Archive for February, 2011

Recruitment Agencies 2011 and beyond

Friday, February 25th, 2011
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Recruitment Agencies 2011 and beyond

As a recruitment process outsourcing , and temporary managed service business, we are players in the same industry as traditional recruitment agencies. Stef, one of our newest members of staff looks at the state of traditional recruitment.

The recruitment industry as a whole took a severe hit in 2009 and 2010 and a number of recruitment companies did not survive the economic downturn with The Recruiter reporting again that a large number of recruitment agencies were put into administration during the last quarter of 2010.

This said, specialist sectors within the industry still continue to grow with The REC stating that employers are looking to continue to grow their permanent workforce in 2011 despite starting the year with a cautious approach. In addition to this they report that 32 per cent of employers plan to grow their temporary workforce over the next 12 months.   This is backed up by figures issued by the REC and KPMG showing that permanent and temporary staff billings continued to rise in the last quarter of 2010 showing a growth in permanent placements and a rise in the demand for temporary staff.

The main issues currently affecting the recruitment industry as a whole are the government’s policy regarding migrant workers, the Agency Workers Directive (AWD) which takes effect from the 1 October 2011 , the recent VAT rise and its impact on Public Sector recruitment costs, the Public Sector cuts casting a shadow over the jobs market in general, utilisation of the internet and mobile technology, and as ever agency profitability.

The recruitment industry will no doubt be faced with a number of specific challenges throughout 2011, alongside the longer term challenge of competing and growing RPO and inhouse recruitment models, but the figures published by the REC suggest that the medium term outlook at least seems to be more encouraging.

Written by Stafanie Cooke, a recruiter at PPS

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Agency Workers Directive 2011

Monday, February 21st, 2011
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The Agency Workers Directive (AWD) will be enforced in the UK from 1st October 2011. The main purpose of the Directive is to ensure the equal treatment and protection of temporary agency workers in terms of basic working and employment conditions which are pay, working hours, overtime, rest periods, holidays, training, access to shared facilities and internal job vacancies.

Equal treatment does not include the provision of a pension, occupational sick pay, redundancy pay, bonuses intended to reward longevity of service or loyalty and will not include any changes to the employment status of the temporary agency worker. An essential part of the Directive is that equal treatment rights will not come into effect until the temporary agency worker has been in an assignment for 12 weeks.

The implementation of the AWD will have major implications on the cost and use of agency workers. Yet research has suggested that approximately 60% of HR professionals are unaware that the Directive will be in place in less than 12 months.

This is a significant piece of legislation that carries severe consequences for non-compliance; getting it wrong could result in serious financial and legal ramifications. It is therefore essential for companies to start getting to grips with the potential areas of impact. Below are a few key questions and areas companies can be focusing on in anticipation of the Directive:

Find out more about the Agency Workers Directive here

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Typical Assessment Centre Exercises – Be prepared, Hints and Tips

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
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What happens at an assessment centre?

Assessment centres have always been prominent within recruitment. Traditionally they were used for bulk recruitment campaigns aimed at graduate or junior level roles; however more recently, there has been a trend towards applying the same techniques to more senior positions. This method of selection normally consists of a variety of activities, scheduled throughout the day assessing various skills.

So what can you expect when you attend an assessment centre and how do you prepare to ensure success?

Key points to consider prior to your assessment day

  • Plan your journey carefully to ensure you arrive in good time.
  • Always ask if the employer is willing to fund your transport/ accommodation.  Often travelling down the evening before your assessment will mean you feel fresher on the day.
  • It is highly recommended that you visit the company website to gain further understanding about the business, in addition to any other related publications or reports that will allow you to develop your knowledge on the business, and any factors affecting the business at that current time.
  • Complete a list of your main strengths, particularly those you feel may be applicable to the area for which you have applied. Think of ways you can utilise your key strengths in accordance with what the role requires.
  • Consider any areas of potential improvement and think about how you will address them.
  • Prepare any questions regarding the role and the company and take these along with you to discuss with the assessors.
  • Practice Aptitude tests online to familiarise yourself with the types of assessments you may be asked to complete on the day.
  • Always try and mingle with other candidates, this can sometimes make it less daunting during group exercises and at times assessors may be monitoring your communication skills and your ability to build relationships with others.
  • Use any coffee breaks to speak to assessors and create an impact. Use this time to ask questions and put across your interest.

Common Assessments and tips for success

At assessment centres the day will be planned in relation to the different exercises that will be due to take place. You are commonly provided with a schedule of the day, and informed of any specific times allocated to you to complete tests. You will need to focus upon each exercise as it happens. Remember your overall score is based on an accumulation of your scores throughout the day. So, if you think one aspect didn’t go very well, don’t give up, just ensure you try harder on the next task, and keep going.

Group exercises

Group exercises are in place to measure your ability to work within a team. Within these types of exercises, assessors are looking at how you articulate your ideas and your ability to listen to your team members. Exercises normally take the approach of an open discussion. Try and consider a valuable point to make, avoiding being seen as the loud or passive candidate.

Individual exercises

You may be required to complete aptitude and psychometric tests in addition to a variety of other individual exercises at an assessment day. These types of exercises predominately assess personal skills and your reasoning capacity. Ensure that you plan your work productively, considering the allocated time given to complete the work, and make sure you spend enough time on each section of the exercises.


It is common to be asked to complete a presentation at an assessment day. This may be something the recruiting company has asked you to prepare in advance, in which you will have to plan your time to ensure it’s ready to present to the assessors. The most common format assessors will look to follow is to ask you to prepare a presentation at the assessment day. Normally you will be given a topic or a choice of topics and each candidate will have 5- 10 minutes to prepare on the subject and present it to the group. You should aim to speak clearly and confidently being precise and to the point.

Psychometric testing

These types of tests are assessments not of your skills but of your personality. Employers practise these types of tests to evaluate your personality and behaviours. You may be asked to complete these types of tests online prior to or even during the assessment day. You need to be aware that there are no right or wrong answers to these types of tests; you just need to answer honestly. This can be one part of the assessment day that is of no stress to you!

Role Play

Role play exercises are normally based around a scenario which is directly related to the role you are applying for. Role plays allow the assessor to see how you cope with certain situations, in addition to how you demonstrate the required competencies for the role. The most common format followed is to be given a strategy paper and some allocated time to review and plan your response. This part of the planning will be assessing your ability to prioritise and manage your time effectively. Ensure that you demonstrate a positive approach and consider the key attributes employers are looking for within the role profile.

Biographical Interview

In addition to completing specific exercises, it is common to have an interview at your assessment day which will focus upon your qualifications and work experience. The interview will also address any areas assessors wish to discuss. It is helpful to take along a copy of your CV for this part of the day and use it to assist you with your discussion of your experiences and the responsibilities you have undertaken in your career.

After the assessment day

Clarify with the assessors when you will hear from them again as to the outcome of your performance. If you are unsuccessful you are entitled to ask for feedback. Most employers are happy to give this and it can be extremely helpful for making improvements and understanding how the scoring is completed at an assessment centre. Think about your performance and implement any changes you feel are necessary to improve your performance.

Overall, it is important to demonstrate a passion for the role and to demonstrate your skills and personality are a right fit for the recruiters brand.

Written by Louise Birch, a recruiter at recruitment process outsourcing company PPS.

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