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What a summer it has been. Putting the foul weather to one side, usually July and August are fairly quiet investment and recruitment wise due to people being on holiday and stockmarket concerns tend not to surface until people return in September and October. Perhaps because everyone is in constant touch via Blackberrys or Wifi, this summer has been very different.

Long-raised fears about sub-prime mortgages in the States and the knock-on effect on easy credit finally hit general consciousness in August, with all the clich袠rollercoaster stockmarket gyrations that followed. In previous periods of turmoil, recruitment freezes came thick and fast. We even had companies cancelling existing job offers and horns were pulled in very quickly.

Fortunately, this year has been different. I have never known an August to be so busy in terms of new roles being given to us. These positions are sometimes replacements for people who have moved on but this year the majority have been due to promotions or expansion into new sectors and geographical areas.

Companies may have learned the lessons from the last bout of layoffs, when they found it much more difficult to be able to re-recruit when the economic climate appeared to become more benign.

All areas of the country and all sectors within retail financial services appear to be doing well. IFAs are feeling bullish. Many broker consultants we speak to have never been busier and again there has been general surprise at how busy August has been. So, if the economic climate is reasonably benign, how should companies and employees operate in an employment environment where the opportunities appear to be numerous and yet companies routinely say that there are too few suitably qualified candidates for their positions? The following suggestions might help.

A common complaint from candidates is that companies do not read CVs properly and certainly experience indicates that one negative will outweigh a host of positives.

This is also very true during an interview where one slight “wrong answer” or mistake by a candidate is given far too much prominence. While one cannot ignore negatives, they should be given their proper weighting.

If a company tries to reduce such bias by having set competency or criteria-based interviews, please inform the candidate that this style of interviewing will be occurring. I am not in favour of prepping a candidate but they must be told that they will get a competency interview as their responses should be very different from the usual run of questions.

Look internally first of all – one cannot just promote from within although I was once in the truly bizarre position of counselling a marketing professional about to lose his job, only to return to my desk to find a new job order for a similar role with the person’s current company. Due to his job title being product development as opposed to marketing or some similar mistake, they were about to make him redundant and then try to recruit someone else with an almost identical skill set. Two phone calls later and that person was kept on (although sadly no fee was paid).

Be creative and look at people from a different “pond”. There are issues regarding qualifications, etc, yet many product providers ignore a potential pool of candidates they deal with every day – their distributors – either whole of market or multi-tied.

It is much safer to recruit someone doing the role with a direct competitor, yet what is the point in just swapping the business card? Why not gain a motivated candidate who is well qualified yet wishes to work in a new environment? We have had some recent success in this area and would welcome your comments.

Harris Keillar is managing director of Keillar Resourcing

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