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By Clare Jupp

Effective recruitment into our sector appears to be a challenge. The average age of a broker is 50-plus and while, of course, there is no issue with their ability to do a great job, the growing concern is that there is a lack of new blood coming through.

Indeed, finding the right new recruits is difficult for firms and the bad news is there is no quick fix to the problem.

But while finding appropriate staff is a big challenge in itself, getting rid of ineffective employees can be even more of an onerous task. With this in mind, getting the recruitment process right in the first place is crucial. Filling vacancies with the wrong people is almost certainly more damaging than having vacancies alone.

Much research has gone into recruitment, with many firms opting for a more scientific approach to the task at hand. The use of psychometric testing and personality profiling is not unusual, and neither is the setting of all sorts of weird and wonderful tasks and exercises for the would-be hopefuls. Indeed, countless hours may have already gone into sifting through CVs and looking at skill sets against job specification criteria.

In the end, though, what exactly does that give you? You may end up with a person who, in theory and on paper, has the required skills, but how do you know for sure they will fit into your business?

Leaving science aside, recruitment strategies today include the likes of social media, apprenticeship schemes and academies, as well as the more traditional job adverts and/or agencies. Social media can be particularly useful as a cheap, efficient way of advertising job roles but the scope and reach can be limited.

Meanwhile, it is good to see academies popping up across the industry and apprenticeship schemes enthuse me too. I am not a fan of recruitment agencies, nor indeed standard advertisements. The advertising and agency routes can be expensive and time-consuming and, ultimately, they may not secure the employees that are hoped for.

We have gone beyond the agencies and adverts approach in favour of something much more personal. The aim is to get the right people not just for the job but for the organisation. New recruits to our Brightstar family must share common traits in terms of work ethic, ambition and values.

To safeguard this, the team is involved in the interviewing stage and also has the opportunity to check during a half-day visit to the business that is required prior to a job offer. The team has to accept the new recruit and the result is that they usually feel like part of the furniture very quickly indeed. To date, the success rate has been amazing.

I have always been a strong advocate of ‘hire for attitude and train for skill’ and I still maintain that recruiting somebody that will fit with your culture and your existing team is the most crucial goal to achieve.

I recently spent some time analysing the origins of our workforce, looking in particular at how we had gone about employing our business consultants. They fit in perfectly, but was there science, luck or magic involved?

The results were quite fascinating and serve as living proof that relationships matter. Knowing a person well enough to make a judgement call on whether they will fit into the organisation has been a winning strategy for us.

Indeed, my results showed there had previously been personal connections with 73 per cent of our business consultants. We have people that have worked for us or with us before, people from the industry that we knew well previously and people that were recommended by friends or family already employed with us.

Using staff to drive recruitment has been very effective and we offer an incentive upon successful recruitment of a new employee. This gives a degree of confidence rather than a leap into the unknown. Our team members are great barometers when gauging the suitability of someone to fit into our culture.

Recruitment can be a risky business, so using those you trust to bring in people they know provides a useful alternative for businesses to consider.