Finding the ideal candidate


“Throughout my recruitment, Tracy was very good, very professional and happy to answer any questions – or go away and find the answers. She kept me in the loop and was reliable at getting back to me when she said she would. I thought it was a very good, slick process and the flowers were a lovely, lovely touch.”

Lisa Lenton, CEO, SHE UK

SHE UK is a charity based in Nottinghamshire, which offers a holistic range of support services for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, exploitation, and sexual violence. CEO Nicci Robinson was stepping down after seven years and the charity wanted to recruit a permanent replacement.

The salary on offer, £45,000, was at the lower end of a salary range and the location narrowed the candidate pool as the role required time in the office on a regular basis. However, the seven weeks holiday plus bank holidays was attractive.

Nicci approached Action Planning and asked us if we could help with the recruitment process from start to finish.

Our recruitment lead Tracy Madgwick was assigned to the project. She began by looking at the existing candidate pack and making improvements – mainly clarifying the role and making more of the attractive aspects. In clarifying the needs of the role, Tracy helped Nicci and the Board to identify the sort of role the ideal candidate would likely be coming from and what they would be looking for from the role, ie a first step up into charity management from a fundraising background.

Tracy drafted the advert, presenting the role as a step up, something new and different, and advised SHEUK where to place it, including our LinkedIn profile, through which we were able to carry out a detailed headhunt. Targets were invited to call Tracy or the outgoing CEO, to ask any questions about the role.

This drew a very strong response. Sixteen very high quality candidates applied, of whom seven were shortlisted and then three selected for final interviews. Tracy played an active role throughout this process, drafting interview questions, attending the first interviews on Zoom, discussing the candidates with the Board and giving feedback to the unsuccessful candidates.

Once the successful candidate, Lisa Lenton, had been selected, Tracy negotiated the offer and took up references.

Lisa, who lives a few miles from the office in Mansfield, was appointed in June 2021. She was the ideal candidate. She had worked in the sector for many years and was “itching to get back into something that made a difference”.

She was impressed by the candidate pack, which gave her “a real feel for the job”, the reliable and efficient way in which Tracy managed the process and kept her informed, and the flowers she received from Action Planning as a gesture of good luck when she started.

After three months in post, she said it was “certainly what I expected”.

As a final bonus for SHE UK, Nicci agreed to stay on for a short period to support a comprehensive handover.

Consultant’s insight:
When recruiting for any role, what you want is quality rather than quantity. With this role, because of the location and the salary, I thought we would have difficulty attracting enough good quality candidates, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the response.

I think this was due to the way we positioned the role as focusing on people who were looking to develop their careers into a wider CEO remit. While there was a clear expectation for the new CEO to attend the office and be visible, SHE UK’s flexibility in the place of work was a significant factor in attracting high calibre applicants as, without a doubt, one impact of the pandemic is that staff are now looking for far more location flexibility in any future role than before the pandemic.

Find out how we can help you recruit the right talent for your charity