Feedback on a recruitment process: An entrepreneurial employer’s perspective.

We’ve now filled the Business Development vacancy we’ve advertised since February. We will announce our new colleague shortly: We’re really chuffed to have appointed such a super person and are optimistic about the future.

I’d like to thank the 70 or so people who applied for their time, effort, and interest. I believe that we have either spoken with or emailed everyone who took the trouble to apply. If this did not arrive, please do contact me, Guy Bromby, and I’ll share some more with you. We’ve been privileged to meet or renew acquaintance with some special people and I do hope that we will stay in touch.

I’d like to thank Nigel Jenkins, from “Change and HR Solutions Ltd”, for advising us and especially for his incisive interview questions, and pithy summaries of a candidate’s capability.

We were not looking for perfection, and formal qualifications were deliberately set low, so as not to exclude competent candidates from varied backgrounds whilst emphasising what the incumbent should achieve. We wanted people to “self-select” as much as possible.

I know that this is a frustrating and painful time for many people in the upstream energy industry. Several have asked for feedback on their application and we have tried to say things as we see them.

In general terms, might I share some PERSONAL views on the applications, recognising that other organisations have different processes and expectations and that there are probably no easy answers:

1.Many applicants fail by not answering the several questions asked in the “how to apply” information.

2.  Some cv layouts are easy to read quickly. Others are hard work. Try to keep them as short as possible. Could you ask your friends to critique your cv?

3.  As an employer in an entrepreneurial company, we look for “you”, especially in this customer-facing role. Where is the “spark”? What makes you the incredible person you are? Spend some time thinking about this.

4.  “Cut and paste” from your previous employers’ job descriptions, especially the long ones, doesn’t show “you” and is generally sterile to read.

5.  In speaking with many candidates, it was clear that some flung in CVs, in the hope that they would “stick”, either without any covering letter at all or one with little thought. It’s a competitive process: You may be better off spending more time on a smaller number of applications.

6.  There were some expectations for non-salary benefits which many smaller companies do not have and can not yet afford. Companies employing less than 10 people make up 93% of businesses in Scotland. But collectively we have huge growth and employment potential, including for those joining us.

7.  It is much more a seller’s market in July than in February. I won’t be surprised if the demand for quality people overheats in the next year.

8.  Motivation is challenging to judge during selection. Try to find a way of showing how you propel yourself and the optimal environment for you to flourish. We’re looking to see how we can best support our colleagues to succeed.

9.  If you have changed jobs regularly, we found it hard to convince ourselves that you would be staying for long in working with us.

10.  We asked self-selected candidates on the shortlist to make a maximum 5-minute video saying why they would be great at the job. The best were planned, in your own words (but not obviously read), slightly relaxed, and showed some spark.


This post creates some ambiguity, but I hope that it may help someone in the future.

Again, I emphasise that they are my personal views only. And I’m happy to hear from those who disagree, though the correspondence will close from my end soon.

Take care, Guy Bromby.