internal resource

In demanding industries there are many instances where highly pressurised employees simply don’t have enough time to focus on core business functions that can drive long term growth.

Businesses need as many people as possible to be able to focus on the profit-driving areas of their organisation. By outsourcing certain tasks or services to third parties, companies can save valuable internal resource to devote towards moving the business forward.

2 Corporate tax rates

Some businesses choose to outsource particular services or divisions of their business overseas to take advantage of greatly reduced corporate tax rates. Countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and closer to home, Ireland, all boast very low corporate tax fees that can significantly improve a company’s bottom line.

3 Enhanced service

There may be an area of your business that would require significant in-house and external training to get employees up to speed. Subsequently, it may be more cost-efficient to simply outsource the entire service to a third party or agency. It is quite possible they will add greater value than you even anticipate due to the skills and expertise they possess. Why spend time and money learning new services and skills if you can employ a professional to do it for half the cost?

4 Always available, always accessible

In some cases, businesses choose to outsource services or divisions of their organisation to make sure they appear constantly accessible and available. To create the impression of operating 24-hours without closing down it is possible to outsource to an overseas partner that can do important work overnight, while catching up on much-needed sleep!

5 Less contractual risk than employing full-time staff

Although reaching agreement with outsourcing contractors can be unsettling and protracted, outsourcing work carries significantly less contractual risk than employing a full-time member of staff. Contractual agreements can be created to offer protection for both parties, while removing any difficult human interaction that can occur when in-house employees are dismissed. Outsourcing firms can be held just as accountable for poor performance and poor quality of work as a full-time employee.

While outsourcing requirements will naturally differ from business to business, there is no getting away from the fact that outsourcing is becoming a key component to the day-to-day strategies of successful businesses.

Blog written by David Campbell of Pall Mall Estates, “one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable commercial space to rent”.

How social media can help you recruit top quality employees

March 18, 2013 by Derin Clark

How social media can help you recruit top quality employees/job interview{{}}As a business owner, you will know that to remain competitive within your market your business needs to grow. If you are not increasing your turnover and profits, you risk soon being overtaken by businesses that are.

Whether you prefer to remain a relatively small business or if you have the success of Richard Branson’s Virgin in mind, business growth will inevitably lead to hiring more staff. The importance of hiring top quality staff cannot be overestimated, because it can prove to be the difference between success, survival or failure.

Although many small businesses have never had or can no longer afford to have in-house HR departments, using external HR companies or HR software can provide a solution. However, if you decide to manage your HR matters, recruiting employees will be down to you, of course.

Along with more traditional recruitment strategies, today’s business owners are now turning to social media to hire top quality employees. If you are unsure how to do this, here are some tips.


LinkedIn was established specifically with recruitment in mind. It not only enables job seekers and employees to promote their skills, education and experience online, but also acts as a business network and provides a way for like-minded professionals to contact and connect with one another. 

If you or your business does not already have a presence on LinkedIn it is a good idea to set one up. Along with enabling you to network with fellow business owners, potential and existing customers, it will enable you to search for potential employees. Think of it as online dating for the corporate world, where you and job candidates can connect online before making the commitment to meet in person.

Twitter and Facebook

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Twitter and Facebook are just for teenagers or bored housewives. They are both very useful tools for promoting businesses and recruiting employees. Top quality employees want to work somewhere that offers more than just a great salary, they also want to work in supportive and enjoyable environments, too. 

Facebook and Twitter provide a great chance to show your company’s personality to potential job candidates, who will likely be searching through your Facebook page and Tweets to find out more about your business. If your company has taken part in a charity event, held a team-building day or any other social events, promote it on your Facebook page, because it will show potential employees that your company can offer more than just a nine-to-five job.

On a practical level, Facebook and Twitter are ideal places to advertise jobs. If a vacancy becomes available, post it on Facebook with a link to how applicants can apply. Also Tweet about it and encourage staff to Retweet it on Twitter.

Growing trend

Use of Social media isn’t a fad – it continues to grow. Google+ has become the latest social media tool that combines LinkedIn with Facebook and enables users to create separate professional and personal networks in one place.

There are many business benefits to using social media and businesses have realised it is a perfect tool to enhance their recruitment efforts. The fact is, failing to use social media could put your business at a distinct disadvantage when seeking to hire top quality employees.  

By editor and blogger Derin Clark writing on behalf of Octopus HR

Important lessons I've learned about recruitment

January 09, 2013 by Ian Cowley

Important lessons I’ve learned about recruitment/job interview{{}}Recruiting is fraught with problems, not least the sleepless nights that come when you know you’re responsible for someone else’s mortgage.

What should you do when your workload means you have to take on staff? I’m no expert, but here are a few tips I’ve picked from our own experience over the years.

Temp to perm

Forecasting at the start-up stage is hard. Yes, you’ve won a contract that requires extra staff for five months – but can you guarantee the work after that?

Plus, there’s nothing worse than employing the wrong person and having to spend time and money correcting the decision through training, HR or expensive calls to lawyers.

Temp-to-perm is a great solution and one we adopt in our warehouse. Firstly, it provides a means for both parties to test each other out. Secondly, employees prefer the transparency of this contract above the much-abused probationary period.  Thirdly, for those eager for a job, it’s a chance to prove their worth, driven by the end goal of a full-time position.

Start them young, train them up

You can create loyalty by investing in someone with potential, filling them with the encouragement, skills and confidence to act as your right arm. By dedicating time to teach an employee from scratch, before they’re influenced by bad habits from other companies, they have – in turn – benefited from quick promotion, yearly pay increases as a reflection of their capability and knowledge of exactly how you like something done.  Be careful, though, that you don't fall foul of age discrimination laws in your enthusiasm to give an inexperienced employee the benefit of the doubt.

Use agencies

Recruitment takes time; time you don’t have if you’re in the fortunate position to recruit. We use agencies now for 80 per cent of our workforce positions. A good agency with a clear brief will know what you want and it will manage the preliminary selection so that you can concentrate on seeing a strong shortlist. The commission agencies take is usually more cost-efficient than your time spent searching.

Ian Cowley is managing director of, the UK’s largest dedicated printer cartridge company.

Posted in Employees | Tagged recruitment | 0 comments

Employees and business responsibilities

June 14, 2010 by

In the latest installment of Marcela from Rico Mexican Kitchen's startup story, she employs her first member of staff and decides how best to distribute the everyday responsibilities.

Marcela was advised that her new employee would be extremely important to her business so she wanted to find someone she could trust and who could take on some of the responsibilities to allow her to concentrate on making Rico Mexican Kitchen a success. Having found that employee, can they find the right balance between friendship and work relationship?

With her new employee in place, they created a mind map to help them list all of the jobs that need to be done, who will be responsible for what and how they can support each other.

Do you have any advice for Marcela on her new employee and how having him around may affect her and the business? How can she ensure she is aware of what needs to be done at all times? How much input should she have in the work done by her employee now that they have split their responsibilities?

You can find out more about Marcela on the interactive business website

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