Employers need to look ‘beyond the CV’ to recruit the right talent for their business, says Suffolk skills expert

Employers should be looking at alternative talent pools, such as returning mums, older employees and

Employers should be looking at alternative talent pools, such as returning mums, older employees and ex-Forces, if they are struggling to find the right talent for their organisation. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

To recruit the best candidates companies must be prepared to step outside the traditional ways of doing things, according to Michelle Pollard, managing director of Spider.

Michelle Pollard, of Spider Picture: Simply C Photography

Michelle Pollard, of Spider Picture: Simply C Photography - Credit: Archant

Some businesses struggle to find the right people because they have an out-dated approach to recruitment, according to Michelle Pollard, managing director of Ipswich-based online recruitment advertiser Spider.

“When looking at the young people coming into the workplace, we don’t tap into all the talent in the region because we have tunnel vision when we look at a CV.

“Many employers still look at a CV and see that a candidate hasn’t got exactly the right experience and discard them straightaway – rather than looking at their potential and considering what someone might be capable of doing.”

For evidence that there is a buoyant recruitment market out there if you have the right approach, Michelle says we need only look at the recruitments agencies in the region, which she says are “booming”.

This is because they are taking a more flexible and progressive approach to recruitment these days, she says.

“Recruiters are looking in a different way - they are looking beyond the CV, whereas companies recruiting directly are still in the mindset that they are looking for the finished article, which doesn’t exist.

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“Recruitment companies will meet candidates and advise their clients that they may have transferable skills or have potential for the future.”

The team from Spider celebrate at the Suffolk Business Awards 2018

The team from Spider celebrate at the Suffolk Business Awards 2018 - Credit: Archant


Michelle is well-placed to talk about recruitment trends because Spider’s business model means the company sits at the epicentre of the online recruitment process.

For a fixed fee, Spider takes a company’s recruitment advert and publishes it across a multitude of different online job sites and recruitment boards, ensuring it is exposed to all the different places a job seeker is likely to visit on their search.

It’s a model that has proved highly successful in the five years since Michelle started the business, and Spider now works with around 350 employers across the region. And as the business has succeeded, so the awards have come: Spider won the Small Business of the Year accolade at the recent EADT Suffolk Business Awards while Michelle was named SME Director of the Year 2018 by the Institute of Directors in the East of England.

Alternative talent pools

As well as looking at the “person not the paper”, companies should also be looking more thoroughly at alternative talent pools in the region, says Michelle.

“It’s a real shame that many employers won’t consider parents returning to the workplace after having had ten years off bringing up a family,” she said.

Michelle Pollard of Spider Recruit Picture: Simply C Photography

Michelle Pollard of Spider Recruit Picture: Simply C Photography - Credit: Archant

People with special needs are also overlooked to the detriment of employers.

Michelle continued: “People with autism can be very creative but only 12% of autistic people are in work. That’s a real shame because if autistic people are managed well and they are in the right role they can be awesome.”

Older employees also get a raw deal in today’s marketplace.

“We are being told we will have to work until we are 67 or 68 but so many companies still disregard people over the age of 50 – they might still have another 20 years to work but we are still very quick to write them off.

“The employers who tap into this pool will benefit from a loyal and stable workforce with experience both in work and life.”

Cutting through the noise

Employers must also adjust to the brave new world of social media and the multitude of ways people communicate today.

“I’ve spoken to employers who have written candidates off simply because they didn’t reply to an e-mail,” Michelle said.

“Their attitude is; ‘If they had really wanted the job, they should have replied sooner’ - but I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that anymore.

“The noise people get today on a mobile phone in 60 seconds is mind-blowing - millennials are communicating on e-mail, instant messenger, on WhatsApp, on text, calls, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Snapchat – it goes on and on. Many don’t have e-mail on their phone any more.

“If a candidate hasn’t e-mailed back straightaway, it might be because he hasn’t checked his e-mail - it may have been spammed or not even have reached him. He might have taken e-mail off his phone because of the noise he gets on his phone.”

The point is clear - there are so many forms of communication used by the younger generations today, companies need to be a little bit more open to the fact that recruitment in the modern age is more of a two-way thing

Michelle said: “The companies who will recruit the best people are the ones who pick up the phone and say: ‘Thank you for your application, I love the look of your CV. No doubt you have a few questions, I have some for you – let’s have a quick chat.’

Generation Z

And if employers think reaching the so-called millennial generation is difficult, the next group – known as Generation Z – are now starting to enter the workplace.

There is no precise date for when Generation Z begins, but demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as the birth years for this cohort. Most of Generation Z have used the Internet since a young age and are comfortable with technology and social media.

“These children aren’t reading newspapers or magazines, they aren’t watching television - the savvy company who wants to recruit them is talking their language on their platforms,” continued Michelle.

“For example, my daughter is 14 and she recently told me that she wanted to work for the Vine – an online newspaper. I hadn’t heard of it and I’m pretty down with the kids. But the Vine has already tapped into her, to the point that she wants to work for them. In the old days it may have been Archant.”

Michelle says she is in the process of recruiting for her business but beyond having a rough idea of the kind of skills she is looking for, her approach will be to ring short-listed candidates and say: “I’d really love to talk to you – when is a good time to talk?’

She added: “If I have to leave a message and they don’t respond, I won’t think ‘If they don’t want me, I don’t want them’. I’ll pick up the phone to talk to them.

“But at the same time candidates need to be prepared for that because the more savvy companies will be wanting to talk to them.”

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