The Giraffe Blog

Our consultant Natasha Wootton has been promoted!

Posted Monday 9th October 2017 under GPRS Updates

We’re delighted to announce that our consultant Natasha Wootton has been promoted to Senior Market Specialist! Natasha, who joined GPRS in 2016 as a Trainee has been reflecting on her time with the company:

“Recruitment has always been a career path I have wanted to move into but I never came across the right opportunity, however when I saw the position arise with GPRS, I thought it would be worthwhile applying (not really thinking I stood a chance in being successful!). The recruitment process was thorough, and to my delight I was offered the job at the end of this process!

Excited and not really knowing what to expect other then there was a lot to learn, I was given an extremely vigorous training and induction by our Sales Director, which fully prepared me for what to expect. My first few weeks was spent getting to know the ins and outs of the Work Based Learning and Training industry (TAQA, PTLLS? Not a clue on what these meant!) but this was a fantastic way to ease me into a sector I had no experience of. Everyone who joins GPRS interviews candidates day in day out for a least a month, which really helps you gain an understanding of the sector.

Following a successful month of resourcing I moved on to build my own desk; I’d never been afraid of cold-calling, coming from an Estate Agency background I was used to being shot down. But luckily enough I picked up my first role which turned into my first placement within two weeks! It would be a fib to say from then on it has been plain sailing, anyone in recruitment knows it has its peaks and troughs, one day on a high, another a low. However I feel I have been extremely lucky with not only the company I’ve managed to start my recruitment career with, but also the colleagues I have started this career with too. They have given me the confidence, support, guidance and much needed friendly competition to keep my head above water!

A few months ago one of my clients was recruiting a senior level role within their company. I was given additional training to enable me to understand the requirements of a senior appointment within a company and also the questions to ask to assess their suitability for the role. I was thrilled when I made my first senior appointment and this gave me the confidence to begin to build my portfolio of clients seeking to fill director and managerial roles and I quickly found out that I had discovered my niche. I thoroughly enjoy recruiting at senior level and have some fantastic clients and candidates with whom I speak regularly.

After a successful 12 months of being with GPRS and being the highest ‘biller’ so far of 2017, my hard work and efforts have paid off and I was rewarded with a senior level position (which I immediately accepted!) along with a nice salary increase which is always a bonus! I genuinely wouldn’t have thought after being in recruitment for a mere 12 months that I would be in a senior position, now passing on my knowledge to new recruits and helping them within their roles. I’m extremely excited to see not just what other career development plans might be in line for the future, but also to see how much GPRS will have grown in 2018.”

Natasha's Profile Well done Natasha!

Top Tips for Hiring Senior People

Posted Monday 7th August 2017 under WBL Sector Info

As small business owners see their companies grow, they come to the realisation that they cannot do it all, and in order for their business to prosper and expand, they are going to have to invest in an extra pair of hands to take over some of the responsibilities, or hire expert skills to help them realise their corporate dreams. Many of our clients’ first senior appointment are Lead Assessors to manage a small team, or a Quality Manager to help them work towards a higher Ofsted grading.

This can be a big step for many small business owners as they seek to attract not only a person with the skills they need, but also someone who shares similar values to you so they fit into the company culture. It can also be a bit frightening to have to fork out a salary that is higher than business owners have previously paid to employees.

Whether it is your first senior hire, or you’ve done it before many times, recruiting senior people is a risky business, but this risk can be minimised by dedicating serious time to ensure you make the right offer to the right person.

Planning Prior to Hiring a Senior Member of Staff

Decide EXACTLY what you hope this senior person will do for your business – what are their key objectives within the role? How will they help the company fulfil its corporate objectives? If you’ve not done so already, you need to decide what you want your company to achieve over the short and long term and what skills you need to bring in to achieve this?

Do the maths. What will this person cost and how will they cover that cost?
Create a Job Description detailing exactly what the post holder will be doing on a day to day, week to week basis. Ask the people this person will be working with;

- What else will this person be doing?
- What skills are lacking in your current work force.

Job content is a major motivator and one of the findings within the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign research was that candidates wanted to know more about the job content.

When you’ve created objectives and a Job Description, you can now begin to create a Person Specification – a profile of the skills a person will need to be able to perform the role for which you are recruiting. When you interview you can use this as a check list and ask for examples where they have demonstrated each skill you seek.

Is it a full time role? Sometimes when a company grows they need a senior person but there isn’t a full time role there just at the moment, but they know there will be in the future. If you employ someone full time to do a part time job, they are likely to be bored, demotivated and will ultimately leave. Consider what else they could do that would add value to the business and keep them occupied and engaged?

Senior candidates are looking for the whole package – the company, the opportunity, the role. You’ve dealt with the role by creating the Job Description so now you need to think about the company. What sells your company? Why would someone want to work there? Your company doesn’t have to be huge to have unique selling points.

Things that GPRS find candidates are particularly interested in are:

- How long the company has been established?
- Growth or stability during that period
- Plans for the future
- Ofsted grading
- Accreditations such as Investors in People
- Awards won
- Achievements – such as completion rates
- Office environment
- Holiday allowance
- Portfolio of clients – interesting companies or well known are always attractive
- Mileage allowance
- Continual professional development
- Career progression

When GPRS ask companies what sells them, some struggle, but when prompted proceed to list some great stuff – every company has something good to sell.

Create an overview of your company detailing its selling points and be prepared to send this to candidates prior to interview and also talk through them at interview.

Bonuses and commission are worth mentioning as a separate entity. Many companies ask for senior people and say there will be a bonus, but don’t actually know what the bonus or profit related pay will be. You need to get this sorted before you recruit as senior people often want to see monetary rewards for their efforts. Many senior people, particularly business development people, shy away from progressing their applications with companies if the commission structure isn’t clearly defined. A promise of commission isn’t good enough!

To help you really sell your business, at interview stage ask the interviewee the two following questions:

- Why do you want to leave your present job?
- What are you looking for in your next role?

This will tell you about their motivators and then you can match the various selling points of the role you are trying to sell, your company and the opportunity to the candidate. Then close for commitment to assess their interest – “Is this something you’d be interested in?”

Senior people don’t chop and change jobs easily, it is usually a considered process. There are far less senior roles about than there are Trainer and Assessor roles so Senior people that are gainfully employed, don’t jump ship quickly because if they make a wrong move, it may take them some time to find another suitable role. It is easy to find out about the job content, but less easy to look into the stability of a company.

The Work Based Learning and Training sector is going through turbulent times and it has been rocked to its core when household names in training have made redundancies or closed down completely. Therefore, it is important to sell the stability of your company and not be coy about your facts and figures as this can be a deciding factor as to whether a senior person accepts your offer of employment or not.

- How long has your company been established?
- What large companies are your clients?
- What has been your annual turnover for the last few years?
- What is your anticipated turnover for this year?
- What are the reason for the increase / decrease?
- How many learners do you have?
- How much funding do you have?
- What are your plans for the future?

Many very senior people will ask to see your accounts so that they can not only see what you’ve turned over but also how profitable your company is.

The benefits package is also something that needs careful consideration too. Senior candidates are often interested in pensions, profit related pay, share options, etc.

Before you begin to recruit something else you need to think about is the interview process:

- Who will review the CVs?
- Who will be involved in the interview?
- Who will arrange the interviews?
- Who will give post feedback interview?
- What dates are you going to be available?
- Who has the final say – at what stage will they be involved in the interview process?
- Who will raise the offer letter and contract of employment – are they going to off on holiday at final interview stage when you are likely to want to make an offer. Many candidates, quite rightly so, won’t hand in their notice until they have an offer letter detailing their whole package.

It is vital that you remember that the best candidates on the market are going to be assessing how you manage your recruitment process. A well structured, efficient, effective, interview process with interviews held within a reasonable space of time and feedback given promptly is an indicator of the high standards a company keeps. Quality candidates only want to work for quality companies!

Preparing to Interview Senior Level People

Prepare several pre screening questions. These are usually the absolutely top five things a person MUST possess to do the job effectively.
Conduct a telephone interview to assess the candidates against this criteria. This will allow you to assess candidate’s communication skills as well as preventing you wasting your time holding lengthy interviews with unsuitable candidates.

If candidates are unsuitable, write to them promptly and inform them they haven’t been successful and thank them for their interest. Candidates would rather have negative feedback than no feedback. It shows your company cares.

If candidates are suitable ask what they like about the role and what reservations they have? This will indicate their level of interest and commitment to the next stage. Arrange interviews with them whilst you have them on the phone and ideally the interview should be held within the next seven days if possible. If the candidate has recently applied for the role and you’ve interviewed them and sold the prospect of working for your organisation well, the candidate is likely to be excited at the prospect; the longer you keep the candidate waiting, the more the excitement you have generated will wane.
Prepare well for the interview. Read through the candidate’s CV and decide which areas you wish to explore.

Typical ones would be:
- How long they have spent at each role
- Key achievements at each role
- Reasons for leaving
- Reasons for accepting their next role
- Gaps in career history

Have the Job Description and Person Specification at hand. Compare the Person Specification to their work history. Is there anything missing? If so, make note to explore at interview stage.

Interviewing Senior Level Candidates

You can use the following Six Point Interview Structure

Six Point Interview Structure

1. Introduction –
- Make eye contact, shake hands, thank candidate for their time

2. Opener –
- Tell the candidate what the agenda will be for the interview
- Ask an easy to answer open question to get the interviewee speaking such as, “Tell me about your current employment circumstances.”

3. Questioning –
- Systematically work your way through the Person Specification
- Systematically work your way through the questions about their CV
- Systematically work your way through the questions you’ve devised
- Establish what the candidate is looking for in their next career move

4. Summarise –
Re-iterate what the candidate is looking for:
- How far they are looking to travel per day?
- What salary and package they are looking for?
- Reasons for leaving their present job?
- What they are looking for in their next role?

5. Sell -
- Based on why the candidate has told you about:
- Why they want to leave their present role and what they are looking for in their next career move
- Sell the candidates what your company has to offer that matches

6. Close for commitment
- It is important you find out just how interested the candidate is:
- What interests you about the role and the company?
- What reservations do you have about working for this company?
- What do you think your existing employer will offer to keep you?
- If you were offered the role, would you accept?

Before the candidate leaves the building, agree the next step, when will you be in touch? Thank them for their time and shake their hands.

Meet with the other interviews immediately after the interview to ascertain their thoughts. Get back to the candidate promptly with feedback or to arrange another interview.

Making Offers

GPRS make the offer on behalf of the client and then ask closing questions to test the candidate’s commitment to resigning and joining our client company.

The stumbling block can be raising the offer letter. As mentioned earlier, it is important this is despatched quickly as candidates will not resign until they are in receipt of the full offer. This needs to be raised within 24 hours of the offer. This makes your company appear to be keen to hire your new member of staff and encourages engagement.

Offers are usually subject to satisfactory references. GPRS take references for all their internal staff and we thoroughly recommend that our clients take references on their own staff. In an ideal world talk to someone personally. An HR department probably haven’t worked personally with your new employee so they are unable to give you feedback on how they interacted with colleagues or how effective they were in their role. Ask the candidate their Line Manager’s name and contact them directly by telephone. Have some good reference taking questions lined up. I’ve found that most people you speak to, unless it is strict company policy not to give verbal references will be quite truthful and this can be enlightening!

Resignation Period

If your new employee is good at their job, the probability is that their employer will want to keep them and during the resignation period, they may use guilt or bribery in terms of an elevation in salary, responsibility or job title in order to persuade their employee to stay. To reduce the likelihood of your new employee getting cold feet and accepting, it is important that you encourage engagement before their first day of employment with you. Involve them in a project by way of preparation or invite them to a night out or drinks to get them to know their new team during their resignation period. GPRS recommend speaking to them on a weekly basis to see how they are getting on. Whatever steps you choose to take, you need to keep in touch and build a strong relationship with the new employee.

Welcoming a New Employee

Imagine turning up for your new day of work and you don’t have a PC with your email address set up. There is nowhere for you to sit because no one has cleared the desk from the previous incumbent. You have no stationary and you have to go and find some. You don’t know what you’re going to be doing for the day and have to fumble through. Would you be impressed with your new employer? Would you feel valued? No, you wouldn’t, yet sadly this is some new employee's’ first day experience.

Make sure the workstation and IT are set up well in advance and that someone has been designated to spend time with the new employee. A formal induction into the company looks professional and will help the new employee feel at home. Within the first few days it is also important that you go through the Job Description and agree key objectives for the forthcoming weeks and agree meeting times to catch up and discuss progress. This will help to ensure the new employee knows exactly what is expected of them and it sets the scene for how they will be managed in the future.


Employing any staff, regardless of level can be costly and if you get it wrong, or they leave it can be a cost as opposed to an investment.

Recruitment often comes as a result of a knee jerk reaction due a need to extra help and like most knee jerk reactions, it is reactionary and little planning is involved. The risk can seriously be minimised by just taking some time planning.

If you would like advice on how GPRS can help you minimise the risk, please call Helen Wilson on 01785 430513.

Investors in People Awards 2017!

Posted Friday 4th August 2017 under GPRS Updates

We are VERY excited to have been shortlisted for Gold Employer of the Year (2-49) at the Investors in People Awards 2017!

Recognising the best workplaces

The Investors in People Awards recognises the people and teams that make the difference every day highlighting excellence from across the Investors in People global community.

Investors in People Awards 2017 Shortlist IIP Awards 2017

Mac Christian: Why I Chose an Apprenticeship with GPRS Recruitment

Posted Tuesday 18th July 2017 under Career Advice

What were you doing before you joined GPRS?

Before joining the team in the summer of 2015, I was completing my A-Levels and planning my future in terms of which career path I was going to take, that is when I came across the advert at GPRS Recruitment. At the time I was looking to apply my skills to a growing business and also learn some new ones along the way, so GPRS seemed like the perfect fit.

What attracted you to joining GPRS?

First and foremost the role itself looked interesting and something that I felt would benefit myself moving forward in my career as my first professional role. The reputation and credibility that the company held was impressive and that was proven by the awards and acclaim that it had received over the years. From the outset it was clear that GPRS Recruitment was an ever-growing company that was in a solid position within its industry. From the interview process to the first few weeks, I was made to feel welcome and a part of the team. The prospect of working for a local company with specialist training included was something that really interested me, and the potential for career progression within the role was also a large pull factor.

Why did you want to become an Apprentice?

I wanted to become an Apprentice first and foremost to ‘get my foot in the door’ so to speak and submerge myself into a busy working environment. I also wanted to develop the skills I had learnt throughout my life and also gain new ones along the way by performing various tasks. An apprenticeship also appealed to me as it gave me the opportunity to earn a recognised qualification within the industry I was interested in progressing in.

When you joined GPRS initially, what were your key tasks?

When I first began I was mostly monitoring both of the company’s internal databases, inputting and editing data where necessary. I was also tasked with sending candidate mailers around the UK, informing jobseekers of our live vacancies and broadcasting GPRS Recruitment to new customers on a National scale. Furthermore I was tasked with searching for new, industry specific candidates on UK job boards and further increase our database of specialist candidates.

Now that you’ve completed your Apprenticeship, what additional responsibilities do you have at GPRS?

Since finishing my apprenticeship I was fortunate to be in a position where the ball was in my court so to speak, and I could choose the specific path that I wanted to take within the company, which happened to be Sales & Marketing. I am now given more responsibilities within my role and I feel as though my work has even more of an effect on the success of the company. My role has changed as I now spend more time contacting candidates and resourcing for roles, I am also tasked with writing and posting job descriptions.

What sort of training has GPRS provided you with?

From the outset I was given an overview of the systems that GPRS use along with the functions of what each individual tab and drop down list meant. I was given specialist Job Board training to help when searching for candidates across the UK using ‘Boolean Search’. This has helped me develop my searching skills and find a greater number of specific candidates. GPRS also provided me with the opportunity to complete my Level 2 Qualification in Recruitment Resourcing which helped me significantly when it came to learning about the recruitment industry and its process as a whole.

How do you think the training has benefited you?

The training helped me understand the different systems and databases that the company operate around. It also improved my specialist skills within searching and resourcing. Given the thorough and consistent training that I received it also helped me to feel more comfortable within my role as I was able to adapt myself in a way that I could complete jobs more efficiently. Following my initial training, I was shortlisted for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the 2016 IRP Awards which was another great experience for myself which came as a result of the training and progression I had made at GPRS.
Once a week we have a sales meeting where everyone is included and most weeks we have a training element on various elements of recruitment and this has helped me understand the role of a Recruitment Consultant better.

Why would you recommend anyone to become an apprentice?

Being an apprentice helps you to develop new skills that for me have proven to be invaluable when progressing in my career. Providing you are successful, you will come out of the whole experience with a great qualification and a wealth of experience in your chosen industry, both of which will stand you in good stead for any future career choices you wish to take. You also get paid a wage whilst learning!

Why would you recommend anyone to join GPRS as an Apprentice?

Along with all the above you will be joining a company with a great reputation within the recruitment industry and a solid core which has been running successfully for over 10 years now. There is a strong, wholesome feeling about working at GPRS with a vibrant office full of unique characters who will almost immediately make you feel a part of the team here. The management team also do a great job leading the team and you will be provided with monthly feedback sessions to keep you up to date with the progress that you have been making in your position.

Mac Christian

April Blog: Performance Management - The First Three Months

Posted Monday 3rd April 2017 under WBL Sector Info

Where are we in the recruitment process?

We are now on our 7th blog. The blogs so far have covered:

  • Planning to Recruit
  • Creating a Person Specification
  • Inviting candidates for interview
  • Preparing for an interview
  • Conducting a professional interview using a formal interview structure and person specification.
  • Post interview feedback
  • Making & Handling Offers of Employment
  • Onboarding

By this time the candidate has joined your company and has received a sound onboarding, which has increased their engagement into your company by creating a positive first impression of your company.

The next step of the process is to ensure that the candidate meets the pre set criteria for the job. This is known as performance management.

Performance Management

Definition: a shared understanding about how individuals contribute to an organisation’s goals. A fundamental aim is to improve an employee’s effectiveness.

In my experience, one of the reasons why new employees don’t live up to their new employer’s expectations is because they don’t know EXACTLY what the new employer’s expectations are!

Often performance management comes into force when the employer finds out that the new employee isn’t living up to their expectations so they tackle them about their shortfalls. If the new employer thinks they are doing an OK job, then they are likely to be demoralised by it. Performance management should begin before the candidate joins the company so they know upfront what is expected of them and how they will be managed.

Interview Stage – Setting Objectives

Prior to the interview some thought needs to be put into what you expect from the candidate in terms of :

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
Reporting procedure
What good looks like in your company
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

These are often the things that the employer is unhappy with a new employee. On many instances over the years when asking why companies have had to replace a member of their staff shortly after the new employee joined, they will state one of the reasons above as to why the employee didn’t work out. When asked at what point they tell the new employee what is expected of them, they frequently tell me that the employee should know what is expected of them.

Therefore, if you talk the prospective employee, at interview stage, through what your expectations are, you are making it clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour, and they will be under no illusions before they join the company. Once these have been gone through the prospective employee needs to be asked if they are happy with each point or if any of the points causes them a problem.

The Employee’s First Few Days

Within the first couple of days of joining the company the manager needs to go through this again with the new employee. This is to remind the employee again what is expected of them and what is deemed acceptable behaviour. Several of the areas we at GPRS find, is there can often be confusion about what is acceptable; such as the use of personal mobile phones during office time, internet usage and dress code. Our policies on these and many other factors are talked through on the first day and put in writing when the new employee joins.

Ideally, this should be in a document form, such as a Job Description. The person who the inductee is going to be reporting to should go through this with them. It should be gone though duty by duty, emphasising exactly what is expected of them and what 'good' looks like to your company. There should be no room for misunderstanding. The inductee needs to be asked if they understand what is required of them.

Remember, today’s candidate is assessing the company throughout the recruitment process so this upfront approach will demonstrate that your company as efficient with high standards. If a candidate isn’t keen on what your expectations are, then they probably aren’t the right person for you. If the inductee isn’t going to be doing the whole role initially, then they need to know EXACTLY what they should be doing, this needs to be put in writing via email as confirmation. 

The new employee can then be checked against this criteria. I check GPRS’s inductees against their objectives weekly for the first month and then monthly as part of their appraisals. This allows you quickly to identify any performance or training needs. Research shows that within 24 hours of being told something we often forget 75%. Ongoing evaluation ensures that bits of information that have been forgotten are highlighted and steps can be taken to make them habitual.

If you wait until the inductee has been with your company a while before evaluating their performance you risk then finding things that need to be put right, or a candidate that isn’t performing for months and has been allowed to continue which puts your reputation in jeopardy. Do not assume because someone has done the job before it will be to the standard you require. Double check for peace of mind.

Also, wait too long and then find that the candidate isn’t right for you company means you may have paid their salary for several months, when in reality if you’d have managed their performance sooner and more efficiently, you would have identified problems and would have been able to deal with them. This may mean providing additional training, or going down the disciplinary route if you are not happy with progress.

Under Performance

If an inductee isn’t performing to the standard you require then you need to talk to them about it. If it is a training issue, then training needs to be provided. If the inductee continues to underperform then it needs to be nipped in the bud.

GPRS have a checklist that we work through which is based on the new employee’s tasks they need to perform and to what standard. Some of the criteria included are:

Timekeeping and attendance
Dress code
KPI’s or activity levels
The standards we expect
Operational procedures
How someone behaves that demonstrates your company values.

Weekly evaluations are taken so any areas I am not happy with are dealt with quickly and appropriately.

New employees are praised on areas where they have hit the criteria provided and given action points on where they can improve. Showing a person where they can improve isn’t just about performance management; it means you are constantly stretching them and improving their skills and abilities.

All conversations about where improvements can be made, or about areas of their person’s work or output that you are dissatisfied with, must be put in writing in the form of an action plan. The next time you meet you can go through this and praise them for improvements they have made.

If improvements haven’t been made, then you need to decide the reasons for this and what to do – it is a training need or a disciplinary issue. Judge each person separately and if your company doesn’t have a disciplinary process in place, take legal advice to ensure you act within the law.


You will have invested a considerable amount of time and energy in recruiting the person with the right skills and values for your company. A good, well planned onboarding is just protecting your investment. It also helps you identify poor performance and deal with it as well as identifying good performance and praising the new employee.

Research also shows that new employees that have been inducted properly feel positive about the company and are more likely to perform to the best of their ability.

The first month or so that the employee joins your company is like the honeymoon period. The employee is likely to want to make a good first impression. After their first month they may feel more at home and they may begin to drop their standards in some areas of their work. It is important to maintain your high standards, and any areas of their performance with which you are not happy are dealt with immediately.

Good performance management just takes a little planning and putting some simple processes in place. It can often mean uncomfortable conversations, which I’m afraid that comes part and parcel of the role of manager. Some investment in putting together a performance management process in your company will make your company appear professional and well organised and will save you time and energy overall.

Blog Author - Helen Wilson Download this Blog in PDF format Performance Management
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