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Interview with Hannah Podlewska, Apprenticeships Recruitment Manager

Hannah Podlewska, Recruitment Manager

Q: Hannah, what is your role within Kaplan?

A: I am the Recruitment Manager at Kaplan, looking after the Apprenticeship recruitment team. The team consists of four Recruitment Coordinators who cover different geographical locations nationwide. We work closely with the client facing teams throughout Kaplan, providing the recruitment of new accountancy, tax and financial services apprentices for our clients. Our primary focus is learner engagement and matching candidates to the right Apprenticeship.

We work closely with our clients, from SME's to large Levy paying clients, to understand their business, their culture and their recruitment needs. We work with them to fill their Apprenticeship vacancies, whether that be the demand for a single apprentice or a large cohort.

We form close relationships with our candidates, understanding their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses and what they are looking for in their next career step. We work tirelessly to match them to the right Apprenticeship vacancies to ensure they succeed.

Q: What is your background?

A: Prior to joining Kaplan I worked in the recruitment industry for over 3 years, predominantly within technology recruitment and most recently delivering into the financial services industry. I was able to develop an understanding of what a great recruitment service looks like, recognising that both the client and candidate are key to success and that is something that we pride ourselves on here at Kaplan, treating both with the same courtesy and keeping them informed at every step throughout the recruitment process. We have developed some great processes over the last 18 months at Kaplan ensuring we are able to offer the most efficient Apprenticeship recruitment possible.

Q: What types of positions are you recruiting for?

A: We recruit for accountancy, tax and financial services apprentices across a range of industry sectors. Qualifications we predominantly cover are AAT (all levels), ATT, CFAB, ACCA and financial services including IOC, IMC, CII, CeMap and ICA. Our clients range from small accountancy practices and FS firms with only a small number of staff right the way through to large multinational, household names taking on a large cohort of apprentices.

Q: Can you talk me through the recruitment process? How do you find talent for the employers?

A: Our vacancies come from the various client facing teams at Kaplan. They develop strong relationships with clients to ascertain what they are looking for in their apprentice(s). When the recruitment team are introduced to a client, we are able to explore the requirements further before proceeding with the recruitment process.

We advertise on the most relevant sourcing channels. These include:

  • Find an Apprenticeship
  • GetMyFirstJob
  • Not Going to Uni
  • CareerMap
  • Relevant awarding body websites
  • Kaplan website

We proactively search for candidates using available resources along with our very own candidate database, currently containing over 1000 active candidates.

We shortlist candidates initially against the qualifying criteria provided. Once an initial shortlist has been established, the candidates are scheduled for a telephone/face to face screening interview where one of the team go through a number of screening questions to establish the candidate's drive and motivation for the Apprenticeship they have applied for as well as their culture fit for the organisation. We assess whether an Apprenticeship is the right route for them and ensure they have considered travel options, accommodation where necessary and go through any other candidate-specific circumstances to ensure they are successful during their Apprenticeship. Our screened shortlists are then sent to the client for review.

When interviews are requested, we liaise with candidates to arrange them as well as conduct preparation sessions to ensure they feel fully equipped before meeting with the client.

We then liaise with candidates throughout the offer stage up until our On-Boarding team take over once a candidate has started their Apprenticeship.

Q: What are you looking for in a candidate? How do you tell a candidate would be a good apprentice?

A: We undertake a thorough screening process with all candidates to ensure we are placing the right people in the right Apprenticeship. We are looking for people who express a genuine interest in the area in which they have applied, whether that be accountancy, tax or financial services. We ideally like to see candidates who have researched the qualification that sits with the Apprenticeship and understand the progression routes available to them. There is no substitute for enthusiasm when we are speaking to candidates. It is obvious when someone really wants to start or continue their career in finance rather than just wanting a job.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your job?

A: I think the most enjoyable part of my job is hearing the success stories of candidates currently studying and passing their exams who the recruitment team have worked hard to recruit and place. We have a great team and they work hard day in day out; to see their efforts rewarded is definitely a highlight. Hearing from our clients how their apprentices are getting on and seeing them progress through the levels is fantastic.

Q: What are the challenges of your job?

A: Recruitment is a challenging job and the industry we operate in is fast paced, Apprenticeships have been through many changes and the industry continues to evolve and develop. We strive to lead the way and deliver programmes that work both for the employer and the apprentice. Balancing the needs of both can be challenging however we work closely with both parties to ensure the successful completion of apprenticeships.

As with all recruits, apprentices can change their mind or receive alternative offers so we work hard to meet these challenges and ensure that we provide them with the best possible service and support to find their perfect role. We meet this challenge by providing online guidance before their Apprenticeship through Talent Academy and continuous support throughout the Apprenticeship via our Talent Coaches.

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