Is ‘robotic process automation’ taking recruiters jobs?

Is 'robotic process automation' taking recruiters jobs?
Is ‘robotic process automation’ taking recruiters jobs?

Is ‘robotic process automation’ taking recruiters jobs? If you’ve worked in shared services, then you’ve probably heard about RPA.


But what exactly is Robotic Process Automation? RPA refers to a growing trend across shared service centres all over the world whereby we now have robots that can perform more and more intelligent tasks. Whilst automation has been around for a while, thanks to the rate at which technology is changing we now have intelligent software systems that can process and data quickly and more efficiently than their human counterparts.


RPA is like a software robot, or artificial intelligence, that can perform human tasks and is designed specifically to perform a vast range of repetitive functions and communicate between other systems, in much the same way that humans do.


Once implemented, this software is a cheaper, more accurate and more efficient option for many businesses. Robots don’t sleep so they can work through the night, they won’t call in sick or be late on Monday morning and you don’t have the expense of having to provide them with benefits.


In some areas headcount can be reduced by more than double land with human error eliminated, it’s a no-brainer for most onshore…


More than 50% of shared service centres have plans to implement RPA in the future. But why? The main purpose of companies creating SSC’s, is to eliminate costs and improve efficiencies. Robots perform better than humans once rapidly trained, so it’s no wonder the stats are so high.



Some of the benefits of RPA include:

  • Reduced costs – between 30% and 80% savings
  • Improved efficiency
  • 24×7 work
  • Agility
  • Increases customer and employee satisfaction
  • Improved compliance
  • Human error eliminated


Robotic process automation will be the future of Shared Services. It will eliminate manual processing, reduce errors and inevitably saved time & costs. It will also provide a better service; software robots act in the same way as human beings and are trained extremely quickly to process data in a certain way, although they don’t make errors. Over time this software becomes more intelligent as it is self-learning and identifies trends, meaning that any unusual information that may have previously gone unnoticed will be flagged up by the robot.


RPA won’t work in everyone’s favour. It reduces headcount within a SSC, meaning redundancies for some, and initially, these transformation projects will be a big cost for businesses. Also, because of the complexities of changing existing systems, they don’t always work. There needs to be a solid strategy behind it with all stakeholders engaged in the project, as most transformation can fail if not implemented correctly. This is something that we’ve previously highlighted in these blogs ( &


Not all suppliers are in favour either, as sending invoices electronically may cause issues to supplies current accounting processes.


Some examples of how RPA is used.


Finance & Procurement

  • 3-way matching.
  • Invoice processing.
  • Cash allocation.
  • Credit status
  • Parsing



  • Processing starters and leavers
  • Applicant screening
  • Recruitment feedback/rejection emails
  • Data management
  • Saving on recruitment costs



  • New starters/leavers
  • Contractual changes
  • Attendance/absence records
  • Holiday records
  • Deductions such a pension, salary sacrifice etc.
  • Expenses


What are your experiences with robotic process automation? Has your business benefited from new technology, or has it caused problems in your workplace? To discuss you can email me at

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

Interview prep: Questions you must ask at your next interview (and some you should steer clear of!)

Interview prep
Interview prep: Questions you must ask at your next interview (and some you should steer clear of!)

Interview prep:  One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in an interview is to not ask any questions.

Seriously… Changing jobs is one of the most life-altering decisions that you can make, along with moving house and having children (and trust me I have done a few of these recently!)

So, you can understand how strange it might be for an employer knowing this to get to the end of an interview and find that (before making that life-changing decision) – that the interviewee doesn’t want to ask you anything.

Let’s be clear…

Many hiring managers will reject a candidate for not asking relevant questions, and do you know what, I don’t blame them! The logic behind this goes a bit like this:

  • If a candidate was genuinely interested in the role they would want to find out more about it (and us – the hirer/leadership team).
  • If the candidate has listened and understands the requirements of the position, then they will likely want more information about the specific requirements of the role. This is called secondary and tertiary questioning… more on that later…
  • I want to hire people that will be engaging. Engaging people tend to ask good questions.
  • I want to hire someone who can challenge the status quo, and also bring people along on the journey. They probably need to understand where people are coming from first before making their decisions, and guess what, you need to ask probing questions to do this…

That’s why interview prep is so important. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to asking questions during an interview:

  • “What’s in it for me” type questions. These are a big no, especially during the first stage of the interview process, as this isn’t what the employer wants you to ask. These questions can come across as very self-centred, so save these for after the interview if you get asked back for a second stage.
  • Probing questions. These are business-related and are your what’s, how’s, if’s, but’s… these can be more challenging but as long as you ensure that they are relevant to what has been discussed or your observations about the role, then ask away.
  • Secondary and Tertiary questioning. Getting them to go into more detail about particular aspects of the role that you might want explaining. These types of questions show that you’ve been active and engaged during the interview process, and taken on board what the interviewer has said.
  • Long-term questions about business growth, culture, future plans. These questions indicate your commitment to the role and your future loyalty to the company.

James Cumming is our MD, Interim and Transformation Search specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

GDPR and recruitment – will it put a stop to lazy recruiters?

GDPR and recruitment
GDPR and recruitment

GDPR and recruitment – you’ve most likely heard this year’s industry buzzword, GDPR.


GDPR refers to the new regulation that will be enforced on the 25th May and will require company and site owners to be transparent about how they collect, use and share personal data. But what does this mean for recruiters?


Recruiters have been using different tactics for years when competing against other agencies. Sending your CV without permission, adding responsibilities to your CV to make the hiring manager want to interview you, or even putting you forward for a role that you don’t necessarily want to go for. Many recruiters do this to hit their KPI’s as some recruitment companies are now holding back bonus payments when KPI’s haven’t been hit, making employees use sneaky tactics just for tick-box exercises.


Imagine your top client approaching you about a role and asking for your best 2 CV’s that fit the criteria, and reiterating that they want to see no more than 2. Some recruiters will still send over their best 2 CV’s, along with another 3 people that they’re hoping will secure interviews, using tactics they learnt on the “power of persuasion” training session they did when joined the company.


One of the biggest frustrations that I encounter when speaking to candidates and clients about recruiters, in general, is their inability to listen. Whilst a recruiter needs to provide advice, consult, and manage a candidate’s expectations, this needs to be done at the initial stages, and not when they are delivering a shortlist (or long;list in some cases!)


In my opinion, recruitment doesn’t (and shouldn’t) work like that. Too many people see recruitment as an equation nowadays, the more calls you make, CVs you send, candidate interviews you conduct = more money. Don’t get me wrong, speaking with many different candidates and clients can increase market knowledge and build relationships, however, it’s quality over quantity.


I recently took on a recruitment assignment with a company that I hadn’t worked with before, and as this was a new client I was competing against some of their current suppliers in a bid to prove myself. In this assignment I’d spoken to and met with a handful of new candidates, one in particular being a young lady who hadn’t got a great deal of working experience and was fairly new to a ‘recruitment process’.


She was excited by the role and showed lots of enthusiasm when I’d engaged with her. I felt that she was more than capable performing well within this role so I submitted her details, prior to meeting with the client. The candidate was then sent some online tests and psychometric profiling, which she completed, followed by a telephone interview.


I met with the client the next day to discuss the role in further detail and brought with me some feedback directly from this candidate regarding the profiling. The telephone interview was successful, and the candidate’s profiling had come back and the feedback from the client was positive.


The client then said that another agency had submitted her CV to their business that same day. As this role was very niche and included specific language skills, I was pretty sure that this other agency hadn’t spoken to my candidate as she would have mentioned how she had already been put forward for this role by myself.


I asked my client if this was a particular agency that I knew of who had a reputation for doing this time and time again, and lo and behold, it was. After the meeting I’d called my candidate to give her the positive feedback and had briefly mentioned this scenario to her. I wasn’t surprised when she’d told me she’d never heard of the agency, let alone spoken with them.


It turns out the agency had found her CV on an online job board and submitted it to the client without permission. The candidate was shocked by this practice, to say the least, and the client had said it wasn’t the first time this agency had been known to do this. Fortunately, on this occasion I’d beaten the agency in question to the draw.


There have been many instances where a client will interview a candidate based on who has sent a CV over first, and not who has had permission from the candidate, which can be incredibly frustrating. Especially after the time and effort that goes into meeting with the candidate, talking them through a role, and selling your client to them, only for a lazy recruiter to pick their CV off a job board, fling it over to the client and hope for the best.


Hopefully, with GDPR coming into force this May, this will stop shoddy recruiters from sending CVs without a candidate’s permission to potential clients.


What are your thoughts on GDPR and recruitment? How has your experience been with recruiters? Do you feel some cut corners, and don’t provide the levels of service they are supposed to? You can email me at 

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

The reality of a startup

The reality of a startup
The reality of a startup

The reality of a startup, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. It’s tough, really tough. Especially when you first start and especially if you start and it’s just you on your own.


When I was much younger I was one of those sporty kids at school that played everything going. You know the type – talked too much, likely had ADHD before it was a thing and would never sit still.


I joined the tennis club, the football team, hockey, table tennis, badminton, chemistry club… you name it! I’m still not sure how my parents coped dragging me around to all these different team events and activities. It was probably the only way they got a rest.


Fast forward a few years, and I’ve found that moving from a large business with an infrastructure to being on your own, is a bit like growing up in the world. When you are a kid you have all this support and structure around you. And then suddenly you find yourself in the real world and feel slightly dazed by it all.


Ah structure, allegedly the stifler of creativity, but trust me on this – structure gets stuff done. That’s why big businesses use it and it’s so effective.


Creating a startup feels a bit like going to university; you haven’t cooked before, you certainly don’t tidy your room on a regular basis, no one tells you off if you don’t go to class, you can get trashed whenever you want and sleep in… and no one’s going to shout at you for it.


But here’s the thing, if you don’t go to class, guess what, you are going to flunk your degree. And it’s your own fault.


Like going to university, when you first start your own business a lot of things will be new and you won’t have done them before. Like IT support, accountancy, facilities management, payroll and marketing? All pretty important things to get right when you are a business.


Plus, when you think you have it all nailed, you then get a little bit bigger (as I’ve just found) and the things you thought were great, start not working again, who would have thought?


The great thing about being a start-up these days is all of the support around you, if you choose to find it, it just takes a bit of time to find the right partners.


There is a great book I’d recommend reading called, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki, and one of the basic premises is to free up as much of your time as possible and to focus.


This has been one of my major challenges, learning when to invest in things and what to spend the businesses money on. I don’t think there is a magic wand which will reveal how to get this right, it seems a bit trial and error unless anyone has any tips for me?


But I wouldn’t change it, not for a second.


If you are thinking of making the jump, what’s stopping you?

To discuss further, you can email me on You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here

What I wish everyone knew about candidate experience during the recruitment process.

What I wish everyone knew about candidate experience during the recruitment process.
What I wish everyone knew about candidate experience during the recruitment process.

What I wish everyone knew about candidate experience during the recruitment process. Technology has completely changed the hiring landscape, for both job seekers and recruiters. These technical advances mean that employers can more easily find candidates that perfectly fit their current vacancies, and candidates can search for more jobs than ever before.


Often you find that companies will put candidates through a rigorous assessment process, without ever making an emotional connection with the potential employee (and then wonder why they don’t accept their job offers at the end of this process!)


Due to the increased online access to information, the best candidates can often have a choice of what job to go for and will quite often consider multiple roles before deciding which one to take.


This means that engaging with candidates is crucial and a great experience should be created from the get-go – you don’t want to lose a prospective candidate due to an outdated hiring process!


This is why the first contact is so important – it should be a two-way conversation between the interviewer and interviewee to explain the opportunity to them and to gain buy-in (as well as to assess).


Other things that you may want to reconsider within your own recruitment process include:


  • The format and style of the interview. It isn’t always necessary to do a ‘proper’ interview at this initial stage, you can do a full assessment after the candidate is brought in (they will be more open to jumping through hoops when they actually want the role)


  • Getting the line manager involved early in the process, even if only for a coffee. Most people work for their boss rather than the company so doing this can be a pivotal factor in the candidate’s final decision.


  • You want the candidate to get a real feel for the company culture. Introducing the candidate to multiple people within the company will ensure they get a rounded view of what its ‘really like’.



Think about it, wouldn’t you be more likely to accept a job offer if the hiring process was more enriching and you felt like you already had a feel for the company culture?

To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

The new world of accountancy apprenticeships.

The new world of accountancy apprenticeships.
The new world of accountancy apprenticeships.

The new world of accountancy apprenticeships: Ever since the 2012 Richard Review of Apprenticeships, the government has been working to implement a programme of reforms which we now know as the Apprenticeship Levy. If you have a UK wage bill of over £3 million, you are required to pay 0.5% of that into a levy. The purpose of this levy is to boost productivity by investing in human capital, particularly when it comes to developing vocational skills.


Recently, I attended an event hosted by HTFT who gave an insight into the new world of accountancy apprenticeships. HTFT have an innovative approach to professional accountancy training and having worked with them for around five years now, I can see why so many employers use HTFT as their preferred training provider.  They are truly passionate about what they do, and this shines through all of their students.


In this blog, I’ll discuss the criteria and eligibility requirements of an AAT accountancy apprenticeship and highlight their suggestions for successful implementation of the level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship Standard.


This is a professional accountancy apprenticeship programme that will lead to a CIMA qualification and will also develop an individual’s skill set to include things such as leadership skills, commercial knowledge and professionalism.  Not only does this course provide many broad skills that can be utilised across the finance function; but employers can also benefit from little or no cost at all to the organisation.


New Standards

The new apprenticeship standards will replace the old style (SASE) frameworks. Under the new frameworks, apprentices will be required to build up a portfolio of skills and behaviours that have been demonstrated in the workplace and will need to be fully competent in the role and meet the requirements of the employer. They will then have a discussion with their employer at the end of the apprenticeship to ensure these have been completed.


With the new standards in place, apprentices can receive training tailored by their employer (in-house or external).


There are currently two standards that have been approved for delivery and one in progress:

  • Assistant Accountant (Level3)
  • Professional accounting taxation technician (Level 4)
  • Professional Accountant (Level 7) Currently being developed


With these new standards, employers have more flexibility over how they want to develop their future talent. This means that with the inclusion of a discussion at the end of an assessment, employers can now ensure that the apprentices meet the skills, knowledge, and behaviours standard required, whether this is down external training providers, in-house training, or even a combination of both. The timescales to complete each of these programmes vary:

  • Assistant accountant – typically 15 to 18 months
  • Professional accounting/Tax Technician – typically 18 to 24 months
  • Professional accountant apprenticeship – typically 18-36 months


Planning your programme.

When planning your apprenticeship programme, there are various activities that you can carry out in order to ensure that your programme works for you.


Firstly, take time to choose which Apprentice Assessment Organisation will manage the end-point assessment of your programme. Secondly, agree on an on-programme curriculum, and finally, agree on employer-based skills and behaviour training and support programme to cover the skills listen in the Professional Accountant Standard.


Each new apprenticeship standard has been awarded a funding cap, meaning that trainees are able to gain a full professional qualification for a fraction of the traditional cost. The funding caps for the apprenticeships are as follows:

  • Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship is £9,000
  • Professional Accounting/Tax Technician Apprenticeship is £9,000
  • Professional Accountant Apprenticeship is £21,000


What is the eligibility criteria for the apprenticeship?

The key eligibility criteria include:

  • Having the right to work in the UK (ordinarily resident for 3 years)
  • 16 in academic year they start their apprenticeship
  • Able to complete the apprenticeship in contracted time i.e. 12-month contract won’t now cover the length of the programme
  • Spend 50% of their time working in the English borders
  • Not be enrolled in another apprenticeship
  • Not asked to contribute financially to any costs of the apprenticeship
  • Existing members of staff and graduates eligible, if receiving significantly new training
  • Potential apprentices will need to have English and maths to GCSE level. If they have not reached this level, or can’t not evidence they have, HTFT can help.


HTFT offer a holistic and specialist guide that will direct you through the planning of your Professional Accountant Apprenticeship.


For more information, please contact –  or visit

If you would like to discuss further you can email me at

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here


Change management – the secrets of success part 2

Change management - the secrets of success part 2
Change management – the secrets of success part 2

Change management – the secrets of success part 2. Last night we hosted our final event of 2017, and because it’s almost Christmas and we felt like celebrating, we figured what the heck and made sure that it was an event to remember.


The main theme of the evening was Change Management, what exactly is it and how do you successfully implement it? Then just throw in a bit of mindreading and magic, and you have yourselves the recipe for our evening.


Our fantastic guest speakers, Francesca Valli and Stephen Seabourne, delivered incredible talks which outlined their unique perspectives on how to manage change and the importance of understanding the psychology of language.


First up, Francesca discussed how she had successfully managed multi-million-pound programmes and trackable change, and how she believed that it was critically important to demystify change in order to successfully implement it within your business. One of the key points which she highlighted was how embedding change on every level of an organisation is crucial to its success, and that in order to successfully deliver change you need to have good discipline and governance.


Next, Stephen Seabourne took to the stage. Stephen discussed how he successfully balanced his career as both a biomedical scientist and close-up magician. (Yes, we did just say magician. This is a re:find event after all, and you know that we like do things a little differently!). Stephen used his powers of magic and NLP in order to influence and astound the audience by demonstrating his slight of hand and hypnosis skills.


We ended the night on a great note and revealed that we had raised over £1,600 for the NSPCC as a result of all of our recent fundraising endeavours.


For those of you that attended any of our events in 2017, we’d like to say a big thank you for making each one such a success, and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2018 for even bigger and better things!


If you would like to donate to our Just Giving page, and help us raise even more for NSPCC, then please follow this link.