Fitting round pegs in new round holes

Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

“We engaged Action Planning to help us to try something different and see if it could be something to learn from. They helped us enormously with both their fundraising and recruitment expertise. Tracy got us to consider recruitment in a more targeted way, in keeping with the way the employment market is changing. By actively approaching candidates and bringing them into the process, she showed us how we can do things better.”

Lisa Kiew, Head of Finance and Resources, Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

The Quakers charity is a large organisation with close to 200 staff, so they are no strangers to recruitment challenges. This assignment arose from a new set of strategic priorities, critical to which was an integrated Comms function. Previously Comms had been handled by two separate teams, which had caused various issues, such as ‘siloing’ and a loss of relevant focus. The restructure created a new role, Head of Fundraising and Communications, to provide the necessary strategic vision and change management experience, supported by a new Fundraising Manager, with the expertise and experience to lead the fundraising team.

Action Planning was approached by Lisa Kiew, Head of Finance and Resources, to see if our approach to recruitment could help them with the challenge of attracting candidates with the requisite skills and experience, as well as an empathy and understanding of the Quaker ethos. 

We assigned Action Planning Consultant Tracy Madgwick, a highly experienced charity HR specialist, to provide full recruitment support throughout every step of the process.

Tracy pressed the charity to really think about the applicant community that they wanted to approach and then worked on the applicant pack to make sure it met the needs of this audience, rather than focusing on the needs of the charity. She then set about sourcing candidates through a combination of advertising and targeted approaches via LinkedIn, timing the campaign to coordinate with the restructuring timetable.

The difference in this method lies in the research and targeting of well-suited candidates to bring them into the process proactively, rather than waiting for them to respond to an advert. Tracy’s skill as an interviewer took the process on to shortlisting stage. As successful candidate David Loxton put it, “She was very supportive and easy to deal with while making sure she found out everything she needed for the client.”

Tracy wrote brief reports on each candidate along with her recommendations for the interview stage. She then prepared the interview questions and sat in on the interviews with managers from Quakers, giving her views on the candidates but leaving the client to make the final decision.

Our proactive approach to sourcing candidates yielded a lot more applicants for both these roles than is usual. More pertinently, the quality of applicants was sufficiently high to enable Tracy to shortlist five and six candidates respectively, with three going through to final interviews for each job. The successful candidates have since been appointed, with Tracy carrying out the offer negotiations, taking up references and agreeing start dates.

Consultant’s insight:
With a niche organisation like the Quakers, the recruitment challenge is finding candidates who are not just qualified to do the job but also a good cultural fit. Relying on traditional job ads is no longer enough. Firstly, you need to be more targeted in where you advertise – in this case the Action Planning recruitment email list proved fruitful; but you also need to carry out deeper research to actively find strong candidates who might not see or respond to your adverts. In short, don’t leave it to chance. Good recruitment is about finding round pegs for round holes and it’s always worth putting in the groundwork for the benefits a good appointment yields. 


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