The dangers of formulaic recruitment

"It's not a bad thing for any business to hire people who've got something to prove," says Rod Aldridge, founder and former CEO of Capita.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 28 Jan 2019

Most business leaders agree in principle that diversity pays, in large part because it means you can recruit from the widest and deepest possible talent pools. But that doesn’t mean they always act on it.

Rod Aldridge built Capita from a micro-business into a FTSE 100 company before leaving in 2006. Since then, he’s worked with 12 academies, largely in disadvantaged areas, to help young people get a better start in life. Opening the eyes of recruiters is a win-win, he says.


"Businesses can unearth talent just by giving children more work experience, particularly locally. They should also get closer to the supply markets, whether that’s universities or earlier, at schools and academies.

"There’s such a formulaic approach to recruitment. A lot is driven by HR sifting people according to criteria which may have been needed in the past, not the future. I’ve met a lot of business people, who have taken gambles on changing that and it’s proven very successful.

"One guy in the financial services I know looked around and said everyone was the same, there were no characters. He got his managers to recruit people who were different and ‘edgy’ and they did – now the company’s much more in touch with the world and the market than ever before.

"It’s not a bad thing for any business to hire people who’ve got something to prove. I failed my 11+ but I came through it. I’m not convinced it’s so easy to do that today. I’ve unearthed some very talented young people in difficult communities, but quite frankly they haven’t got the roadmap to find those opportunities."  

For more information

This article examines the state of graduate recruitment and why a lot of smart youngsters are avoiding the milkround. On the other end of the career ladder, this piece looks at the withering effects of ageism, which is costing businesses access to a smart, experienced and surprisingly eager talent pool. Or for advice on hiring apprentices, see here.

Image credit: SandraJ-WA/Pixabay

You’re Better Than They Think You Are by Sir Rod Aldridge (John Blake publishing) is out now.

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