Reflections on our first large scale assessment simulation of the season

We’ve been quiet on our news page of late but not quiet in any other respect! On Monday we ran our first large scale assessment simulation of the season with the wonderful Manchester Fashion Institute at the magnificent Etihad Stadium.

If you follow us on LinkedIn or twitter, you may have seen our enthusiastic coverage of the event on the day. What you won’t see is the amount of work that goes into preparing for events of this scale:

  • Design of relevant materials

  • Stakeholder meetings

  • Venue visits (not a hardship to be fair when the venue is as cool as the Etihad!)

  • Health and safety audits

  • Student briefings

  • Assessor briefings

  • Managing student queries

  • THE SCHEDULE – big letters for a big job – you would not believe how long it takes to get this finalised!

  • Printing and packing up assessor packs

  • Preparation of student feedback packs

  • Scoring of application forms

  • Setting up the venue

On the day itself, there is always a slight fear that we have forgotten something but this was our fourth year of running the simulation for MFI and we all agree it just keeps getting better. Assessors comment that it is well organised and slick and the students receive individual schedules which show them their agenda for the day.

As the students start to arrive, nerves are evident on their faces. Most of them haven’t experienced an assessment centre before, certainly not at graduate level anyway. They don’t really know what to expect and often feel anxious. One of my favourite times at these events is right after the first exercise. The energy in the main suite is high as students realise that actually their first exercise wasn’t as bad as they were expecting and you can see them start to visibly relax and enjoy the day. As they finish the last exercise, there is relief and satisfaction in the air and they are eager to get their feedback.

An observation I have of students from this faculty is that they are massively talented and creative (students from the Buying & Merchandising course were my top pick for these schemes when I was recruiting for John Lewis) but they can lack confidence and that is what the assessment simulation programme is about. It’s giving them the knowledge and experience of the assessment centre process so they feel able to apply for placement and graduate schemes and compete effectively with other students. After all practise makes perfect!

The majority of students we met on Monday were excellently prepared and really made the most of the experience. I am excited to see the impact the programme has on placement statistics this year and equally excited to work with the students attending next year.

The team are now finalising the last preparations for our largest assessment simulation yet – over 1000 students at Watford Stadium in a couple of weeks. We then head to Canterbury and Lincoln and possibly a couple of others we hope to announce soon!

Smart Resourcing Solutions assessment simulation
smart resourcing solutions etihad stadium

Why I love the North East by Sophie Milliken

If you've met Sophie, you will know she is very passionate about the things that she loves and that includes the Toon! Although many people think she is from the South, she is a proud Geordie and was delighted to contribute her thoughts on what makes the North East great when asked by local business publication The North East Times Magazine.

Talking yoga, Ramside Spa, Warkworth Castle, Jesmond and the Coast along with other awesome Northern things, Sophie shares the places she loves across the region. 

You can read the article HERE.

Smart Resourcing Solutions

8 Tips for a Successful Seasonal Recruitment Campaign

We understand the importance of recruiting seasonal temporary staff and the need to get it right first time in order to secure the best candidates. To support you with this, we asked our friend Laura Moughton at Sparkle HR to share her tips for a successful seasonal recruitment campaign

Image by Stock Unlimited

Image by Stock Unlimited

Well, can you believe that it is the time of year again when lots of businesses are recruiting for Christmas seasonal staff? I know I can’t! Speaking from my own experience, I can say recruiting in the retail industry at this time of year is becoming more and more challenging. Christmas is coming later, and by that, I mean that shoppers are not starting to spend in stores as early as they once did. The impact for recruitment means that contracts required are typically shorter than they used to be and that can be a huge factor to an applicant accepting an offer or not. Competition for the best candidates is tough. Of course, this is not just applicable in the retail industry. Candidates are making decisions based on practical things such as pay, length of contract, the number of hours available, the flexibility provided and the chance of securing something more permanently after. However, they also will make decisions based on the candidate experience, the application process, the assessment/interview process and the reputation of the business. In reality, if you fall down on any of these things you will most likely miss that fabulous applicant to another business that did better than you! So, presuming you get all of that right, here are my top tips for you as an employer to ensure you are compliant in your processes.

Tip #1 

My first top tip for recruiting any role is to think about the wording in your advert. You should advertise without discriminating in any way. The same goes for selecting who you offer to of course. Both of these things should be done without discrimination. It is always sensible (and best practice) to ensure the line managers completing recruitment are aware of unconscious bias and how to ensure this does not influence decisions being made.

Tip #2

A fixed term contract is one that will terminate on a specified date or on completion of a particular task. When recruiting someone on a fixed term contract you have the responsibility for ensuring they are not treated less favourably than a permanent employee, unless you can show there is good business reason to do so.

Tip #3

This includes offering the same pay and conditions, the same or equivalent benefits package, information about permanent vacancies in the organisation and protection against redundancy or dismissal.

Tip #4

If you have people in your organisation on fixed term contracts that last over a year they have added rights and it is important that you aware of these in advance.

Tip #5

If you have any permanent positions in the organisation all employees both fixed term and permanent should have the ability to know about these, apply should they wish and be considered for the role without discrimination.

Tip #6

Fixed term contracts will usually end automatically on the agreed end date, the employer does not have to give any notice.

Tip #7

If you would like to end a fixed term contract early you should check if anything is mentioned in the terms of the contract offered, if not, you could be in breach of your contract. It can be ended early if you have given proper notice and there is reference to this in the terms of offer. If a fixed term employee has worked for you continuously for one month or more they have the right to a minimum of one weeks’ notice period.

Tip #8

If an employee works longer than the contract end date without this being formally reviewed there is an implied agreement by the employer that the end date has changed and the employer still needs to give proper notice to close the contract.

It can all seem daunting and process heavy but if you follow these guidelines you will not go wrong.  As a credible employer, you will want to treat people fairly and that is all an employee is looking for too.  If you are unsure of anything you can get advice from GOV.UK or ACAS. Both of which are useful resources for employers and employees alike.

Have a great Christmas when you get there, I hope you find the best employees to suit your needs and they contribute to delivering success for you at a critical time.

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”  Stephen R Covey

Laura Moughton


Promotion for Louise!

Demand for our university services has more than doubled in the last year. Our assessment simulation programmes have been recognised by the AGR, AGCAS and the CIPD along with the recent shortlisting for an Innovation award. We are so proud of this programme and also our other university services – employability workshops, student coaching and Careers Service audits.

To support our university clients further, we have promoted Louise Grimes to her new role of University Partnerships Manager. Louise has worked with most of our employer and university clients since joining Smart Resourcing Solutions in 2014 and knows her stuff!

Sophie Milliken, Managing Director said: “Louise has been with us since the early days and is so personable and well-liked by clients and the team. Her role will allow a full time focus on our growing university offer and provide an outstanding level of client care to our current and prospective university clients.”

The below picture was taken at University of Leeds which was one of Louise's first university meetings in her new role. You can see how delighted she was to nab a free pot noodle!

Louise Grimes Smart Resourcing Solutions

Smart Resourcing Solutions on the Shortlist for the 2017 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards

It has just been announced that Smart Resourcing Solutions has been shortlisted for the 2017 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Smart Resourcing Solutions beat off some tough competition in order to make the regional shortlist, with over 1000 businesses entering the awards nationally across the wide range of categories.

Now in its fifth year, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards has celebrated some amazing entrepreneurs over the years, many of whom are now household names. Past winners include David Buttress of Just Eat, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, James Watt of BrewDog and Alexander Solomou of TheLADBible Group.

Sophie Milliken, Smart Resourcing Solutions Managing Director, said: “I am delighted that we have made the shortlist based on our innovative and unique large scale graduate recruitment assessment simulation programmes. This is such an exciting award to be recognised for and highlights the progress and innovation we have brought to simulations.”

Creator of the Awards, Francesca James, said: “We have been inundated with some incredible entries this year, and all shortlisted applicants should be extremely proud of themselves! This year has seen a record number of entrants and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the strength and diversity of applications.”

“We cannot wait to celebrate entrepreneurship across Great Britain with them, and put a spotlight on the incredible talent within the British entrepreneur ecosystem.”

Gordon Merrylees, Head of Entrepreneurship at NatWest said: "I want to thank all of the entrepreneurs who entered this year and congratulate those who have been shortlisted, I look forward to seeing them at the regional finals.”

“It is clear that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and NatWest is thrilled to be able to support these awards to celebrate success with the businesses that are the lifeblood of the UK Economy as they start, scale and succeed.”

The NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards will celebrate entrepreneurship across a number of categories at 5 gala finals across the UK, including; Cardiff, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester & London. You can find more information about the awards and the ceremonies here:

Smart Resourcing Solutions GBEA Innovation Shortlisted 2017.png