Tag Archives: How Recruitment Agencies Work

CV Advice For Ex Forces

CV Advice for Ex Forces

CV Advice for Ex Forces 

I was once told that all ex service personnel leaving the armed forces were given exactly the same information in how to structure a Resume.

Personally I don’t believe there is a one size fits all, cookie cutter solution for writing a CV.

Based on the wide variety of experiences you have, I think that’s especially the case when it comes to ex forces personnel.

Why would you want a CV to look like every other person that’s in the same position as you are?

No – you need to give yourself a competitive edge and show your unique skills.

Here are 8 changes I would make straight away to improve your chances of getting that interview.

1. Soft Skills – Forget them.

CVs are littered with phrases like

“Work well under pressure”

“Self-motivated and high level of integrity”

“Excellent communication skills”

“Results and quality-oriented working habits to aim towards company goals”

“Excellent man management skills”

Filling out a CV in bullet points with these “unique skills” just under the name and address section is in my opinion (and other Recruiters I know) a waste of time, and to be honest I generally skip right past it to go to the part I’m really interested in.

Far better to change them for something more technical like

  • Re-wired the Comms Systems on Apache Helicopters, or
  • Upgraded emergency Diesel generators on XYZ Aircraft Carrier, or
  • Diagnosed Faults down to sub system level on Tornado Aircraft

These are tangible things that give me a point of reference and help me to make the leap to see how you may able to do the job that I’m looking for people for

2. Qualifications – List them somewhere near the top.

Start with the highest and work backwards.

  • ONC or HNC in Subject 2
  • NVQ 3 in Subject 3
  • Modern Apprenticeship as etc

And so on

Then move on to the specialist courses again, the most valuable at the top, working down.

  • Slinging Course
  • Rigging course
  • First Aid Course
  • 100 metres Swimming Certificate

You get the idea?

While I’m covering qualifications, I would highly recommend that you ensure that you posses anything that is listed on your CV.

I can’t claim that you have a NVQ 3 in Engineering if I haven’t seen it, and often a company will need copies for their records.

As a footnote it can cost currently up to £44.00 to search for a replacement City & Guilds certificate. This can take 3 weeks or more and and the fee is non refundable even if they can’t find it.

3. Reverse Chronological Order – List the most recent job you did first.

This is the first part of CV I’m going to look at.

Give an overview of the positions you’ve held, and the jobs you’ve done, focussing on the technical details.

This is the area that normally gives me the most information so this is where

“Re-wired the Comms Systems for the Apache Helicopter,” or

“Upgraded emergency Diesel generators on XYZ Aircraft Carrier,” or

“Diagnosed Faults down to sub system level on Tornado Aircraft” needs to be.

This is the first place I will look to establish if you may be suitable for the role I have.

The second third and fourth places I’ll look will be the jobs previous to that.

Bullet any achievements, like

  • “supervised team of 12 fitters” or
  • “repaired and turned around Merlin EH101 Avionics within 24 hours”

and then move onto the next.

4. Show Me The Relevant Experience

Whatever job you’re applying for, your CV needs to show the relevant experience, using technical keywords.

So if you’re applying for an Electrical Fitting job, focus on that experience on your CV.

Facilities Maintenance? Talk about your experience in this area.

Ex forces personnel often do more than one job, so tailor your CV to show the work you’ve done that gives you the direct experience for the position you’re applying for.

5. Tell Me Where You’ve Been

A lot of the people I deal with are ex-services also.

If I could tell them where you served, the Rank you held etc we both know they’ve probably got a lot of the information to help them make a decision on your suitability.

6. Tell Me More

Here is a typical extract from a CV

Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineer) – 2007 – November 2013

A varied role, adapting to the needs of the Forces. Not only working on ships, also land based. In this time, experience has been gained in fields such as driving, management and administration.

6 Years’ experience of probably the most varied work on earth and it’s summed up in a couple of sentences.

Now I KNOW there is more this person can add.

I can only begin to guess the type of work done, the tools used, and the achievements gained and the reality is, I DO HAVE TO GUESS.

I now have a choice to either pick up the phone and have the conversation, or move on to the next one.

It’s also on my mind that when it comes to the interview and this person is asked “tell me about your last job” that this is an example of the answer that they’ll give.

7. Know What You Want To Do 

For me this is probably one of the most important points.

Coming from the services you are likely to have a wide and varied range of practical skills.

Knowing the kind of role you want and then focussing on, and promoting those skills in detail is for me the best thing you can do.

Let’s say you’re looking for a Hands on Electrical Fitting or a Maintenance Role.

There’s less point talking about your management skills, your Health and Safety skills, your Quality Auditing skills, or anything else that’s not related to the job you’re aiming for.

The space you free up by taking out the irrelevant stuff can be filled up with the technical stuff we talked about earlier ☺.

8. Know Where You Want To Do It

Once I’ve got your CV and I believe you may be suitable, I’m going to ask

  • Where do you want to work? How far would you want to commute on a daily basis, would you relocate or work away from home?
  • What jobs do you want to do?
  • How much do you need to be paid?
  • When are you available to start work or how much notice do you need to give?
  • Are you interested in Permanent Jobs, Contract Jobs, or Temp to Perm Jobs or all 3?

I’ll need to know this as a bare minimum.

Questions, Comments or Thoughts? Leave a Reply in the box below.

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Temporary Employment Contracts


Temporary Employment Contracts

Temporary Employment Contracts

I’ve mentioned before that companies will often hire on a temp to perm basis but I wanted to tell you about the Temporary Employment Contracts that are generally used.

I’ve been asked in the past questions about how “it worked” and to begin with I was surprised. But then it occurred to me that for anyone that is new to ‘temping’ or ‘contracting’ these are perfectly natural questions.

If you’ve only ever worked in a Permanent Job then taking either a temp to perm job or a temporary job can be a completely new experience.

I’ll try and talk you through what you could expect.

The Contract

When you first read the contract you’ve been given, it can sometimes be a bit confusing, or unnecessarily wordy, and will seem to offer very few guarantees.

The contract that you’re given WILL BE a temporary contract, so it will be worded in such a way, to show that it’s a flexible agreement for both you and the agency.

Some of the key points may be;

The Notice Period

In some contracts there may be an inferred notice period, but no guarantees will be given. It might say something like…

“Any of the Employment Business, the Agency Worker or the Hirer may terminate the Agency Worker’s Assignment at any time without prior notice or liability.”


“In the event that the contract between the Employment Business and the Hirer is terminated for any reason the Assignment shall cease with immediate effect without liability to the Agency Worker (save for payment for hours worked by the Agency Worker up to the date of termination of the Assignment).”

Effectively these clauses are saying the contract can be terminated at any point without any liability, and you will be paid up until the point you left.

Guarantees of Work

There’ll be no guarantee of continued work being offered (although temps that do a good job are normally given first refusal on new contracts coming in – when you’ve finished that one of course)

How To Get Paid

To get paid you need to communicate the hours you’ve worked to the agency, normally via a timesheet signed by an authorised representative of the company.

You will also need to submit your own invoice if you’re being paid via a limited or umbrella company.

Annual Leave

This will be as per the Working Time Directive and will normally need to be taken within the leave year, and can’t be carried over.

You would need to take any time off in agreement with the company you’re working for.

What To Do In The Event of Absence

The short answer is to let the agency know as soon as possible.

Phone, Text, Email, Send a Friend, Leave a Voice Mail, Train a Pigeon to deliver messages if you have to, but tell the agency.

What To Do Next 

Once you’ve understood the contract, the best advice I can give you about determining if the job opportunity is for you is to ASK QUESTIONS.

Ask your agents advice on anything that may be an issue to you.

If you’re worried about the length of the contract, the notice period, how often you will be paid then ASK THE QUESTION.

As a final observation, if you’re concerned about the temporary nature of the job, then maybe temping isn’t for you and you should hold out for a permanent position.

That being said many Temporary Employment Contracts, have given the candidate the chance to prove themselves, ultimately resulting in an offer of a full time position.

If you have any questions or would like further advice, then feel free to leave a comment below.

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Contractors vs Temps

Contractors Jobs

Difference Between Contractors and Temps

The main service that an Employment Businesses offers is finding and supplying Temporary Workers.

Employment Agents deal with Permanent Roles, Employment Businesses deal with Temporary or Contract workers.

I’ll explain how they make their money in a moment but first let’s deal with the Temporary / Contract name.

Both Terms are used but by different types of Employment Businesses (EBs)

Free online Dictionary explains the terms as follows

tem·po·rar·y  [tem-puh-rer-ee]  Show IPA adjective, noun, plural tem·po·rar·ies.



lasting, existing, serving, or effective for a time only; not permanent: a temporary need; a temporary job.



an office worker hired, usually through an agency on a per diem basis, for a short period of time.

con·tract  [n., adj., and usually for v. 15–17, 21, 22 kon-trakt; otherwise v. kuhn-trakt]  Show IPA



an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.


an agreement enforceable by law.

Temporary is exactly that. The person is hired often at short notice for an undefined period of time.

For as long as the Hiring Manger needs them around, and every day work is coming in, they will need you to keep coming back and doing the work.

Once the work drops off you’ll be given notice to leave and this can range from hours to weeks.

It’s Temporary.

Contract workers are generally hired for a more defined period of time.

Often it will be to carry out a specific task, for example hired to do an Engine change, or to build 20 control panels, or write a specific piece of code, but it’s generally a longer term commitment.

I’ve seen contractors stay with a client for years often moving onto a new project as one finishes.

In both cases you’re working as a flexible worker designed to help a company realise its commercial commitments.

As a temporary worker you’re paid by the EB either on a PAYE or a Self Employed (via an Umbrella Company or your own Limited Company) basis.

In both cases there is potentially an opportunity to go Permanent.

How the Employment Business (EB) makes Money.

The Employment Business will essentially find the best person for the job, with right skills, and hire the person to the end client.

The Employment Business will agree a pay rate with you, and will then agree a charge rate with the client.

The charge rate will depend on your pay rate and costs will need to be factored in such as Tax, National Insurance deductions, Employers National Insurance, Holiday Accrual on your behalf and lastly the Profit Margin.

The contractual relationship will be two fold. The Employment Business will have a contract with the worker, as well as a contract with the client.

While working on site a Contractor supplied by an Employment Business will generally be working under the direction and supervision of the client.

The Employment Business will pay the worker their wages on a weekly basis, and will at some point receive payment from the client as a result (and that is when the employment business will make its money).

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The Rules of the Game


The Employment Agencies Act

Did you know that Employment Agencies in the UK have a set of Rules to work to?

They’re called The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003.

This is the legislation that governs our industry.

They cover all elements of the Recruitment process from general obligations to, special situations where more than one agency is involved in the supply.

Like all rules and regulations they’re subject to interpretation by, highly paid legal professionals and rulings and case law by High Court Judges, but the fact still remains that we do have the equivalent of the Haynes Manual to Recruitment.

The Employment Agencies Act (among other things)  ensures we’re open, honest, and transparent, about our service, which can only be a good thing.

If you’re interested or would like to know more you can find a copy of them here.

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What Is Temp to Perm

What is Temp to Perm

What is Temp to Perm

I sometimes get asked about Temp to Perm, and how it works.

I’ve been using the term for so long now that I assume everyone knows what it means.

For anyone that doesn’t, I’ll try and explain it to you as best I can. If anything doesn’t make sense feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.

Some companies use an Employment Agency or an Employment Business to find staff on their behalf.

Sometimes they’ll engage a company to find a permanent staff member and hire them straight away.

Other times, they’ll go via the Temp to Perm route.

I’ve seen it happen a number of ways and I’ll call them Defined Temp to Perm, Non Defined Temp to Perm and Surprise Temp to Perm.

Defined Temp to Perm

This is where a company actually need Permanent staff, but it’s easier for them to use a Recruitment Agency to find the people for them.

The agency will do all of the searching, which may sometimes including advertising, interviewing, reference checking, arranging any necessary tests and assessments, arrange for the worker to start, pay them, and then after both the worker and the company have had an agreed period of time to make sure they’re both happy, the worker would then convert to the payroll of the company.

This can often be a satisfactory way of hiring new staff/finding a new job for all concerned.

Non Defined Temp to Perm

This is where all of the above will happen, but it’s more because the company are busy, and they expect to remain busy, but in some cases may not be able to see that far ahead.

So they hire someone on a temporary basis, with the possibility that IF the person they selected is proven to be a good addition to the team, and, IF there’s a business case to hire an additional person, and, IF they get approval from the management, then there is a good chance of a permanent job.

A little bit more risky for the company because they run the risk of losing the worker if a better opportunity comes along, and for the worker because if one of those IFs doesn’t come off then, no job.

Surprise Temp to Perm

This is where the role will start off Temporary with no intention for the job to go permanent at all.

All of the conditions happen again as detailed above e.g. company get busy, take on a contractor/temporary worker, and then find, that to their surprise, the worker is a good fit for their business and a permanent job is offered.

The candidate has shown themselves to be such an asset, that the company decide they have to find a way to keep them in the business.

So the department manager will do what they need to do to keep them on and will offer the person a role with the company.

In all of the years I’ve worked in Recruitment, the Temporary to Permanent route has been a very successful way for companies to find workers, and for workers to find jobs.

Done correctly it can be a quick and efficient way to find new people.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d be interested to hear them in the box below…

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Keywords are vital for your CV

Without keywords your CV simply wouldn’t be found.

CV Keywords Image

CV writing tips

Most searches of CVs use Keywords.

Let me explain…….

Recruitment Agents will generally have a database in which to store your CV in.

Over the years an Agency will potentially accumulate thousands of CVs.

Imagine all these CVs in a big digital pot (or even an actual pot if you prefer, yes, imagine 10,000 CVs in a big pot and yours is in it)

The keywords are the hook in which your CV will be retrieved, to build the shortlist of potential candidates for the role the agent is searching on.

This is a system called Boolean Searching that will depend on the words YOU’VE used on YOUR CV.

How CVs Are Searched (Sometimes) 

If searching for say, a Design Engineer, that had used a CAD system called Solid Edge to Design Rolling Stock, the search string would be “Design Engineer” AND “Solid Edge” AND Rail OR “Rolling Stock”.

This would give a list of Design Engineers that had THOSE WORDS on their CV.

If you were a Design Engineer working in this sector, and your CV DIDN’T have these words on, YOU WOULD NOT BE RETURNED IN THOSE SEARCH RESULTS.

This is the importance of keywords. If you’d chosen to describe your self as the Chief Designer, or Head of Technical Drawing, or Mechanical Designer, using “the latest 3D CAD” to design a new Train YOU WOULD NOT BE RETURNED IN THOSE SEARCH RESULTS.

I’ve seen good candidates lose out on great opportunities because they didn’t understand this (this doesn’t affect us as much at Clemtech and I’ll tell you why in another Blog post).

This applies across the board regardless of the job you do.

To improve your chances of being found you should use common terms related to your area of expertise or chosen profession.

My Advice

So my advice is to use a variety of phrases to describe the same thing.

In the example above use variations of Mechanical Designer, Design Engineer, Mechanical Design Engineer, and if you’ve used CAD systems, list them all.

More keywords = more chances of getting found.

Thoughts, comments, further advice?……welcomed by completing the form below.

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Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All

CV Advice

How To Get More Interest In Your CV

After years of picking through countless shortlists of candidates, I’ve been forced to develop ever efficient ways of recruiting.

So when dealing with ad response, or merely searching through CV after CV to find the exact skills i’m looking for – I tend to go immediately to the most recent entry and start looking for proof that you can do the job that I’ve been asked to find someone for.

This is just how I recruit.

Everyone’s different. I’m a logical person with (some may allege a slight autistic streak) so I look for facts.

The other reason I do this is because I’ve had countless experiences of Hiring Managers and HR people doing exactly the same thing.

I KNOW If you’ve done a certain type of job you have transferrable skills. (I’ll deal with “if you gave me a little bit of training I’d be up to speed in no time” in another blog post).

But if I send a CV to a client, and they can’t see you’ve done the job they want you to do, there is potential for said client to feel I may not have found them the right person.

I’m afraid the spray and pray brigade have ruined it for all of us.

When you’re applying for a job, look at the must haves, work out where you’ve done it, and then add it to your CV.

The simple fact that you wrote it will mean that it will support what I’m saying, and give the client some comfort.

As an added bonus you’re including more keywords on your CV making it easier to write.

If you have a question about this post, please leave a comment 🙂

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Who Are You?


I was recently asked why we need copies of passports and other forms of identification from candidates that we register.

The person said it all sounded a bit suspicious and in this day and age of Data Theft was very concerned that it was being asked for.

For some time now in fact ever since 2003 it’s been a requirement for Employment Business to confirm the identity of the worker.


The rules say

Regulation 19 – Confirmation to be obtained about a work-seeker

Provides that an employment agency or employment business must not introduce or supply a work-seeker to a hirer unless it has obtained confirmation:

(a) of the identity of the work-seeker. This will mean seeing any document which provides evidence of the work-seeker’s identity, such as his/her passport, driving licence, birth certificate.

By virtue of regulation 32(6) this will extend to those persons provided through limited company contractors, where the notice under regulation 32(9) to opt out of the scope of the Regulations has not been given;

The full document can be read at http://bis.gov.uk/files/file24248.pdf

Additionally the Preventing Illegal Working rules by the UK Border Agency added a requirement to the process as well.

Whilst there is no legal requirement to carry out the UKBA prescribed checks, where these checks have not been carried out and an illegal worker is found, businesses can be fined up to £20,000 per worker.

Where UKBA believes the business was knowingly employing an illegal worker a criminal prosecution could be brought carrying with it an unlimited fine and a potential jail term.

There are regular news reports of fines being levied to companies and Agencies to ensure that we are all reminded of the importance of confirming our candidates right to work in the UK

Some examples can be found on my Flickr page


Show Me The Money

Salaries Advertised by Recruiters

Image Credit for Salaries Aren’t Always Advertised by Recruitment Agencies

Often you’ll see jobs advertised by a Recruitment Agency and there aren’t any salary details.

It’s Crazy (right?)

You may or may not appreciate the reason for this, so I wanted to give an explanation as to why sometimes I’ve advertised roles and haven’t included salary details.

Sometimes The Client Doesn’t Have A Pay Structure.

I’ve dealt with companies that are small to medium sized businesses, and in some cases the company doesn’t have a salary structure in place.

This often happened when I was working with Engineering Machine Shops to find CNC Machinists.

They started off small, needed some help, hired a person, negotiated the wages on the day, and then rinsed and repeated the whole process the next time they needed someone else.

They ended up with different people, doing similar jobs, on different rates of pay.

So at best they could give me a salary range, but there would always be a small part of them that didn’t really want to say, in case they quoted an amount that was “too high”.

Or tsometimes it was because they didn’t want to lose a good candidate that could be of value to the business.

So they said “NEGOTIABLE”

Sometimes The Client Is Worried

Occasionally people will see an advert for a job that looks like it may be at their company. It could even be their job, they think.

So they call up to find out what they can, posing as an interested candidate (some Recruiters do this as well but that’s another Blog post)

The salary on offer looks far more than they’re being paid for doing a similar job (see above), and so they may complain, or ask some pretty awkward questions of their line manager or HR representative.

Far easier for the client to tell the agency that they aren’t allowed to advertise salaries, and avoid the pain, AND possibly reap some of the benefits mentioned earlier.

This can happen in small, and large companies, and at some point in my career I’ve seen it in both.

But what if the salary IS mentioned but it seems either too high or too low?

This happens also.

In the case of too low the company could either be out of step with salary levels for the role in question, or they could be aiming to keep their costs down.

In the case of too high, if it’s an agency advert, then it could be that the Recruiter has made sure the package looks as attractive as possible, to get the most response from the advert, or that the company in question like to pay well to attract and retain top talent

What I would say is that whenever there is a range, don’t immediately assume that you’re going to achieve the very top, or get offered the very bottom.

My Opinion

Personally I would always prefer to be open and up front about the salary range at the outset.

If the company have a pay structure in place then it shouldn’t be an issue, if they don’t, then there will always be an unofficial range.

Would YOU apply for an advertised job if no salary indication was given? Click the image below to take my survey and answer 3 questions.

Leave a comment below and when I’ve collected 100 responses I’ll send you a copy of the results.

How Recruitment Agencies Pay

Recruitment Agency Pay

Who Pays You

When working for a Recruitment Agency on a Temporary or a Contract Basis it’s the Recruitment Agency that’s normally responsible for making sure you get paid.

In most cases you’ll be offered a choice about HOW you will be paid. You may be asked if you want to be paid PAYE or Limited Company.

The best option on how to be paid will depend on your own circumstances and the type of contract you’re working on.

I’ll cover the options for you as best I can but as always before making a decision you should consult your financial advisor or local tax office. (I am NOT giving financial or Tax advice here)

The Options


This is fairly straightforward and will be familiar to you if you’ve ever been an employee of a UK company and been paid PAYE.

The net amount of wages agreed is paid to you MINUS deductions such as tax, and national insurance

Holiday is also accrued on your behalf, in line with the working time directive.

Umbrella Companies

Umbrella Companies are a commercial organisation that will provide a payment service to you.

There will be a small fee for their service which will be agreed with you at the outset.

This isn’t an uncommon way to be paid; hundreds of thousands of contractors use the services of these companies every day.

You can find out more about them at this Wiki page about Umbrella Companies.

Limited Companies

This is normally the option used for individuals that are intending to freelance on a long-term basis and build a serious business.

You would establish a limited company that would be registered at Companies House and you would become a Director of it.

Money would be paid to your company in exchange for the work you do and you would then pay yourself wages from any of the profits.

If you intend to establish a Limited Company it’s important you speak to an Accountant and your local tax office.

The Next Step

You need to check with the Employment Business what options they can offer to pay you and then decide which method is best for you.

If you have any further questions about any of these methods of payment please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.