Our Takeaways from the CIPD Conference

Our Takeaways from the CIPD Conference

The CIPD hosted its 70th annual conference and exhibition last week in Manchester. The CIPD conference is the largest HR event in the UK and attracts over 4000 attendees each year. The theme this year was all about embracing the new world of work and focussed on the major shifts that are currently affecting organisations, the HR profession and the world of work.

It was a busy two days packed full of inspiring and thought-provoking speeches from an array of experienced professionals. We learned a lot but here are our 4 main takeaway points from the CIPD Conference:

The edges between Marketing and HR are blurring

HR and recruitment professionals need to be marketers in order to attract the right talent. Jane Graham, Resource Manager at Wiltshire Council, explained that in order for her team to source relevant candidates they needed to learn new skills and develop a recruitment strategy which included:

  • Rethinking their Employer Value Proposition
  • Developing an integrated advertising campaign which focussed more on social media and less on traditional media
  • Creating new brand collateral which had clear brand messaging
  • Analysing their efforts in order to understand what is working and what isn’t
  • Engaging with candidates and employees and gaining their insight

A quote which really resonated with us was, ‘it’s all about the brand, it’s not all about HR.’

HR all about the brand - by Simon Heath
HR all about the brand – illustrated by Simon Heath
The difference between Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion is being talked about a lot at the moment, and in a slightly different way than we’re used to. But how would you describe the difference between the two? It’s a trickier question than it originally sounds but Huma Qazi, international HR & culture consultant said it well:

Diversity & Inclusivity

“If you don’t have the right collaborative spirit, and are not using it to your competitive advantage, you are going to lose out,” she said.

Digital is not a choice!

Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of lastminute.com and board member at Twitter, stated in her opening keynote that digital is happening to us and businesses have to adapt.

Checklist for a successful digital future
Martha’s checklist for a successful digital future
  • Be inclusive. Are you reaching the widest possible talent and including the most people with the tech available today?
  • Take control of your data and how you can use tech to harness your data and make informed decisions.
  • Challenge perceptions on who could be included. Diversify your workforce by reaching more.
We need to be offering flexible working

Flexible working doesn’t just refer to working from home, it’s allowing flexibility for childcare and adultcare commitments. The main barrier to flexible working is line manager’s perceptions, which links directly to diversity. By not offering flexible working you are essentially excluding people with commitments that prevent them from working a traditional 9-5. Some employers are cottoning on to the benefit of being more flexible with staff, focussing on the quantity of work that is produced, rather than the hours that it is done between. Obviously, there are limitations to how companies can facilitate this flexibility, but it’s notable that companies who offer this have better retention rates and have access to a larger talent pool.

We thoroughly enjoyed the conference and the opportunity to learn more about industry trends. We’ll definitely be putting everything we heard to great use in future.

Expert Perspective: Getting a job description just right

First of all, what is your purpose? Is it a job spec or a job description? Yes, they’re different.

A job specification generally comprises of specific roles, responsibilities and background points that are required for the role. Whereas, a job description tends to build more of a narrative around the position. This is what I’m going to focus on. So, what are the key things to include?

Here are 8 key points to understand before writing your job description:

1. Get the job title right
Consider whether the title is a true reflection of the role and the candidate you are looking to hire, if not then tweak accordingly. If the role requires you to spend the majority of your time working on marketing campaigns, this should be reflected in the title.

2. Where does the job sit within the business?
Who will this person be directly reporting into? It all matters. It’s also vital for a prospective candidate to know the team structure and who they will be working alongside. If the candidate will be joining a team of four dedicated Account Executives, let them know.

3. What experience should a candidate have?
It’s important to distinguish the ‘nice to haves’ from the essentials. This is a great way to filter out the unsuitable applicants.

4. Be specific about the role and responsibilities.
To ensure higher staff retention, be realistic and specific about the areas that a successful candidate will spend their time working on.

5. What will their progression route look like?
If there is a clear structure within the business, let the candidate know.

6. Provide company specific narrative
Size, scale, locations, clients. Because no-one feels inspired to work for a company that they know nothing about.

7. Short summary copy
In most opportunities there is intro copy that needs to grab the reader, before they consider making the next step through to the job description.

8. Getting the order right
Short intro, role responsibilities, person specification, rewards, your company and next steps. Some of these can be omitted depending on where you’re advertising, if it’s internal the ‘your company’ info can take a back seat.

Keep everything succinct. Depending on where you’re posting, a job ad should be to the point about the role and sell the business and opportunity to a candidate.  It requires you to take a step back from the writing, the job description should serve a function, and it should provide a compelling transaction opportunity for the right candidate. If it doesn’t, then you’re doing something wrong. If it captures unsuitable candidates, you’re doing something wrong.

Stop doing something wrong, and start doing it right

Taking the above 8 tips forward, you’ll establish a replicable structure to use to build job ads. You need to treat prospective candidates in a similar way to consumers. They will be in a position to either count themselves in or out upon reading your crafted job description. You need to make sure that the right people are getting through to the application stage. You can do this by setting out the requirements and responsibilities from the offset. Be honest here, embellishing details will make it harder to retain the right people.

Get the address right

Most job descriptions are written in the third person. But, the way to engage the audience is to use the second person ‘you’ address to build a relationship and speak directly to the reader. The use of ‘you’ breaks down the distance between the writer and reader, allowing the reader to see clearly where they could fit within the business.

Size matters

You should keep your job description to less than 700 words, with clear sections to keep readers engaged and provide the essential details about the role and the business opportunity.

So, that’s it, a quick guide to getting a job description to work for you. It’s also always worth considering how setting the scene around a role on social media can attract applicants. Think of creative ways to showcase your role, and you’ll get the applications to match.

Salary History: should we be asking the question?

Is it a social taboo to open career conversations with questions relating to prospective candidates’ current salaries? The jury isn’t quite out on this one, but it is certainly getting people talking.

What is your current salary?

It seems like a pretty straight forward question when you think about it. The reasoning behind the enquiry can be perceived as perfectly acceptable upon first thought. We need to know if the candidate will be interested in the salary package on offer for the position. In many cases it’s as simple as that. But is it appropriate to ask a candidate about their salary history?

What’s the issue?

Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor Chief Equal Pay Advocate and Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs states, ‘the time of looking backward to go forward to determine pay is over. Asking prior salary history questions can trigger unintended consequences and introduce bias into the hiring process that disadvantages women from day one.’

US Perspective

In the US last month, California joined a number of states where it will now be illegal to enquire into the salary history of applicants. Some cities are also adopting this law. New York City recently adopted an ordinance that will become law in late October. San Francisco has signed an ordinance which will go into effect on 1st July 2018.

UK Perspective

In the UK it is illegal to pay different amounts to men and women doing the same jobs under the Equal Pay Act. If you believe you are being paid less than a fellow employee for work of equal value there are actions you can take. However, an employer may defend a claim if they show the reason for the difference is due to a genuine factor and not based on the sex of the employee.

Should we be asking for salary history in the recruitment process?

New York’s Public Advocate, Letitia James, says we shouldn’t be asking this question as it promotes wage inequality, “being underpaid once shouldn’t condemn you to a lifetime of inequality. The old ways of attacking the problem aren’t working. We’ve got to pursue new approaches — like attacking wage disparities at their subtle but pernicious roots.”

What should we be doing instead?
1. Change the question

Lyon says by asking questions such as ‘what are your expectations for pay in this role and why?’ will lead to conversations about the type of salary the candidate would be looking for in a less abrupt way.

2. Have a salary banding in mind for each position

Lyon also states that, ‘Before the first interview, hiring managers should work with their HR and recruiting teams to determine the value of the role, get very clear on what will drive a higher or lower compensation package (ie. specific skills, management experience, etc.) and base interview questions around those topics.’

Next steps

It is unclear yet whether banning salary enquires in some states and municipalities has had a positive impact in terms of closing the gender pay gap. However, due to its increased popularity in the US it is best to be prepared for the eventuality of a similar law arising in the UK.

Running for the hills: TWI take the Wolf Run

This weekend, members of the Talent Works team from our Manchester and Northampton office will be tackling the Wolf Run in Leicestershire. Some have trained for the muddy obstacle course, and others will be running on pure adrenalin to complete this challenging 10k run!

What is the Wolf Run?

The Wolf Run is a 10k off-road running course which runs across natural terrain including open ground, woodland, lakes and lots of mud!

This hardcore running race includes a series of tough obstacles and is designed to test both your mental and physical strength. Contestants will run, climb, jump, wade, crawl and swim through the course, either as a lone wolf or as part of a pack.

Meet the team

I’m Alicia, an Insight Consultant within the TWI Brand & Insight team.  I’ve always wanted to take part in an event like this, so this presented the perfect opportunity for me to get involved. I’m looking forward to getting muddy, warming up again afterwards and taking part as a member of the TWI team.

Hi my name is Anthony, I am a Front End Developer (web geek). I have never done an event like the Wolf Run before and am hoping I will not be a total failure. If all else fails I will be using Peyman’s Popeye arms to help me over the obstacles. Doing this event has made me want to take part in more events and I am now signed up to a 50 mile and 100 mile bike ride! Definitely not prepared for them…

The run is for a good cause so please be generous with your donations!

I’m Bex, one of TWI’s Brand & Insight Lead Consultants. As chief fitness fanatic within the team I’m hoping my weightlifting and martial arts training in the gym will power me round the course and ensure I can help my work friends over obstacles (if indeed they need my help at all). It might be a fairly cold November morning but let’s face it – running around in mud is going to be a laugh and it’s for a fab cause.

I’m Hannah, a Lead Consultant in the Brand and Insight team. I’m probably the most unfit member of the team – yay! I signed up to the Wolf Run as motivation to get fit… I am yet to start training but hey it will be fine on the day. But in all seriousness, I wanted to get involved to have a bit of fun with the team and raise money for a great charity. Wish me luck!

I’m Kira, Lead Consultant in the Sourcing department here at Talent Works. This year I wanted to challenge myself more and being able to compete in the Winter Wolf Run is something that seemed like a great idea, and it’s all for a brilliant cause! As the challenge gets closer, the realisation is kicking in as to what is exactly involved in the challenge. I hate being cold so the thought of getting into a freezing lake scares me slightly to say the least, but I know I will feel a great sense of personal achievement once it’s completed. We are a very supportive group and I know we will make sure we all complete the challenge with a smile on our faces.

I first heard about the Wolf Run during my first week at TWI. The team needed another person to get involved with the event and I thought it would be a great way to build some bridges and bond with the team so I signed myself up!

Now it is less than a week away and I can honestly say I regret my decision. My training has been virtually non-existent and I hate being cold more than anything else, so it’s all looking rather bleak really. However, I have managed to raise a far bit of money and Kids Aid is a wonderful charity so I am going to give it 100% on Saturday. If I lose a toe to frostbite at least it was for a good cause.

Sometimes people do things for a good cause, they want to make a difference in the world, like a drop in the ocean, individually it doesn’t make much impact, but together many drops create the entire ocean. This is why I’m doing the wolf run, because as an individual, it may not make too much impact for charity, but together, the hundreds of people running will create something for a worthy cause. I am but a mere drop in the ocean of life, I am a wolf, I am Peyman.

How can I donate?
The team are competing to raise money for two amazing charities, KidsAid and the Factory Youth Zone. KidsAid is a Northampton based charity providing support for children and young people who have suffered abuse, bereavement, bullying and family problems. The Factory Youth Zone is a Manchester based charity which provides a unique safe place for young people aged 8-19, and up to 25 with additional needs.

A lot of the team members are really pushing themselves out of their comfort zone for this challenge so every penny is greatly appreciated. If you’d like to donate you can do so at the Talent Works Just Giving page and Talent Works My Donate page.

Unlimited Holidays – Too good to be true?

An unlimited holiday allowance is not a new phenomenon but up until recently it was a benefit which was rarely found outside of Silicon Valley tech companies. Although most companies offering this benefit are US-based, companies such as digital agency VisualSoft, social media agency Social Chain and technology platform JustPark are leading the way in the UK.

What is unlimited holiday?

An unlimited holiday or vacation entitlement means an employee is able to take paid time off work whenever they want to throughout the year. For most companies there are no strict rules attached to this perk, however, it appears to be an unwritten assumption for most companies that the employee’s work must be completed before taking said time off. Richard Branson says that all Virgin employees are able to take time off whenever they wish as long as it, “will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers”.

Where did the unlimited holiday policy originate?

Netflix started in 2001 and was one of the first notable companies to offer unlimited paid leave, however, Brazilian company Semco has been offering this to their employees since 1981. When Semco first started implementing this policy the company was worth $4 million. They are now worth over $1 billion dollars.

Which companies are adopting unlimited holiday?

Crimson Hexagon, LinkedIn, HubSpot, JustPark, Grant Thornton and Eventbrite are just some of the companies offering this benefit in the UK. Although the list is ever increasing it seems to be proving more popular with technology firms and start-ups. But, I’m fairly confident that many organisations will follow.

Positive reasons for unlimited holidays

Times have changed

“Flexible working has revolutionised how, where and when we all do our jobs. So, if working nine to five no longer applies, then why should strict annual leave policies?”

One of the main reasons for unlimited holidays the movement away from a traditional 9-5 role. As this becomes more elusive, so does standardising holiday. With advances in technology employees no longer need to be in the office to access their emails and take calls. Traditional hours are on the way out, as they don’t always suit employees, with many companies offering more flexible ways of working.


An unlimited holiday policy can convey trust to employees. By handing the responsibility to employees it makes them accountable for ensuring their work is on track prior to taking any time off.

Focus on results

Whereas staying late at the office used to score you brownie points, society has adapted its thinking and is now more in favour of employees that ‘work smart.’ Efficiency is key at Netflix and if you are able to manage your workflow effectively they believe you should be rewarded for this.

We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked.

A way of attracting talent

On the surface, the benefit of unlimited holidays is undoubtedly a great way to attract talent. Company review website, Glassdoor states, “Unlimited time-off can play a massive part in recruiting and retaining top talent. Allowing employees to recharge at their own pace, without having to meticulously count their annual leave days. Perhaps it could even result in more productive employees?”

Negative reasons for unlimited holidays

How much time off is appropriate?

Unlimited holidays is a relatively uncommon compensation policy so it can lead to employees wondering, ‘how much time is appropriate to take off from work?’. UK-based technology company, Triggertrap saw employees take an average of 15 days annual leave when they adopted the unlimited holiday policy. 13 days under the statutory minimum.

Feeling pressured

Some employees may feel pressured to not take time off for various reasons. They may feel guilty about leaving their colleagues to deal with their workload. Or they may feel that their manager will judge them if they’re seen to be taking too much time off.

Some employees may even feel internal pressure, as according to behavioural scientists our decisions are anchored by social norms.

Will it make much difference?

If you had unlimited holidays how many days in a year would you take off? In 2015, business media brand, Fast Company rolled out an unlimited holidays policy to their employees. They found that employees took roughly the same amount of holidays compared to the previous year when they were on a traditional paid time off system.

Doesn’t work for every company

Unlimited holidays inevitably won’t work for every industry, company or department. In particular, Elliott Manning, MD at Kayman Recruitment, believes it wouldn’t work for recruitment companies, “If a recruiter takes three or four weeks off it’s going to affect their pipeline and ultimately over a three-month period of the year, that’s going to affect business. The one-month build up, the month they’re away and the month they come back they are starting again.”

How can you adapt unlimited holidays to suit your business?

Call it something different

Fast Company suggest that adapting the name may help make the policy more successful. “Unlimited” conveys time off as indulgent whereas adapting the name to “flexible,” “self-managed,” “personalized,” or “responsible PTO” may be a better option to help employees understand the purpose behind the policy.

Incentivise time off

If you are worried that employees may feel guilty about taking time off why not incentivise it? That’s what companies such as Evernote and FullContact do. Employees at Evernote are given $1000 spending money if they take at least a week off at a time. FullContact have a policy called, ‘paid paid vacation’, where each employee is given a very generous $7500 per year if they go on vacation.

The rules to gain the $7500 are simple. They have to go on vacation, they must disconnect and they can’t work while they are away.

Unlimited Holiday – a good idea?

Ultimately it really depends on your business and your way of working. However, if you expect your employees to go above and beyond to achieve results, shouldn’t they have a compensation policy which reflects this?

How important is company culture to candidates?

Your company culture is your personality and it’s something candidates want to learn about during the recruitment process. But how can your candidates experience your culture first hand?

LinkedIn recently surveyed over 14,000 professionals worldwide to find out their favourite methods to discover and experience company culture.

Participants were given the option to choose their top three from the following;

  • Office Visit
  • Hiring Manager
  • Other Employees
  • Company Website
  • Recruiters
Visiting your office

Whilst video or phone interviews might be easier, they don’t give candidates the same glimpse into your culture as onsite interviews do. Making office visits part of your interview process is simple with anything such as tours or open houses, even walking the candidate around the office before an interview will give them a quick introduction to the culture.

Hiring Managers

Many candidates see hiring managers as having more authority, so they’re more likely to reply to them. US candidates in particular are more interested in hearing about culture from the hiring manager rather than other employees within the business. Utilise their power to influence by having them talk specifically about company culture during the face-to-face interview.

Hearing from employees

Current employees are the ones on the front line as they have experienced the company culture first hand. So, make sure candidates have the opportunity to speak with existing employees, whether it is during interviews or career fairs.

By developing your employees into brand ambassadors, you encourage them to share what life is like at your company.

Using the company website

Candidates will conduct research before applying for jobs and your website is normally the first place they will look. Pictures and videos which reflect your company values will give them a gateway into your culture.

Hearing from the recruiter

In order for recruiters to give candidates a glimpse into the company culture they can talk about a variety of things for example, they can give candidates an overview of a typical day in the office or speak about their genuine reasons for enjoying working there. Again, this is where your employees become brand ambassadors.

8 Social Media Statistics you need to know if you’re in Recruitment – infographic

LinkedIn has long been known as the social media network for recruitment – but should we be including the likes of Twitter and Facebook into our social media recruitment strategy? We’ve collated our top 8 social media statistics you need to know if you’re in recruitment or talent acquisition.

social media recruitment advertising

67% of candidates use Facebook compared to just 35% on Twitter

Although you’ll often see companies tweeting about live vacancies Facebook actually has more active candidates.  Recently Facebook has released the ability for company pages to post job vacancies and subsequently review the application they receive, all within Facebook.

59% of candidates use social media to research companies they are interested in

As well as reviewing information on company careers pages 59% of candidates will also check out company social channels to gain an insight into company culture and the work environment.

48% of candidates used social media in the search for their most recent job

In a study conducted by Jobvite, nearly half of candidates reported that they use social media when searching for their most recent job.

69% of active candidates are more likely to apply for a job at a company which manages its employer brand

By having a presence on social media, candidates will be more trusting of your brand. Make sure you are responding to reviews on your social media pages and Glassdoor, regularly posting and sharing updates that reflect your company values.

Facebook has more than double the number of active candidates compared to LinkedIn and Twitter

83% of candidates are active on Facebook. This is compared to 40% on Twitter and 36% on LinkedIn.

Job posts get 36% more applications if accompanied by a recruiting video

The type of content you share affects who you reach and how many applications you receive for instance, job posts get 36% more applications if accompanied by a video.

Facebook vs. LinkedIn

There are more job seekers on Facebook than on LinkedIn. However, unless you have a paid strategy, your posts are more likely to be viewed on LinkedIn compared to Facebook. Having said that, due to Facebook’s algorithm, your job postings will feature on the news feeds of people you engage with the most. By creating a loyal following and engaging with your fans your job postings have a greater chance of being viewed by people interested in your brand.

87% of recruiters use LinkedIn but only 55% use Facebook

There’s no denying that LinkedIn is saturated with recruiters going after the same candidates. On the other hand, only 55% of recruiters utilise Facebook for sourcing.

Companies with an integrated approach to talent management have an 87% greater ability to hire the best talent

**The most important statistic in this post**

There can be varying reasons as to why one social network may work more effectively than another when recruiting. An example of this is that the majority of users on Facebook are active during non-working hours, the opposite to LinkedIn. By posting on multiple social channels and having an integrated social media recruitment strategy your chances of hiring quality candidates significantly increases.

Want to discover more insights like this? Then sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter below.


Jobvite – Job Seeker Nation Survey 

Hirewell – Hiring? Recruiting Stats you need to know for 2017

Jobcast – 26 Social Recruiting Stats

The Recruitment Network Club – Facebook V Linkedin

Should recruitment companies be threatened by AI?

Should recruitment companies be threatened by AI?

With many developments in technology – mobile, social, cloud and big data are changing the way that we work, Artificial Intelligence is beginning to disrupt certain industries.

AI is all around you, but you may not have any awareness of it. AI is a collective term for computer systems that can sense their environment, think, learn, and take action in response to what they’re sensing and their objectives.

It is used in personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. Spotify and Netflix use AI to recommend what to watch or listen to next based on your past activity.

AI for recruitment

As recruiters, should we fear AI or embrace it?

Although there are doubts, AI can help to accelerate, enhance and streamline the whole recruitment process by automating certain tasks such as checking CV’s, sending follow up emails or auto-screening candidates.

According to Undercover Recruiter, 100% of source and match tasks are automatable whereas only 20% – 24% of manage and sell tasks are automatable, so there is still need for human touch.

So why AI?

AI will accelerate hiring and therefore saving recruiters time, improving responsiveness and assisting to attract the top talent whilst collecting data.

Making life easier

Mya, is a recruiting assistant that will save your recruitment team 75% of their time.

Mya is a chatbot that applicants can communicate with, using Natural Language Processing, Mya can examine candidate data and pose relevant questions to fill the gap. Applicants in turn can ask questions such as company culture and hiring process. Whenever Mya can’t answer a question, it will ask human recruiters. The assistant constantly learns from its interactions to become more efficient at its work.

As a result of using AI for recruitment, recruiters will be able to conduct more informed and efficient hiring processes. They will be able to spend more time with candidates and make sure they are a great fit for their role. Despite shaking up the industry, AI will simply enhance this process and support recruiters.

How to improve employee engagement

A 2017 study from totaljobs shows that 28% of employers are having trouble engaging their workforce.

Employees who aren’t engaged lack enthusiasm and are no longer company ambassadors.

So how can you make sure your employees are fully engaged?

Employee feedback

Employee feedback can assure employees that you are taking an interest in their needs.

22% of companys survey employees quarterly or more often, 79% survey employees annually or less and 14% never survey employees at all. But you need to be paying attention to what your employees want and what they are doing on a daily basis, how can you make their life easier whilst improving your productivity and engagement?

By putting an emphasis on creating insights, Managers can better understand what motivates their staff and what makes them engage.

But it doesn’t stop after the surveys have been completed, you need to share the results with your employees and implement change as a result, otherwise they will be less willing to help in the future.

The working environment

Following employee feedback listen to what your employees want in their office.

Cultural differences need to be addressed, especially with International companies as different cultures will require adjusted engagement programs tailored to their employees.

Some popular working environment choices include natural lighting, improved break out areas and art or bright imagery on the walls.

Training opportunities

Repeating the same task every day without the stimulation of new initiatives will disengage your employees therefore career and skills progression will motivate employees and encourage them to aim towards future goals.

Employees expect continuous learning and new performance management practices to facilitate regular discussions about capabilities and skills, helping employees to learn where to focus and what to adopt.


Giving employees the opportunity to get to know their colleagues outside of the work environment is one of the most important elements to keeping employees satisfied and engaged. 54% of employers said that strong work relationships improve company culture and 70% of employers say friendships are good for morale and it’s positive to see team members in close relationships.

However, 34% of employees don’t think they have enough interaction with their colleagues .

Recognition and Incentives

Introducing a healthy element of competition into your culture can encourage productivity.

By creating a culture of recognition you introduce healthy competition, frequent and genuine praise can go a long way and mean a lot to your employees.