Our secret shopper is a 30-year-old commercial lines broker based in Leeds on a salary of £20,000. He wants to relocate to Birmingham with his girlfriend, who has got a new job there. He is looking for a similar position within the Midlands area, preferably for more money
Company: Joslin Rowe
How selected: From a full page advertisement in the trade press
Time it took for call to be answered: Rang three or four times but answered within a minute. Asked for recruitment staff listed in the advertisement, but was told they were not available.
Questions asked: Only one - could I send my CV. I was told opportunities were available, but that they needed to see CV before an assessment could be made
Time process took: Under two minutes
Verdict: Efficient and polite, but would not really commit themselves until they had more details. Explained I was desperate to move to Birmingham or Midlands and asked what the job market was like. He admitted that most of Joslin Rowe's work was in London and Home Counties. It left an overall impression that Joslin Rowe was not the right recruitment agency for regional work and the CV would be filed and I might not hear from them again.
Company: Reed Insurance Selection
How selected: From a full page advertisement in press - stood out as it listed a job in west Midlands
Time it took for call to be answered: Within a minute
Friendly: Yes. Eager to please.
Questions asked: Recruitment officer was very helpful and asked questions - about my experience, who I worked for, when I wanted to move. Explained that there were opportunities for commercial account handling opportunities in the salary range requested
Time process took: About 10 mins
Verdict: Extremely good. I felt immediately at ease and he actually took an interest in my experience and situation. I felt the agency would and could find me the right position.
Trade press: Insurance Times and Post Magazine
Pages of recruitment looked at: 69
Number of suitable jobs: 11
Time process took: The number of recruitment pages was impressive in both titles. The array of jobs in Birmingham and the Midlands was admittedly small compared to London and Home Counties. Found most vacancies within a few minutes.
Verdict: Probably the best source for jobs at the present time. Some of the adverts were difficult to access as the actual description of the job was vague or the area/region was not easily identified. However, the majority was clear and well designed.
How selected: Used the search engine
www.google.co.uk . Typed in "insurance jobs in UK" and reed.co.uk was third in list. No site matched the keywords specifically.
Process: Homepage is very detailed, asking for information on industry sector, salary, and location. Chose insurance jobs in Birmingham at a salary between £20,000 and £25,000. I was then asked to fill in personal details before search could begin.
Time process took: About 15 mins
Number of suitable jobs: None. The only job offered was a liability underwriter.
Verdict: Frustrating. The site is very detailed, professional and easily navigated. But for all the time and effort taken to key in the specific information there is very little return.
How selected: Through search engine www.altavista.co.uk . I could not find any specific employment websites dedicated to the UK insurance industry.
Process: Homepage is very slick and offers job opportunities around the world. Clicked on Europe and was asked to choose country, industry sector and region. Within two or three clicks I was given a list of possible underwriting, broking and claims handling jobs in the Birmingham area.
Time process took: 5 mins
Number of suitable jobs: One - a commercial account broker in Birmingham city centre looking for brokers with experience in commercial lines. Salary £22k.
Verdict: The best of a very limited bunch. Overall impression is that the internet is virtually useless. In fact, type in the words `insurance jobs' in any of the major search engines, you would think there was no UK insurance industry. Changing the keywords only added a minimal amount to the selection. A laborious and irritating experience.