Our 10 year anniversary: The people behind the brand

Our 10 year anniversary: The people behind the brand

On March 1st, Talent Works International turned 10 years old. At the time, we marked the occasion with an interview with our CEO and founder Neil Purcell. As we’re nearing the end of March, we’re getting ready to celebrate in style, and in person, with all our colleagues. So, we thought it was the ideal time to chat to our employees, both new and old, from Northampton, to Manchester and Boston.

The Talent Works experience connects us. Some longstanding employees have built friendships that extend right through to their children and families. As Global Senior Consultant, Tammy Davies says, “I’ve made friends here I will carry for life.”

Some newcomers are just integrating themselves into the fold and, as such, making their mark. In this blog we’re listening to them all and collating their experiences in one place to give our readers an insight into who the people behind the brand are.

When did TWI start?

Jody Russell, Business Support Manager, is TWI’s longest standing employee, having been with the business since the day of its inception. As she had worked with Neil previously, Jody was excited by his vision to build his own company, and she agreed to join him on the journey.

We started off in a converted barn, on a farm. The countryside was lovely, but it was freezing in the winter, baking in the summer. But we were all in it together. As a company, we still tend to feel like we are all in it together. It feels like family to me because it’s been such a massive part of my life, for the last 10 years. To me, it’s more than a business. I can’t ever see it not being exciting, different or challenging.

So, what happened then?

In the interim between then and now, TWI has both grown and evolved to meet the demands of the ever-changing recruitment climate. Simon Thomas, Brand & Strategy Director, said the business is unrecognisable from when he joined. He said, in terms of continuing development, he’s learned to expect the unexpected.

Talent Works started as pure Talent Mapping and Executive Search, before establishing a team dedicated to Brand & Insight to provide a more tailored solution to our clients. Just over 3 years ago, we established our RPO offering and have seen this strand of our business move from strength to strength ever since. What we’re now providing is a source of difference in the market, combining RPO with our Creative, Insight and Digital offerings to provide flexible strategies for our clients.

We opened our Boston branch over 5 years ago, at a similar time to our Manchester based Creative team, with our VP of North America Jody Robie at the helm. This move established us as an international force. Jody has worked in television journalism, producing and reporting, as well as in recruitment, so she bought a new strand of forward thinking and creativity to the leadership team.

Our services now cover everything sourcing and employer brand related. The diversity of the solutions we can provide has enabled our continual growth over the years and brought us all the way to our 10-year anniversary.

What adventures have we had along the way?

During these 10 years we have maintained a culture of celebration. We have always placed an emphasis on rewarding internal achievements and milestones. This value comes from an innate belief that we should practice what we preach, cultivating an employer brand that not only attracts the best talent, but makes the most of the talent we already have.

We have many examples of how we have chosen to encourage and value our staff over the years. For example, on Geoff Pedder’s (Lead Consultant, Brand & Insight) third day in the business he won a TV on an away day after winning a Go-Carting competition. He was a bit surprised, to say the least, but when we celebrate our staff we do it well.

Over the years we have organised holidays, from Marbella to Las Vegas. Hollie Stiff, Senior Client Partner, recalls business class flights, and VIP tables with bouncers. Tammy Davies remembers attending football games, and The Player of the Year Awards with Neil, who is a dedicated Manchester United fan.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. We work hard, and we are committed to supporting the growth and development of our people in more personal ways as well. Hollie Stiff, TWI Senior Client Partner, cites her huge respect for Neil, and “what hes done for me in my career.” Sophia, Art Director, joined TWI in the Manchester office as a Junior Designer. After 3 months she was promoted to Art Director and has since taken part in pitches and won them. Alongside the fun and the successes, there have of course been difficult decisions but, as Simon Thomas says…

How has the new office changed TWI?

In 2018 we invested in an exciting office renovation in Northampton. It has resulted in a space we are remarkably proud of. This is not just because it is a beautiful place to spend each day, but because it is a sign of our investment in and respect for our employees. As Geoff Pedder says, the office in Northampton is a huge statement. It promotes collaboration, but also provides space to get away. Jody Russell says, we want our staff to have the best surroundings, to make their days better. You spend so much of your time at work, it’s important to be somewhere that has colour and warmth.

At Talent Works we are so excited for the next step in our adventure, but we are loving being able to reflect on our achievements as we celebrate reaching 10 years old. We have experienced both highs and lows over the last 10 years. However, throughout it all, we are proud to have grown the business and retained our identity throughout. We have ensured our focus remains on our core values, putting our people and our clients first.

Currently, it is an extraordinary time to be in recruitment. Curating a powerful employer brand is essential in a market which is so candidate rich. While we’re interested to see the future of AI and how it affects recruitment, we believe in the importance of human connection and interaction. As always, we remain committed to having the best talent on the job.

The benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Research shows that employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours.

In a culture of overwork, pushing yourself too hard becomes a self-defeating cycle. No one can continue to push themselves beyond their limits before burnout becomes inevitable. Burnout then leads to a significant reduction in motivation and productivity, and an inability to successfully function.

So, it seems that working too hard does not necessarily equal productivity. However, research has shown that where fewer than 10% of employees used to check their email outside of working hours, today it is 50%. Clearly, our modern-day work-life balance is declining, despite the rise in the use of technology.

The question remains then, how can we enable employees to manage their workload better? To ensure they don’t just avoid burnout but are happy in their workplace. After all, happy employees are up to 20% more productive.

What is mindfulness?

According to Mindful, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation practices, although practical everyday techniques don’t require any study or dedication to a specific ideology. Essentially, the practice of being mindful should both centre and focus you, enabling you to remain unaffected by external distractions.

Why is it useful in the workplace?

A lack of distraction should inevitably boost productivity. As well as this, the ability to be aware of and remain connected to your own personal centre is an extraordinarily helpful tool for taking care of your mental health.

In today’s world, far too little attention is paid to mental health in general, let alone the mental health of workers. The World Health Organisation has estimated that stress costs American businesses 300 billion a year. So, investing in the mental health of employees could, in the long run, save companies an enormous amount of money.

As well as this, the neurological benefits of mindfulness have been linked to an increase in emotional intelligence, specifically empathy and self-regulation. This enables employees to communicate more effectively, making the workplace less stressed and ultimately happier. Mindfulness then creates a positive cycle, as employee retention rates tend to go up when people are happy at work.

Who else is doing it?

In response to such research, more and more companies are implementing mindfulness programs to promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. For example, Goldman Sachs, Google, Apple and Nike all prioritise mindfulness meditation as part of their employee development programs.

In 2007, Google developed a programme called Search Inside Yourself. The programme is now so successful that it is not only utilised within the company by employees but is being offered to the public beyond Google. The programme begins with 2 days of live training before the participant undertakes 4 weeks of virtual practice, ending with a 1-hour webinar. According to Google, the programme has been proven to: “reduce stress, improve focus, raise peak performance, and improve interpersonal relationships.” Search Inside Yourself has proven so popular it normally has a “wait list stretching six months.”

American healthcare company Aetna reported that after implementing a mindfulness programme, healthcare costs fell “a total of 7 per cent”. Productivity gains alone were about $3,000 per employee. Results like these prove that mindfulness is a worthwhile pursuit for employers.

As not all companies are large enough to establish their own programme, here are some “mindfulness hacks which can be implemented in the workplace.


Breathing mindfully can help to centre your attention by focusing your thoughts on your breathing alone. Get into a comfortable position in a quiet place, with no distractions, and focus on your breath. You could even try counting to centre your thoughts even more. One example of how to do this is by breathing in for 3 seconds, holding your breath for 2, and exhaling out for 4 seconds. So, in total, a 9-second breath. This is a great hack not just for your everyday mindfulness, but also in stressful situations. Practicing breathing exercises can “help employees stay on task and reduce stress.

Take a mindful break

Staring at a screen for too long can cause insomnia, brain fog, short-term memory loss, vision strain and headaches in droves. So, take a break. Go for a walk. Instead of taking your laptop into a meeting, take a notepad. Walk away and observe the world around you, the way your colleagues are behaving, the sounds and smells in your work location. Take a moment to engage with your surroundings. When you rest from your work you are, in fact, giving your prefrontal cortex (PFC) chance to take a break. The PFC is responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. When one area of the brain is used for so much, it’s hardly surprising it needs some downtime. Allowing it chance to function properly will aid your productivity in the long run.

Mindfulness podcasts & apps

If there’s anything we have an abundance of now, it’s podcasts. There’s a podcast out there for everything, including mindfulness and meditation. There are also several apps available which are programmed to deliver short guided meditations. Just a 15-minute journey with your headphones in can give you the space you need and boost your motivation levels. Sometimes, when a lot is going on, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Taking yourself away from the noise with a podcast or meditative episode can enable you to find your centre and focus in on the most essential task.  Some TWI favourites include Calm, which provides meditations of various lengths, and Binaural, which generates beats to help you meditate, sleep and concentrate.

Focus on being, instead of doing

While you’re away from your desk, take a few minutes to pay attention to how you feel away from the distractions of tasks and deadlines. It doesn’t matter if that feeling is negative, simply noticing your natural state can keep you in touch with your centre. It might be that noticing how you really feel gives you the opportunity to pay attention to your needs. If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you treat yourself kindly. Do something that makes you feel happy or calm, like walking, or yoga. As Positive Psychology says, being mindful of your thoughts and emotions promotes wellbeing.

Mindfulness is what you make it. There are no definitive rules, but the above suggestions are great techniques to get you started. Giving your mental health the time, and space it needs could give you the clarity you need at work. For employers, it could be the difference between happy employees, and unhappy employees. Try implementing some of the above techniques into your routine and discover what a difference they make.

(Updated) Employers: How to prepare for Brexit

29th March 2019 has been and gone, and Britain has not yet left the EU. While no outcome has ever been entirely certain throughout the Brexit process, now more than ever, there is a significant sense of confusion. The new key date is 12th April 2019, by which time the UK needs “to tell the EU what it wants to do.” This may mean another extension to the negotiations, although the possibility of leaving without a deal is looking increasingly likely.

So far, there’s been a lot of conversation about what exactly Brexit will look like for recruitment and employment. So, as Brexit continues to twist and turn, at Talent Works we’ve decided to sum up the effect the 2016 referendum has had on the jobs market. As well as this, we’ll discuss how to prepare for the outcome of a potential deal, or the increasing possibility of a no deal Brexit.

Employment levels are at an all-time high, and vacancies have risen to the “highest level since comparable records began.” It’s reported that “deal or no deal, UK jobs will remain hard to fill. So, it seems that no matter how we eventually leave the EU, the market will remain candidate driven. As a result, vacancies are increasingly harder to fill as top talent is harder to recruit.

According to Monster, the number of EU workers actively searching for jobs in the UK has dropped by 11.4% since the referendum. More specifically, Romanian search traffic to UK jobs has dropped by 52%, followed closely by Portugal (42%) and Poland (35%). This decline in Eastern European workers impacts the short-term jobs market, an area of recruitment which is most reliant on EU workers.

So, how exactly can employers prepare for a future that nobody can predict?

In such a candidate driven climate, recruiters become even more valuable. A recruiter cultivates a talent pool of potential candidates by talent mapping in specialist areas. This makes recruiters invaluable when the jobs market is so strong, particularly where there are skills shortages. This awareness enables them to pair candidates with businesses before a vacancy is live. Often, recruiters do this by focusing recruitment efforts on passive job seekers to counter a restricted labour supply.

Resultingly, when the market is candidate-driven, candidates are able to negotiate in their own interests. When talent is so sought after, the competition in the market is between companies. Ultimately, all businesses are hoping to acquire the most qualified talent. This can, in turn, lead to higher retention rates. This is because companies try to hold onto the talent they currently have with increasingly competitive benefits packages.

Business growth becomes more difficult as businesses that wish to expand struggle to find the talent to enable them to do this. Post-Brexit, this could be especially true of entry-level positions. A £30,000 minimum salary cap is potentially set to cause businesses to lose out on newly qualified EU talent. This lack of candidates could exacerbate the impact of Brexit. A salary cap would especially affect areas such as hospitality and healthcare, which typically have a high proportion of EU workers.

So, it seems further post-Brexit skills shortages are perhaps inevitable. However, there are ways to prepare and ensure that, while the market is experiencing teething problems post-Brexit, your company is in the best position possible to handle the disturbance.

Communicate with your employees

Make sure you know which of your employees will be most affected by Brexit so that you can support them. Then, communicate with those employees directly. As well as this, communicate with the whole company so that everyone is informed and aware. It may be that those people not directly affected still need to understand the procedures being put in place to enable them. Regardless, good communication is vital for a positive, transparent workforce and promotes a culture of internal respect which is essential in an unpredictable jobs market.

Ensure you are an attractive employer

Maintain a strong presence as an employer to ensure candidates are actively seeking you out. Upping your game in a competitive market is always a good idea, but with Brexit in mind, it is especially important. Research shows are more likely to apply to a company which manages its employer brand. Therefore, passive candidates will likely keep attractive employers in mind when perusing the job market. Promote the benefits of working for your company through your social media and website.

Support your EU employees with settlement scheme applications

In a no-deal scenario, the Government has already assured employers that any EU employees will be able to continue residing in the UK. However, preparation is vital. EU Nationals who lived and worked in the UK with free movement will need to register under the EU settlement scheme. The deadline for applications is dependent on whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. Encourage your employees to apply as soon as possible and support them through the process.

Plan for no deal

If the UK is to leave the EU with no deal, free movement will end on the 12th April or thereafter, depending on an extension, with no transition period. While negotiations remain up in the air, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. So, prepare for this by ensuring that any EU employees you intend to hire have a start date as soon as possible, and preferably before the 12th April. As well as this, encourage them to apply for settled status. In the case of a no deal Brexit, “workers will continue to be covered by the EU Withdrawal Act 2018”. This states that “direct EU legislation that is operative immediately before exit day will remain part of domestic law on and after that date.”

If Brexit has proven to be anything, it’s unpredictable. Current events have thrown up the alternative possibility that the UK could end up staying within the EU after all. The recent decline in EU talent directly correlates with the UK’s decision to leave the EU. So, it would be prudent to presume that any eventuality in which the UK remains within the EU would result in an eventual influx of EU talent back into the UK market.

Skills shortages look to be inevitable for the short-term, whether we leave or remain. Research shows that “the prevalence of hard-to-fill vacancies has continued on an upward trajectory.” But, with a committed recruiter on your side, and a strong employer brand, there is no reason why your company cannot be prepared. Where leaving the EU throws up other uncertainties in the pipeline, there is no ideal solution. However, strong internal communication and a strategic approach to last-minute changes can enable you to ensure your company continues to grow whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal, or not.

In Summary

  • The new key date is 12th April, by which time the UK needs to tell the EU what it wants to do. This may mean another extension, but a no deal Brexit is a significant possibility.
  • Employment levels are at an all-time high, and vacancies have risen to the “highest level since comparable records began.”
  • Due to a decrease in workers from the EU, the market is candidate driven.
  • A salary cap of £30,000 may exacerbate this.
  • So, communicate with your employees.
  • Ensure you are an attractive employer.
  • Support your EU employees with settlement scheme applications.
  • Plan for a no deal Brexit.
  • There is a small possibility of remaining, which may result in an eventual influx of EU talent back into the UK market.
  • Whether we leave with a deal, no deal, or eventually remain, skills shortages look to be inevitable for the short-term.

How to use Snapchat in your recruitment attraction campaigns

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms used by Millennials and Gen Z. In 2019, the total number of daily active Snapchat users is 188 million with 71% of Snapchat users under 34 years old. It is estimated that if you tried to view all the photos shared on the platform in the last hour, it would take you 10 years.

Still, despite the evidence showing these extraordinary levels of engagement, Snapchat isn’t widely regarded as a recruitment tool. However, if your company is keen to recruit graduates or apprentices, Snapchat is where you should be focusing your recruitment efforts.

What is Snapchat, again?

Snapchat is a social messaging app for smartphones which uses photos and videos. The app gives options to add images, text and animations. Essentially, it is a fun way of communicating with your contacts, as all photos and videos sent have a specific time limit before they disappear forever. It’s quick, impermanent, and a bit of a laugh. It’s therefore not surprising that the platform is known as the social media playground.

However, Snapchat is frequently underused because employers do not understand how to use it, or why it can be beneficial. Of course, as with anything, there are both positives and negatives. As an employer, it’s important to fully understand how you could be utilising Snapchat for recruitment.

How can it be used for recruitment?

Snapchat was first created in 2011 and started gaining traction as a recruitment tool not long after, though it took a few years for it to gain real momentum. These days, it’s predominantly being used by employers in 3 ways:

  1. To advertise vacancies in an interactive, fun way.
  2. To attract candidates, by using the platform to shape their employer branding.
  3. As a creative application alternative, rather than going down the traditional CV route.

Advertising vacancies

McDonald’s likes to call their Snapchat recruitment drive, Snaplications. They’ve combined employer branding and recruitment marketing by making 10-second videos of their employees as they discuss what it’s like working for the brand. The viewer can then swipe up on the video to be redirected to the McDonald’s careers page.

This is just one example of how to use Snapchat to advertise your vacancies more creatively. Utilising all of Snapchat’s features in your posts, such as drawings and text, can help make them more fun. However, Snapchat can be used for more than just advertising your vacancies.

Attracting candidates

Snapchat can also be used very much like Instagram, to give candidates a look inside your company culture. Where Snapchat and Instagram differ is that Instagram is designed with more of an aesthetic feel in mind, to project a more idealised version of who you are. In contrast, Snapchat is designed to give more of a fly on the wall feel to the inner workings of your life or, in this case, company.

It’s not meant to be perfect, it’s meant to feel personal. Where Instagram is the ideal platform for well-constructed, beautifully lit photos, Snapchat thrives off spur of the moment, reactive snapshots. The whole point is that because the images disappear, they don’t have to be visually perfect. What they need to do is tell a story, giving potential candidates the opportunity to really see inside the day-to-day.

Creative application alternative

Other companies have used Snapchat to turn the tables on the candidates, asking them to submit short videos to apply for a role. Of course, this only really works for roles that don’t require extensive experience. However, it’s a great way to see how engaged a candidate really is.

For example, for a role that works with social media, asking them to utilise social media as part of their application process is a great way to test their creativity and innovation. If they’re already an engaged Snapchat user, then the likelihood is they are also fairly savvy on all their social media platforms.

If you choose to utilise this, however, then make sure the reasons behind using this method are clear. A pub in Dublin, Sober Lane, asked candidates to send in a video via Snapchat telling them why they should be considered for the role. In response, there were questions raised over whether they had initiated this recruitment technique to enable selective discrimination based on candidate appearance. Overall, however, with a strategic approach, Snapchat can be a fantastic way to engage with your target audience.

Why Snapchat matters

Research shows that Millennials check their phones up to 150 times a day. Gen Zers are heavier users of Snapchat in particular, being active up to 11 times a day”. So, if you want to reach these types of candidates with your recruitment marketing, you need to meet them where they’re at. Media Post says, Gen Z wants authentic brand experiences across all channels and devices, showing that Snapchat’s personal approach to social media is a highly effective way to reach them.

As a result of these findings, the number of companies utilising Snapchat as a recruitment platform – such as AOL and Mitchells and Butlers – is gradually increasing. So, don’t wait until everyone’s doing it, make your mark while it’s still gaining traction.

International Women’s Day: Women in Tech

At Talent Works, we work with several clients in tech. So, we decided, on International Women’s Day, to celebrate the women working in tech.

Technology is an incredible force for good in our ever-changing world. Yet, it is estimated that only 1% of the tech sector will be female by 2040 if there are no interventions. However, the tech industry is gradually changing. More and more women are excelling in tech careers thanks to female pioneers such as those we’re celebrating below, as well as organisations such as Girls Who Code. To celebrate, we thought we’d take a look at some of the women currently changing the future of tech.

Trisha Prabhu

Young software engineer Trisha Prabhu developed an app called ReThink to help curb cyberbullying. After a young girl committed suicide because of online abuse, she was inspired to understand why young people send abusive messages. She learned that the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making skills, isn’t fully developed until age 25. Therefore, at times adolescents don’t consider what they do before they do it, resulting in impulsive, often harmful decisions such as sending an abusive message. Prabhu realised that if she could develop an app which detects offensive messages before they’re sent, she could give young people the chance to rethink what they are about to post. The app has been incredibly successful, with research showing that 93% of teenagers who had ReThink decided not to publish an abusive message. You can check out her Ted Talk here.

Zara Nanu

Tech Entrepreneur Zara Nanu founded software business Gapsquare in 2015 to help close the gender pay gap in less than 20 years. Gapsquare uses machine learning to analyse a company’s gender pay gap and flag opportunities to close it as they arise. Data can provide tangible goals for businesses to aim for in terms of their Diversity and Inclusion policies. Such data can influence whether candidates choose to work for certain companies, and in turn, this level of transparency can increase retention rates. So, not only is Zara Nanu helping to end pay inequality, she’s providing lasting change to employee welfare and optimising workforces. You can check out the Gapsquare website here.

Reshma Saujani

Founder of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, is helping to close the gender gap in the tech industries. Girls Who Code provides free after-school programmes which teach girls computer science, communication skills vital for developing a career, and the values of sisterhood. She cites evidence from psychologist Carol Dweck who found that girls with a high IQ were quick to give up on challenging material, whereas boys with a high IQ were more likely to redouble their efforts. Saujani states in her Ted Talk that “women have been socialised to aspire to perfection. Girls Who Code is her answer to the perfection problem, by advocating teaching girls bravery, not perfection.” You can hear her talk about this here.

Kimberly Bryant

Kimberly Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code, a not-for-profit which works to increase the number of women of colour working in tech, which currently sits at only 3%. The organisation provides opportunities to girls from underrepresented communities, who are talented in the STEM and Computer Science fields. She says, Black Girls Code is about instilling a sense of confidence in their own innate ability, so they can lead and create companies of their own. The organisation is community driven and committed to their own values, having refused grants from large companies they feel are not active enough in the community. Bryant was named as a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion at the White House in 2013. You can watch her Ted Talk here.

Susan Wojcicki

Susan Wojcicki has been named one of the most powerful women “on the internet.” She was involved in the founding of Google and is now CEO of YouTube. She is also a pioneer of diversity in the workplace, advocating for more women to work in tech and for getting girls interested in computer science. She has also advocated for the US to become a leader in maternity-leave benefits.” Any list of women in tech would be incomplete without her!

Yasmine Mustafa

Named by the BBC as one of its 100 Women of 2016, Yasmine Mustafa is the founder of ROAR for Good, an organisation which produces a piece of tech jewellery called Athena. Athena is designed as a discreet device used to share a person’s location and sound an alarm if they feel unsafe. Initially moving to the United States as a refugee at 8 years old, Yasmine first founded 123LinkIt, a blog advertising agency. Most recently, she founded the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It which provides affordable web development classes for women. A social entrepreneur who is championing the rise of women in tech, Yasmine Mustafa isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Angela Ahrendts

The highest paid executive at Apple until April when she leaves for “new personal and professional pursuits,” Angela Ahrendts has been a surprise to the tech industry. Moving from the fashion industry as former Burberry CEO into the Head of Retail position in 2014, she became one of the most important people in Apple. She leads 50% of the workforce and is still the only woman on the senior leadership team.”

Progress is on the rise, and these are just some of the women spearheading the movement. You can check out last year’s post on our Top 5 marketing campaigns empowering women here.

Happy International Women’s Day to all our colleagues and clients!

Our 10 Year Anniversary: A conversation with Neil Purcell

From the very beginning, to now: Talent Works International

Talent Works International turns 10 this March. This is an incredible milestone for us as an agency and a fantastic cause for celebration. As a business, we at Talent Works believe in transparency. So, in such spirit, we decided a conversation with our founder and CEO Neil Purcell would be a fantastic start to a series of blogs celebrating the last 10 years.  

So, grab a cuppa, sit down and take some time out with our CEO.   

What inspired you to start up your own agency?

Talent Works was born more out of frustration than anything else. I was frustrated by the lack of quality being delivered, the lack of innovation, agility and flexibility in some solutions offered by other organisations in the recruiting space. So, that made me feel like, why can’t recruitment be something a bit different? Why does it always have to be the same thing, done the same way? So, that’s when I decided to start a business of my own.

I’d done very well in other people’s organisations, I was running a successful division. So, everyone said to me, why do you want to go and set up on your own? I didn’t need to explain myself, I knew what I wanted to do. There’s always an added motivation when people think you can’t do something. Someone, who will remain nameless, told me I’d be done in 6 months.

So, what convinced you that Talent Works would be successful?

Lots of industry experience, confidence and belief. I didn’t know it was going to work. If I’m brutally honest, I think I back myself with having the right mentality and desire to want to do something. If you set something up on your own, you have to have absolute unwavering trust in your own ability and belief that you can make it happen. Along with great people to work with, and a clear vision of what you want to do.

How has Talent Works changed in that time?

If you look at Talent Works today, it isn’t what it was ten years ago, we’ve evolved and become something very distinctive. We’re a real big point of differentiation in the market now for Employer Branding, our RPO offering, with Creative and Digital integrated into it. I believe more in Talent Works today than I did 10 years ago. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in it in the first place, but I think given the timing in the market and the agile nature of what we deliver, it’s a great time to be offering a brand led recruitment solution.

Probably 80% of candidates now are passive. This means you’ve got to be more creative and deliver a better candidate experience from the minute you go out onto a digital platform. It’s not just when you’re in an interview process, candidate experience starts right at the very beginning, before you even have a physical conversation, and that’s the beauty of digital. Where we are now, we are developing employer brand and putting the candidate experience right at the forefront and heart of everything we’re doing. I love it.

Was the success of Talent Works a surprise?

No! No, not at all. I had absolute confidence in myself, and the people I hired in the beginning. I have huge belief in what we’re doing. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, did I think Talent Works would be what it is today? I would have said no. We’ve been on a long journey and we’ve achieved so much.

In the history of Talent Works, what are you particularly proud of?

I’m really proud of what everybody here has been able to build in such a short space of time. To give you a bit of context, we entered into the market in a recession in 2009. That was the best time to have entered because we were offering an alternative approach, that I felt had more value.

We started with Talent Mapping, so we were effectively an alternative solution to Executive Search. Like when we started our employer brand business and then brought the creative and RPO businesses in, we wanted to do it and deliver it differently to challenge what everyone else was doing. We came into a market that had been dominated by the same organisations for years, but we challenged in every single market and continually reinvented ourselves. So, that’s what I’m most proud of.

So, looking forward, what do you see for the future?

That would be telling! Where we are now I think is the most evolved we’ve ever been. We’ve got RPO, Creative Comms, Digital, Recruitment services. We’re proving ourselves in all those areas, it’s how we move forward again while introducing new things and continuing to add value.

It almost feels like the start again. Every time we get to a certain milestone I can tell you it’s been years 3, 6, 8 and now 10 – we feel like the business is in start-up mode again. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur. People always say to me, you’ve only had one business, but I say, no, I feel like I’ve had 4 business. I get excited and motivated by seeing the levels of engagement within our people, seeing how excited they are about what they’re doing.

Essentially, what you’ve got to look at is that this started as my dream. So, that for me is where I get the excitement and motivation to keep going. It comes from a combination of seeing the dream materialise and the genuine motivation that comes from seeing other people buy into and help deliver it. The future, for me, is really, really bright. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

Can you think of any special memories from the last 10 years?

I think there’s loads that stand out. If I think back to the day we moved into the barn (our first office), before anyone came in, I went in the barn, cleaned everything out and set everything up. We had my desk at the head of the office, 4 white tables that I bought from somebody for £20 and some chairs. When I set it all up, and everyone came in, there was this minute where we went, woah, here we go. This is it. That was pretty exciting for me.

Then, probably when we won our first big clients. One was Wincanton, and one was PepsiCo. So that was pretty cool. At this point I should really thank Mike Lynn-Jones and Rick Kershaw. They both took a leap of faith and trusted us to deliver for their respective organisations. I’m pleased to say, we did.

You know, it’s a strange feeling when you realise it’s working! I had this complete, unwavering belief that it was going to work, there’s no way you can think that it won’t work, but suddenly we realised we’re doing it! This is the dream. This is what it’s all about. It’s not so much a memory but, seeing everybody choosing to be a part of TWI is a hugely humbling experience. It is a hugely humbling experience for me to know that everybody in this business chooses to be here.

You look back on areas where we’ve messed up, and you learn from these things. It’s okay to mess up! Not all the time, but it’s okay to make mistakes. One not so special memory – we entered the US market in 2011, and for many reasons it didn’t work. Those times didn’t deter me from thinking, right, we’re going to do it again at some point with a different infrastructure, different strategies, different people and it’s going to be at the right time. Having the courage and the resilience, as a collective, to know we can do it better. And we did! And now, we’ve built a multi-million turnover business in the US, as well as the UK. That’s pretty cool.

We’re going to continue chatting to the employees here at Talent Works for our 10 Year Anniversary, so keep an eye out for the second blog in the series!

5 ways RPO can enhance your employer brand

Your employer brand is key to attracting and retaining top talent.

By effectively communicating who you are as a company, you can attract high-quality candidates and improve retention rates. When your employer brand is strong, candidates will want to work for you.

RPO providers can help to develop and build your employer brand. As well as this, they can make sure your employer brand is effectively represented through the recruitment process.

We’ve put together some of the ways working with an RPO provider can help strengthen your employer brand.

Work with a recruiter who specialises in the appropriate area

When outsourcing your recruitment process, you can partner with recruitment specialists who are experienced in the sectors most relevant to your business’ vacancies. Working with an experienced sourcing specialist reduces time and optimises your recruitment process. A recruiter who fundamentally understands the role and its value to your business is best placed to source the right fit.

A recruiter becomes an extension of your business

One of the main advantages of RPO is that the recruiter or recruitment team you partner with becomes an extension of your business. They will spend time getting to know your business extensively so that they can represent you accurately. RPO recruiters are uniquely placed not just to understand your brand, but to enhance it.

Expertly crafted job descriptions

A well-crafted job description is essential in capturing top talent. RPO providers offer support in writing ad descriptions that instil your employer brand, while accurately defining the job role to ensure it attracts relevant candidates. If a job description is too vague it can result in an influx of applications from candidates who are just not right for the role. Most RPO providers have copywriters and content writers who can give your job advert that extra flare to make it stand out. This also ensures the words used are succinct and to the point.

Using social media in your recruitment marketing

Some RPO providers have creative and digital teams. This means they can create specialised social media campaigns, promoting your employer brand to reach the right candidates. Experienced digital marketers can target an audience for your job postings, right down to city and profession. This ensures you are targeting the most relevant candidates and using your resourcing budget effectively.

Quality candidate experience

Candidates want to be confident that they’re making the right decision if they choose to join your business. By utilising recruitment partners, you can ensure that the candidate will get a quality experience throughout the entire recruitment journey, from the application stage through to interview feedback.

Specialist recruitment teams can provide excellent support to candidates, giving them the information they require when they need it. And because recruitment partners are aligned with your company values, they can shortlist candidates that are not only right for the vacancy but also a good fit for your team.

RPO and employer branding go hand in hand to make your recruitment strategy more specialised, and ultimately more successful. To find out more, check out our blogs on RPO FAQ’s and how to improve your employer brand.

Company Culture: Why It Matters In Recruitment Attraction Campaigns

Company culture is important as it can play a crucial factor in determining the success or failure of a business. Evidence shows that investing in company culture can lead to higher performance rates, due to enhanced employee wellbeing, higher levels of development and long-term employee retention.

According to Science Daily, “corporate culture is the most important factor in driving innovation”. So, not only does a strong culture improve employee ratings of their company’s qualities by 20%, being named a “best place to work” leads to a roughly 0.75% stock jump, as can be seen on Glassdoor.

Why is company culture important?

Company culture is of prime importance to economic success. However, research shows that if a negative corporate culture is established early on it can be very difficult to change.

Kotter’s research on this subject showed that there are two essential subcategories of corporate culture, which can be summarised as either visible or invisible. The first few years are critical to forming positive habits that determine overall success; however, change can occur later, it just requires more intentional effort to undo invisible bad practices and establish new ones.

So, here are some steps you can take to ensure your company culture attracts the best candidates:

Start from within

Focus on developing a strong, positive internal culture from the beginning. If this is something you have let slip, then take some time to correct it. Candidates will be comparing multiple companies, so they’ll know if your culture isn’t all you say it is.

So, before you make your culture external, ensure that you have it right. To help with this, you could research your competitors and use them as inspiration. What are they offering that you aren’t?

Although it is great to look at other companies for ideas be careful not to become a carbon copy of them. Establish bonuses and incentives that are aligned with your brand values, which will attract the candidates which are right for your business.

Publish your mission, vision, and values on your website

Once your internal culture is on point, focus on your employer branding and ensure it reflects your culture. Craft a tone of voice that is honest about who you are. Once you have spent some time developing your brand values, put them pride of place on your website.

Some companies can underestimate how important these statements are for candidates. Stand out by being open with what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it, and how important you consider your employees to be.

Create a careers page

If you haven’t already, create a page on your website that is dedicated to advertising your current job opportunities, as well as giving an overview of your culture. Dedicate pages to the benefits you offer, including socials, team building, and development opportunities, and any extra packages you offer employees such as healthcare and wellbeing.

Be honest about the personality of your company. If your employees are interactive, talkative, and enthusiastic, mention this. Similarly, don’t portray your culture inaccurately. Authenticity will not only attract the right talent for your business but ensure they stay for the long term. It’s not about attracting as many candidates as possible but attracting the right ones.

Ensure your tone of voice is consistent

If your tone of voice has been crafted to communicate your company culture, make sure this is also used within your recruitment attraction campaigns. A change in tone of voice could confuse candidates and discourage them from applying. If you need to, invest in your content to ensure consistency.

Ensure communication with candidates reflects your culture

It’s crucial that your recruitment strategy is efficient, but also make sure that candidates, whether successful or not, have a positive experience throughout the process.

Invite candidates to experience your culture for themselves by introducing simple steps into your recruitment strategies such as an office tour, or meeting with ‘employer brand champions’ within the specific team they are looking to join.

If you need to apply processes to take steps to ensure that unconscious biases don’t come into play, maybe consider blind recruitment.

Develop a set of ethical policies

Studies show that millennial’s are looking to work for employers who reflect their own values and respect their community, with 86% being considered willing to take “a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own”.

For example, the environment is one of the most pressing issues of our time, as well as being an issue millennial’s are highly engaged with. If you want to attract up and coming, exciting talent that can transform the future of your business, consider creating your own set of environmental policies. Transform the way your business runs, from everything down to recycling and power usage. As an added perk, consider contributing to environmental charities or supporting your staff with volunteer days.

Other options to consider are a set of policies to ensure diversity and inclusion is a part of your recruitment strategy or implement an internal mental health awareness campaign. Incorporate your policies as part of your talent attraction process by documenting them on your careers page.

Use Instagram

Instagram is a fantastic tool to showcase your culture. Take pictures and videos at social events, celebrations, and office perks. If you treat your staff to lunch, snap it. If your employees are taking part in team building exercises, film it.

Actions speak louder than words, and candidates don’t just want to hear about all the benefits of your culture, they want to see them in action. For more hints and tips on using Instagram for recruitment and to attract talent, see our blog.

Use Social Media

And, on this note, determine which social media channels you will use to communicate your culture. Just as 70% of employers are checking out candidate’s social media pages, they’re doing the same to you. Check out our blog post about using social media to see how you could be using your channels to attract top talent.

Your company culture is integral to your success, both economic and internal, and investing in it should be a satisfying process. It’s all about showing candidates why you’re the right company for them. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

The yearly round up – the 2018 edition

Last year was a big one for Talent Works. We won new clients, moved into new offices and taken on lots of new people. Let’s grab a cup of tea and take a look at what we got up to in 2018.

After all, it’s been a pretty good year.

We got creative with Asahi

Asahi is an employer that values innovative and inspirational thinking. That’s why we created ‘The Art of Asahi’ – a colourful and creative employer brand that provides the perfect canvas to celebrate Asahi’s culture and opportunities.

Our ‘Art of Asahi’ concept extends to all sorts of messaging, including employee events.

We gave Red Hat a helping hand

We provided RPO support for 40 open roles for this leading tech company, helping them find Architects and Consultants for positions across Europe. Our efforts went down so well, we’ve been enlisted to support other areas of the business, including the recruitment for their graduate programme. Watch this space.

We loved every moment with Mitchells & Butlers

We created a compelling employer brand that unites this massive, multifaceted company under one umbrella, making it easier to speak to talent in a more engaging, visible way. Our Brand and Insight team interviewed over 400 employees before collating the research into a clear framework with a single message: ‘Love Every Moment’. Now the ‘Love Every Moment’ brand has spread throughout the business, appearing in employer videos, internal posters and social media campaigns.

Our new employer brand puts people front and centre.

We helped Elsevier spread knowledge

As a company, Elsevier has some big goals – to share knowledge for the benefit of humankind, to inspire new ideas and spark discoveries. So they needed something pretty special to attract and engage the right talent. We created a new employer brand that brings their business to life, and shows what it’s like to work for this innovative organisation.

Striking imagery and bold copy bring this multi-layered brand to life.

We continued to support Sage

We continued to offer RPO support for Sage, helping them find the right people for their Sales and Service roles. Over 2018, we helped them make 302 offers and 273 hires.

We went global with Bloomberg

Our Brand and Insight team surveyed 4,065 potential candidates across five continents, in order to understand how they perceived Bloomberg and their competitors in order to help shape the company’s employment offering.

We propelled Amadeus to new heights

Every employer knows that top tech talent can be hard to find. As a global leader in travel technology, Amadeus needed to be able to reach the best and brightest software developers to join a new division. To help them out, we not only provided them with dedicated RPO support, we also created a microsite that brings to life what this future-facing company does in order to engage and attract a younger tech audience.

This landing page operates as a hub for prospective tech talent.

We got social with Akamai

We’ve helped this global tech giant connect with people all over the world via the medium of social media. We’ve used compelling content to grow their following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, sharing company news, connecting with employees and showcasing Akamai’s unique culture.

Content that showcases Akamai’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

We found tech talent for Next

Clothing brand Next needed some help identifying and attracting tech talent. Our sourcing team rose to the challenge by providing dedicated RPO support, finding hundreds of potential candidates which resulted in eight new hires across roles that are notoriously difficult to fill.

We got under the skin of Nationwide

Our Brand and Insight team provided a whole host of valuable information to inform Nationwide’s new employer proposition. We conducted hours of in-depth research and interviewed hundreds of employees across the country to get to the heart of what makes Nationwide a great place to work. And we’ve got more projects on the go.

We’re showing the human face of Taboola

We’re excited to be working with global tech company Taboola on developing a new employer brand to help them attract and engage young tech talent across the world. We’re still in the early stages, so keep your eyes peeled.

Phew. What a year. Of course, this is just a snapshot of what we got up to, and we’re anticipating 2019 will be even busier.

But you know what? We can’t wait.