iThink: September 2017

With the Summer break over and the tan starting to fade, it is that time of year in which many businesses start to think about how best to manage the remainder of their talent budget (if it’s not already spent!) and start to think about planning for 2018, and we are enjoying continuing to offer different and innovative solutions to our customers which help them hire and retain great talent, and use that budget wisely.

Since my last post in June, we have grown our ranks with 2 new researchers and successfully concluded our 12-month transformation programme at Arval. This was an incredibly rewarding piece of work, in which we supported the transition of the recruitment model from an outsourced solution to in-house. Working in collaboration with a driven HR team and recruitment lead, the programme saw direct fill achievement at 90%, significantly reducing their recruitment spend.   It is exactly the type of programme we wanted to deliver and client we wanted to work with when Cogito was formed!

Our talent mapping solution has helped new and existing customers alike to benefit from deep talent and market insight, which has enabled them to engage with talent they wouldn’t usually attract when using traditional recruitment methods.  Of particular satisfaction has been the range of skills and projects from Executive level to volume skilled and operational roles.  Amongst our recent projects are:

Chief Technology Officer – Financial Services
Chief Information Security Officer – Financial Services
CIO – Financial Services
Operations Director – Manufacturing
Commercial Director – Manufacturing
Head of CSR – Fashion
Operations Manager – Manufacturing
Multi-Skilled Engineers – Food
NPD Managers – Food

For many of these projects, I have been delighted that after being assessed against Headhunters and Recruitment Agencies,  it was our ability to provide deep insight to support decision making and wider organisation design strategies which set us apart and led to our engagement – and success.  Being able to show customers that turning data into information can provide a much better recruitment output for all continues to be rewarding for us all.

In addition to talent mapping, our research has supported broader Organisation Design projects for two of our key customers, this is where we see much of our future engagement, offering added value insight to identify “What Great Looks Like” and analyse why people thrive, as we not only help businesses to hire great talent, but retain and progress it!

With all this data and insight, we are keen to share more, so over the next quarter we will be introducing new ways of benefiting from our insight.

The iThink Hub will be populated with more content, including sharing headlines from our insight so that our followers can discover trends and stats which could help shape their talent thinking. If you are not a member of the iThink Hub yet, you can sign up for free

We will be expanding our Hiring Index reporting to include market data as well as specific company and sector talent news, this means that you can not only be aware of demand for talent in your sector and region, but also understand the national labour picture.

Our training programme which has been delivered to clients over the past 3 years is now available for single sign up. We have received great feedback from inhouse recruiters from these sessions in which we focus upon candidate and hiring manager engagement to improve recruitment performance. With sessions in Bristol in October and November, we now want to provide the opportunity for other internal recruiters to develop their skills and improve the quality of candidates and service to the business.  If you are interested in participating drop me a line.

Finally, in the October we will host our next iThink Seminar, this time on the power of storytelling to enhance Employer Brand, to join us, our expert speakers and thought leaders click here

A busy quarter ahead…



T: 01179200125


If you want to create fact-based talent strategies from acquisition to engagement, and reduce your reliance upon recruitment agencies and lower recruitment spend, please get in touch.

iThink: June 2017

As we move towards the middle part of our third year, it seems like a great time to take stock and share our evolution.  We continue to add more and more value to our increasing number of customers, helping them to improve direct hiring performance and reduce recruitment spend. 

This means that we have had the opportunity to grow our team and we have recently moved to a new, larger, office in central Bristol.

Already in 2017 our transformation programme at Arval has not only led to the transition of the recruitment model from an outsourced solution to in-house, but we have worked in partnership with them to create a recruitment model which has achieved over 90% direct fill and significantly reduced their recruitment spend. They have embraced our insight and are soon to launch a new employer brand and engagement collateral.

Our talent mapping solution has helped new and existing customers alike to benefit from deep talent and market insight, which has enabled them to engage with talent they wouldn’t usually attract when using traditional recruitment methods, amongst our projects this year are:

  • Chief Operating Officer – Manufacturing
  • Telesales Director – Financial Services
  • Director of Merchandising – Retail
  • Sales Manager – FMCG
  • Technical Specialists – Food
  • Account Managers – Food
  • VP IT Delivery – Financial Services

Our ability to identify and assess Senior Talent along with operational skills to build long term talent pipelines continues to add commercial benefit to our customers who now see Talent Mapping as a real alternative to Headhunt.

We are also proud to have supported one of our key clients to identify the best location in the UK for their new Contact Centre. Our analysis of Socio-Economic, Employment and Competitors across six UK cities in April has already seen our customer kick off their direct recruitment campaign.
Customers across Retail, Manufacturing, Food and FMCG have benefited from our research into what external talent perceives about their Employer Brand and how they can better directly engage with them.
Amongst our ever evolving insight offering we now include Talent Profiling in which we engage with employees to identify “What Good Looks Like” and analyse why people thrive.  This provides in-house recruitment teams with the insight to improve the quality of talent they hire and HR leaders with the insight to enhance L&D programmes which support business growth. 

If you want to create fact-based talent strategies from acquisition to engagement, and reduce your reliance upon recruitment agencies and lower recruitment spend, please get in touch.



Marc Drew
Cogito Talent
01179 200 125

Recruitment Transformation Case Study: From under-performing recruitment outsource to best practice in-house solution

The Problem
After over 10 years of utilizing a recruitment outsourced provider, our customer – a global financial services organization – had a desire to take greater ownership of recruitment spend and employer brand.

What We Did
Our transformation team delivered a modular change programme to create a direct sourcing model which focused upon quality of candidate, hiring manager experience and cost reduction. Commencing with an audit of the RPO provider performance, our consultants created a transition plan – led by Cogito – which ensured continuity of service and exiting the incumbent. In collaboration with our customer we hired a recruitment manager to lead the recruitment activities for the client onsite and under their instruction.

The Outcome
The recruitment model transition successfully – on time and without any disruption to service. Direct hiring increased to almost 90% in the first 3 months and overall recruitment spend significantly reduced. The transformation programme has achieved its time and performance targets including the provision of candidate brand perception and talent mapping projects to support long term strategic goal setting.


< Return to Recruitment Transformation

Recruitment Transformation Case Study: Employer Brand Development

The Problem
Our customer had traditionally relied upon local networks and referrals to recruit its qualified employees. Increasing industry regulation along with greater hiring demand within the UK sector from competitors had resulted in a shrinking candidate pool and an increasing reliance upon temporary labour. Spiralling recruitment costs and increasing attrition started to impact upon business performance.

What We Did
We conducted a recruitment benchmarking study focusing upon local and national competitors for talent. Examining the tactics used to attract candidates through web, social media and more traditional methods we delivered an analytical study which highlighted how competitors were positioning their employer brand to the candidate market.

The Outcome
Operating with increased awareness of competitors hiring methods, our customer embarked upon a hiring transformation programme including the redesign of their website, their recruitment model and the employee value proposition. By expanding their internal recruitment capability and adopting new attraction methods our client has benefited from an increase in direct applications and reduced recruitment costs.

Cogito’s research enabled us to adapt new ways of promoting our employer brand to prospective employees with full recognition of how our competitors were conducting their recruitment. These have enabled us to make positive changes to our recruitment model and tactics which have resulted in improvements within the first six monthsHead of HR


< Return to Recruitment Transformation

Recruitment Transformation Case Study: Understanding candidate perception to create authentic employer brand collateral

The Problem
Our private healthcare client had experienced double-digit growth over the past five years, with an equally strong forecast for the next decade. Recruitment was a problem as they continued to experience increasing recruitment agency costs for its nursing staff. This not only impacted the bottom line business performance, but also contributed to a high turnover of staff. Feedback from their recruitment partners suggested that the employer brand reputation was a barrier to direct hiring.

What We Did
We wanted to provide our client with insight concerning the views of the talent they wanted to hire and how to engage with them. We conducted a Candidate Perception study in which we canvassed the views of Nurses within the local geography to understand their perception of our client and if their opinion was preventing direct recruitment success. Areas of questioning included pay, training, career progression, quality of service, fairness to employees and recruitment process. Insight was also gained into the individual motivators, career aspirations, job hunting methods and interest in working for our client.

The Outcome
The data obtained, trends and recommendations for improvements were presented to our client in a workshop session. Specific focus was applied to areas of negative feedback to ensure that the client was able to address these as a matter of priority. We worked in partnership with our client HR and Marketing teams to create, and execute, a plan to improve attraction tactics and recruitment messaging so that negative views were countered and positive aspects of the employee experience extenuated. The creation of a Nursing specific social media strategy has seen the creation of more relevant, and desired, content and increased the direct awareness of our client in the local employment markets.


< Return to Recruitment Transformation

Recruitment Data is important, but it won’t improve who and how you recruit without the human element

recruitment researchFirstly, I want to say that data is a key component of what we do. Either through primary recruitment research, analysing recruitment data or interrogating external reports it is an important part of delivering a broad, contextual solution.

However, the increasing amount of data sources can lead to confusion and even worse the development of people strategies which are based on sound bites or headlines. Considering the context, challenging the content, understanding the reasons for the recruitment research and applying it to anecdotal views are vital to form a well-rounded and comprehensive plan.

For example, already this month I have read that “Vacancies hit a post recession high” in November, according to Adzuna research. Whilst the headline is accurate it does not tell us how many vacancies were seasonal or how many advertised vacancies were duplicates. Also, in 2015 there were “declining salaries“, is this because more lower level roles were advertised, organisations used alternative methods to recruit for their more senior roles,  or fewer senior vacancies arose, or infact are salaries really dropping? Not according to Investors In People who state that pay is on the increase over recent months.

In the same IIP report I read that “NEARLY half of the UK workforce will be looking for new jobs in 2016“, this will create concerns for those responsible for retention and excitement for those responsible for attraction. However, before you react depending upon which camp you sit in – be aware that this survey was completed by 2000 respondents – not half of the UK workforce.

Before I get challenged on a lack of marketing understanding, I get that the headline is there to attract readers, what I am saying is that I think that this information can be valuable when reading beyond the headline and the forewords.

Conflicting information does not mean that some of it is irrelevant. What is likely is that the questions may be phrased differently on similar subjects, that the marketing machine has applied some poetic licence to the promotional process or different information sources may have been used.

In 2016, if you are not considering external sources of information you are likely to be poorer for it. However, if you are only considering the headline or failing to interrogate the data then you are increasing the chances of making the wrong decisions.

Every day my colleagues and I apply recruitment expertise to data – it’s what we love to do – turning it into information to build recruitment plans and provide recruitment insight to in-house recruitment teams. The independent challenging of historic practices and performance, along with the unbiased assessment of candidate views, trends and market activity and industry statistics means that we can apply context, fact and objectivity.

So, whether you are the CEO/MD responsible for the long term sustainability of your organisation, or the HRD with accountability for attraction and retention, take time to increase your awareness of internal and external trends, but ensure that you and your team can objectively consider it in context, what it means to you and how to use it, so that you have the best people in your organisation.

Or drop me a line at to understand how we conduct and apply recruitment research which could help you gain a greater return on your recruitment budget.

Happy New Year!!!

Marc Drew is the Managing Director of Cogito Talent Limited, a direct hiring consultancy helping organisations to improve recruitment effectiveness. To understand more about how we do it visit, or call +44 1179200125

5 questions you should ask to improve your recruitment


Having a desire to increase the number of direct hires is a good start to enhance candidate experience and internal recruitment performance, but without ensuring that you are fully aware of a number of key areas it is likely that your business will face a challenge to realise the vision.

Below are 5 questions which I believe should be answered in order to improve your recruitment performance… 



1. Why do talented people want to work for our competitors?

It is generally agreed that competition for talent is high, so the need to differentiate and appeal to coveted individuals is vital, doing this without understanding how your competitors engage with and reward their employees puts you at a disadvantage.  Remuneration, culture and progression opportunities are all key factors which need to be understood when positioning your opportunity versus the rest.  Additionally, understanding the perception candidates have of your business provides you with detail which may be restricting your opportunity to succeed.


 2. Why do we struggle to find the talent we need?

Reviewing past performance will help to give you pointers on where you have gone wrong, whilst understanding why others succeed.  By identifying the internal and external factors that affect your ability to find the required talent and objectively assessing the reasons for your under performance, your team can think more tactically about how they can improve. 


3. Do we get a good return on our recruitment budget?

Whether your recruitment costs are increasing or not, the real measure of the investment should be the quality of the hires made.  An intelligently planned move towards direct hiring is likely to reduce your cost per hire, however a reduced capability in the new hires can lead to greater attrition and replacements being required.  Understanding how to attract and engage with the best talent in the most effective way will help to reduce your overall recruitment costs and enhance quality of hires leading to greater business success. 


4. Do our recruiters have the networks and the skills to promote our EVP?

The opportunities to broadcast your company message are varied and many, but also potentially damaging if not managed by credible recruiters.  Although you may wish to promote your vacancies and EVP across multiple channels in order to attract the best talent, you should consider whether your recruiters possess the necessary skill set to market, endorse,  represent and add value to your brand.


5. Do we know what hiring challenges we are going to face next year?

Assessing how closely your recruiters work with the hiring community and how much they know about the future will show how embedded and effective they can be.  Having a forum to appraise the business of market trends and forecasted challenges whilst also providing the hiring managers with a focused session to give forewarning of talent demands heightens the opportunity for effective planning and proactive candidate engagement. 


Take some time to sit with your recruitment colleagues to consider all the sources of information and recruitment research available to you which will shape your hiring strategy in the future.  Ask yourself the above questions and start to think about how you can increase your awareness, quality and direct hiring. 



Marc Drew is the Managing Director of Cogito Talent Limited, a direct hiring consultancy helping organisations to improve recruitment effectiveness. To understand more about how talent mapping can help you to find quality candidates and add value to your recruitment performance visit, call +44 1179200125 or email

Recruitment doesn’t have to begin and end with the Recruiter


 I am sure you have either heard this from a hiring manager or maybe you have been the hiring manager… 

“the reason the role isn’t filled is because the recruiter hasn’t submitted enough of the right CVs!” or that the recruiter doesn’t “understand what type of person is needed!”  

 I have also heard this from the internal recruiter when reviewing the under performance of a recruitment agency.  

In my experience, the best recruitment takes place when the recruiter is able to be the expert and an integral part of the recruitment process – not all of it – able to benefit from the active involvement of the entire hiring community from attraction to induction. 

Greater recruiting success is achieved by the organisations who have recruiters closely aligned to the business, therefore creating an opportunity for them to become familiar with the management styles, team culture, projects and people and ultimately become role ambassadors for the team that is in need of talent.  Increasing a recruiters knowledge of the vision, the goals and the environment will lead to an improvement in performance as they start to think like the hiring manager before vacancies arise.

The recruiter should be welcomed into business teams as a key and consistent partner, not as a support function called upon when there is an urgent need. 

The best examples of this type of business partnering I have seen have come from the recruiters who not only understand the internal workings but also possess knowledge of the external market.  They are aware of the talent gaps within an existing team and they proactively present the profiles of candidates that they believe will lead to positive change.  These recruiters challenge managers to think about whether the existing team will enable the hiring manager and the business to achieve their goals or if external talent will make the difference. 

Who wouldn’t want someone proactively presenting ways to improve to them?

Additionally, a recruiter with regular opportunities to inform the business of the recruitment activities of its competitors is likely to greater ensure that business leaders are able to both engage with desired talent proactively and develop strategies to protect the business from the attrition of key people as other companies ramp up recruitment. 

Another point of view, this time from the recruiter is that hiring managers should use their networks to promote the job vacancy.  This is reasonable and I suspect that many feel that they do, but how many of them actually go beyond purely “liking” or “sharing” the post created by the recruiter?  

A hiring manager has a variety of platforms to promote the reasons why someone should join their team in their own words.   

Insightful contribution from the recruiter is valuable of course – after all they are the attraction expert – but a more personal “come and work with me and my team” will complement – and possibly improve upon – the corporate or generically written “work for us“.

In promoting themselves, hiring managers can increase the likelihood of attracting the type of person who will fit into their team and create opportunities to cultivate relationships with future hires.

It is right that the recruiter should take the lead and the accountability for ensuring that the vacancies are marketed appropriately, that a high quality candidate and manager experience is delivered and that the business is informed about external trends and activities.  However, although not everyone in the business is a recruiter, the organisation wanting to attract talented candidates should give itself the best opportunity to broadcast its message and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share knowledge and insight in order to acquire the people that they need. 

If the recruiter is kept away from the goals, culture and strategy and recruit based only upon what they think is required the jigsaw will be incomplete.

Marc Drew is the Managing Director of Cogito Talent Limited, a hiring intelligence consultancy business.  To discover how Cogito can help improve your organisations’ direct hiring contact us on 01179 200 125, email or visit