Recruitment News Round-up. The BRUTAL TRUTH #16

Recruitment News Round-up. The BRUTAL TRUTH #16.

by Howard Greenwood, 9th January 2024

Welcome to edition #16 of The Brutal Truth, written for recruitment leaders and recruiters alike. As the year comes to a close, leaders are thinking about Employee Development, but employees are thinking about career development; in this edition, we explore whether this journey should be collaborative. We also take a cheeky look at what recruiters should get as gifts. However, remember Uncle Ebenezer Scrooge; we look at the HMRC and their guidance on using Umbrella companies.

Navigating Employee Development: A Collaborative Journey.

In the dynamic landscape of the recruitment industry, the question of who holds the reins in the learning and development journey — employees or leaders — is pertinent. Both perspectives offer valuable insights into fostering a culture of continuous growth and adaptability.

The Employee’s Role in Learning and Development:

Empowering employees to take charge of their learning journey is a cornerstone of modern professional development. Self-directed learning is vital in the recruitment industry, where skillsets rapidly evolve. Here’s why employees play a crucial role:

Ownership and Motivation:

  • Employees who take responsibility for their development are more likely to be motivated and engaged.
  • This self-driven approach fosters a sense of ownership as individuals tailor their learning experiences to align with personal and professional goals. It’s about empowering your employees to develop.


  • In a rapidly changing industry, employees must adapt quickly to new technologies, methodologies, and market trends.
  • Proactive learning helps employees stay ahead of the curve, enhancing their ability to navigate the ever-evolving recruitment landscape. Think about how you train people on new Tech or AI, or do you leave them to their own devices?

Skill Customisation:

  • Employees know their strengths and areas for improvement better than anyone else. They can focus on honing specific skills crucial to their role by taking charge of their learning. Are you highlighting these strengths or just picking at weaknesses?

The Leader’s Role in Learning and Development:

Leaders in the recruitment industry play a pivotal role in creating an environment that fosters continuous learning. Here are key considerations from a leadership perspective:

Strategic Direction:

  • Leaders must set the overall direction for learning and development initiatives, aligning them with organisational goals and industry trends. The training and development plan should be available for all to see!
  • By providing a clear roadmap, leaders ensure that employees learn skills contributing to the company’s success. These sessions should be part of the business habit, not ad-hoc. Learning must be a habit.

Resource Allocation:

  • Investment in learning resources, whether training programs, mentorship opportunities, or access to cutting-edge tools, is a crucial responsibility of leaders. Do you have a training budget?
  • Adequate resource allocation enables employees to access the tools and knowledge necessary for their professional growth. Do you have a training portal?

Cultivating a Learning Culture:

  • Leaders set the tone for a learning culture within the organisation. Encouraging a continuous improvement mindset and recognising and rewarding learning achievements creates a positive environment. This should be part of the employee’s career plan and reviewed monthly.

A Symbiotic Relationship:

While the autonomy of individual learning is crucial, it’s essential to recognise that the most effective development strategies are collaborative. The synergy between employees and leaders creates a powerful force for growth:

Communication and Feedback:

  • Open communication channels between employees and leaders foster an exchange of ideas, feedback, and insights. Who is teaching who? It is a two-way street.
  • Regular check-ins allow leaders to understand and align individual aspirations with organisational objectives. Back to the career plan and monthly performance reviews. If the consultant is not achieving, who is to blame?

Personalised Development Plans:

  • Collaborative efforts allow for personalised development plans that consider organisational needs and individual career paths. PDPs are about more than sales performance if you want to create a high-performing culture.
  • This approach ensures that employees learn skills that contribute directly to their success within the company.

Agile Responses to Industry Changes:

  • In the recruitment industry, where trends can shift rapidly, a collaborative approach allows for agile responses to industry changes. Your employees are closer to the coalface than the leaders, so listen to what’s changing and act accordingly. Stop continuing with the old faithful: “We have always done it this way.”
  • Employees and leaders working together can quickly adapt strategies and skill sets to stay competitive. It’s a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

The learning and development journey in the recruitment industry is a partnership between employees and leaders. By acknowledging the strengths of each perspective, organisations can build a culture that values continuous learning, adaptability, and growth, ensuring sustained success in the ever-evolving world of recruitment.

Ho-Ho-Hire Me Up: The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide for the Fearless Recruiter.

It’s that time of the year when we exchange gifts and spread joy, but let’s be honest – your recruiter deserves something more exciting than a generic fruitcake or another uninspired desk organiser. Brace yourself for a sleigh ride through the cheekier side of Christmas presents because we’re about to dive into the world of funny and edgy gifts that’ll leave your favourite recruiter ho-ho-hollering with laughter.

Coffee Flask with a Twist:

Elevate their coffee game with a flask that says, “This might be vodka.” It’s perfect for those days when the job market is so challenging that even their coffee needs a little pick-me-up.

Desk Zen Garden:

Help your recruiter find inner peace with a mini Zen garden, tiny rakes, and a “Serenity Now!” sign. Because, let’s face it, sourcing candidates can sometimes feel like raking sand – calming, yet slightly absurd.

Personalised Stress Ball Set:

Craft stress balls in the likeness of challenging candidates or clients. Squeeze away the frustration with the satisfaction of knowing you can handle even the most challenging situation – at least in squishy form. Or throw it as hard as you can against the wall.

Cubicle Warfare Kit:

Transform their workspace into a battlefield with a cubicle warfare kit. Mini catapults, paperclip ammo, and a “No Mercy in Hiring” banner will turn the office into a recruitment war zone – the perfect stress relief.

Drama Llama Desk Organizer:

Give them a llama-themed desk organiser that says, “Dealing with llama drama is easier than finding your dream job.” Bonus points if it comes with llama-shaped paper clips.

Retro Phone Handset – Redux:

Level up their phone game with a retro handset that screams, “Taking Calls Like It’s the Apocalypse – Because Finding the Right Fit Feels Like Saving the World.” They’ll answer every call like a superhero, cape optional.

DIY Voodoo Doll Kit:

Help your recruiter release stress with a do-it-yourself voodoo doll kit featuring miniature suits, ties, and resumes. It’s the perfect way to exorcise the frustrations of dealing with those candidates and clients who ghost them after the first interview.

Emergency “Bleep” Button:

Gift them an “Emergency Bleep Button” to censor the inevitable expletives that escape during challenging negotiations. Now, they can keep their language as clean as their candidate’s social media profiles.

“Wheel of Interview Excuses” Spinner:

Spin the wheel and make a deal! This hilarious desk toy allows your recruiter friend to determine the following creative excuse candidates will come up with to avoid that second interview. From “My cat’s psychic told me it’s a bad fit” to “I have to wash my hair,” or the good old faithful “someone in the family has just passed away” in the voice of the Ghost of Christmas past, Jacob Marley, it’s a game-changer.

This Christmas, ditch the dull and embrace the edgy. Your recruiter friend will appreciate the humour and wit that make their demanding job a little brighter. After all, nothing says “Happy Christmas” quite like a candidate or a client rejecting your best endeavours, so grab the stress ball, spin the wheel of excuses and trudge off to the Christmas Fair like a disgruntled applicant!

Navigating the Landscape: HMRC’s Guidance for Recruitment Firms and Umbrella Companies.

In a recent article by SIA, the HMRC has issued comprehensive guidance for recruitment firms, shedding light on the intricacies of engaging with umbrella companies. Designed to empower agencies with the necessary knowledge, this guidance is pivotal in identifying tax avoidance schemes that disguise themselves as legitimate umbrella companies.

The guidance not only delineates the role umbrella firms play in facilitating the placement of temporary workers but also emphasises the importance of due diligence that recruiters must undertake before entering into partnerships with these entities. This step is crucial in ensuring compliance with the law and providing robust support for workers.

According to the HMRC, workers may find the employment structure of umbrella companies needing clarification, and engagement with non-compliant ones could lead to problems. The guidance encourages agencies to support workers, as doing so can result in fewer queries, improved compliance in the supply chain, and protection of the business’s reputation.

The guidance lays down specific actions for recruiters, urging them to clearly explain how workers will be employed, clarify pay rates, and furnish workers with a Key Information Document under the Conduct Regulations 2003. Compliance with these measures ensures transparency and fortifies the recruitment process.

However, only some are convinced of the efficacy of the guidance. Julia Kermode, CEO of PayePass, a specialist in umbrella company compliance, has criticised the document as “basic at best.” Kermode highlights the evolving nature of tax avoidance schemes and contends that the guidance must be comprehensive enough to prevent recruiters and workers from falling into the traps set by non-compliant umbrella companies.

Expressing disappointment in the government’s response, Kermode underscores the need for concrete regulatory action. She asserts that the guidance, while a step in the right direction, is sufficient with more substantial efforts to regulate the umbrella industry and hold those involved in tax avoidance accountable. Kermode urges recruitment agencies to take matters into their own hands, prioritising compliance to shield themselves and the workers they engage.

Interestingly, this development comes in the wake of the government’s recent publication of a consultation on policy options to regulate umbrella companies and combat noncompliance in the market. The government, having previously pledged to enhance the operation of the umbrella company market, is taking steps such as naming and shaming firms involved in tax avoidance schemes.

As agencies navigate this landscape, it is evident that the recruitment industry stands at a crossroads. The HMRC’s guidance serves as a starting point but also underscores the need for proactive measures within agencies. Julia Kermode’s critique echoes the sentiment that self-regulation and a commitment to compliance are imperative to safeguard both the industry’s integrity and the well-being of the workers it engages.

The recruitment sector must be vigilant, continuously updating its practices and advocating for robust regulatory frameworks to combat the evolving challenges posed by tax avoidance schemes. The guidance from HMRC is a call to action, urging agencies to not only follow the rules but to actively participate in shaping a compliant and ethical landscape for temporary workers.

I hope you enjoyed this edition, and remember, just because it is December does not mean no one is looking for work or filling jobs. Don’t be that recruiter whose cracker is empty when the results are pulled at the end of the year. Please leave any comments. We’d love to hear your Christmas thoughts.

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