“Passion, energy and a fresh perspective”

Join four exciting UK entrepreneurs as they explore the topic of recruitment.

Discover insights on recruitment for start-ups, what SMEs are looking for as they scale-up, resourcing challenges our companies have encountered on their journeys and more.

Find out how our High Growth & Entrepreneurs team can help you with your recruitment needs.

Watch what our entrepreneurs had to say and read the interviews below.

What’s the most important thing when recruiting?

James Morris, People & Talent Manager, JustPark
There are a couple of things that are really important for us. Firstly, what you’ll notice about JustPark and the people who work here is that they’re an incredibly talented and incredibly intelligent group of people. So, we look for people who are incredibly capable, and have strong curiosities in their field.

If they’re at an earlier point in their career, what we look for is someone who is incredibly passionate about what they do, and someone who really has the curiosity to be able to take their knowledge to the next level. But above all what we look for is the right kind of attitude. We look for people who are really driven, who are wanting to solve problems, and we look for people who, above all, are really nice people and who really can add something to the team.

Emmalene Maxwell, CFO & Laura Colyer, Sales & Operations Manager, The Fold
Laura: The  most important thing about recruiting is finding the right person who fits the values and the culture of the brand, someone who’s really engaged with our growth and our development, and will be happy to run with that.

Emmalene: For me, we are a start-up, essentially. We’re operating at high growth, fast pace, so it’s really important we get someone who understands that and can thrive in that sort of situation.

Paul Turton, MD, Pact
The most important things when we’re recruiting at Pact that we’re looking for are: all around the attitude of people, specifically what we’re really after is that passion and desire, we want people to want the job.

Also, it’s really important that they’ve got a sort of steeliness about them and a bit of grit and determination to make sure they can cope with the knockbacks of a start-up and a scale-up culture.

And the final thing, I think that’s really, really pivotal to us is some people talk about cultural fit. We at Pact talk about cultural add. That really the individual, we want them to come in and really add to the culture because Pact is all about giving and getting behind the mission statement of making coffee a force for good, so we’re looking for that type of individual.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
The most important thing when we recruit is personality and attitude. We’re such a small team that the person has to be the perfect fit, because ultimately, we spend so much time with everyone and basically live in each other’s pockets, so it’s really about finding the missing piece to our jigsaw puzzle.

Where do you advertise?

James Morris, People & Talent Manager, JustPark
We’ve seen a lot of success at JustPark with internal progression. A lot of people who join JustPark perhaps come at an entry level role. They learn a lot more about the business and they learn more about their particular skillset, and they then evolve within the business. They might start within the Customer Happiness Team and then join the Product Team, for example, or they might show a particular interest within data and learn to access that part of the team. We’re really open to people having their own ideas about where they’d like to progress to, and we always look to promote internally when it comes to these jobs.

JustPark’s a great place to work and as a result of that we receive a lot of internal referrals. It could be that someone wants to recommend a friend of theirs or even a family member and as a result of that we have a very engaged pipeline of candidates who are not only really suitable for the roles but also very engaged with the JustPark mission.

JustPark attends a lot of events, particularly within the tech ecosystem within London and further afield. We like to share our knowledge, to grow our user base, and we also find that this provides a really nice opportunity to meet engaged candidates who potentially want to join the JustPark journey as well.

Laura Colyer, Sales & Operations Manager, The Fold
We have a couple of different channels where we advertise for new candidates, working with a couple of specialist recruitment companies who understand the brand, understand who it is that we’re looking for and the personalities that are right for those roles. In addition to that, if we’re looking for someone slightly more specialist, then we would work with a different sort of agency for that.

Paul Turton, MD, Pact
We advertise on our own website, we advertise on job boards, and we also advertise on our own social channels.

Personally, I don’t particularly like using recruitment consultants, but we will do if we absolutely have to, and it’s probably a last resort.

As part of recruitment, we do advertise, but it’s ideal if we can find talent from the coffee industry - we’ve got great networks within the coffee industry, so what we do tend to do is utilise that for our recruitment.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
We advertise through word of mouth and on social media and also using specialist recruitment websites.

If you make a bad hire, how do you remedy the situation?

James Morris, People & Talent Manager, JustPark
It’s never ideal when a hire isn’t right, but what it does force you to do is to look at the process that you’ve adopted in the meantime. A bad hire means that we can look at exactly what we’re looking for in an employee and it also gives us a chance to really value what we do have in our current team and to make sure that they’re well engaged and that they’re performing as they should be.

It’s very rare that JustPark makes a bad hire. When we do, it’s not necessarily that they’re a bad hire, but they might not be the right fit for the role that we’re advertising and that’s exactly what the probation period is for. It’s there for both the employee and for us as the employer to make sure that the fit is really, really accurate and really spot on to make sure that we can achieve our strategic goals moving forward. Ultimately, if they’re not the right fit, then they might have to leave the business.

A mis-hire does allow us to review our recruitment process to make sure that we’re correctly advertising the exact role that we’re looking for and to make sure that we’re doing our best to find the right people with the right skillset and the right attitude, to make sure that it doesn’t upset the boat and that we can continue succeeding as a company.

Emmalene Maxwell, CFO & Laura Colyer, Sales & Operations Manager, The Fold
Emmalene: If we feel like someone’s joined and they’re not necessarily fulfilling their potential, we will make sure that we sit down and spend time with them. We’re a small and friendly company and we really want to get the best out of people so we’ll make sure we invest our time to get that right for that person and unlock their potential.

Laura: To add to that, we offer support and constant feedback and guidance with that candidate and making sure that their understanding of what the role is, and with constant growth and development, things are always changing. You need to ensure you’ve got people in those roles who are versatile and dynamic and appreciate that the brand is changing and the role might change, but they would see that as a positive.

Paul Turton, MD, Pact
Everyone makes a bad hire from time to time in their careers. It happens. I think the first thing to do is to really recognise [that] you need to check out whether the individual has been a bad hire or whether it is perhaps how you’ve teed the role up, but the most important thing is you learn from it and there’s no two ways about it - you’re not doing yourself or the individual or the company a service if you perpetuate that hire, and it is best to part company, albeit that it needs to be the right way and in the most humane way possible.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
If we make a bad hire, the way we remedy the situation is first and foremost speaking to the person, setting very clear expectations, making sure that they have the right support, and ultimately, if it’s not working for us, it’s probably not working for them either, so it’s really just about making sure that we’re all on the same page and we’re doing everything that we can to help that person succeed, and if they don’t, that’s just something that we have to look at when and if that happens - and it hasn’t happened yet!

How would you summarise your challenges with recruitment?

James Morris, People & Talent Manager, JustPark
We face multiple challenges with recruitment, and it’s not necessarily recruitment in general, but it would largely depend on the role that we’re hiring for. For example, there’s a shortage of developers in London at the minute, so it means that we have to move quickly to make sure that we make the right hires within that sphere.

Generally, we have to move from interview to offer within a very short space of time, as little as two weeks. For us that proves a little bit difficult, particularly as we like to involve a large amount of stakeholders from across the business in the recruitment process to make sure that everyone we do hire is the right cultural fit for JustPark.

Emmalene Maxwell, CFO & Laura Colyer, Sales & Operations Manager, The Fold
Emmalene: One of the main challenges I find with recruiting into the start-up environment is finding someone who will thrive in that environment. It’s not as structured as a large company, there’s not a team that does everything. If you don’t know an answer you can’t just go to, for example, the Tax team or the Product team. Really the buck stops with you. So, it’s finding someone who’s actually going to enjoy that and want to fill that gap. And it’s quite a unique skillset there for that person, it’s a difficult transition if someone’s already been at a large company, and it can be done, I’ve done it and I’ve loved it, but it’s not for everybody.

Laura: There’s a variety of different areas that you may find within a role and we’re always looking for people who are happy to muck in and get involved with many different areas. We don’t have constant IT support - if you need to fix the printer, you might just need to figure it out yourself - and I’ve found that actually makes a lot of our team members more dynamic and more experienced. 

Paul Turton, MD, Pact
The main challenge for the whole recruitment process is the fact that it’s a very long process and you have to do the hard yards, from the research at the very beginning, from when you’re getting CVs through to first, second, third and sometimes even fourth interviews, right up until the point when you’re in negotiation around the offer, and then there’s that period of time where you have to keep the candidate enrolled, aligned and excited about the role they’re starting.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
Our challenges with recruitment often lie in expectations and setting very clear expectations. Often people will come to us and they’re not necessarily used to coming to work for a start-up, so they’ll expect all these bells and whistles and all this infrastructure that’s been put in place, and a lot of that’s not necessarily there at this point, so that can be a little bit of a challenge, just getting someone used to what it looks like to be a really fast moving company, and again the challenge of making sure that you are getting the absolute right fit for the job and you’re getting the person who can bring the skills and experience that we’re lacking, while also complementing the expertise that’s already there.

What are employees looking for?

Emmalene Maxwell, CFO & Laura Colyer, Sales & Operations Manager, The Fold
Emmalene: It can be a challenge to hire new people into such a small company. It’s not a big brand, the perks aren’t necessarily what they would be at a bigger company, so I think people want to come and work for The Fold because they recognise our potential, they’ve seen our growth, our brand is now becoming more recognisable, and they want to be part of that story, and I think that’s genuinely why people would want to work for any start up.

Laura: I’ve often found that candidates come to us with a real excitement and passion for wanting to grow with our brand and there’s so much potential for them to take more ownership over areas than they could have had working for larger companies. 

Paul Turton, MD, Pact
The single most important thing is for the hire to really understand the role that they play in getting behind the mission. We’ve got an incredibly strong mission statement at Pact which is making coffee a force for good, so it’s really important that the first thing the individual understands is the role they play in making that happen.

The other thing that’s incredibly important to our new hires is flexible working. We don’t run Pact like a military 9 til 5, it’s important that we have give and take and people understand that the lines between work and home life are more blurred, so we absolutely embrace flexible working.

Olivia O’Brien, Business Development Director, Growing Underground
People want to work for Growing Underground because they really believe in what we’re doing. People want to make a difference in the world and they see that we’re doing that, or trying to do that, and they want to be a part of that change that we’re making.

The views and opinions expressed in this content don’t necessarily reflect the views of Barclays Bank UK PLC, nor should they be taken as statements of policy or intent of Barclays Bank UK PLC. Barclays Bank UK PLC takes no responsibility for the veracity of information intimated by a third party and no warranties or undertakings of any kind, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information given. Barclays Bank UK PLC takes no liability for the impact of any decisions made based on information contained and views expressed in this video or article.

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