Lee McQueen: why recruiters should look at new talent

With unemployment at an all-time high, recruiters are inundated with candidates to choose from, so sometimes it’s easy to be fussy about your candidates and only pick the most experienced.

We know it can seem daunting sending a new school leaver or someone with different industry experience to a client. You panic they may cost more to train, or they’ll change their mind about the job within a week, so understandably you put their application straight in the bin without considering them for an interview.

Well stop right there, because now more than ever, it’s time to give fresh talent a chance, and if you won’t take our word for it, maybe an Apprentice winner can convince you.

It’s all about the skills

Lee McQueen won the Apprentice in 2008, and has been a busy bee ever since. Winning on his sales skills and leadership qualities (and remembered for telling a white lie on his CV), before he sat in front of Lord Sugar, McQueen had already been in recruitment for over ten years before entering the board room.

McQueen is a big believer in raw talent, and wants recruiters to give newer candidates a chance, whether they’re a graduate with pages of qualifications or a school leaver with nothing but Fs. Urging recruiters to look beyond the CV in front of them, and focus on a candidate’s skillset instead, he asks: “Where are the next superstars coming from?”.

He adds: “Raw talent is the way forward, people that haven’t got the experience or have work experience in a different sector, that’s the type of people we should be taking on.”

And it’s never been a better time to consider new talent, as the recent increase in university fees have seen more people apply for apprenticeships and internships than ever before, which is sure to affect the recruitment industry as candidates with more practical skills and general work experience will be heading your way.

McQueen couldn’t be happier about the growing numbers of apprenticeships. He says: “I wasn’t great academically at all, and if there had been more apprenticeships at the time as there is now, I probably would of gone down that vocational route myself.”

Why look at the wider talent?

So why should recruiters consider taking a risk on new talent? Well believe it or not, it can have massive benefits for your client. Fresh talent can be easily moulded, shaped and trained to suit your client’s philosophy and work ethic, and are likely to remain loyal to the company because of this.

“Why wouldn’t we want to grow our own staff?” Lee McQueen argues. “Why would you want to take on somebody who has worked for your competitor for years and picked up bad habits, when you can effectively take someone new on for the future”?

But it’s not just your clients that can benefit from new talent; the recruitment industry stands to gain from them too. McQueen points out: “In the past, we’ve been very good at recycling our staff and only taking on people that already have recruiter experience.”

“But I think now some businesses are trying to encourage people from different industries and sectors to come into the recruitment industry itself, which is good.”

Knowing me, knowing you

But how can recruiters be sure that these new candidates are actually any good? McQueen believes it’s all about getting to know your candidates first rather than just judging their CV.

McQueen believes that relying on CVs is lazy recruitment, and only by meeting candidates and profiling them properly, can you ever know if they’re suitable for the job, no matter how much experience they have.

“I genuinely believe in order to be successful in recruitment you need to find the right people, and to do that you need to work hard from the beginning and profile people. It shouldn’t just be the case of a CV comes in, having a quick scan and then putting it forward to the client; to me that is lazy recruitment,” says McQueen.

“What about interacting with their candidates, doing face-to-face interviews and understanding exactly what the candidate wants to do?”

Setting up Raw Talent

Lee McQueen is so passionate about promoting fresh talent that he set up the Raw Talent Academy in 2010, which is specifically designed to showcase candidate’s skills, not just their qualifications.

Rather than taking interview jargon at face value, the candidates have a chance to prove they can actually do the job; something that McQueen feels is missing in the current recruitment process.

“Why would we hire someone to run accounts and a payroll system if they haven’t showcased whether they can do that? People might argue they’re qualified on their CV and show competency in interviews, but you still can’t be sure they’re good enough. Why can’t we test candidates and put them through their paces first before we employ them instead?” argues McQueen.

Latest Raw Talent Academy news…

The Raw Talent Academy’s latest partnership is with ABRS, an IT and media company, who are looking to hire eight trainee recruitment consultants. The ABRS academy day takes place on July 5th, and you can apply online or email your CV. But don’t delay; applications must be submitted before the 29th June.

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