What consumer goods sectors are thriving in the midst of the chaos?

The pandemic has rocked the consumer goods sector and has been a wake-up call on agility and staying relevant to customers. Consumer behaviours are changing (potentially forever), channels of consumption are shifting, and the importance of a flexible supply chain has never been more evident. But what industries are thriving in the midst of the chaos?

As the consumer goods specialist at Vertical Advantage I have been speaking with Supply Chain professionals across the sector to understand not only the impact of COVID-19, but also what trends they are seeing coming out of it. 

Beauty & Cosmetics

Beauty is one of the sectors in the UK that has really felt the impact of lockdown. With the vast majority of retail stores closed nationwide, many of our clients saw an alarming drop in sales as shoppers were stuck at home and being more conscious of their spending. The luxury goods category has been impacted considerably as a result.

On the upside, there’s been an interesting positive trend in the day-to-day beauty categories including skincare products, cosmetics and nail polish. Is it because we’ve had more time on our hands (no pun intended)? Boredom? Or have we felt the urge to treat ourselves because of the money we’ve saved on commuting and crazily overpriced lunches?

Personal Hygiene

Let’s be honest, we’re all hand sanitiser crazy at the moment and armed to the teeth with hygiene and cleaning products at home. The demand for this sector has gone through the roof as hand soap, sanitiser, anti-bac wipes and sprays have become staples for many households.

The increased demand for hygiene products coupled with the fact that consumers are becoming more conscious of the environment, sustainability, ethical sourcing and chemical-free products, will inevitably shake up the industry and open up the door for some exciting brands.

Health & Fitness

I think we all played with the thought of using lockdown to “get in shape” or try new fitness regimes to keep active. The result of this shift in mindset has seen a positive impact on health and fitness products, with items like golf gear, footballs and nets, dumbbells and weights, and even protein bars sold out. Although most fitness items are unlikely to be repeat purchases, the overall interest in home exercising most definitely had an impact on sales.


It seems that in the absence of being able to physically see friends and family, consumers turned to online gift brands to send their love from afar. Flowers, birthday presents and care packages have all seen an increase in demand compared to the same period last year.

Home & Garden

As we have spent the majority of our time at home, our homes and garden frequently come up in conversation. This in turn has led to more product recommendations, as people buy plants, baking equipment, and other products to liven up quarantine. If you say you didn’t bake banana bread during lockdown, you’re a liar…

“If you say you didn’t bake banana bread during lockdown, you’re a liar…”

What’s the one thing we can take away from all this?

Overall, the current climate has made one thing clear; eCommerce and digital presence is essential. Businesses that have invested in a strong eCommerce platform and presence across multiple consumption channels have been able to ensure some stability and maximise their revenue in these challenging times.

One thing I’m curious to see is how consumer goods brands will adapt their supply chains to ensure quality (and price) is maintained whilst they explore risk mitigation strategies to future-proof their success. To be continued.


Sagar is a Manager on our Supply Chain & Procurement team, specialising in the consumer goods sector. Contact him on if you’d like to gain more insights on the current market, or to discuss your next career move.

Related article: The Covid-19 aftermath in the drinks industry


10 hidden costs of an empty seat

Are you familiar with the butterfly effect; a concept highlighting the possibility that small causes can have momentous effects? Bringing this theory into recruitment, this article outlines the many effects and hidden costs an empty seat can have on your business.

There is no magic formula for calculating the actual cost of an empty vacancy because the factors to consider are largely dependent on the position, industry and other circumstances. But there are hidden costs to consider:

1. The upscale time of a new hire is often forgotten about. The timeline from someone’s first day to them becoming valuable and working independently is generally speaking 3 months. This is obviously dependent on many other variables, but from our own experience that’s when everything seems to just click. As a result, the longer you wait to replace someone, the longer it will take before they start to add value.

2. For the remaining team members, taking over someone else’s responsibilities can impose stress, frustration, demotivation and burnout. You might think it’s sustainable for a short period of time, but ‘short-term’ tends to become ‘medium-term’ and before you know it, another employee has handed in their notice.

3. By not hiring a replacement before someone leaves, there is no time for a handover. For a new starter to only have written documents to refer to is far from ideal – and that is if everything was even written down in the first place! Not being able to ask questions or have a good induction can set someone back weeks, if not months.

4. The quality of work and productivity are likely to drop when a person is taking on responsibilities they are unfamiliar with. Not only do they need to take on someone’s workload, they have a lot less time to execute their own.The decrease in productivity even starts before an individual actually leaves the business. They are typically less invested, take their foot off the gas and might produce a poor handover.

5. Disruption in one department can have a cascading negative impact across other areas of your business. Missed deadlines and targets will ultimately impact the bottom line.

6. If a management role is vacant the team loses guidance and leadership which impacts productivity further. Replacing a key team member is also a much bigger challenge than the average employee.

7. When an employee leaves there are some things that go with them; experience and skills gets lost. Investments in training can’t be transferred, neither can business familiarity.

8. Opportunities are lost each day you have a vacant position, as that could have been someone contributing with new ideas, driving initiatives, or solving problems.

9. If you temporarily fill a gap with an interim or freelance employee, you will end up training someone twice for the same position. There is also a risk that their error rate is higher and productivity lower than for the average employee.

10. Not replacing someone due to hiring freezes or budget cuts can negatively impact team morale and job satisfaction of the rest of the team if they are understaffed and overworked. The team loses hope of things improving and motivation might be lost.

If you are tempted to cut your hiring budget or think a recruiting fee seems too steep, please take these hidden costs into account. It’s not as easy as ‘by not paying this salary for X months I’m saving X’. Not all costs are tangible and there is so much more to consider than the monetary value of someone’s salary.

Are you hiring and keen to avoid these costs? Feel free to contact us or reach me personally on to find out more about our expertise, services and how we can help.


Helping the FMCG community throughout COVID-19

‘Business as usual’ has been replaced by ‘adapt and support’ since the outbreak of COVID-19. We are in a rare situation that has affected every country, industry and individual to some extent, so one thing we have felt strongly about at Vertical Advantage is to help people where we can.

Here’s what we’ve done so far to adapt and why we’ve done it.


Proactively helping people who are out of work

Evidently a large chunk of the workforce has been made redundant or found themselves without a job for other reasons linked to the pandemic. Nearly two million people in the UK have applied for universal credit benefits since the beginning of lockdown – that’s six times the normal claimant rate(!).

Having a vast network of FMCG candidates and businesses during a crisis like this, we knew we had to utilise it to do our bit. Not for the sake of additional revenue or expecting something in return, but because it was simply the right thing to do.

Consequently, we have offered to add active job seekers within ecommerce & digital and sales & marketing to open source spreadsheets. These have been shared directly with relevant clients and on LinkedIn.

Click here to access the ecommerce & digital list.

…and here to access the sales & marketing list.

We have also offered candidates the chance to book in time directly into our calendars for them to ask questions, get advice on their job search, or just to have an informal chat about the current job market.

Helpful insights

New working conditions and a shook FMCG and consumer goods market has surfaced questions by candidates and businesses alike, which is why we have posted regular updates on our website and social channels to provide our expertise to share information and provide support.

We’ve taken the pulse on the sector by speaking with clients regularly and outlined what hiring and onboarding has looked like during the pandemic, but also shared articles like how to identify company culture via video call, how to stay engaged with your team and our best bits of advice for current job seekers.

In addition, many businesses in the consumer goods sector have shared interesting market insights with us, which we have proactively shared with our key clients. If you are interested in finding out what these are, please email me on

When we say live jobs, we mean LIVE jobs

Since the early stages of lockdown we have noticed a lot of frustration coming from candidates as they were applying to vacancies online that they came to realise didn’t exist or were in fact put on indefinite hold – something that provided false hope and was a huge time waster. This was and is a big issue and something we didn’t want to contribute to, so the first thing we did when the job market took a downturn was to audit thew jobs we advertised.

You will also see that jobs on our website are advertised differently:

1.  Some of our clients are pipelining for hires they want to make in the medium term. These ads include ‘Talent Pipeline’ in their titles for clarity.

2.  All other ads are for LIVE jobs that we are currently recruiting for.

What next?

Although the consumer space hasn’t been as hit badly as many others, we recognise that some businesses simply don’t have the budget to use a recruitment agency at the moment. And that’s ok.

We want to continue to help all clients in the industry where we can, whether this means helping you find talent for a particular vacancy, providing advice on the current market, or benchmarking your strategy against others.

Feel free to drop me an email on or call me on 07792 544887 if there is anything you’d like to discuss. I’d be delighted to hear from you.



The Food Industry Supply Chain Shake-up

If someone would have told me earlier this year that the supermarkets would soon be cleared of pasta, toilet paper, tinned food and eggs for weeks on end, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. The Ocado website? Crashed. Sainsbury’s delivery service? Only servicing elderly, vulnerable and NHS workers (quite rightly). It is evident that behind the scenes, Supply Chain teams in the food industry have had to adapt and overcome huge challenges.

Given that I recently celebrated my one year anniversary in Supply Chain recruitment, I thought I’d mark the occasion by sharing some insights from some of the candidates I have been networking with since lockdown became a fact – here goes.

Panic buying & unpredictable consumer trends
This deadly virus has caused huge strains and pressures on the food industry which we’ve all experienced, especially at the initial stages of lockdown where anxious “panic buying” occurred. First the dried pasta and rice stocks were depleted, quickly followed by toilet paper and eggs. The most recent supermarket shortage we have experienced is flour – it has been difficult to predict what product will be in high demand next. On the grocery delivery front, demand has soared to such a level that most businesses have been unable to fulfil customer needs.

Speaking with clients and candidates within the industry on a daily basis during this period has been incredibly insightful and it is clear that there are two main challenges to overcome across the board. Supply Chain teams are working extremely hard to continue to meet the high levels of demands, while also quickly adapting to unpredictable consumer trends.


This panic buying has proven extremely problematic for Supply Chain teams and their stockpiles, especially for Demand and Supply Planners. Their main goal has been to ensure that stock reached the shelves for high-volume lines to meet the demands of the consumers, while forecasts were completely changed on short notice. One candidate I spoke with stated that “it’s as busy as the Christmas period, but we didn’t have the 11 months of planning and forecasts to help us – our only goal was to get those products to the shelves as quickly as possible”.

Between the 24th February and 21st March this year, Britons made nearly 80 million additional grocery shopping trips compared to the same period in 2019, spending an additional £2bn on food and drink. Consequently, we saw retailers having to impose purchase restrictions on high volume items to be able to control stock levels.

To a slight relief for the supply chain teams of some of our clients, they are now seeing sales slowing down and consumer stockpiling has decreased considerably, although demand for tins and packaged good remains fairly high.

“It’s as busy as the Christmas period, but we didn’t have the 11 months of planning and forecasts to help us – our only goal was to get those products to the shelves as quickly as possible”

So, what has this shown us?

As consumer spending within the retail food industry is slowly reducing back down to a steady and manageable rate, the last couple of months have certainly proved the extreme flexibility and dedication of the Supply Chain teams within this sector when faced with the biggest public health emergency in living memory.

COVID-19 has forced businesses to review their Supply Chain strategy to be able to fulfil short-term demand, and should we go through something similar in the future chances are they are much better equipped to quickly respond to sudden changes in demand.

I would love to hear what effect COVID-19 has had on the Supply Chain of your business. Do some – or all – of the points above resonate, or has your experience been different? Feel free to give me a call on 0207 438 1565 if you have 5 minutes to spare.

Rhys is a Consultant on our Supply Chain & Procurement team, specialising in the food sector. Contact him on for further industry insights, or to discuss your next career move.

Related article: The Covid-19 aftermath in the drinks industry


The Covid-19 Aftermath in the Drinks Industry

I’ve recruited into the drinks industry for over three years now and have spoken to some fantastic people within the business, many of who are still close contacts of mine.

No one knew how disruptive and deadly this virus would be, and I’m sure no one thought it would make its way around the globe at the pace that it did. The global economy has been hit massively and there’s been a distressing amount of deaths caused.

I wanted to highlight the effect this has had on the drinks industry in this blog and share it.



In summary, this has been devastating on businesses that rely on on-trade business. The closure of bars and restaurants has seen cash flow effectively come to a standstill for on-trade suppliers which could, unfortunately, put many out of business.



On the contrary, suppliers who supply into the off-trade sector are seeing a rise in sales. The spirit and mentality of us Brits never cease to amaze me – Global pandemic? Let’s booze at home and on Zoom to our mates (I’m very guilty of this).

Non-alcohol businesses that supply into the off-trade are also profiting, in particular mixers and soft-drinks.


Relevance to Supply Chain?

Forecasting will be a big issue in the future for businesses in both the on-trade and off-trade. What will businesses do in the coming years? Do they completely write off this year’s forecasts? It seems that in the on-trade it’s the most sensible thing to do as bars, hotels and restaurants should be back to normal in 2021.

Yet, from an off-trade point of view sales seem to have increased during this lockdown period, making it easier to predict next year’s sales compared to on-trade.


Market Insights / Trends

One of the main trends during this lockdown has been the increase in consumer spend across E-Commerce channels across all industries. Within the drinks industry, I spoke to Julie Buckley who is Head of Buying at ELICITE, an online premium wine merchant. She said customers are spending more on their products, this includes an increase of sales in Dom Perignon and Tignanello, Megan Markle’s favourite wine and fondly known as The Tig which would usually set you back around £150+ in a restaurant.

It seems that people who would usually go out and eat at restaurants or drink at wine/cocktail bars are finding they have more disposable income and are willing to treat themselves at home.

For now, it seems that having an online presence and a delivery service is a key factor in driving sales across all industries, and I suspect we will be seeing more businesses offering an online service moving forward.


4 ways to keep your existing team engaged

As recruiters, we’ve focused a lot of how you ​can attract, hire and induct talent in this current time, but what about your existing team?

How do you ensure you continue their development and that their learning curve isn’t ‘paused’ for the next (insert your best guess!) however long?

During this time there is probably more (free of charge!) development available to you and your teams than there ever has been. So many fantastic experts are offering their time and services for no cost – make the most of this!

At Vertical Advantage, we are offering interview/ CV advice and are also giving time to clients to help them resource plan​ and are offering all sorts of benchmarking and support (including how to hire WITHOUT using recruitment agencies).

There’s plenty of other companies and experts doing the same – don’t be shy to take them up on their offer – it’s worth making the most of their amazing expertise whilst you can – here is a site we highly recommend;

Other practical steps you can take to continue your progression and development;
1. Share information virtually

Set up Slack/Teams channels so it is easy for people to find information or read about other people’s experiences.

Often in a sales environment, people assimilate information from those around them – at least certainly in our office when someone sat nearby has a situation (or makes a mistake – we do make them!) we all learn from it.

As we are a close-knit team, we all go through this process together and there is a shared learning experience for all of us.

To ensure we keep this, we’ve proactively made a point of ‘shouting’ (virtually) about these scenarios to ensure other team members are aware of what is going on. This has been invaluable to keep us together as a team, but also to ensure we are sharing best practises and learn​ing together.

2. Listen to external advice

Although it’s a unique external cause, we have seen markets dip a couple of times in our lifetimes and it’s a perfect time for people who have experienced this before to share what they have learned.

What did they have to adapt? What made the biggest impact? What resource did they need?

We’re lucky to have a NED​ (Non – Exec Director) who is doing a virtual session with the team to talk about ​what he feels we should be doing to make the most of this time.

3. Online courses

What online courses are available that would be relevant for you/ your team?

When recently talking with a PR candidate, they told me they were completing a crisis comms management course online over the weekend so they could upskill and keep up with the demands of their current role. This is a great way to learn, and these are often interactive and enjoyable sessions.

 4. Review development plans and objectives

With people at home, it’s a great time to pull out development plans and objectives that have been set and review them.

Are they still SMART in the current climate?

If not, take time to talk to your team members about what needs to be adjusted in order for them to succeed and work with them to create new goals.

For more help on setting SMART objectives see

We’re aiming to help our communities as much as we can.

Sure, we’ve got a business to run and generally speaking we make our money from placing candidates but that’s only going to be with businesses that really want/need to hire so there’s little sense in trying to force a square peg (or NAM!) into a round hole. (can we split this sentence?)

We’re providing market updates, content and commentary on a near-daily basis to those who are interested in receiving it.

So if you would like to keep up to date please take a look at our blog for more content.


Sorry Boris, you’re not spoiling our fun

Based on all the posts I’ve been seeing; I take it you get the picture of how to effectively work from home. Plot twist, this is NOT about working from home. While working is definitely important (Andy paid me to say that), I think it is equally important to stay engaged with your team; outside of virtual morning meetings and have a bit of fun.

Now let’s take it back to 8:30am on yesterday’s sunny Wednesday morning. I made my coffee, buttered (peanut buttered) my toast, and switched on my laptop. I peeped a calendar invite named “Team Night Out”, and thought it was a bit ambitious to already be planning this but rolled with it. Before I could click accept, I noticed it was for 6:00pm next Wednesday! I won’t lie, my initial reaction was, “how on earth…and really?! That’s the start of my 8-hour Netflix binge!”.

After reading the message saying, “Virtual team night out, go grab yourself a bottle of wine, expense it, and let’s have a boogie” (in my own words), I thought this was absolutely brilliant!!! Enjoying each other and the reason we are part of this company is critical during a time like this and is a great representation of why our values are drive, own, nurture and in this instance; enjoy.

We are all sat here focused so much on how to effectively work, how we are going to keep our jobs, how we are going to keep our candidates engaged, and focusing so much on the future. However, I haven’t seen anyone discuss the reality of still needing a work-life balance (besides afternoon yoga). I don’t know about you, but we sometimes enjoy a cold pint to wrap up the day in the office. It was so refreshing to see my managers still thinking about what makes Vertical Advantage, well, Vertical Advantage. Besides our services to clients and candidates; it’s our internal company culture (and one of the reasons I joined).

If your company isn’t doing this,  you can still get connected with millions of people around the world through virtual pub quizzes, virtual dance parties, and house party.

Working from home doesn’t have to be all work, work, work; we can still engage with our team and have a bit of fun in a time that doesn’t seem so fun. It is such a wonderful feeling to see my managers focus on something outside of just “business” and do something to bring the team together We are small but mighty.


Recruitment is Like My Refrigerator Lately… 

As the days go by, it appears I am going crazy (crazier). But with crazy comes creativity and the need for a laugh. My days have started to blend into one, but one thing is for sure, I pass that fridge about 100x a day and open it even more. While I sit here speaking to candidates, clients, and my colleague’s day in and day out, I’ve come to realize…recruitment is like my fridge!


  1. Even after the £60 shop, there isn’t much food in there

I’m sure everyone is feeling this right now…extra hungry, two breakfasts, dessert before dinner. I’m also sure many people are seeing a lack of jobs, especially in the world of recruitment. Candidates are coming in fast, but jobs are slowing down a bit. It is easy to open the fridge and think “nothing is in here, boring”. However, you can also open the fridge, get your creative cap on, and use that broccoli to make some soup. I personally immediately think of Deliveroo, but my pots and pans have seen the light of day over the past few weeks and it’s been a nice change. This (thankfully) leads me to my next point…


  1. You need to (try to) make something out of nothing

I’ll say it once I’ll say it again, we need to stay positive and get creative (hence this magical post) in the current situation. It is easy to fall into the hole of anxiety and negativity, but while we may not be placing as many people in jobs right now, or speaking to as many clients with hot roles, this is the time to network, to gain trust, to show our expertise (go crazy and use that mayo and ketchup together) and educate ourselves on what is really inside that fridge! Staying ahead of the curve, finding that new hot sauce, and continuing to build our relationships is crucial.

  1. The Condiments always save the day

I love condiments. Ketchup, mustard, mint mince, soy sauce, hot sauce…you name it. Avocado and cream cheese, marmite and butter, yum! I like to think of condiments as candidates. Sometimes we are so focused on the main course, we forget about what really gives us the flavour! While recruiting for jobs is essential for us to do ours, without the candidates, we wouldn’t be able to do anything, and everything would be so plain. Our candidates provide us with market knowledge about new roles, new companies, changes in the market, and most importantly – trust us to represent them. Sometimes it takes a few days to build this trust (a green banana that turns ripe 2 days later). Candidates are the peanut butter that holds the bread together…

  1. It gets warm if you leave the door open

Being proactive is essential in recruitment, especially right now. So many times I stand in front of the fridge staring into the glorious light and then “beep beep beep”, it’s getting too warm and I have to close it for a minute. By being open to new conversations, learning about new markets, speaking to hiring managers, candidates (junior and senior), and “leaving our doors open” (good one, I know), we are building these foundations, and it will pay off.

Now to provide some insight and give you a bit of clarity, I have created an appendix of different types of candidates, ergh, condiments below!

English Mustard Uncompromising, hard to get off of you, leaves a distinct smell, kicks you in the face, ruins most things but makes some things incredible.
Brinjal Pickle The mac daddy. Underappreciated, relatively unknown, not what you’d expect given where it comes from but an absolute blast on most things.
Hot sauce An acquired taste. Not for everyone, but if you like it, it will change your life. You never know when it’ll hit you and always keep you on your toes. You may think the taste has gone, and BAM, it’s back!
Mayonnaise Not much fun to look at, bit greasy, always smells a bit funky but is essential for living your best life. A great all-rounder, a good one to have available, but can be a bit wet.
Barbecue Combination of mayonnaise, onion, and mustard all in one. Bit more of a special occasion kind of guy. Easy to talk to, difficult to shake, worth the wait.

To be serious for a second, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask…what condiment are you? Feel free to mix them together and create your own! If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re NOT miracle whip.


FMCGs Big Opportunity – to leap or not to leap?

As we approach the end to the quarter and also, the end of the financial year for many businesses its really not the normal feeling of assessment of where the business is, where it is going & is the path we’re on the right one? Generally, there are lots of questions at this time of year but in 2020, those questions are very, very different. What we know is that the government is helping where it can to keep the wheels of the economy moving – assisting with measures such as furlough for the employed and self-employed, gives a period of greater parity in earnings for many workers who are affected by CV19 but will it be enough?

From a hiring perspective, we need to take a look into our short to medium term crystal ball (maybe it’s just a marble given the timeline!) and consider the impact of taking the ‘wait and see’ approach to the impact of CV19 within FMCG. We know that sales in most categories are up from a grocery / retail perspective and that the impact of fewer holidays, trips to a restaurant or bar, kids not going to school etc will mean it is likely there is more consumption to come over the next few months at least. So as bad as the current times are health-wise, we know some consumer goods businesses are out-performing the market yet, what we have seen in some situations, is some FMCG companies react with hesitancy and fear around hiring – ‘how will we interview?’, ‘will candidates want to take a job during a pandemic?’ or ‘how will we on-board / engage a new starter’, are all valid questions, however, I do think those businesses need to consider the impact of NOT hiring.

Let’s say you were intending to hire a Demand Planner or NAM today because of a vacancy in the team but you decide not to commence the search again until we return to the office & the ‘new normal’ goes back to being the old normal. Best estimates looking at a lot of the data/media on this seems to be a return to the office in June / July – pick a date, nobody knows.

What’s likely is that lockdown will continue in 2 /3 weeks chunks as no governments want to make a full commitment to an extended period of isolation – for social, fiscal and health reasons that just doesn’t make sense. So, we’ve peered back into that marble and we’re in mid-June, people have reacquainted themselves with where the photocopier is and we’re back to hiring – the sun is shining, kids are soon to be off school for the Summer and people have been locked up for 3 months…….. are they of a mind to leave their role now? It’s safe, their business kept them on during a downturn – will they turn there back on the employer who didn’t cut their pay or make them redundant? Sure, some will but many will kick that particular can down the road until September / October as least. So, your traditional hiring process of 4 – 6 weeks, may end up stretching to 8 – 12 weeks with the right candidate potentially on a 3 month notice period……… the maths on this means a job you have today, may well not be filled until January 2021 so then the real question is, ‘as a hiring manager, are you prepared to do the work of 2 people for the next 9 months?’

Back to my main barriers to hiring (above) – all of these things are being dealt with by dynamic businesses and business people across the globe & many, many internal roles / international moves happen via Skype / Zoom interviews outside of these surreal times.

Sure, onboarding remotely is a bit different and not ideal but we can be sure it’s a short term solution and again, if you consider our process – 4 – 6 weeks to hire and then a notice of up to 3 months……. Remote onboarding is unlikely to be an issue.

Lastly and I think this is the most important point – the talent is there now. Straight away. Ready & waiting to take a great opportunity. A business that is hiring today, sends a message of a strong, confident company that is taking the opportunity to hire the best in the market at a time where others don’t make the leap AND in FMCG there should be many more of those than in many other sectors.

Much is made of how opportunities arise in times of challenge – this is the hiring opportunity, are you going to take it or switch back to Netflix?


How to identify company culture via video call

With the FMCG recruitment market showing no signs of slowing, and most interviews having moved to virtual/video calls, the way candidates assess a new employer needs to evolve to keep up – it is likely you will be making a career choice without having met anyone in person or having been into the office.

Previously meeting the teams, seeing the working environment, getting a ‘feel’ for the culture was all done in person, but with the current climate and video calls dominating processes for the foreseeable:

How do you decide whether or not an employer is ‘right’ for you?

First off, one of the most obvious (but easy) mistakes to make is to directly ask “what is the culture like”. This will likely land you a standard answer about corporate values and EVP.

In-person, when you walk around an office, meet people and chat to employees it is easier for you to get a sense of atmosphere and culture to cut through the ‘company line’ – but how do you do that over video?

The most important thing to do is to ask evidence-based questions. Think about what it is you really want to know and ask a specific question around that topic.

E.g. “what examples can you give me of employees that have progressed through the business?”

This will give you real-life scenarios to help with your decision-making process and is far more useful than the company values being churned out to you as an answer.

1) Ask some ‘non-work’ (but appropriate) questions to gauge personality. We had a candidate recently ask the hiring manager who their dream dinner party guest would be and the answer sparked a really good conversation between both parties – both are keen to progress to the final round and it gave a good insight into how they would interact in the role.

2) Read the Glassdoor reviews (but take them with a pinch of salt!) and be prepared to talk through the feedback with the hiring manager/HR team. If there are negative reviews these don’t need to be a deal-breaker – but they are worth discussing/exploring with the business directly to find out why someone felt that way.

3) Ask for a peer to peer call with someone who works at the level you will be joining at. Understand their journey and, where possible, have an honesty chat. What’s the best thing about working there? What’s the worst thing about working there? What are their frustrations? What do they enjoy the most? There will be loads of insights they will be able to give you to help with your decision making process.

4) Ask your network – think about who you know that has worked there and do some digging – you still need to form your own opinion but it doesn’t hurt to have a few sources on the inside.

5) Ask your recruiter (or Vertical Advantage!). In most cases, we will have worked with clients for years and will know them well. We can give an honest insight into attrition, what their staff say and our experiences with them. There’s a lot of value we can add with this.

Although there is a lot of change in the market currently, there is still a real appetite from clients to hire. I’m incredibly proud of how quickly and calmly our industry has adapted to new technologies and ways of interviewing as it’s important to keep a steady flow of new talent coming.

Please do keep an eye out for our content every couple of days, next up is my colleague  Andy Davies who will be advising on how you can still hire talent and find good people whilst not using recruitment agencies (yes, you read that correctly!)

For access to all our content, please take a look at our blog and / or follow us on LinkedIn.

If you think we can help advise you with your strategy or help you in finding talent during this time, please do reach out to me on or give me a call on 07985 541 882.


FMCG Hiring and the Coronavirus

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a marked shift in the FMCG & Consumer industry in the UK that in truth seems to be changing on a near-daily basis.

As one of the industries most in the eye of the storm, we have the privilege of supplying head office staff to over 30 of the top 50 businesses and as a consequence speak with many candidates and clients alike with privileged access to the decision-makers at the most senior level.


Here’s a quick overview of some of the policies taken:

Working from home / office:

Up until the middle of last week, most were taking an approach of isolating those who had been abroad or reported a temperature in the previous 14 days. From there we have seen businesses evolve predominantly into 2 / 3 main camps:

  1. A) Work from home indefinitely;
    B) Work from home for the next 2 weeks & take a view then;
    C) Work in 2/3 split shifts with groups of people rotating time in the office and time from home;


New starters:
Where people have been due to start this week, most businesses have made provisions to get them a laptop sent to them and engage people through Zoom / Skype for their on-boarding. Others have been slower to react here but have paid the new staff and promised to get them actively working ASAP as soon as IT is enabled etc. One top 10 Global FMCG business has made a provision for new starters to be met on their first day by their new line manager and then to have all the equipment needed to move to a home-based environment – planning the new starter/onboarding strategy is going to be key here.

We have had isolated cases of offers being withdrawn but these have tended to be with restaurant or hotel groups, not traditional consumer businesses or agencies / consultancies that support them.


Up until Friday businesses hadn’t made the call to switch to video / zoom interviews but now this is pretty much standard across the board for the first stage with 2nd / final interviews either to be conducted face to face or via Skype also – the view here is probably split 50/50 between our clients but we’d expect that figure to shift towards everything being done virtually as the days pass.


Our blue-chip clients are all comfortable at this stage making offers / moving processes forwards with SMEs being a little more varied in confidence however those with business models aligned to e-commerce or the FMCG space should take some solace in the fact things could potentially be a lot worse (e.g. travel, hospitality etc).

Hopefully, this helps a little when aligning what steps and actions your business has taken or could take.

I’ll issue an update over the next couple of weeks but please do keep an eye out for our content every couple of days where my colleague Siobhan Nutt aims to #dosomething for candidates by giving our top tips for a video interview and how to genuinely assess culture via a video call without asking ‘what’s the culture like?’

For access to all our content, please take a look at our website and / or follow us on LinkedIn.

If you think we can help advise you with your strategy or help you in finding talent during this time, please do reach out to me on or give me a call on 07792544887.



What is EVP and why is it the buzzword of 2020?

It stands for Employee Value Proposition.

Officially, it’s the salary, compensation and benefits that the employer pays to an employee who’s contracted to deliver skills, experience and productivity that further delivers the company’s business goals, mission, purpose and values.

EVP, in tandem with your Employer Brand, will be a key, determining factor attracting, retaining or losing talent from your organisation.

Why does EVP matter to businesses?
“78% of job seekers use social media for their job search” (Glassdoor) because they want to see if they will be a good fit in your company’s culture. So, if you’re not focusing on your sharing your EVP via these channels the majority of job seekers have already overlooked your company before they’ve even begun.

“In a market where 91% of job seekers think company culture is more important than salary and 80% of candidates consider employer brand when choosing where to apply, companies that have a strong EVP” (Pinpoint)

We’ve recently worked with clients in communications, social, tech, food, drinks and beauty sectors who find that they’re struggling with attracting the volume of quality candidates that they’d like and are increasingly looking inwards to make changes.  And we’re not the only ones hearing this from clients; we’ve recently met with LinkedIn and Glassdoor who said that their client companies’ primary concern is around EVP and making themselves more attractive to potential employees.

As recruiters we are spending increasing amounts of time with clients discussing EVP; what used to be an interesting conversation or “add-on” is now a central tenet of how we develop candidate attraction campaigns.

EVP/EB trends have ranged from empowerment and CSR, to pay and holidays, and currently the environment and social conscience. The breadth of information available to candidates from a variety of sources means that unless you are in control of your messaging, candidates will make decisions about working for you without attending an interview.  As recruiters, we used to persuade candidates to “just go and meet them” knowing that our clients would be appealing enough if we could only get them through the door, but most candidates now won’t invest time in a meeting if they don’t like what they’ve learned about you so far.

Even businesses who have traditionally been attractive to candidates have learnt that a well-stocked fruit bowl, the comfiest of all bean bags and an established brand are no longer enough for current or prospective employees who are deciding what their futures will look like.

“Candidates trust a company’s employees 3 times more than the company to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there.” (LinkedIn)

Companies common mistakes when trying to attract and retain:

  • Limited content (videos, picture, blogs) showcasing your culture on your website or social media channels
  • Few or bad ratings and reviews that are not addressed on Glassdoor, Google etc
  • No external/internal alignment on the company vision / poor brand ambassadors
  • Poor employer brand

In 2020, how can you enhance your profile?

  • Tell your full employer brand story (origins, visions, goals etc and how as a potential employee you can play a part in helping to achieve this)
  • Understanding what makes you unique – are you sharing this?
  • Conveying all your key selling points for your company (don’t assume people know this)
  • Showcasing why you’re a great place to work using dynamic content on your website, blog and social media feeds
  • Articulate this EVP clearly to both current employees and potential new recruits – ensure your internal team know and believe the points above – they are your greatest ambassadors
  • Showing your work: giving candidates a real view of how creative/interesting/challenging/meaningful your work is will resonate with the right candidate.

Need help?
We can help you clearly define your EVP so you can actively attract and retain the right talent.

Whether it’s a beautifully crafted “work for us” doc, Glassdoor review maintenance or your social media tone of voice, we can build a cohesive programme tailored to your company and your recruitment objectives. Oh, and we’re amazing at recruitment too!

Want more info?

Talk to me for an initial chat at