In the London job market, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that if you do not have significant experience in a job that is being advertised, mostly likely you will never be considered for the position. This is especially so for big companies who use computer-generated systems as a screening measure to filter out candidates as much as they can before the first round of interview even starts.

In the case of a busy and growing company who engages with external recruiters to source talents for them, less experienced recruiters, while under KPI pressure, become mere telephone machineries and adopt a simple ‘tick boxes’ approach to sourcing candidates and completely miss the hidden gems and talents amongst a pile of applications.

This is a pretty worrying phenomenon. London is supposed to be one of the most open-minded, talent-rich and innovative cosmopolitan cities in the world. On one hand, you hear candidates complaining that it takes forever to secure a decent position, or that the recruitment process takes too long. On the other hand, recruiters and clients complain that it is incredibly difficult to source the right people. But the truth is, London is the prime destination for a lot of ambitious, talented and highly skilled workers. So what has gone wrong here?

Having been a candidate and a recruiter myself for the past few years, I would suggest, that perhaps the hiring party has adopted a tunnel vision in recruitment. A CV is only important in giving a prospective employer a quick overview of one’s education and career background. But by no means should a CV be considered more important than actually speaking to your candidates. A CV is a mere presentation of somebody’s history. An employer can never have a full grasp of somebody’s potential, drive, and true intelligence from a piece of paper. ‘I am not impressed by the CV’ should never translate into ‘I am not impressed by the person’.

Good recruiters will take a holistic approach in judging somebody’s resume and will persuade their clients to be more opened-minded in selecting candidates for interviews. Connectional means get you the conventional candidates, who probably will do everything by the book perfectly, but will be unlikely to create real impact on your business. An ‘outside the box’, riskier and a more personality-focused approach will give you better insight into the potentials and commitment of your future employee.

Businesses do not become big and successful because of a collection of skills. They grow because of their ability to adapt, to evolve, and be creative. So why not put the CVs aside and seek these elements in your candidates? Why not ask them a different set of questions at interview next time, rather than asking ‘have you done this, this and that in the past?’

“Think of the people who have made the biggest impact on humanity and they are far from conventional,” said the managing director of assistive technology specialist Microlink PC, citing Beethoven, Einstein and even Alan Turing as examples. “That’s an argument for constructing recruitment processes that celebrate difference and give every candidate a chance to shine.”

I was inspired by the following article I read on telegraph. It suggests that modern day recruitment processes, if to become effective and meaningful, have to evolve and give credits to the following five elements, which I totally agree:


  1. Add some romance

Entering an employment relationship is not much different from entering a love relationship. Both parties want it to not just work but also flourish. Both parties take time to get to know each other before making a long-term commitment, thus the probation period. There needs to be mutual respect and understanding. There needs to be commitment and support coming from both sides.

So why not add in a bit of romance and throw in a couple of questions that make your future employee feel that you actually care about him/her as a person? I am not suggesting one should ask highly personal questions, but try to build a human relationship with your employee that is beyond the corporate employer-employee relationship.

  1. Think outside the box


Be open-minded about somebody’s achievements and engagements in the past. When somebody did something that does not sound so coherent with the rest of the resume, don’t go ‘that’s just random and impractical’. Instead, be curious and ask about it. A good employer always takes an interest in the employer’s life outside of work. Life is more than just work after all. As for candidates, don’t afraid to put things down on CV that provoke questioning if they are true.


  1. Hire a person rather than a skill set


This is probably one of the most important lessons to be learnt by any recruiter, internal or external included. A person’s character, drive and potentials are priceless, and cannot be learnt or induced. But skills can be learnt and developed.


Loyalty, morality, work ethos, responsibility and trustworthiness – these are characters in your staff that help you build a brand, a corporate identity, a reputation, and eventually an empire. There is no replacement of skill for characters like these. So find out about the person and don’t be fixed on the CV.


  1. Offer a decent lifestyle as well as a good job


A good job will get a candidate to accept an offer. But a decent lifestyle as well as a good job will make him/her stay for a long time. With all the choices in the market and companies constantly transforming work environment and hour structure, it is no longer just about the employer and devoting all your time to a job.


Candidates these days care a great deal about work/life balance as well as a good remuneration package. Whilst an employee offers his/her skill, time and devotion to your company, listen carefully to what he/she wants in return and try to match that as much as you can. Very often, it is not about money. It is about a healthy, fulfilling life style. Money does not make us happy. But good relationships and a sense of purposes and contributions do.


  1. Give employees every opportunity to thrive


Sometimes companies get so fixed on what they want to achieve as a corporate entity and try so hard to get there, so much so that they forgot what their staff could offer. During the monthly or quarterly meetings, instead of telling your staff what to do and simply measuring their performance, why not ask them what they enjoy most about their job, and what responsibilities they would like to take on or relinquish. Ask them to measure themselves. Give them the responsibility to be their own manager. Be flexible and ask for their suggestions. Placing the right talents in the right place within a workforce is fundamental to any success stories.


Author: Eren Wong, Managing Consultant