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We deliver the best recruitment news and advice to the Tax, Legal, Finance and HR sectors, including market updates, CV tips, interview advice, and exclusive interviews.


Challenges of moving sectors for HR Professionals - Solutions from Sheena Macdonald

Having spoken with candidates and clients over the past couple of weeks, one of the pervasive topics was the challenges of moving sector within HR. I wanted to get a better insight into this matter and so I asked for the advice of a few senior HR professionals who we work with, who have successfully navigated multiple sector moves within their extensive HR careers. It seems that on the candidate side, the concern tends to be that they feel ‘pigeonholed’ and must follow the work, rather than be able to work in a variety of sectors and diversify their experience. On the client side, the view may be that they want candidates who are able to hit the ground running, who understand the challenges of the sector, and despite having empathy for the candidate’s position, the clients have their business needs to consider. Here, I speak with Sheena Macdonald – previous Global Head of Talent Management at British Council, Current HR Interim/Consultant - to get her thoughts on how to best navigate a move in the HR sector. How have you managed to move sector effectively? Do you have useful tips for application or interview? Great questions. I’ve worked in retail, travel, mining, local government, charity/third sector & most recently a membership organisation. My top tip for those who want to diversify their experience (whether to have a wider range of future opportunities available or for learning and professional growth or both) is to use interim assignments to build your experience. I’ve found that, depending on how specialised the skills needed are, the employer’s criteria can be a bit different than with a perm role. If you are immediately available, have at least 75% of what they need, are willing to operate outside your comfort zone for the rest, and they perceive you to be a good fit for their culture & immediate team, there is a chance that you will be able to pick up interesting and different work. Having a mix of perm & contract assignments has helped me to broaden my experience, even though it would probably have been more psychologically comfortable and financially predictable to go for long term perm roles in the sector I started off in. Obviously, not everyone is able to leave the safety of a job to up and do this but if you are between roles, interim could be an option you wouldn’t normally consider. If so, your application and interview need to really sell the transferability of your skills, as you may be up against people already working in that sector, and employers are understandably inclined to minimise the perceived risk of things not working out, by sticking to what they know or what has worked in the past. What I have always done in this situation is pick out the aspects of my skills & experience which would not only be a strong fit for the role but could give me an advantage over people already in that sector. The obvious one is promoting commercial and business skills gained in the private sector, for public sector roles where other candidates may not be able to offer this. I've also tried to make full use of my network (Linkedin is helpful here) by talking to people I know (or even approaching connections of connections) about what it’s like to work in that organisation/sector, what advice they would give someone seeking to move into it, how could your kind of experience be an advantage etc. You just won’t know this unless you ask, as we all suffer from various stereotyped notions. Do you have any advice for candidates who feel ‘pigeonholed’? Make sure your CV/LinkedIn profile (including what you post about, like and share) highlights your transferable skills/experiences/credentials/interests so that you are not defined purely by the organisation or sector that you work in (and the preconceptions that may go with it). Go to events and meet people from other sectors, read widely so that you can ’talk the talk’ and genuinely know what the big issues are. It is hard to talk persuasively in an interview about the value you could bring to this new environment if all you have done is a little bit of research just beforehand. There is a stereotype that public to private sector movers would struggle to adapt to the pace of work and in turn, that private sector to public movers would feel frustrated with the red tape, bureaucracy and different nature of stakeholders. What is your experience of this? Sheena: Although there's some truth in these stereotypes, I have found them misleading. It depends on what kind of public or private sector organisation you find yourself in, at what stage in its development it is, under what kind of leadership, even how large it is. I have seen very bureaucratic private sector organisations and fast-paced, decisive public sector organisations. I would urge candidates to keep an open mind. If clients have a perception that a public sector candidate would struggle to adapt to the pace of their private sector organisation, there is a lot that a candidate can do to counter this, using examples which demonstrate pace and tangible outcomes, asking great business questions if interviewed What change would you like to see from a client perspective – whether it is what you’d like to see from potential employers or what you as an employer would like to see in a candidate wanting to move sectors? I've always seen a great temptation among hiring managers to use past sector/employer experience as a shorthand for how easily the candidate would ‘fit in’ and be effective. This is a form of unconscious bias that I fear legislation will never reach! A candidate seeking to move sectors will probably have to offer something compelling to overcome this. It could be (as mentioned above) immediate availability along with a strong if not perfect fit. It could be a very well-articulated case for why the skills they have are not only transferable but offer an advantage over the more familiar sector skill set. When announcing a new hire, a hiring manager will normally be expected to give some details about their professional background (the more senior, the more this is the case). A more risk-averse manager may, therefore, gravitate towards 'no-brainer' candidates whose past CV makes them appear a 100% safe bet, even if they don’t turn out to be. A smart manager (assuming they have a decent candidate field) will choose someone who can bring not only what’s needed but maybe something new. In this situation, the candidate could help them understand what this is - maybe even give them the language to express it. Then, of course, they must perform well and justify the relative risk that the hiring manager may have taken! A cross-sector hiring fail could reduce future confidence, and at worst, turn into an organisational cautionary tale - which will only make the situation worse. I hope the above has offered some guidance and reassurance to HR Professionals in this position, and perhaps offered a new perspective for employers. I look forward to sharing more insights in this series. For more information about this article, or to speak to Akhil about your recruiting needs or HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696350 or


10 Things You Didn't Know About Hilary Anderson, Head of Recruitment at Metropolitan Housing Association

Hilary Anderson is the Head Of Recruitment at Metropolitan Housing Association. The Metropolitan Housing Association deliver care and support to customers with a wide range of needs, specialising in services for older people and for people with mental health issues and learning disabilities. We also deliver a wide range of shorter-term services which provide customers with intensive support. Find out more about Hilary in this 60-second read. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago on how to become a Head of Recruitment? Don’t wait to be asked, if you see something could be improved be brave and put your ideas forward It takes time and can be uncomfortable at times but, create your networks, you can have the best ideas in the world but people buy into you as much as what you know or can do for them What is your greatest career achievement? Having great people to work with, it’s amazing, the more I do this the luckier I get with my teams What is the best thing about working for Metropolitan Thames Valley? Working with people who are passionate about making a real difference in people’s lives, sounds a bit trite but it’s absolutely, unequivocally and unconditionally true How would your team describe you? Always wanting the best for them, not always nice but always loyal and ready to support when you truly need it. If not in HR/Recruitment, what would the dream be? Archaeologist Biggest superstition/fear? Spiders and not being good enough Favourite film? Depends on my mood, Out of Africa, Second Hand Lions, I like happy endings. Favourite holiday destination and why? Too many to choose from and I haven’t been everywhere yet, I love the Middle East because of its history, Italy (ditto) I’m happy scrambling around ruins, placing my feet where people lived thousands of years ago is fascinating. If you were able to invite 4 people to dinner (alive or passed), who would you invite, and why? Martin Luther King, Titus Vespasian, Howard Carter, Marilyn Monroe, I could ask them what really happened. Who is your hero/idol? My Father For more information about this article, or to speak to Richard about your recruiting needs or HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696353 or


A Career in HR Recruitment

Looking for a new career? Here’s a 3-minute read of Akhil’s experience of being a graduate looking for a job and deciding on a career in HR recruitment Turning a new leaf: Following my graduation with a degree in Law and Economics, I jumped into a legal career, working in a fee-earning capacity as a paralegal. Whilst I found the work interesting and stimulating, it didn’t feel like what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. We spend a substantial amount of our time at work, I thought I may as well enjoy it! I threw caution to the wind and joined Pro soon after. Below are my thoughts on the experience so far. After an intensive 6 weeks of training, I graduated from the Associate Consultant programme at Pro-Recruitment. Whilst I had done interesting work within all the sectors that Pro specialises in, I gelled with a couple of sectors in particular – due to the emotional intelligence of the teams who work within them, the nature of the work and the quality of candidates I worked with. I ended up choosing to work exclusively within Pro-HR, as much as they chose me! Fast-forward to January and I am well settled within the HR team, with no regrets. I’ve learned a substantial amount within a short period of time which is a credit to the duality of the team’s coaching approach; nurturing and supportive, yet constructive and fair in their criticism. From soft skills such as negotiating, influencing, listening and understanding a client or candidate’s needs, to technical skills involving efficient use of Applicant Tracking Systems, understanding the HR sector in depth, headhunting, matching and the entire end-to-end recruitment process, I feel eager to learn more. Why I chose HR: I took to HR as a sector naturally, having worked closely with my colleague Richard Grove (an experienced senior consultant in HR), during my initial training. The nature of the clients we work with allow me to truly enjoy my work, from world-renowned Russell Group Universities to international charities with noble causes. Visiting these organisations and conversing with their HR leaders allowed me to get an in-depth understanding of exactly what and who they were looking for, as well as forge lasting relationships - based on professionalism, accountability, commitment, and trust. These values extend across Pro-Group as a whole, with different teams specialising within Marketing, Tax, Legal and Finance, as well as HR. At Pro-HR, we pride ourselves on specialising in senior end recruitment, primarily within Public Sector, Higher Education and Charities, allowing us to provide a precise and personal service to both our candidates and our clients. In time, with the growth of the team, we will look to diversify to the Private Sector. This ‘quality not quantity’ attitude gives me real satisfaction and I particularly enjoy finding and building relationships with candidates who are lateral thinkers, shapers and influencers. My aim is to build a robust understanding of the HR sector, with particular respect to the issues it faces and match-making candidates who are positioned to provide solutions with forward-thinking organisations. Emotional Intelligence and recruitment: I spoke briefly about emotional intelligence earlier and I’d like to discuss my thoughts on its value in recruitment a little more. Emotional Intelligence is defined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, in their influential article as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions’ Whenever we meet anyone, we go through active and subconscious thought processes, where we gauge mannerisms, measure responses, amongst other qualities. Possessing innate emotional intelligence and developing it actively, in my opinion, will always allow us to provide the best service to clients and candidates – and therein lies the value of what we at Pro-HR and the wider Pro-Group do. Especially within senior end recruitment and my experiences in HR as a sector, it’s clear to me, even in the infancy of my recruitment career that a candidate is not just defined by their qualifications or their CV, nor is an employer defined by their job descriptions. To this end, we endeavour to only work with clients and candidates we have personally met, to allow us to dig deeper and get a shrewd insight into motivations, culture, and fit. Meeting our candidates and clients personally allows me to build a rapport that allows me to identify who stand out, and who I want to pro-actively work with. For more information about how I can help with your career in HR or recruitment, feel free to give me a ring on 020 7269 6350 or email me


Create a culture where everyone has equal opportunities

There has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace over the years. This year it has been very refreshing to learn how firms are promoting a positive integration between work and life, to create an environment that influences career development and that empowers everyone. Furthermore, promoting an environment regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation, encourages individuals to feel valued for being the person that they are. Take some time to read some examples of how the Big 4, Mid-tier firms promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Big 4 PWC EY Deloitte KPMG Mid-Tier Grant Thornton BDO RSM Encouraging diversity at Pro-Recruitment Group: Here at Pro-Group, recruitment consultants are trained on diversity and inclusion and for each individual piece of recruitment we do, we will ensure that we present a diverse pool of candidates to our clients that match the brief. We have strict guidelines on equal opportunities and diversity and pride ourselves on ensuring our attraction methods reach as diverse a pool of talent as possible in-line with our client’s own policy. Some examples of this include: - GDPR compliant recruitment website & CRM system. - Drafting advertisements in a way that encourages applications from all suitable backgrounds. - Support for the unemployed – offering interview training and coaching free of charge for those in long-term unemployment. We also provide business attire and dry cleaning in preparation of interview as well as working with a firm who work exclusively with ex-service personnel looking for employment. - Engagement with colleges, universities and schools. An example of this is when Tom Eagle, Associate Director, recently presented to students at LSBU about a career in tax and finance and provided key interview tips and guidance. - Engagement with groups such as LGBTQ, disability, communities and BEME groups. This is an ongoing progress and championed by our own diversity and LGBTQ champion here at Pro – Matt Davidson – Principal consultant in our Not-for-profit team. - Women in Tax – Alison Keogh, Director, is part of a network for women in the profession to raise the voice of women. We have also chaired an event with Sue Kukadia (Global Immigration Specialist) on diversity and inclusion and an event with BDO challenging views on disabilities and those facing long-term unemployment. - Our Not-for-profit and charities team have key relationships with many charities that exist to serve the disadvantaged and a wide section of the community and society. We regularly engage with our contacts in these organisations when searching for talent both for specific pieces and on an ongoing basis. - Our CRM system has over 90,000 candidates on it from a wide range of industries and backgrounds. Example of our own Findings Below is our analysis of that last six months placements around D&I and gender: - Out of the placements we have made this year in tax across both in-house and consulting, 65% of them have been male. - Out of 22 placements that we have made in-house 12 male and 10 female. - Out of 111 placements that we have made in consulting 64 male and 47 female. - Out of the 22 placements that we made in-house, from consulting firms only 3 were female and 5 were male. - Out of the other 14 people that we placed in-house they were all from in-house tax teams 7 were male and 7 were female. - In terms of advertising, 53 of the 111 were from advertising the rest were from pro-active approaches on our database and LinkedIn. - Out of the 53, 24 of them were female and the rest male but its about 50/50 from in-house and consulting. - Diversity and inclusion have a big influence towards my role and the relationships that I have with my network, to ensure that I can deliver the needs of both my candidates and clients that I am working with. For more information about this article, or to speak to Dominic about opportunities that promote diversity and inclusion, contact him at


All I Want for Christmas Is a HR Interim Role

Are you a Senior HR professional looking to secure a HR Interim role in the New Year? Why Wait? In the current market, we are increasingly seeing Senior HR Professionals move into the world of interim, new approaches to work-life balance, exploring personal interests, engaging in new challenges and a simple way of experiencing different industries are some of the many reasons. In this short article, I'll look at why it's a good idea to start looking for a HR Interim role before the new year really kicks off and what benefits an interim role can offer. Why Interim HR? Interims are viewed as being specialists in their chosen areas and can come in with a fresh outlook on projects and challenges making them invaluable to organisations. The benefits of working as an interim/senior temp in within HR are numerous, as mentioned above, work-life balance is high on the list along with having the opportunity to select the most interesting projects or the ones that you feel will give you that additional edge going forward. High-level HR interims tend to feel a greater sense of job satisfaction to permanent fixtures as they have more ability to control their working life and have an end goal which suits results-oriented project focused HR managers. Why Apply for HR Interim Roles Now? We are fast approaching the end of 2018 and it can be tempting to think ‘I’ll look in the new year’, this mindset could cause you to miss out on fantastic opportunities to join a new organisation, take on an interesting new project and hit the ground running in the new year, as opposed to joining the many other immediately available, qualified professionals in the race for the right new role in January. Historically January is a quiet time on the recruitment front, people returning from the festive break, settling back into their roles and picking back up on previous personnel requirements meaning the process can essentially start from scratch, if you are already in there, this won’t happen! Now, let’s talk Christmas, it costs a lot of money! There are the parties, the presents, the drinks, the lunches and the travel to organise. Securing yourself a great new interim HR role before the Christmas break means more Christmas spending money, less stress looking for work in the new year and something to look forward to! Interim HR professionals tend to work on the more niche, interesting and challenging roles and with this, comes a higher financial reward. Pro-HR works tirelessly over the holiday period ensuring our clients are fully stocked and ready to hit all their new year goals straight off the bat. Currently working on some great roles and with some amazing Senior Interims. Now would be a great time to get in touch, whether you are looking to explore the interim HR world, looking for your next interim HR role or just want an informal chat about the HR market and possibilities. For more information about this article, or to speak to Stacey about your recruiting needs or interim HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696334 or


How You Can Make the Most of December in HR

Christmas is always a tough time for professionals working in HR, especially HR Directors. As a HR recruiter, I’m always torn as to whether I’m looking forward to Christmas or not, from a work perspective at least. Whilst I must note that I absolutely love Christmas, it can have a negative effect on the workforce or those on the market. So with so much going on in December how do you keep motivated and keep productivity up at work in December? In this quick 2 minute read I'll look to give you the best ways to combat December head on, keep the best talent coming in right up until Christmas and ultimately start the New Year off in the right way. Christmas is a great time to plan for the year ahead and finish off any existing projects but for some businesses, Christmas can prove to be challenging. So what are the most common issues facing HR in companies during this festive period? Well, I've listed the top four positives and negatives that keep coming up when I speak with HR professionals: Pros Cons Secret Santa Recruitment delays which can lead to a negative experience for new candidates Drinking on a school night isn’t frowned upon Availability to meet/interview with senior staff/ key stakeholders is near impossible An endless supply of food on desks Sickness Great morale An influx of annual leave 1. Recruitment delays All the above in the “Cons” section are a recurring issue that several businesses face during the Christmas period, but for those who can combat the above have an excellent chance of starting the New Year on the front foot. But how do you combat these issues? Whilst I’d be keen to hear how HR directors and HR managers combat Sickness and the flurry of annual leave, I have listed my thoughts below on the other areas: Be clear on how desperate you are to get this person/s in; Is it business critical? What impact will it have if you push the recruitment into January? Do you or your team have the time and capacity to recruit this person? Do you have the budget to recruit and what is the difference in costs between recruiting direct or via an agency? 2. Availability Relating to interviews, is it possible to block out time in someone’s diary in advance so that you have pre-agreed interview slots? The further ahead of time where you can book such meetings the greater chance that candidates can make arrangements. Remember it's important to consider what impact a delayed or cancelled meeting may have on your brand or chances of securing the best talent? 3. Motivating staff It's imperative to keep staff motivated throughout December in the lead up to Christmas. With shopping, partying and socialising all ramping up towards holidays employees can sometimes check out both entally and physically. The best way to combat this is to try to create a fun environment. Having spoken with a number of HR Directors some of the best suggestions that I've encountered are: Team competitions Decorations Be a bit flexible when it comes to working hours – If people need to leave earlier or start slightly later, this can have a very good effect on morale. Gee up the troops! Set short term and long term targets and highlight wins, no matter how big or small 4. Plan your year While the new year may seem like a hazy dot on the horizon it'll come round a lot quicker than you think. Have a plan and get working on it so that when January comes around you aren't blindsided by a hundred different things and lose focus on the bigger picture. Discuss plans for next year and in particular what your staff's personal goals are. If you can visualise the end goal or measure the success, how are you going to get these? What do you want to achieve next year? What do you want to change in your life? How are you going to measure success? What do you need to do for the remainder of the year to start on the front foot for next year? While it can be easy to let December slip away and get swept up in all the jollities of the season, being organised and planning ahead can really minimise the impact that Christmas has on your business. If you manage to really nail your HR functions in December ahead of the January rush then you'll hit the ground running in January. For more information about this article, or to speak to Richard about your recruiting needs or HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696353 or


5 Signs That One of your Team is Considering a Move

Every manager dreads that conversation with a valued team member, often pre-empted by the email that reads ‘can I have a word?’ We have done a lot of research at Pro-Legal to help our clients retain their best people and being able to spot the tell-tale signs of dissatisfaction so that you can proactively manage the situation. I am not going to be so facile as to list: short notice leave requests, dubious “Doctor’s appointments” (people rarely book a Doctor’s appointment for the middle of the afternoon, by the way) or furtive whispered conversations on their mobile in a meeting room with the lights off or in the stairwell. These are all signs that someone is at final interview stages and in most instances, that’s too late. As an aside, if you are on an interview, never take or make calls in a stairwell, impaired lines of sight and how far sound travels in a stairwell are the perfect ingredients for being overheard by someone you don’t want to overhear you! But I digress… For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on those very initial stages when people are considering a move. How can you spot a festering dissatisfaction at an early enough stage? Not wanting to talk about their career aspirations If a team member is evasive or non-committal when asked about their career aspirations, they are starting to feel that you might not be a part of their career aspirations. Lawyers are ambitious virtually without exception. This is not to say that they all want partnership or to be a GC but they all want continuous development. Bland appraisals and one-to-ones I am always amazed by the number of times I hear something along the lines of, “The resignation came out of the blue, we had his/her appraisal about a month ago and he/she said he/she was everything was fine…” I have never known EVERYTHING to be fine! If we as managers are honest with ourselves, we often suspect that we are being fobbed off but we are scared of pushing the point and hearing something that makes us uncomfortable. No manager has a monopoly on reason or good ideas and consistently asking your team members what they would change about the current set up will open up the possibility of them suggesting improvements that could really make a difference and give you the edge. It also enhances communication and their feeling of enfranchisement. It will also give you an early warning of them losing their commitment to your cause. They are ambivalent to change Lawyers are, generally speaking, a risk-averse bunch. They will meet any change, such as those to working practices, strategy, policies, reward structures or hierarchical structures, with scrutiny. That scrutiny will result in them concluding that it is a good or bad thing for them and reacting accordingly. If the reaction is ambivalence they are not considering the change to be something that will affect them for very long. They have booked a holiday for a few months’ time but not booked the time off The situation here is quite advanced; they (possibly subconsciously) have an exit timeframe in mind. You have no choice but to confront them about this but do it in a way that will precipitate a meaningful, productive conversation. “You’re an important member of this team and experience tells me that when someone books a holiday without booking annual leave, they’re checking out…” They have had the same job function for over 18 months and there is no sign of it changing in the next 6 months 64% of lawyers we surveyed said they would consider a move but that number rises to a whopping 86% when just surveying those who have been in their current role for over 18 months. If we exclude the lawyers who are currently in practice and want to move in-house, the most common reasons for leaving are to get more seniority, responsibility or complexity. In short, if an individual isn’t progressing internally roughly every two years, they start to think about looking externally. It is all well and good to be able to spot these signs but dealing with them is another matter. It is important to remember that a) you may not be able to change their mind and b) the sacrifices you might have to make to change their mind may not be worth it from a commercial or personal perspective. It is also worth remembering that prevention is better than cure and that there is no panacea for the broad spectrum of staff disquiet. Moreover, nothing will eradicate staff turnover entirely but being able to spot these things will help you prevent departures in some instances and be it will prepare you for departures and enable to plan accordingly in other instances. For more information about this article, or to speak to Nick about your recruiting needs or Legal jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696328 or


10 Things You Didn't Know About: Peta Newlin, Interim Head of Human Resources

Peta Newlin is an accomplished and qualified Head of HR professional with extensive managerial experience, working as part of the Senior Leadership team across the whole spectrum of HR, L&D, OD and contract management. She has worked in private and public sector in strategy development, recruitment, payroll, employee engagement, process redesign, cultural change, policy review and design, OD, systems, data analytics, ER, benefits. What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago on how to become a senior leader in HR? Three things; 1. Don’t underestimate your ability; keep believing. 2. Learn from your mistakes. No one ever improved without making a few mistakes along the way. 3. Don’t be afraid to ask your team if they can they offer solutions to issues; they’ll be only too pleased to help! What is your greatest career achievement? Taking on a role in an area which I had little strategic expertise in. I worked hard and within eighteen months with the help of the most fantastic team, I had rolled out employee self service on a HR/Payroll system to 5000 staff at multi sites, obtained IiP status where it had previously not been achieved, procured and rolled out a Management Development Programme, designed and launched a start up apprenticeship programme & launched e-learning to all staff. All of which linked to our People Strategy. Who is the best manager you’ve worked for and why? Anne-Marie Scott; she encouraged me, steered away from micro managing me, was approachable and very knowledgable. She believed in my ability and encouraged me to do the same. I still go to her for advice now. How would your team describe you? Ooh, I think you’d have to ask them that! My last sizeable team provided me with great feedback, stating that was I was clear about our objectives, incredibly fair, kind and supportive. They were fabulous too. I knew I could trust and rely upon them to deliver. If not in HR, what would the dream be? Organising big events like weddings, balls and charity do’s. I love all of the detail of planning, buying beautiful things and making people feel special. Biggest superstition/fear? Not walking under ladders! What is your morning routine before work? Builders tea (X2), shower, check the weather before I get dressed and some meditation if I have time. Finally, kiss my husband goodbye. Favourite holiday destination and why? Cyprus, it’s my little bolt hole in the sun. Lovely long walks on the beach, relaxing, shopping & reading all the books that I haven’t had chance to read all year. If you were able to invite four people to dinner (alive or passed), who would you invite, and why? My Dad who passed away way too early, Dr Mark Kilgallon who has coached me and is so inspiring, Alan Sugar, who would make my ideal boss and Micky Flanagan for the crack. What is your life hack/top tip? Don’t put off today what you you can do tomorrow. For more information about this article, or to speak to Richard about your recruiting needs or HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 02072696353 or


The Pro-Group Christmas Quiz 2018

On Tuesday 4th December, Pro-Recruitment held its infamous annual Christmas Quiz, and what a night it was. With the best and brightest from across the worlds of HR, Tax, Finance and Legal, 26 teams went head to head for the much-coveted title of Pro-Recruitment Christmas Quiz Champions 2018. The competitive streak in some of the teams was evident from the outset and with company rivalries and reputation at stake, the night promised to be a hotly contested one. With Directors Pat and Ali compèring, the first three rounds flew by. Who knew the USA won the boomerang throwing championships in 12 out of the first 13 years when it was introduced in 1981? The picture round proved to be a point of contention for many teams and “Ohh that’s what’s his face” and “I know her but I just don’t know her name” were heard up and down the room. With the first half of the quiz out of the way, it was time for some well-deserved food. Whilst the room was happily munching away and assessing their individual performances the scores were being totted up by our expert markers. Scores at halftime showed that it had been a very tight half, with a mere three points separating the top five teams. With the food cleared away, the quiz was underway again with everything to play for. The Science, Christmas and What Comes Next rounds really put the teams to the test and threw out some curveballs such as, Who played the character Lee Christmas in The Expendables series of action films? The final (and most popular) Music round was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the quiz. We had Director Alison rapping the lyrics of the hit song In My Feelings, Drake eat your heart out is all we can say! We found out that Paul McCartney’s middle name is actually... Paul, go figure. To top it off we had the whole room singing along to the Lighthouse family trying to figure out the next line. The quiz concluded with the revealing of the answers to the picture round, Elon Musk makes a very convincing Santa. Pat was responsible for the big reveal and coming in a very respectable third were PWC’s We Are The Quiz Wells hot on the heels of Elman Wall’s Penny Patrol in second. The undisputed champions of the Pro-Group’s Christmas Quiz 2018 were Kingston Smith’s We Count Ants who now have bragging rights going into 2019’s quiz. Thank you to everyone who came and participated, we hope you all had a fantastic evening. Special thanks to all the staff at Pro who worked so hard to make the event such a success. We all look forward to seeing you again in 2019. To find out about upcoming Pro-Recruitment events or to speak to George about your recruiting needs contact him on 02072696318 or


What does it take to be a successful Senior HR Interim?

Are you a HR Director or senior HR professional looking to make the switch from permanent to interim? Interim HR jobs may be a temporary provision of Human Resources but they are far from a stop gap for those working in HR. No, HR interim jobs are usually reserved for those HR heavyweights who have proven themselves time and again. Surviving and excelling as a successful Senior HR interim is a different ball game to being a successful permanent fixture. Interim HR jobs come with the benefits of flexibility, financial rewards and the opportunity to work alongside some very impressive and talented people while taking on challenging and interesting projects. However, it isn't a calling for everybody and this article attempts to help you determine whether you'd flourish or fail in an interim HR job. How does your CV hold up against all the other experienced interims on the market? As senior HR interims tend to earn a higher rate than their permanent counterparts they are expected to be the best in a competitive market. With this in mind, you've got be sure that you stand out. Think about what your key strengths are and how you can match these to a client's needs. Highlight these key skills on your CV and portfolio so that the client can easily pinpoint exactly how you can help them when reading your application. Are you financially independent? It would be great to live in an economy where HR interims are consistently going from contract to contract. Unfortunately, the reality is there are often gaps between assignments. Some of these gaps can even last for a few months so you need to ensure that you have a plan B if interim work slows down. Ask yourself, are you are able to survive if you were to go three months without work? What are your interview skills like? Interviews for interim HR jobs are a much shorter, competitive and urgent than a traditional permanent role interview. You may only have one chance to make a good impression and get people to buy into you and what you can offer their organisation. Would you be confident, mentally strong and physically able to constantly take on a new role and environment every few months? Interim contractors have short notice periods, which means you are quickly and easily replaced. You need to be willing to pull out all the stops and work at your highest possible level to ensure you stay at the top of your game and be seen as irreplaceable. Changing your working environment and the colleagues you surround yourself with regularly can be mentally taxing, all those names to remember! How strong is your network? Good interim roles need good people, the best interim roles you will find will be on platforms such as LinkedIn so make sure you are connected to the right people and consultants who can help you when you are in between contracts. We spoke with an Interim Senior Recruitment and Resourcing Specialist who has been working successfully as an interim for six years throughout charities, educational institutes and regulatory bodies. As a Recruitment Specialist, he works both angles, as a hiring manager and candidate. What advice would you give someone that is looking to start their interim HR career? To understand that it’s not a permanent role and doesn't have the security or benefits a perm would have. You need to be adaptable and flexible (stepping into new projects and quickly get up to speed). It’s a pressurized environment and things need to get done quick. You must be very proactive and not rely on others to give you the answers. Contractors are recruited for their expertise and are relied upon for advice and answers. Be clear about why you want to become an interim and what success would look like, research the market, talk to and listen to recruiters and experienced interims who know your market and the decision makers, understand the IR35 legislation and the tax issues around setting up your own limited company, set an achievable financial plan and most importantly clarify and articulate your USP - what are you selling and how will you differentiate yourself in a crowded market where you will be in competition for work with experienced interims who have a track record. Your first role is crucial to begin to build an interim CV so be prepared to compromise on the money, the role, the location, the sector, the organisation What would you say your biggest challenges are as an interim? The changing demands of the role and working on multiple projects. Currently, I'm working on 6 different projects. When I was starting out it was managing the breaks between contracts and accepting that this is a natural part of being an interim; now it's all about keeping in contact with my network and understanding a changing market in order to adapt my own proposition. Understanding IR35 in the public sector (and its potential impact from 2020 in the private sector) is crucial What do you look for when recruiting interims for your team? Their CV must show they have been contracting for a while. I personally would not recruit someone who has been permanent and now wants to move into a contracting role, unless its a low-level contract. A track record and the ability to remain an objective, independent third-party interim who is prepared to challenge the status quo while at the same time clearly shows an understanding, empathy and (short-term but absolute) commitment to the organisation and the team; also somebody who can articulate what success looked like in previous roles (i.e. outcomes) rather than just listing job description-type functions (i.e. outputs). Moving from role to role and organisation to organisation regularly means that relationship skills are incredibly important along with the ability build trust quickly at all levels you still interested in senior interim HR jobs? Whilst working as a Senior HR interim can throw up many challenges and takes nerves of steel it can be an incredibly rewarding career path for HR professionals. Having read the above, if you feel you have what it takes to make it in an interim HR job then please get in touch with Stacey on the details below. For more information about this article, or to speak to Stacey about your recruiting needs or interim HR jobs in London or Nationwide, contact her on 02072696334 or


Is Your Long Commute Really Worth It?

Are you a Finance, Tax, Legal or HR professional commuting over two hours every day? According to the TUC, the service sector has seen the biggest increase in travel time over the last decade, with 130% more workers travelling for two or more hours a day than in 2004. Serious disruption at Paddington, a week of strikes on South Western Railway coupled with major signal failures has spelt misery for thousands this month. Leading many sector service professionals to question whether their commute is worth it? This blog will take a quick look at the pros and cons of making long commutes and what alternatives are out there. Money Let's be honest, money is the reason a lot of people commute to London. According to the office for national statistics, jobs in London topped the regional list for median earnings for full-time employees by place of work, at £713 per week. This is £124 more per week more than the next highest. Salary bands for jobs in London are often higher, but, there a few things you should consider. It is well known that rent and house prices in London are far higher than anywhere else in the UK. You get less for your money and pay a premium for the privilege. Whilst rent prices are often lower outside of the city you have to consider the cost of commuting into London. According to the BBC, a full-time worker on the median wage for London will spend an average of 11p in every £1 of their salary on an annual pass, after tax. Prices are set to rise by 3.2% next year too. While jobs in London are often a popular choice among professionals, it is worth looking at opportunities outside of London. For example, a Tax Director working for one of the Big 4 firms in London can earn anywhere from £110,000 to £200,000. If you compare that with one of the Big 4's regional offices, Tax Directors can command anywhere between £95,000 and £140,000. We recommend that you speak with a regional recruiter, whether it be Finance, Tax Legal or HR, you never know, there could be something a lot closer to home! Timing According to the government's transport statistics report, people working in London have the longest average commute. With the average rail commute taking 59 minutes compared with the average driving commute taking 30 minutes in the UK, how much of your time is lost getting to and from work? As the saying goes “Time is Money” and while there are many compelling arguments in favour of counting time spent commuting as work time, this has yet to come to fruition. Working locally gives you the flexibility to drive to work and cut down on the time spent in transit. That means more free time to spend with the family, exercising or even finishing off your CV. Again there are a few things that you need to consider about commuting via car. Firstly, do the local roads become carnage at 8 am and 6 pm? Also, will finding that elusive parking space add to your morning stress? Ref: Department of Transport. Transport Statistics Great Britain 2017 The commute to London isn’t straightforward either. House prices in commuter towns are still pretty high, even more so when they’re in walking distance of a rail station. If you’re not fortunate enough to live close to a station how will that impact your commute? Will you need to drive, get a lift or even take a bus? These all add time and money to your commute and a missed connection is the worst way to start a working day. When you do finally arrive in Central London, how far from the office are you? If you’re lucky you can walk or make use of one of the many cycle hire schemes the capital has. Otherwise is it another packed bus or tube ride? One upside of a long commute is the opportunity for a bit of personal time, you can make the most of your transit time in however you see best. According to a study conducted by Dr David Bissell of Australian National University participants said commuting time was the only time they got to themselves during the week, and so used it to dream, relax and meditate. Conclusion With everyone’s situation being different, there's no clear answer as to the best solution. Different routines work for different people, however, you can always make an informed decision if you know the facts. Essentially, it is a toss-up between time vs money. Does the money you earn at work justify the time you spend commuting? Gain an understanding of salary differences for jobs in London compared to where you live and then look at the financial impact that both options have on your life. Take into account commute options and you can start to build a picture of which option works best for you. Don’t forget to take into consideration flexible working options that may be available to you which could ease your commuting situation. There are clearly a few options here and depending on influences such as salary and expense, the following could work for you: Live regionally but work in London - rent is a lot cheaper and your salary will still be at a premium, although travel costs may be significant Live and work in London - save money on travel but use a lot of that top end salary on higher rent prices Live and work regionally - generally earn considerably less but benefit from cheaper housing prices. The problem is that with less public transport, comes the need to potentially own a car, another sizeable cost. Pro-Recruitment is a recruitment agency in London and our consultants specialise in Tax jobs, Finance jobs, Legal jobs and HR jobs. Our recruiters are able to offer expert advice on jobs in London and nationwide as well as CV advice. Contact us today on 02072696333 for a discussion on your next career move.


6 Staff Retention Tips To Improve Your Business

Are you supporting a high growth business in the UK but also one who suffers from 15% or higher staff turnover rate? As recruitment specialists, we know that a key goal of yours it to keep your staff happy, so your business can flourish. According to Glassdoor, the average employer spends about £3,000 and 27.5 days to hire a new worker. We work with businesses who are working really hard to improve their staff retention. This speedy 2-minute read will give some insight about how you can improve your employee relations and your staff retention. 1. Certainty 2. Variety 3. Significance 4. Connection 5. Growth 6. Contribution 1. Certainty Job security is one of the key aspects that you need to promote within your company to improve staff retention. Whether you are a HR Director or a Tax Recruiter, all employees need to have confidence in the security of their job. Doubts over the company's success will have a big impact on performance and your bottom line. If employees feel stressed, their work will suffer and this will have a knock-on effect on the team. How do you prevent uncertainty and negative gossip? Keep your staff informed on how the company is performing. Keeping your team in the know will build trust and develop strong employee relations. If your staff can see how well your company is performing then they'll feel more certain about their job security. Also, reassure your team of their value to you and the company. Employees like to feel wanted and needed. 2. Variety Variety is the spice of life! Talent and skill utilisation is another factor your key employees seek in your workplace. Often, when candidates register with us they want to try something new but are unable to do so in their current firm. Motivated employees want to contribute to work areas outside of their specific job description. Think about offering work that wouldn’t fit into their portfolio. How many people in your business would value from working in another team or on a different project? You need to know their skills, talent, and experience, and take the time to develop this to your advantage. 3. Significance Everyone loves to feel important! However, With 69% of workers polled saying their boss didn’t support their career goals, it seems as though this point is being overlooked by many. We like to think that our actions have an impact in the world and that we add real value. If someone is doing a good job, ensure that they know about it. Making sure that your team know that they are valued will go a long way in the company. Frequently saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way. As recruitment experts, we head from candidates looking to move and there is a common theme that people don’t feel valued. Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated. This can be reflected by pay rises, job titles or heaping praise on someone in front of others. No member of staff should be made to feel like an unnecessary cog in the machine. 4. Connection Team rapport is essential for any company to be successful. Team building activities, nights out and regular meetings are great ways to ensure staff bond. The change of scenery can only add to this positive feeling. This is something many companies miss out on and it does make a difference. We at Pro-Group pride ourselves on our family-feel office and this team-bonding time is essential in maintaining a happy workplace. The saying “You spend more time with the people you work with than you do with your friends and family” is very true. That's why creating a welcoming place where people enjoy their environment is imperative. Don’t get us wrong, employees are there to work but you must strike a healthy balance to create a conducive environment. 5. Growth People like to feel that they are growing/progressing in life. To achieve growth, they must be challenged, do not let someone stagnate! According to a survey by totaljobs, 68% of employees have changed jobs because of a lack of learning and development opportunities. Your best employees, those you want to keep, seek opportunities to learn and grow in their careers. Without the opportunity to train, attend seminars and courses employees feel they will stagnate. A career-orientated and valued employee must experience growth opportunities within your organisation. They also need to see a space that they can grow into; otherwise, they won’t grow. When was the last time you asked an employee if they felt they were developing or asked them what else you can do to help develop them? 6. Contribution This is tied in with several other points in this guide to staff retention. You need to remind your team of how they're contributing to the company and how well they are doing! There are a lot of points above that feel very obvious, I’m aware of a number of companies that don't install the simplest of these policies. Try to implement just one or two of the above suggestions to retain your best staff, or stop and ask yourself, do you do this for your staff already? Some of these suggestions cost you nothing but a little time and effort. The outcome - You will be more likely to keep your superstars with you for the long haul. It’s essential to take a step back sometimes and ask yourself - How happy are your staff?. Are you meeting all their needs? If not, why not!? If you’re struggling with retaining your staff and seeing your attrition rate creeping up, speak with one of our experienced recruitment experts who will give you an insight into the current candidate market. Pro-Recruitment is a recruitment agency in London and our consultants specialise in Tax, Finance, Legal and HR jobs and are able to offer expert advice on employee relations, generalist hr to talent acquisition. Contact us today on 02072696333 for a discussion on your recruiting and talent needs.


WEBINAR - How to negotiate a pay rise

We’ve all thought about it… asking for an increase in salary. Salary negotiation is a key skill which will help you throughout your career. Whether you’re a Solicitor or Accountant, a Tax Manager looking to get to Tax Partner, or just a Generalist HR professional exploring salaries in your current role, this webinar will give you some essential advice to plan and execute a strategy to help you get you the pay rise you deserve. This webinar will explore: How to successfully negotiate a pay rise in your current role and for a new job or role The 3 key things you need to do to prepare BEFORE you go in and ask for a pay rise How men and women approach pay rises differently and what you can learn from each gender How to calculate what you are really worth to your firm What to do if your firm doesn’t agree with your pay rise How to answer the question from a recruiter “what’s your current package?” When should you tune in? Thursday 22nd November 2018 - 12:30pm - 1:30pm GMT Join Heather Townsend and Pat Keogh and take away tips on how to best negotiate your salary and pay rise! Heather Townsend is the co-author of ‘‘How to make partner and still have a life’. She is the global expert in what it takes to make partner in a professional practice. In the last year, she and her team of coaches have helped several people make partner and worked with clients from all the major continents of the world. Pat Keogh is one of the founders and Managing Director of the Pro-Recruitment Group which was formed in 2007. As well as running the day-to-day business, Pat also recruits at Partner level across several sectors. He has an extensive network of Tax, Legal, Finance and HR professionals in both practice and in-house having recruited across several sectors for over 20 years. Can’t attend live? You should still register! We’ll be sending out slides and a recording of the webinar to all registrants.



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