Jonathan Davey on the perils of recruitment

Last month I talked about Keychoice Underwriting, the new business SSP will be launching next year and all the tasks that are involved in the launch. The big focus at the moment is recruitment and no matter how long you’ve been in business or how many firms you’ve set up, finding the right person for the job doesn’t become any easier.

Taking on employees is a big step for any business, especially a new one and getting the ‘right’ people is essential…..and it’s a time consuming process. Speak to any recruitment expert and they'll tell you that 'fit' is the hardest concept to define and the toughest thing to get right.

We've all been there - hired someone you thought was perfect. They interviewed brilliantly and passed the various tests with flying colours. But soon after you realise that you've made a mistake. They don't get on with their new colleagues, they don't fit with the culture or their work ethos isn't quite compatible. Whatever the reason, there is no scientific formula for finding a team that gels, but you have to do it if you want the business to succeed.

Due to the economic climate there have been more candidates than would normally be expected interested in the positions - about four times the usual amount of people have applied for the advertised jobs. This is great, but in truth it still boils down to about the same number of suitable candidates.

What is clear is that there are a lot of people trying to get into the insurance sector, which, despite some high profile redundancy announcements, has held up pretty well in the recession. Unfortunately not all of them have the appropriate skill sets or experience, but it is good to have some real appetite for places.

It has also been interesting to see that candidates are not as ready to take time out from their current jobs to attend interviews and seem happier to go through the initial stages on the phone. Either they are under a lot of pressure in their current positions or are a lot more fearful of covertly leaving the office and possibly upsetting their boss.

For me it has meant a lot more out of office hours interviews, which hasn’t made the process any easier. But despite the temptation, cutting corners is just not an option. If we get it wrong at the recruitment stage then we risk setting Keychoice Underwriting off on the wrong foot and that is just not something I’m going to do.

However, the one thing that does make life easier in the whole process is the fact that some candidates still send in CVs littered with mistakes. This always astounds me, but even more so during the current economic slowdown. If they can’t look after their own CV, how can they expect me to trust them with my customers’ business? Unsurprisingly, these applications go straight in the bin.