C Space: Look a Little Differently to Attract & Recruit Brighter, Better Talent

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a fantastically dynamic team at the world’s leading creative customer collaboration consultancy C Space on the Southbank in London and help them with a recruitment challenge.

Any recruitment challenge is a business challenge, make no bones about it. Talent are the life blood of growing companies and so often, how companies recruit is so easily overlooked. Great talent means great business, so investing in the process, is investing in the business. It seems obvious, but not in practise. More apt and costly for small to medium growing businesses, where mistakes really cost, the pressure’s on to get it right first time! Here’s how C Space did it.


The Challenge at C Space:

Replacing a pivotal top performing team member in the growing business development team, with zero room for error allowed.

The objective:
To attract the highest calibre candidates (in the top 1%, based on C Space’s agreed competencies and traits) and select the best fit.

The problem:
Their current recruitment process was not attracting the right types of candidates.

The real problem:
In short communication. C Space were struggling to communicate the reality: how exciting it is to work there and the reasons other top performing and high calibre people choose to be a part of the team.

Looking in from the outside

It’s always interesting to come in as an objective party and see the ‘obvious’, but it’s the downside to being so close, we all loose perspective. And it happens to everyone. I’m constantly working with super bright, experts in marketing, branding, design, who understand the power of branding and strategy from a company’s point of view, work on it every day, but fail to use those very same principles in selling themselves.

C Space were explicit in their briefing about attracting candidates and new talent who are the top 1%. Ambitious, yes, but more importantly, if you want the top 1% result, your process, naturally, needs to be the top 1% in strategically attracting and qualifying such talent. That means an impeccably well-rounded, thought-through recruitment process reflecting your organisation and the current need. The time, thought and resources you invest will be comparable to the result you achieve. It’s really that simple.

When I was doing my research on C Space, I could see their work with pioneering brands, using video and presenting as a digitally focused organisation helping big brands get in touch with their customer base at grass roots level to achieve their sole deliverable ‘customer inspired growth’. The website and brand felt youthful, energetic, dynamic, a modern channel for big brands to reach their real customers, understand their behaviours and develop strong relationships and brand loyalty as a result. What is always fascinating to me, is the very innovative thinking and up to the minute tools they use for their clients, was not being used to attract and recruit new talent.

Who is your ideal candidate?

The real issue, was for C Space and is for all of us, in switching up our thinking. Getting out of our heads and into the mindset of the people you want to attract. It’s a kin to building up the customer universe and starting to answer questions like, in the C Space example, what is our definition of the top 1% candidate for C Space, who is this person, what stage of their career are they at, what are they looking for career and company wise, what online platforms do they use etc. Simply having a brainstorming session around questions like Who, What, Where, Why, When and How, will lead to further clarity. From there, you’ve got a brief, you simply answer it. In this instance, something that was also very useful, was in looking at the person they wanted to replace and breakdown why he was successful at the role, what natural traits and approach does he have and using that as material to construct this brief.

The problem, as it is for so many organisations, is that the traditional recruitment process is ineffective and seems antiquated in most instances. People are impossible to translate onto a 2 page CV. Most people don’t know how to sell what they can do, even those who can write, often fail to do this well. To hire based on 2 1-1 interviews, when candidates are not in a very unnatural situation, trying to answer questions to impress, not fit, is completely flawed. No wonder 55% of current employed people in the UK, got their role through someone they know. We don’t trust the traditional recruitment process, because it doesn’t work. Yet it’s continually used across the board. The definition of insanity comes to mind…


With C Space, it was clear they wanted a creative thinker, entrepreneurial, a problem-solver, bright and passionate, a millennial and be excited and someone inspired by the possibilities of creating and growing an innovative business on the front line. ‘Business Development Manager’ didn’t seem to cut it and the a-typical job spec, was one-dimensional and completely focused on what C Space wanted, not on what the candidate would get out of it. Judging by the initial responses and quality of CV’s the team received, this didn’t work for candidates either.

The Result

Resulting from the team at C Space’s investment, brainstorming and re-thinking and a little prod from yours truly, the team realised that their most used tool for clients, video, was the only and best way to communicate their energy and vibrancy to potential candidates. Spreading it across their online channels and really ‘reaching’ the right people. See their fantastic video here, this is how it’s done:

They also scrapped the usual 2 one-to-one interviews and CV style process and we looked a much more rounded and multi-dimensional assessment day including:

  • A warm-up exercise

  • 1-on-1 interviews based on a prepared brief

  • A group prioritisation exercise

  • A group exercise solving a challenge as a team and then presenting back

  • Q & A with the team

  • Pub after it all to say thanks! (very important)

Excellent stuff, I would go one step further to really bring this up to the next level, request an accompanying video from candidates with an application, to help in the selection phase.

Moral of the story:

If you want a multi-faceted, high-calibre candidate, you’ve got to invest in the recruitment process to reflect who you are as a company, as a team and sell sell sell. You have competition when you’re aiming for the best and the brightest, so work for them. The best candidates take the effort in the short-term, but are well worth it in the long-term.  

Questions to clarify who your ideal candidate is:

  • Get in the shoes and minds of your target candidates.
  • Who is your ideal candidate? Think of the customer universe, construct and populate this character, make them real, only then can you effectively target them and reach them!
  • Where will they be? Online, where will they congregate, what platforms will they use?
  • Are they better to meet in person, will they be at certain networking events, conferences etc.
  • What will attract them, excite them, inspire them? What are they really looking for?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • How you can best communicate the energy and true nature of the role, team and organisation they’ll be working in? How can you bring it to life?

To learn more about the specific area of coaching that fits you, go to:
Career Coaching,
Executive Coaching,
Interview Coaching,
Graduate Coaching,
Life Coaching and
Coaching for Companies.