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Recruitment – the human touch versus the software programme

Some four years ago I was enticed into a semi-retired role recruiting to not-for-profit organisations. My career background was not in recruitment but in social housing so I bought none of the hard edges of the professional recruiter to my new semi-career, perhaps playing the “soft cop” role to someone else’s  “hard cop” - but therein lies an advantage when it comes to recruitment, bringing forgotten benefits to client organisations and candidates alike.

Recruitment methods have changed dramatically over the past 20 years, largely as a result of the technological revolution that we have all been exposed to and which now drives the way that we live and work. It is what it is and that’s good but over reliance on software programmes and “by numbers” assessments that sift and select candidates can mean that employing organisations miss out on outstanding people who, at first glance don’t match with person specifications and/or fail the key word search test used by recruitment software programmes.

At Sewell & Wood we make full use of all recruitment tools but we also recognise the time and effort that candidates have put into the process and read – yes, read - every application form, CV and supporting statement that we receive. We will speak with candidates if we feel that we need to develop a fuller picture of them, their skills and their attributes and you know what, more than occasionally our approach unearths a person who normally “would not pass Go” when measured by other means. In short, we employ informed subjectivity and intuition as part of our decision making process when it comes to recommending candidates to clients.

There are very few of our recruitment assignments that do not involve promotion of a “wild card” candidate to a client, not for the sake of it but as a genuine “Trust us, at the very least you need to meet with this person.” recommendation. Trust is the key word as such an approach works best when client and advisor have formed a relationship that is more than just transactional. It doesn’t always work and there are many roles where proven technical skills take precedence over informed intuition but we feel strongly that, on behalf of clients and candidates alike we have a responsibility to keep an open mind and to push boundaries, exposing clients and candidates to new opportunities rather than delivering against well established but uninspiring expectations. It takes courage and effort on the part of all involved but can lead to exceptional outcomes.

So, it is a delight when an Almshouse Trust Board selects the youngest, least experienced shortlisted candidate as their new CEO and when a radio producer is the unanimous choice to become Head of Fundraising & Communications, all fully deserving of their new roles but who, in other circumstances would not have passed “Go” on the Monopoly board.


Sewell & Wood Network
Ground Floor
Hagley Court
40 Vicarage Road
B15 3EZ
Tel: +44 (0)121 200 5780
Fax: +44 (0)121 631 2278

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Part of the Pertemps Network Group

Call 0121 200 5780
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