The Employment Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2018 came into effect on March 4th 2019 with the aim of improving the security and predictability of working hours for employees on insecure contracts and those working variable hours. This short summary, by Brendan McGinty, Managing Partner, Stratis Consulting, highlights some of the key provisions and practical implications for employers.

Key Provisions

The Act address the following five key issues:

  • Prohibiting zero hours contracts, except in limited cases of genuine casual work or emergency cover or short-term relief work for that employer. Zero hours contracts need to be distinguished from casual work arrangements, in so far as casual work involves no mutuality of obligation (i.e. the employee is under no obligation to accept an assignment and there will be no negative consequences for the worker arising from his/her refusal.);
  • Ensuring that workers are better informed about their employment arrangements and to receive written notification of five core terms of employment within 5 calendar days of commencement of employment. These are:
    1. Names of employer and employee;
    2. Address of the employer (actual and registered office);
    3. Expected duration of employment if a temporary contract or end date if a fixed term contract;
    4. Rate or method of calculation of pay and pay reference period for purposes of the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000, and;
    5. Number of hours which the employer reasonably expects the employee to work (per normal day and per normal week); – Strengthening the provisions around minimum payments where employees are required to be available for work but are not called in or are sent home early;
  • Strengthens anti-penalisation provisions to give protection from detrimental treatment for employees who try to invoke a right under the legislation;
  • Ensuring that workers on low hour contracts who consistently work more than their contracted hours are entitled to be placed in a band of hours that reflects the reality of the hours they have worked over an extended period. There are 8 bands ranging from 2-6 hours and then moving in 5-hour bands up to 36 hours and over.

Steps for Employers to Take

The following are some advices for employers in managing these changes:

  • Review recruitment processes, template contracts and any offer letters in use to ensure they contain the 5 core terms
  • Ensure new hires receive, a statement of the core terms within 5 days. Alternatively, contracts of employment incorporating the existing information requirements under the 1994 Act and the new requirements could be issued before commencement of employment or within five calendar days of commencement;
  • A re-issue of existing contracts for those employed prior to the 04.03.19 is not necessary but employers should note that existing staff may request a compliance statement with the Act;
  • Review records regularly to ensure that specified contract hours actually reflect the hours being worked;
  • Accurate working time records will be needed to respond to an employee request to be placed in a band of hours;
  • Employers should be clear on their own process for dealing with a request for ‘banded hours’; –
  • Employers should be mindful that a genuine attempt to reduce an employee’s hours of work, having been placed on a band of hours or to revert back to the original contracted hours could give rise to allegations of penalisation;
  • Employers should ensure contracts and work practices do not fall foul of the ‘zero hours’ prohibition;
  • In the case of contractual arrangements for ‘casual work’, for these to be genuine, workers must be completely free to turn down offers of work without any consequences for them.

Finally, employers should also note that the issue of bogus self-employment also received considerable attention in the Oireachtas debates on the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) legislation. The issue has been considered by the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection since November 2018. It is now being addressed separately and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has amongst other measures, proposed the establishment of a stand-alone body with enhanced resources to investigate claims of false self-employment more efficiently.

Brendan McGinty Managing Partner Stratis Consulting E: M: +353 87 2433038

Thanks to the Irish Examiner for featuring, Geraldine King, CEO of the National Recruitment Federation, in “My Job” in the business section on Friday 17th May 2019. Read the article below…


Voluntary organisation set up to establish and maintain standards and codes of practice for the Recruitment Industry in Ireland. Founded in 1971, the NRF represents recruitment agencies throughout the country and it also promotes professional competence within the industry.

Since its foundation almost a half-century ago, the National Recruitment Federation (NRF) has been tasked with providing support to its membership and promoting professional competence within the industry.

As part of this mission it has inaugurated a formal education programme in recruitment practice to ensure all new entrants to the industry have a solid grounding in legislation, customer service operations and sales.

Over recent decades the recruitment industry has changed significantly with the introduction of job boards and social recruitment having presented challenges to the fundamentals of how the industry operates.

Recognised as the foremost representative body for the industry in Ireland, the NRF also lobbies at national and European level in relation to changes that impact on its members.

“The NRF has grown considerably over the last decade in particular due to putting a focus on membership and its value,” explains Geraldine King, who joined in 2009.

“It was the middle of the recession and our industry was probably one of the hardest hit, and our members found themselves dealing with a totally different market.”

“It was a time when we needed to give our members tangible and workable toolkits to help them sustain and grow the business that they had.”

In her role as CEO, Geraldine King has lobbied government on labour market issues including barriers to women’s participation, the Agency Workers Act, investment in education and labour market skills and zero hours contracts.

As part of expanding NRF members’ services, she has also helped introduce the accredited Certificate in Recruitment Practice to the industry.

The main driver of the lobbying team resulting in the first apprenticeship programme for recruiters on the National Academic Framework, she also successfully secured a dedicated NRF ‘Skillnet’, providing subsidised training for members.

“We champion employment laws and any kind of legislative governance to help the worker, and maintain a good relationship with the Government and all those departments that are applicable to where we need to go.”

“And while we have to lobby locally for what is best for the Irish labour market, we are very conscious that it is often a challenge for smaller companies to make changes that have been enacted.”

“For this reason, we provide workshops and breakfast briefings to help them implement what the new legislation directs.”

The NRF is currently taking applications for its Programme in Recruitment Practice, the only dedicated programme of its kind in Ireland, and presented in partnership with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and City & Guilds.

“One of my first briefs coming into the NRF was to implement an education portfolio for members, and coming from a background in recruitment, I could see the need for it — also helped by my pre-recruitment background in training.”

“We put in place this certificate of recruitment practice which is the only one of its kind in Ireland, and which does tick a lot of boxes.”

Designed to instigate a uniform standard across the industry, the qualification will give holders a competitive edge: “The programme is a must for those new to the industry or for those with experience who wish to validate and improve their knowledge.”

“Agency clients will be secure in the knowledge that they are employing a qualified recruiter, and successful graduates will be entitled to use the ‘NRF certRP’ title after their name,” she adds.

In addition, the NRF has also recently applied for an apprenticeship programme, which would be a ‘first in the world degree’ of its kind.

“It is already written and we hope to have it in the market by January 2020, and we are only waiting on red tape to be completed,” she said.

Another issue with relevance for an Ireland currently at almost full employment is the research revealing that women over the age of 35 have lower participation rates in the workforce than their EU counterparts.

“The cost of childcare is the single biggest inhibitor of women with children returning to the workforce,” she says.

“Lack of affordable day-care and after-school childcare means one parent, usually the woman, but sometimes the man, has to give up their career, or to limit their contribution.”

With childcare costs in Ireland amongst the highest in the OECD, she cites the success of the Swedish system where state-supported childcare and education is fundamental to welfare policies and budget spending.

“Affordable childcare is a pipe dream for most Irish families when paying out monthly costs amounting to almost a second mortgage. There needs to be an holistic and determined approach where affordable childcare is the first hurdle, followed by further practical steps,” she believes.

“Encouraging the provision of flexible working options by employers, including the State, to assist parents integrate back into the workforce, with back-to-work training and a stepped return to build confidence and allow better preparation.”

Last September, Geraldine King and Frank Farrelly, CEO and president of the NRF, respectively, were ranked on a prestigious European listing for business leaders in the staffing arena.

The Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), European Business Leaders Top 100 List recognised their roles in developing formal education and training supports within the Irish recruitment sector.

“Having two of the NRF executive included in this industry roll of honour is very satisfying and reflects the challenges currently faced by the recruitment sector in Ireland, navigating the world of work through the rapid shifts in the marketplace of late,” she said of the honour.

Read original article here.

Thanks to The Gloss’ “Look the Business” who recently chatted with Geraldine King, CEO of the National Recruitment Federation, for an update on employment law for employers…

‘Persons with young children need not apply’ appeared in an online Dublin job advert last year. It was promptly and widely condemned as blatant discrimination, and quickly removed.

Although discrimination is not widespread in Ireland, according to the National Recruitment Federation, employers can inadvertently find themselves in trouble if they are not up to speed with employee rights, especially when it comes to equality issues.

New Employment Act

The 2018 Employment Act came into effect in March 2019 to give employees greater clarity around working hours. Within five days of starting work, all new employees must now get a contract of employment or a statement containing (at least) five core terms of their employment, including the anticipated duration of their contract and the pay and hours expected.  

Zero-hour contracts essentially must be discontinued, apart from some limited exceptions, and all employment contracts should be reviewed to ensure employees who regularly work over their contracted hours get a contract that accurately reflects their working arrangement.

Numerous employment laws, including The Equality Acts, seek to outlaw discrimination and unfairness in recruitment and in the workplace. These apply to all employees and agency workers, full-time, part-time or contracted, in both the public and private sectors.   

Nine grounds of discrimination are covered: age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, race, religion, and membership of the travelling community.

Mind your language

The online ad mentioned above seeking an office worker without children showed a pretty blatant disregard for equality law that most people would be conscious of. Marital and family circumstances have no place in the recruitment process, not even as an ‘ice breaker’ during an interview. Role titles in a job ad should not be gender specific, so employers must avoid terms like ‘waitress’, ‘barmaid’, ‘salesman’ or ‘manageress’. Other more subtle terms can be equally judged unacceptable. Looking for a ‘young and dynamic’ individual to join your team is out; both the age reference and dynamism can be a problem. Equally, ‘mature candidates’ should not be highlighted.

No experience needed

While you can advertise a role that demands a minimum level of skills or training for operational purposes, job adverts for candidates with ‘no more than 2-3 years’ experience’ can fall foul of the standards. Rather than asking for a certain amount of experience or years spent in a position, employers should focus on the required skills.

Aside from needing to be over 18 to sell certain products, an individual’s age shouldn’t affect their ability to do a job effectively. On race, it’s fine to look for a French-speaking account manager, for example, but restricting the position to ‘a native French speaker’ is not. A requirement to speak a language fluently is all that can be asked, not that English, or any other language, is your first language.

Publish and be damned

With discriminatory advertising, it’s not only the person who produced the offending copy who is in trouble. Those publishing it online, or in any media, can equally be held responsible. Have a failsafe in place, ideally a recruitment agency, to check your advertising and recruitment process to ensure regulations are adhered to.

Unbiased interviewing

The interview process demands experienced HR or recruitment personnel, conscious of questioning that may be termed discriminatory. An employee or manager that the prospective recruit will report to may sit in, but it isn’t wise for anyone untrained to conduct a job interview, and certainly not alone.  

When it comes to potential pitfalls, any mention of a woman being capable or confident in a male-dominated role or business is ill-advised, and vice versa. How an individual would cope with having a younger boss or being the oldest person in the department is also off-limits. Questions about sickness, health, or disabilities, like how many sick-days you had last year, should be avoided.

Questions relating to marriage plans, family intentions, children, age, physical ability and even distance from work or access to transport should not be asked. Use a ‘statement‐question’ approach, such as ‘this role can require working into the evening; do you have a problem with that?’ but never ‘do you have kids to take care of?’

Notes and feedback

For transparency in the interview process, use the same pre-determined questions, making notes on why each candidate was successful or not. The grounds on which a decision was reached, and how different candidates rated under the same role-related criteria, must be outlined. And these should be kept for at least a year after the recruitment process.

It is also recommended to give clear well-explained reasons to unsuccessful candidates as to why they were not selected, as well as constructive feedback. A good selection procedure is driven by the demands and requirements of the role alone; judge candidates only on their skills and abilities relating to the job, and you won’t go wrong. 

Sometimes I find myself wondering how it is that I ended up in the wonderful sector of employment we call the recruitment industry.

Let’s all be honest, when we were asked by the teacher back in primary school what we wanted to be when we grew up, not one of us could have predicted the path we would eventually take.

‘I’d like to be a footballer,’ said John; ‘I’m going to be a nurse,’ said Mary; ‘I want to be a recruiter,’ said Deirdre. Now, that is not really how these things pan out, is it?

The truth is that many of us recruiters “fell” into the industry, so to speak, realising at some point in our adult lives that we had the necessary skills to succeed and triumph in it.

And what luck we had, all of us who call ourselves recruiters today, to have wound up in such an interesting, challenging and rewarding sector of employment.

As recruiters, our main area of expertise is not the jobs market. To describe the role in that way would be to simplify it to a degree that would do it a great injustice. The real expertise of recruiters is in people.

As recruiters, we are responsible for sourcing and pairing individuals and their skillsets to the needs of each employer and role. In many ways, we are tasked with finding a needle in a haystack: that ideal employee for that specific role on offer.

It is no easy task, on occasion, because we are trying to satisfy the happiness of two individuals at once: the employer and the employee. But, time and time again we deliver, and there is great satisfaction in that.

I always say that it takes very special people to work in our industry, and I think there is a great deal of mutual respect between recruiters across all companies for the work we all do.

Working with people every day really opens your eyes to their value. You begin to realise that people, with all of their skills and talents, are worth their weight in gold. And this not only refers to the people we place in employment, but also to the recruiters who we hire to work for and with us.

It has never been more important to be tuned in to the needs and wellbeing of the people working for you. The world has changed so much and so fast in the last decade or two, and the employment sector has changed to reflect that.

Today, issues like mental health in the workplace are more important than ever before. Life can be challenging at times, both inside and outside of a job, so it is so vital to take steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of those working for you..

We at HERO are always looking at ways to address these issues, taking our introduction of yoga classes for our employees as an example; a simple but very effective step. We offer a range of really great flexible working options to help mould to our teams lifestyle and give better quality of life

When working in a fast paced environment like the recruitment industry, it is important to introduce these kinds of initiatives. Unwinding and distressing is something we all need to do every now and again.

And, bless us, we are well able to unwind. Ask anyone who attends the National Recruitment Federation Awards each year!

But, while the job can be difficult at times, the rewards far outweigh the very few negatives. Any recruiter will tell you how satisfying it is to call a person to tell them they have gotten the job. Or that genuine warmth we feel when we receive a thank you card or gift from a person we place in employment.

For some of those people, we have really and truly helped to change their lives. That should not be underestimated. Many of us understand that desperate feeling of searching for a job for an extended period of time without having much luck. To be able to take that stress from a person’s shoulders is incredibly rewarding. It is priceless.

That is not to mention the fantastic financial rewards that come with a career in recruitment. Some recruiters start in agency with the idea to move in-house to work in the HR/talent acquisitions departments of companies. However, so many people never end up making that move.

Why? Because the challenges and the sense of accomplishment are never the same, and because the monetary rewards never compare. When you are good at and enjoy your job as a recruiter, there really are so many rewarding aspects to it.

So, while I am one of those that “fell into” the industry, I am genuinely thankful each and every day that I did. I love my job, and would not change it for all the money in the world.

Michelle Kilcar, Hero Recruitment 

This months blog contributor is regional committee member and Director of Careerwise Mike Morrissey.
A very relevant topic for this month!

ignoring-gdprHere at CareerWise our guiding principle is to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do! This concept has guided our decisions since our establishment in 1999. It is this concept that has also guided our transition when it comes to GDPR. 

Many professionals who look at GDPR see sanctions and headaches. We looked at GDPR as a chance for improvement. The purpose of GDPR is not to punish but to harmonise rights across the EU. It is to protect the individual but not at the expense of good companies.

By and large GDPR can be daunting and for some it may even be tempting to ignore the regulation and bury your head in the sand.  However, when you keep the purpose of the regulation in your mind, as opposed to the possible sanctions and take it step by step, you will begin to see the benefits.

Is compliance expensive?

You will see many adverts for products that can make you GDPR compliant. However, it is important to note that NO product can do this – you cannot completely outsource GDPR. What you need to determine is the course of action based on your company – its size, its budget, its personnel, the complexity of processes etc.

What you should invest in are the people first. The majority of data breaches occur due to human error. Proper training can equip employees with the knowledge to do the right thing. Human error will always be a risk but proper training will mitigate the loss, for example, an employee should know to report a lost device thereby allowing the organisation to take action.

If you have always incorporated Irish data privacy into your company then you already have a head start. It is a good opportunity to audit your pre-existing policies while implementing the changes that GDPR will bring. Appointing a relevant person and ensuring that they attend relevant training days is a good place to start. 

So, what did we do?

Our first step in ensuring compliance was to re-assess all the data streams and flows. We asked ourselves the following questions where personal data is involved:

  • What was the purpose for which it was collected?
  • Is this purpose still valid?
  • Would the person be surprised if they learnt how we were processing their data?

Once we had this determined we could risk assess our processes to identify gaps.

Constant communication has always been a feature of our processes

The main thing that we kept in our mind, at all times, was the need for transparency. A person has the right to know what we are doing with their data and why. Constant communication has always been a feature of our processes but the need to document communications on the client file as required by GDPR, was re-enforced to our employees.

For the processes which did have gaps, corrective actions were identified and implemented. Minor changes to our day to day operations allowed us to ensure data privacy was included in all processes. 

We tightened our retention policies and updated our privacy policies. We opened a dedicated email address for data queries and put a process in place for dealing with all types of requests. Employees were trained in data privacy and the updated procedures.

While this was a huge undertaking we believe that it provided several opportunities to improve.

What did we learn from a recruitment perspective?

In recruitment we have this idea of CV ownership. While we always ask the persons permission to post the CV for a role it was wrongly presumed that we owned that CV. Often, clients would include a clause in relation to the transfer of CV ownership after a period of time. This has been an accepted practise in recruitment.

One thing that is now obvious, there is no such thing as CV ownership. We cannot own that data as it is personal and/or sensitive data and so belongs to the data subject. We may have their permission to post the CV for a specific role, however, the client does not have the right to retain that information beyond that role. Ownership cannot pass from the recruiter for the simple fact that the recruiter is not the owner. Possession is no longer nine tenths of the law – consent is.

We also learnt to keep privacy embedded in all our actions. If it is maintained on a daily basis it becomes engrained in our culture. It then becomes second nature to our employees.

Consent can no longer be implied

The main thing we have learnt is that consent can no longer be implied just from an email with an attached CV. A recruiter should reach out to that candidate explaining how the CV will be processed and obtain explicit consent for same. This concept follows through to instances where a CV is submitted for a specific role. Consent is only in place to process that CV in relation to that role, any further processing (such as retention) requires explicit consent. A recruiter can no longer take a PDF from LinkedIn or a jobs board without first contacting that person for consent to do so – this is good practise anyway as it saves effort where a candidate is not particularly interested in leaving their current role.

We can no longer put policies and procedures in place and hope for the best. These need to be adaptable to our everyday environment and changes in regulations.


GDPR is not a new concept it is just harmonising existing laws across the EU together with some improvements. For this reason, it is not something to be feared. It is manageable once you commit to a strategy and follow through! It does not have to be perfect first time round, all procedures implemented will undergo a process of continuous improvement.

Best of luck and remember small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.




When I was asked to write this article, I wanted to write about something that I knew would relate to all fellow recruiters within the industry. At some point, we have all experienced some if not all the below…I am going to use the word “symptoms” and I will explain why.

I think you will agree that recruiter’s jobs and daily routines or responsibilities are extremely busy and hectic. It is up to us to as recruiters to manage our day and workload in the most effective and productive way as possible. If like me, a 360° recruiter, you have 20+ open/active jobs (yeah right, and the rest, I hear you say), you must source candidates, interview candidates, follow up with clients, send CVs, create job specs, advertise jobs, not to mention canvassing and building new jobs etc etc, allocating time to each item, there are simply not enough hours in the day unless I sleep over at the office and put into full effect, the night owl deep within, no, this is not an option. I am a dad, I have to spend time with the kids, update my wife on my day and the hundreds of tasks I went through…let alone any gossip I have heard or funny whatsapp messages I received that have taken over my life.

I know what I have listed resonates with a large majority of recruiters out there. We are busy people, it’s that simple, and we have a hell of a lot going on in our lives, inside and outside of work and this brings me to my point begging the question are we recruiters or counsellors?

We deal with clients and candidates alike, but there are a lot of symptoms or variables that we must consider and face daily. This is never going to change, this is the nature of the business, especially in recruitment. I would say in the last month alone I have experienced some absolutely unbelievable excuses, reasoning, rejections, disappointments, interviews and decision making. Now don’t get me wrong, there has of course been some great stuff too and a few placements thrown in, but you get the idea.

Recruiters are similar to counsellors and this is based on the time and effort/energy that goes into managing each client and candidate. Taking into consideration, the symptoms or variables which can be anything from what type of mood they are in when you speak or meet with them, any stress related activity going on inside or outside of their work life, are they willing to relocate for the position…and I mean, are they REALLY willing to relocate, because it says so on your LinkedIn profile, experience, qualifications, do they match the needs and requirements of the job and the client, there are a lot! Our working day does not finish as soon as we leave the office, that would just be too easy. No, we contemplate things, we interview more candidates when we get home whilst we are preparing our microwaveable ready meals or Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals, spend time with the family (on more than one occasion I have found myself talking to my two year old son who’s only interest is “Paw Patrol” or “Toot Toot Vehicles” and who has a distinct lack of interest in how fantastic a new client or candidate is, that they live in the area of the position, they fit the criteria, are available immediately, interview has been arranged, they are going to get the job, they will help me with hitting my target, I will receive commission and then I can afford that new toy that he so craves….no, no interest whatsoever.

As recruiters we experience a wealth of emotions constantly, we have to be professional, empathetic, sympathetic sometimes, understanding and great listeners, but also smart and these are all familiar traits with…you guessed it…counsellors.

I welcomed the challenge of starting the new medical recruitment division within Red Chair Recruitment and I have many clients and candidates predominantly in Kerry and Cork, but also nationwide throughout Ireland. I recently attended the Time Management seminar organised by the NRF as I wanted to see if there was a way of helping to organise my ridiculously busy daily schedule. I have also been speaking with Psychologists for one of my many roles and I wanted to adopt their approach of organising their day on an hourly basis (the only difference being that I am unable to charge a ridiculous, extortionate amount of money for an hour of my time) and guess what…it actually works!

I know it won’t be suitable for everyone, but I guarantee it will definitely help some of you out there. My diary is now broken down into hourly slots of which I fill frequently with my prioritised tasks and jobs to focus on. Just for good measure, I like to colour-code things, and it can sometimes look like my son ran riot with every colour hi-lighter to make a neon-rainbow…recruiters love to hi-light (count them on your desk, currently I have four).

Now, I think I have rambled on and probably taken enough of your time out of your crazily busy schedule, but I hope this will help you, if not entertain you and you can relay it to your child or partner or whoever else who has no interest later.

Neil Buckley Redchair RecruitmentIf there is anyone that would like to contact me, thank me, vent their frustrations at me, whatever at me, like a counsellor I am a very good listener and my contact details are below, but I won’t do it from a huge, leather, uncomfortable, judgmental couch or send you a jaw dropping invoice…no…I will treat you like a normal person, just from my desk and my  Red Chair.

Yours Thankfully

Neil Buckley
Medical Recruitment Consultant at Red Chair Recruitment

My goal, as committee member responsible membership growth, is to have every licenced recruitment organisation in Ireland recognised as an NRF member. Ireland already leads the way in this regard with 95% of the companies our sector already operating as NRF members.

nrf-membership-blogSo, here are my Top 6 Benefits of NRF Membership

  1. Accreditation
  2. Education
  3. Recognition
  4. Events
  5. Supporting & Influencing
  6. Garda Vetting



Being recognised as a member of the NRF is the hallmark of quality in the Irish recruitment industry. NRF member agencies are licensed to operate within the terms of the Employment Agency Act 1971. NRF membership is valued by both public and private sector companies when selecting recruitment partners. In fact many organisations now use “NRF membership” as criteria when evaluating bids and tenders for the provision of recruitment services.



The NRF is a huge advocate for promoting a culture of life-long learning in our profession. The NRF Certificate in Recruitment Practice (Cert RP), has over the years become the badge of honour to distinguish a trained recruitment professional. More recently the NRF education portfolio has expanded to include a 2-day training course for Recruitment Leaders & Managers which operates partnership with Ancora. Furthermore the NRF is making progress on having the recruitment career path recognised at third level in the National Framework of Qualifications. Watch this space!



In addition to the recognition associated with being an NRF member organisation, there are many other recognition avenues. The National Recruitment Awards process start each September. There are 19 award categories which are assessed by a panel of six independent judges from outside the industry. The PR associated with an NRF award has been the catalyst to growth for many of Ireland’s recruitment agencies. The NRF also has a fellowship programme for industry stalwarts. NRF members with over ten year’s service may be considered for the highest honour bestowed by the organisation, NRF Fellowship. NRF Fellows play a key role in inputting into themes and topics facing the industry and therefore support the work of the Executive Committee with their considerable experience.



The NRF breakfast briefings are a superb platform for members to stay up-to-date on everything from legislation to the evolution of the sector in the digital era. The NRF annual conference brings the industry together for thought leadership and networking and the NRF Awards is always a fitting way to finish the year on a high. 2018 will be a special year from an events perspective, as the NRF will be hosting the World Employment Conference (WEC) from 6th-8th June in Dublin.


Supporting & Influencing

NRF offers members a Free Legal Helpline, a team of legal experts and solicitors are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ready to provide practical legal advice over the phone. The service is managed by DAS Group, specialists in the provision of legal advice. In terms of influencing policy that affects the industry, the NRF gives agencies a voice at national level. NRF membership gives individual agencies the opportunity to influence at the industry level and contribute to the debate on key challenges facing the sector.


Garda Vetting

The NRF has a fully authorised Garda Vetting Service in operation that provides a high quality service and rapid turnaround times. NRF is the only authorised organisation for handling Garda Vetting in the Irish recruitment industry.

If you would like to have a peer-to-peer discussion on how NRF membership can help you to grow your recruitment business, please contact me at

I read with interest the recent Linkedin Global Recruiting Trends report highlighting trends in the recruitment industry over the coming years. The report surveyed 4,000 Corporate Talent Acquisition leaders across 35 countries and while some of the results were predictable;

  • Talent acquisition will retain a prominent seat at the executive table
  • The majority of hiring managers are planning increased hiring over the coming 18 months
  • Sales, Operations and Engineering are the key focus for the next year
  • The bulk of the talent acquisition budget will continue to go towards traditional recruitment tactics and tools

Others did raise an eyebrow and one in particular;

  • If money wasn’t an inhibitor, hiring managers would invest most in their employer brand.

Why this caught my attention is rather simple, you don’t have to have a budget to improve employer branding…you need to have a clear vision and strategy which is part and parcel of a company culture so that every external touchpoint leaves a positive impression with the external market.

There are many definitions for employer branding but they all essentially seek to explain a company’s ability to differentiate itself from competitors through a unique Employee Value Proposition (EVP).  A strong EVP will communicate the company values in a way that highlights what makes that workplace unique and attractive to individuals sharing the same values. As employer brands are based on intangible factors such as image, identity, and perception, being able to discover what it is about a brand that creates an emotional inclination and a sense of identification with the company, can prove invaluable to employers.  


The importance of a strong employer brand

A strong brand successfully connects an organisation’s values and HR policies to its corporate brand. It is the image a company seeks to project as a potential employer. Think John Lewis with their emotive Christmas ads. Think Red Bull with their extreme sports ethos. Mastering the art of employer branding can translate into a workplace that is attractive to individuals who share the same values. As a result, these companies are considered coveted places to work and are much more likely to attract the right candidates.

This is true of global giants such as Apple, Google and Intel as well as smaller companies closer to home like Core HR and Teamwork. It’s about more than being perceived as hip incidentally; sure the fussball table, beer fridge and complimentary creche are a nice touch, but great brands offer more than mere freebies. Fun or cool; intelligent or inspirational: how would you describe the values that define your workplace?

The best place to start exploring what motivates people to join a particular organisation, why they stay and why they leave is internal feedback. Existing data from employee feedback, employee engagement and culture surveys, focus groups, employee forums, new hire surveys or exit interviews can often paint a good picture of the prospective and existing employees’ experiences.


How to make your brand stand out

 Candidates = Customers

If our experience as recruiters has taught us anything, it’s that the brands people want to work for and those focused on delivering the best possible “candidate experience” throughout their recruitment processes are one and the same.

Candidates who feel valued may be more likely to shares their positive experiences with peers and across online and social media channels (Facebook, Glassdoor and Payscale in particular) which in turn, serves to strengthen the employer brand. The quality of this experience, whether the candidate is offered the role or not, will shape their opinion of an employer and could determine whether or not they would recommend or revisit opportunities with them again in the future.

Building great relationships and creating a positive professional impression will enhance your employer profile and assist with succession planning and growth strategies. In other words, candidates will think you’re the bomb.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media

Having opened new channels of engagement between candidates and employers, social media is a critical channel in any employer’s recruitment strategy. Revolutionising the way in which we search and apply for jobs and assess our future employers and managers, this immediate, and occasionally ruthless platform allows employer brands to be amplified or discredited in an instant.

In the past, companies’ claims would rarely get publicly contested. Social media has ripped up the rule book, allowing current and prospective employees to voice their views and painting a more realistic picture of the workplace. When the company shines, the resultant feedback generates more goodwill than any marketing campaign ever could. When it doesn’t, well, Google “how to commit brand suicide on Twitter” for tales that will give you sleepless nights.

Social media is a critical channel in any employer’s recruitment strategy. LinkedIn remains recruiters’ preferred social channel for finding, contacting and keeping track of candidates (94%), while Facebook (65%) and Twitter (55%) are used by businesses to showcase the employer brand. Platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are gaining popularity with employers, who use them to engage with candidates. Video, in particular, is an increasingly popular medium for communicating companies’ organisational culture and the main things they value in prospective employees.

Responsible companies stand out from the crowd

Corporate social responsibility covers a wide range of concerns, from an organisation’s environmental impact to the social-political ramifications of its conduct, its involvement in charitable causes and relationships with the wider community. The general consensus, as it stands, is that millennials are typically more sensitive to environmental and social concerns than previous generations.

As a case in point, several major brands were recently taken to task over their adverts appearing on controversial political website Angry consumers threatened to boycott the brands until they remedied the situation. This illustrates the need for employers to tread carefully, being mindful of how they’re perceived both on- and offline.


Your best brand ambassadors are those closest to home

When employees are happy, they become the greatest ambassadors a company could wish for. Nurture your referral network, incentivise and use the talent you already have to help shape your employer brand. Employees help create the culture within your organisation. Working on strategies to involve them in growing your employer brand and talent attraction will only add to the sense of belonging and investment for all.

Planning for change

Having an adaptable employer branding strategy is becoming increasingly important in today’s competitive landscape. Changing employment trends mean that companies need to stay agile and more aware of the social environment than ever before.


Bryan Hyland
Regional Chairman – NRF

The simple answer is that they should not compete directly, as larger employers have advantages based on scale or employer brand. Most forward thinking companies have been investing in their ‘Employer brands’ for year. You will not be able to replicate quickly, cheaply or most importantly authentically.


Nobody likes ‘fake’, we may buy ‘fake’ from time to time but we don’t treasure it or respect it. When we find out something is a fake after the fact then we feel betrayed, annoyed or embarrassed.


In an employment context where candidates have taken a job based on mistruths, withheld information or an unauthentic employer brand there will be high attrition. Furthermore, candidates will not be engaged fully while working causing further problems.


SMEs do have the advantages of being more nimble, responsive and they can make more timely decisions.


There are no magic bullets but there are steps you can follow.


Step 1 – ‘Be Authentic’, ‘Be Realistic’ and be prepared to invest time and money in developing and maintaining your ‘Employer Brand’.

Think of the Cost, Quality & Timeline triangle. Prioritise two of these and compromise on the third.  As I mentioned above, time to hire is where I would compromise.  I know sometimes you cannot be this strategic but recognise you should compromise elsewhere.


Step 2 – Write an original job specification. The job must have both the facts about the job and the story of the job.  It should include a piece on the employer.  It should include a ‘Call to action’ which differentiates it from other roles.  Talk to current employees about what they like, about what impact they make and how they make a difference to customers, colleagues or society every day.

Write it in the language that your target audience understands. Too many job specs are undecipherable and overloaded with adjectives!

It is important to benchmark your salary & benefits against the markets. Depending on the job, new tools or flexible work location will trump ‘fuss ball’ tables and sugary snacks.


Step 3 – Exhaust your own personal and professional networks. Everyone should know what a great opportunity you have.  Set up an employee referral program.  Leverage off Employees networks to get unique candidates.


Step 4 – Use other channels including advertising and recruitment companies who are NRF members. Recruitment Agencies have many advantages especially around their reach.  A specialist recruiter will provide you with timely access to more available talent than any other channel.

Agencies will also provide free advice on the job specification, labour market, benchmarked salaries/benefits, interview advice etc.


Step 5 – Win through your interview process.

  • Explain in advance to candidates what is required and who is involved. Don’t have too many interview stages or big gaps between interviews, if there are over 4 stages then have 2/3 on the same day. Once candidates commit to a process their focus is on the outcome.
  • Earn the right to ask.
  • Manage expectations. Put aside time in advance to interview, stick to it.
  • Have all stakeholders and a final decision maker identified in advance. Make decisions, as not deciding turns into the worst type of ‘No’ a candidate can get.
  • Provide timely feedback. This is the biggest complaints candidates have and bad experiences tend to be shared more than positive ones.


In recent years’ processes, have become too long. This has backfired on many companies.  Smaller companies who have the advantage of being nimbler can make impact here.


Step 6 – Mind your brand. The best way to start is to treat all applicants well and ask their permission to call them again if a more relevant position arises.  Treat them right and your network becomes more powerful.



Charles Darwin is frequently misquoted in terms of the central thesis of the Origin of the Species, in popular culture his idea has been distilled down to the “Survival of the Fittest” what in actual fact he said was “Survival of the Most Adaptable” it’s a subtle, but very important distinction.

I started working in the industry over twenty years ago and have seen the industry evolve and adapt numerous times. At the time the industry was still coming to terms with the introduction of what would now be called a disruptive technology a few years earlier. What was it? The Fax! When you speak to junior recruiters and talk to them about getting CV’s in the post or using concealer tape to hide contact details when you got a CV that a client was screaming for and you had to fax straight away they look at you like you have two heads. Only recruiters of a certain vintage can remember the pang when the post came and that promised CV did not materialise. Today we call the candidate and the CV arrives minutes later.

Fax technology offered the facility to radically shorten turnaround times. It was also the beginning of the process that allowed candidates to engage with large numbers of recruiters with relative ease at the same time. The Fax Coversheet template was a key part of Microsoft word and was in daily use. There were catfights in the fax queue as everyone wanted to use the same line and in the early day’s faxes seemed to work in one direction only, either incoming or outgoing. The sound of the fax actually connecting when you had a great CV in the out tray was very satisfying, the ping of a sent email for me just does come close, you knew you had got your connection. However this technology that changed how the industry operated became obsolete within 15 years. To be perfectly honest since the advent of scanning I struggle to remember the last time I sent a business fax.

Internet addresses were also in their infancy, addresses such as (no idea whose address that was/is by the way) were the norm and you took the address your ISP gave you in many instances. Free webmail was a novel concept, Google did not exist, Yahoo! was in short pants and Hotmail owned this particular niche. Netscape was fighting a rear guard action against Internet Explorer to be the browser of choice and suffering death by a thousand cuts. Email communication was a quantum leap in terms of the scale and speed of communication and offered huge potential for better communications. Spam at that time to most people was still a cheap meat product.

The mid to late 90’s saw another massive disruption in the shape of the growing importance of the web. The next few years saw a huge change in how things operated. Web boards like Jobserve which opened in 1993 (Mark Zuckerberg was 11 to give you a frame of reference), StepStone 1996 and Monster1999 grew massively and became very successful. It says a lot that by 2003 Jobserve were in a position to pay to be the principal shirt sponsor for West Ham United in the Premiership. Job Boards were announced with much fanfare as marking the death knell for the recruitment industry. The social media tsunami followed in the late 2000’s with the advent of tools like LinkedIn in 2003 and Facebook in 2004, while Nokia ruled the mobile phone market Apple was working away on a device that would change both personal and business lives in an even more fundamental way than the advent of the personal computer had done 20 odd years earlier. The smartphone has utterly changed how we communicate and Clients we were told with this array of tools at their disposal would never need to use an agency again.

For those of you in the industry less than 5 years reading this does any of this sound familiar?  How often have you heard about this great new tool that is going to change the way the recruitment industry operates? From an agency perspective you might say now the biggest challenges are direct Social Recruitment and In-House Talent teams. So what’s my point? Simple, in the broad scheme of things nothing has really changed from the industry perspective. Disruption and evolution has been a key feature of the industry since its inception. We operate in an industry that is hugely dynamic, the drivers and the challenges faced today are different but the constant is that the industry is being disrupted. There are disruptive technologies being dreamed up in garages and universities today which in 5 years’ time we’ll wonder how we ever survived without them.

The one constant in recruitment ecosystem is change. The Darwinian principle of the survival of the most adaptable is one that everyone needs to bear in mind, but the old adage that people buy people should never be forgotten. As long as you concentrate on, nurture and manage your key relationships, both client and candidate, the disruptors will find their space and frequently in time they become key tools.

The Recruitment Industry will adapt as it has always done.