The Top 5 things Interims want from Recruiters


Interim management continues to go from strength to strength in UK FMCG. As more and more recruiters join the interim band wagon, at SJS we thought long and hard about what interim managers really want from recruiters.

What could we do to make sure we are delivering a service they want?

Rather than second guess, we decided to send out a survey asking interim managers within FMCG what service they would like from recruiters and received responses from just under 120 professional interims. Below is the top 5 responses with number 1 being the most reported answer:

1. Transparency on fees- interims professionals really dislike the smoke and mirrors approach by most recruiters with regards to what they are being paid vs what the client is paying the recruiter. Most feel like they could be being taken advantage of and this leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Most interims just want transparency and to know the recruiter isn’t charging way too much.

2. Timely feedback- speed of response was also important. Interims would like to know quickly if they have been selected for interview or have won the assignment. Recruiters going quiet and not feeding back quickly is a real problem. Interims want a service that is quick and efficient.

3. Expertise- interims want to deal with a recruiter that understands their market and has good relationships with the key players/employers. This way they not only get access to the best assignments but also market insight.

4. Respect- interims want to be treated with respect. Comments made back include answering/returning calls as well as keeping them up to date on the process without having to continually chase the recruiter

5. Assignments- interims want to deal with a recruiter that can deliver the goods. Namely a constant stream of decent assignments. They want someone who will work with them as their assignment nears conclusion so that they are kept gainfully employed.

So, there we have it. None of it rocket science. Which begs the question. Why aren’t more interim recruiters doing this? The feedback we received from the survey clearly illustrates there is some way to go in terms of recruiters delivering a consistently superb service.

At SJS we are growing our interim business by ensuring we listen and learn from our interims. We offer a transparent fee structure, an expert service that is quick, efficient and built on respect whilst placing the interim experience at the core of what we do.

We would be keen to hear feedback on any more areas that are important to interims.


The best business advice I took? Be a hedgehog!


Hedgehogs are small, slow creatures and do not have the elegance or appeal of other creatures like lions, foxes or elephants. However they do one thing really, really well.

Anytime a predator comes close the hedgehog curls up into a ball and its protective spikes (or quills according to google) form a protective shield that deters the threat. The hedgehog even sleeps in this way to ensure it it isn’t attacked when at its most vulnerable.

How does this translate to the best advice I took in business?

An ex boss gave me a book to read. It was ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. In it ,Collins observed that companies that were truly great were fantastic at executing the hedgehog concept.

That is, they were able to focus on one thing that they could be the absolute best at and stuck to that one big thing, in a relentless way.

It all sounds so very simple, but simple does not mean easy.

When you think about your current job or company, are there examples or projects you can think of that distracted you away from what you or the business does best?

In short, choose to be famous for something and pour all of your resources into delivering success in your chosen expert field of endeavour.

I believe the best companies are those who can be summed up in a simple way. Why? Because they focus on the big thing they do well and become the best in the world at it. Companies such as Walt Disney or Apple are, in my opinion, fantastic examples of this.

So, when I decided to finally take the plunge and start my own business I decided to become an expert in the field of FMCG recruitment. My focus on one sector and vision to deliver an expert, quality led service to people in that industry is what I spend all my time and energy on.

The best advice I took was that I should be like the mighty hedgehog.

What will you be famous for?

What frustrates me most about recruitment consultants?

laufbahn athletik

A surprising topic to write about given I am a recruiter!

However, I am getting more frustrated at the following situation, which seems to happen on almost a daily basis (four times last week). It happens when we are working with a client who has instructed a number of preferred recruitment suppliers to fill a vacancy.

This is the common scenario:

  • We interview a candidate for a specific vacancy. We brief the candidate on the company, opportunity and recruitment process. The candidate is a good fit for the role and we both decide that they wish to progress their application in the process. The candidate agrees for us to send their CV to the hiring client.
  • Their CV gets sent from us direct to the client.
  • The client responds with – thanks for the details but we have already received that CV from another agent.
  • We feedback this information to the candidate who had no idea that the other agent had sent their CV to the employer.

What happens next?

Generally two outcomes. Which I will classify as either the right or wrong response (in my view).

The right response:

The candidate writes an email to us to clarify that they wish to be represented by us as an agency because we have delivered a quality service. We send this email to the client, who accepts the job seekers wishes and we are allowed to represent the candidate in the process. The other agent is informed by the client that they are not representing the candidate in the process as per the candidate’s wishes and because they have not delivered a professional level of service.

Why do I believe this is the right response to the problem?

Because it prioritises candidate experience and rewards the recruiter who acts in a professional way. It also ensures that the client receives a quality level of service and makes them aware of the recruitment suppliers who don’t do a professional job.

The wrong response:

The client apologises and says they have a policy which means they have to progress with the recruiter who first sent the CV. We call this the ‘first CV past the post approach’.

Why do I believe this is the wrong response?

Because it rewards recruitment consultants who are not delivering a quality service to candidates and doesn’t support the fact that we need to raise recruitment industry standards. It promotes a CV race where candidate experience and quality of overall recruitment service is lost. It rewards the approach of poor recruiters who send to clients as many CVs as possible, as quickly as possible, to beat the other recruiters they are competing against.

The solution?

Clients should abandon the ‘first CV past the post approach’. They should also stop dealing with recruiters who don’t prioritise candidate service and act in a professional way.

I believe employers of choice will always prioritise candidate experience and want to work with recruiters who do the same. Surely this is the way to attract, recruit and retain the best talent?

There is rarely an excuse for a client to receive a CV without the candidates’ knowledge. The one exception to this rule is when we are recruiting for a client who wishes to remain anonymous, for confidentiality reasons, and the candidate therefore agrees that their CV is put forward without them being aware of who the employer is. This is, in my experience, rarely the case. If it happens then the first CV received approach seems a sensible way to decide who the candidate is represented by.

Is it always the recruiters fault? Not always. On occasions, candidates are also guilty of playing off recruiters. However, in my experience, this is in the minority of cases in comparison to recruiters not doing a decent job.

The recruitment industry has its fair share of critics. In many cases rightly so. As recruiters we would help combat this by doing the basics well and making clients and candidates aware of poor recruiters who don’t want to deliver a level of service that people should expect.

Recruiters who don’t deliver a service that candidates and clients deserve frustrate me most.

2014 Top 5 Trends – UK FMCG Employment Market


As we approach 2015, I thought it would be a good time to update contacts with our insight reference the UK FMCG manufacturing employment market. Below we reveal the top 5 trends that were apparent in 2014. All data is taken from SJS Consulting activity during 2014.

 1. The jobs market has been much busier in 2014   

We have seen a 21% uplift versus prior year in terms of clients briefing us to fill vacancies. Sourcing and attracting top candidate talent remains a challenge, with particular skill shortages found in technical, engineering and supply chain (especially planning) as more experienced candidates migrate to becoming interim professionals due to the higher daily rates on offer

2. Increased demand has led to more counter offers by employers

The number of SJS candidate counter offers increased three-fold versus prior year as employers looked to ease the pain of having to enter into the recruitment marketplace to replace leavers. Of the counter offers made to SJS candidates 85% were declined and 15% were taken. The trend of sticking with a job move seems to remain in place, despite the best efforts of employers

 3. International expansion of branded businesses is big business

With many household FMCG names looking to exploit international expansion of their brands we noticed a 40% uplift in vacancies for technical project managers with international market knowledge to help employers break into new overseas markets

 4. NAM skills shortage remains as the recession talent hangover lingers

We saw a 17% uplift in vacancies for National Account Managers, which remained the number one role briefed within our sales & marketing functions. There remains a skills gap within this area as we are still suffering from the graduate head count freezes which were imposed in the recent economic recession

5.  Operations de-layering and CI projects are on trend

Reducing complexity within operations was also a noted key trend with many employers reducing layers within operations and manufacturing. This trend was also supported with a double-digit uplift in vacancies for Op-Ex/Lean professionals to drive these projects.

What will 2015 look like?

No one has a crystal ball but I think the above trends will continue to gather momentum and the UK FMCG market will continue to strengthen from the candidate perspective. This will mean increased competition for employers especially within Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Planning and Technical, where the greatest skills gaps are apparent.

Wishing all of our contacts a prosperous and successful New Year!

Best Regards,



Should you accept a counter offer by your current employer?


The employment market within FMCG continues to swing towards being candidate driven.

At SJS we have seen a real increase in companies counter offering people who have been made offers of employment else where, in the hope that they stay with them as an employer.

So, how should candidates approach the counter offer. Should they stay or go?

As a recruiter, it would be remiss of me not to state the obvious. I make money by placing people into new jobs. The standard statistic quote recruiters give candidates is- “don’t accept the counter offer, 80% of people who accept counter offers leave within the next year”. By the way, I have searched high and low and can find no such empirical evidence to support this claim.

The fact is, counter offers are bad business for us recruiters. However, I will suggest an approach I believe will deliver the right decision for you, not the recruiter.

Firstly, I would suggest you consider the following question. Why did I start looking for a new role?

In any counter offer situation the vast majority of offers seem to focus solely on improving the financial package. In my experience, the majority of people start looking for a new challenge for a variety of reasons ,with money rarely on the top of the list.

Secondly, consider both offers (new and existing employer) against the criteria that is most important to you. Take the emotion out of it and rank both offers in line with what you are looking to achieve in your career. Criteria could include, location, job security, line manager style, company culture, opportunities to advance and of course financial package.

Finally, at all times, act with integrity and be open with all parties (including any recruiter you are working with). Don’t lead people down the garden path and leave them with a bad taste in the mouth. You never know when you might be back in the job market.

Hopefully those three simple steps will help you make the right choice for you, your family and career.

My experience in the vast majority of cases (but not all), is that a counter offer is best politely declined. Mainly because employers usually make a half-hearted attempt to increase a salary, in the hope that it saves them time and money recruiting a replacement. That’s great for the candidate if it is all about the money. In my experience, it rarely is.

Then again, you would expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

Happy decision making!

Back to school, back to work….all change?


September is almost upon us.

This can only mean one thing. CHANGE.

September and January are undoubtably the busiest two months of the year for us at SJS as the theme of change is embedded in the starting of a new school year and new calendar year from an early age.

What advice for people contemplating a career move?

1. Get together a good CV with clear achievements highlighting core successes
2. Work out why you want to change roles and what you really want
3. Reach out to a recruitment expert/ two at most who specialises in your field of expertise
4. Be committed to put aside time and effort in order to make things happen
5. Be proactive, be positive and be honest with all parties as you progress through any process

Good luck to all those looking for a change. There is a clear improvement in the FMCG manufacturing jobs market in the UK and this can only mean positive things for people looking to make a move.

All the best,

Why should I use you as a recruiter? An honest answer.

Not rocket science.

I often get asked- what makes SJS different as a recruitment company? Why should I do business with you?

The honest answer is that there are many companies selling the same service we provide. I  admit that I often smile when I hear some recruiters talk about their ‘unique process’ or ‘exclusive candidate database’. I don’t buy that for a minute.

I like to believe that the difference at SJS is our people and the relationships they have developed that allow us to deliver a high quality and valuable service.

In short, it is all about building lasting and trusting business relationships. This allows us to add value and deliver the best talent along with market insight to our customers. This is turn means they usually return to work with us again.

If I were a job seeker or company looking to partner with a recruiter this would be the service I would expect and value.

It’s not rocket science.