New recruit Mariam Kutuma at the Canary Wharf store
Sarah Mortimer, talent acquisition manager at Charles Tyrwhitt, shares the retailer’s experience of hiring young people with support from The Prince’s Trust, and how the experience has helped them take a different approach to recruitment.
When we’re looking for people to join our team we want to see people with passion, drive and commitment to the job. Whether it is a role in one of our stores or at our contact centre, we know it is attitude that can make all the difference to the team.
At Charles Tyrwhitt we have long known about The Prince’s Trust’s work to support young people into work, education or employment. Our founder, Nick Wheeler is a supporter of The Trust however we realised we could get more involved as a business.
It was clear that our values were aligned with the charity, and we could see the impact The Trust’s work was having on the lives of disadvantaged young people. We wanted to find a way to support The Trust’s tangible results and support more young people into the careers they want.
The Prince’s Trust suggested we try their Get Hired days – a day of interviews with young people who have been through The Trust’s programmes, and who are ready and looking to move into work.
This day appealed to us as we have been challenging ourselves to approach recruitment with a more open mind. Historically we made hiring decisions prioritising applicants who “tick all the right boxes” in terms of experience on their CV. However now we want to find people who are passionate about working for us and about a career in the retail sector.
Motivation and enthusiasm are the key attributes we’re looking for. These behaviours far out weigh someone’s experience of selling shirts. We now focus on attitude and suitability, not simply experience of working in retail or tailoring.
At our first Get Hired event we weren’t sure how experienced or ready for work the young people would be. However, we were really pleased with how the day worked and the calibre of young people we interviewed. We actually made our first appointment that day!
We met and hired Mariam to work in our Canary Wharf store. Her store manager, Jonty Venter told me that Miriam has been a great asset to the team since she joined – never afraid to ask a question and always eager to help. Her drive and motivation has set a great example to the other staff and she can always be relied upon when she is needed most. She has now been with us for four months, and she’s recently been awarded ‘employee of the month’ at the store.
Mariam Kutuma said: “After taking part in a programme called ‘Get into Customer Services’ with The Prince’s Trust, I heard about Get Hired. I was told there would be retail companies looking to hire people, and I knew straight away I wanted to attend.
"Before meeting Charles Tyrwhitt I did some practice interviews with The Prince’s Trust's volunteers, and I think the advice I was given really helped make a difference. For example I realised the importance of showing interest in the company you want to join, and asking questions, as well as having the confidence to be yourself and show your personality.
“Working on the shop floor has been a fun challenge – there has been so much to learn as this has been my first job in retail, but the team have been really friendly and have helped me settle in. This job has helped me realise I want to keep working in the retail and fashion industry and I want to keep training and gain qualifications in the future to help me progress.”
Since our first day at Get Hired, we’ve been back several times and have now recruited eight young people to join the Charles Tyrwhitt team. Each time we attend we’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm and attitude of the young people we’ve interviewed.
The chance to meet lots of candidates in one day is helpful – and we’ve actually found that there have been more young people wanting to speak to us, than we’ve been able to fit into the day. It’s a real morale boost for us to see how many people are interested in the chance to join our team.
When we have interviewed a candidate that wasn’t right for the role, we pass our feedback and tips for future interviews on to the team at The Prince’s Trust so that they can support young people to get closer to securing the job they are looking for.
In some cases, we’ve met candidates we have felt would be a strong addition to our team, but we haven’t had the vacancies to appoint them. When this has happened we’ve been able to keep in touch with the potential recruits, so we can keep them in mind for when a role opens up – giving us even more long-term recruitment support following a single day of interviews.
Following a Get Hired event we put the strongest candidates through our regular recruitment process. This involves a more in-depth interview in our offices or stores and a sales assessment. They have to be just as strong as any other candidate we offer a position to – and they are!
Our Prince’s Trust recruits have all become crucial and integrated members of our team. From working in our flagship store, to getting to grips with all the training needed to work in our contact centre, they have all coped admirably with the on the job training.
As part of our own desire to focus more on enthusiasm and attitude when we recruit new members of the team, each time we have attended Get Hired we have taken along a different senior member of our team. This has given them the chance to get more involved with the work The Trust do, and share useful feedback and guidance for interview candidates, but this also helps them get behind our approach to recruitment.
Mathis Wagner, director of customer service at Charles Tyrwhitt said “I really enjoyed Get Hired with The Prince’s Trust. It was very well organised, the format is great with quick 10 minute chats and an administrator to help you collect qualitative feedback for all candidates. There were a lot of passionate people in the room and the calibre of interviewees was overwhelmingly good with some real gems amongst them.”
Get Hired has been an incredibly positive experience for us. It has offered a suitable solution to some of our recruitment needs and has pushed us to think differently about how we recruit and what we prioritise in a potential candidate.
In addition, it has been really fulfilling for us as a company to support disadvantaged young people to get one step closer to moving into the career they want, through giving all-important interview practice and practical feedback.
If anything, we don’t want to shout too loudly about Get Hired, as we don’t want too many other businesses to attend and start recruiting from the pool of interesting, hard-working and motivated young people!
For us, it has been a real breath of fresh air to be able to focus on the mentality and motivations of the young people we are interviewing, and we look forward to finding more recruits that feel like the perfect fit for our team.
Get Hired is run by The Prince’s Trust, with support and funding from Standard Life. For more information on The Prince’s Trust Get Hired programme, visit https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/support-our-work/how-your-business-can-help/get-hired
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