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December is the month of Preparation

December is the month of Preparation

Its hard to believe the end of 2017 is racing towards us.

December – Advent Calendar time. And it’s the concept of preparation that strikes me today.

It seems as though a lot of changed during 2017 and that the pace of this change is getting ever faster. Yet some of the key issues we faced in 2017 haven’t actually gone away.

Finding and retaining good quality talent is just as relevant in the final few weeks of the year as it was at the beginning. In fact – if anything its more critical. The skills gap and shortage of tech talent is still there – It is time to listen to the rhetoric. In turbulent political and economic times it is challenging to find a way to plug the leak that is the high attrition rate amongst good staff. And yet when we break down what actually makes an employee stay – it would seem that Christmas is an excellent time to make a start on doing just that. Money is less important than you might think, (which is good in today’s climate!) and in the season of goodwill – it is easier to focus on giving – which for the most part is what contrbutes to an employee’s feelings of satisfaction at work.

So for today – in this festive season – let’s take a moment to review – to prepare – to make sure that 2018 truly does become the year that good people feel valued and appreciated at work.


Some key facts to consider:

IT professionals get twice as many recruitment mails than other professionals!

Contributing factors to employees leaving range from lack of career advancement to culture to lack of recognition. Money is a factor – but get the career aspiration loop right and recompense becomes a much smaller problem than you may think.

It costs your business about half an annual salary to find a replacement employee.

And those new employees are far less engaged and therefore more likely to move on faster which creates cultural uncertainty and higher stress in those remaining employees.

The bottom line is that there is very little point in having an excellent hiring strategy if you then forget all about the employee the minute they sign on the dotted line. Recruitment needs to come hand in hand with retention. And that strategy needs to fit your unique company culture. We know the talent is out there – but the competition is fierce. If your organisation won’t look after its key assets – someone else will!!


Top Tips:


Have an optimal onboarding process

Promote your company culture

Develop Effective Leaders

Recognise and Reward

Train and Develop

Provide Challenges

Offer Flexibility

Pay attention to top performers

Offer an attractive compensation package (think past purely salary here!)

Work – Life balance

Be fair

Be honest about change

Foster good teamwork

Not your average Recruitment Company

Not your average Recruitment Company

Checking in as “Mr Smith”


Saxus Solutions is Mike Smiths’ 1st child – originally conceived back in 2003 – long before the 3 real children actually arrived on the scene.

Mike is a man with his own brand of work ethic. He works (and plays!) hard – and expects the same level of commitment from the team that he surrounds himself with. It was one of the major reasons why he chose to go it alone back in 2003. “I had fallen into recruitment almost by accident! Having spent 20 months overseas working in the fitness industry I returned to the UK without a clear plan. A friend introduced me to recruitment – and it turned out that working in fitness was a great grounding for sales. To get the best out of people in the Gym you need to find out what motivates them, their passions – and how to help them to keep going – turns out I am pretty good at finding out what makes people tick – and putting that to best effect”

Mike is a Sports Science graduate – and frequently has used sport as an analogy for business

It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul “Bear” Bryant

But most of all – this is a man who works as hard for your careers as he does for his own. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to enjoy, achieve and be rewarded in their working lives.


  • What are the most enjoyable aspects of recruiting?

We get people work – hopefully good and fulfilling work – what a great thing to be doing!

  • What is the biggest challenge of the job?

Ironically – given that we are a recruitment agency, the hardest thing is to find the right people to work internally. We are trying to create more than just your average recruitment agency – and that means we are looking for exceptional people to work for Saxus. People that share our vision and passion for getting people not just any job, but THE job. And we want people working for us that feel the same way about their own jobs!

  • What has been your most memorable moment in the job?

There have been so many over the years that it’s difficult to choose one – so I won’t. Instead I will say – that the things I remember best are our repeat customers. Candidates and clients alike – that come back to us to find the right fit. And that’s because we have provided a memorable service for them. These are the bits I remember best – and there are a lot of them!! Must be doing something right!!!

  • Why a merger?

As we all know all too well – the economic climate over the last 6 or so years has been challenging at best. We aren’t an enormous agency – we value the personal touch. But that brings with it a different set of issues – and merging with a like-minded organisation has been the best way to capitalise on the now (hopefully continuing!)improving economy, and thereby enable us to continue offering our best in class service.

  • Why choose ISR to partner?

ISR was the natural choice – I have known Iain personally for 20 years – I know how hard he works and how committed he is. We share a similar background – and we definitely share the same vision.

  • Where do you see IS Recruitment / SAXUS Solutions in 10 years??

As a highly respected services company that offers a diverse set of solutions, throughout Europe!

  • Any top tips for candidates?

Easy – Preparation! It’s critical! We can help with this!!

  • Any top tips for clients?

Hire for potential. By that I mean look for those candidates that show a willingness and ability – but necessarily all the current correct skills. Think long term. If a candidate can already do everything then where do they go? If you can take the right attitude and develop it – you may have a total career match!

  • What is your advice for anyone looking for a career in recruitment?

Take a long term view and make sure your success is by design and not through luck. Design a process that works for you, understand your business and do not focus on the money. If you focus on the service, the financial and personal rewards will come!

  • How do you maintain balance?

This is a difficult one, and one we all need to work at constantly. I love my job – and I think it’s really important for my kids to see me work hard and be happy doing so. That said – I also have to remember to evaluate all my opportunities. There may be another time to have a meeting – but my kids will only ever have one 1st day of starting school. It’s about working smarter these days. Use the advances in technology to our advantage, make the time count – and that gives you the opportunity to ensure that there is a balance.. but it’s tricky.. perhaps the best advice is to turn the work mobile off for at least some of your weekend… down time does make you more productive..

  • Life’s biggest challenge?

Not checking your work emails all weekend!! What was that I said about balance?!

  • Two hobbies – and why??

Running – I have run track all my life and have really enjoyed getting back into it again as a “veteran” athlete. I love the challenge, it keeps me fit and is a great way to let off steam

Reading and Learning. Not something I would ever have considered as a hobby at school – but I am now a voracious reader. I am also studying for a Masters Degree in Social Anthropology – and the reason why we do the things we do is fascinating. There are books everywhere in our house – from the dodgy chick lit (my wife NOT me!) to Foucault to “the Tiger who came to Tea”. I am hoping that my kids will also learn to love learning – just because you can rather than necessarily to pass a test!

  • Two pet hates and why?

Liars – I can deal with most things – but people who try to squirm out things by lying don’t go down well. We all screw up – it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference!

Mess… interestingly none of us in my family are great at being tidy – yet we all hate mess… There is obviously a solution that we haven’t figured out yet.. But I would love to be better at sorting the chaos of a home with 3 young kids!

  • What’s one quote that you live your life by??

Play the Hand you are dealt!!

Just because Fate doesn’t deal you the right cards, it doesn’t mean you should give up. It just means you have to play the cards you get to their maximum potential.

  • What is your guilty pleasure?

I am lucky in that my life is full of experiences that give me pleasure. As for a guilty one…..if it made me feel guilty I probably would not do it…either that or I just do not have a conscience!!

And so there you have it – Mr Smith. A man who genuinely believes that excellence is a direct result of always trying to do better. And in that respect – we can all achieve excellence – just keep on keeping on!!


Contact Mike at:

45 Beech St

TEL: 0207 953 9760
FAX: 0207 593 9764

Not your average Recruitment Company

Not your average Recruitment Company

IS Recruitment (ISR) prides itself on offering a service that is truly is second-to-none; and that is an ethos that is demonstrated daily by every single member of the ISR team. True vision has to come from somewhere – and so this week we are starting at the top. In a series of articles – we will introduce you to members of the ISR team and show you a bit more about the people behind the service!

Iain Brassell – MD – to give him his official title – but Iain is, and has always been about much more than just a job title and a role description. After graduating from the University of Keele, he joined British Car Auctions as a Graduate Management Trainee and completed the program in record time. This was a fantastic grounding in sales – but not the “career” that Iain was looking for. After approaching several employment agencies as a job seeker – he became the sought after one! Three of the agencies suggested to Iain that a career in recruitment may be a better fit for him – and so – with an enviable degree of foresight, Iain took a salary cut to start out on the road to running a highly successful agency himself.

Recruitment isn’t the easiest of career choices. All too often you are caught between the needs of the candidate and the needs of the client – and it can be a tight place to sit. Nearly 20 years after that first move into the world of work placement – it is really obvious to see that the reason Iain has been so successful is that he has a true passion for changing people’s lives – with the RIGHT job and company.

It has been this passion that led Iain to set up ISR 10 years ago. “Setting up on my own has enabled me to do even more towards helping other people achieve the kind of career satisfaction I have. I can affect the people who work for me directly – as well as those candidates and clients that use ISR to provide their staffing solutions. I wanted to be seen as a partner of choice for the right reasons and for our focus to be on the quality of service provided to both our clients and candidates alike and the journey they both experienced; as opposed to winning new business and building account delivery teams to service those needs. I felt it was the direction in which the Recruitment Industry needed to be heading and I wanted to champion the relationship elements to our business founded on personal trust and genuine honesty and hard-work.”

More recently ISR acquired Saxus Solutions to create a larger company with a shared vision and values. The acquisition is providing Iain with new and interesting challenges every single day – to step away from the coal-face and work at a more strategic level as the overall MD of the new company! Iain has always led from the front in terms of his passion, hard-work and his approach to continuous learning and personal/professional development.

What strikes me as perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new MD is the level of loyalty that he has inspired; it is true to say that more than half the current staff have been with ISR for longer than 5 years! Making the right career and personnel choices is crucial and it is obvious to everyone who works for, and with Iain, that he puts this at the forefront of everything he does.

So please take an inside view of Mr. Brassell – just don’t hold his football team choices against him!! :)

What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?

Most = changing people’s lives with new careers.

Least = candidates who don’t work out once placed.

What is the biggest challenge of the job?

My biggest challenge at the moment is being forced to change my working practises of 19 years and start to “work on the business and not in it”!

What has been your most memorable moment in the job?

The day I decided to leave Manchester and spend 6 years in London – this proved to be my biggest single step in Recruitment, even bigger than setting up ISR 10 years ago.

Where do you see IS Recruitment in 10 years?

Hopefully with as many of the team that are with us today still working for us; an office in Europe and additional offices across the UK.

Any top tips for candidates?

Be responsive and engaging at all times. Spell-check your CV before submittal, prepare thoroughly for interviews and feedback as much as you can following your interviews.

Any top tips for clients?

Work in partnership with your recruiters and they will give you a better service than you can ever imagine – give them the information they need, your time to review CVs and conduct interviews and you will see the results.

Life’s biggest challenge?

Getting from Monday to Friday and then having to switch off at the weekend.

Two hobbies – and why?

Poker and music – I find poker challenging and music relaxing – the two together works very well!

Two pet hates and why?

Arrogance and lies. I came from nothing and appreciate everything I receive and achieve; I don’t understand those that don’t! Integrity and trust are the core foundations on which I engage and build relationships.

What’s one quote that you live your life by?

“Never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself”

What is your guilty pleasure?

MCFC away days.

ISR opened their new office in Sale, Manchester last week and celebrated their 10th anniversary

Blog Picture Office Opening

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