5 reviews
16:04 13 Mar 23
Highly recommended! Josh and Sarah have been fantastic at Astute. They've found and placed me in 2 jobs now between them, both really responsive and excellent at keeping you up to speed with things. Very knowledgable about the roles and happy to talk to companies with any queries you have.
C R.C R.
10:45 27 Jan 23
Great agency one of the best ones I've worked with! Liz has been a great help and support in helping me towards a new direction in my career life. She is very attentive and keeps me in the loop at all times! She makes the extra effort to work with my preferred requirements for work and even if it isn't completely attainable she meets me in the middle and does as much as she can to help! Also Liz is very funny might I add 😂 and I'm happy that I can now put a face to the name after all these years! Thank you again Liz for all your help and support! 😊
10:32 20 Dec 22
Josh and the Astute team was very swift to help me to find roles that matched my profile. They are really reliable and will help through every step of the recruitment process going out of their way to assist and follow up when needed. Could not find a better recruitment agency!
Helen PinegarHelen Pinegar
16:19 18 Dec 22
Fantastic recruitment agency.. Josh was extremely enthusiastic, encouraging and clearly knowledgeable about what was needed from both the employee and the employers point of view. Extremely supportive especially in regards to interview preparation and endeavoured to procure feedback promptly. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Astute in the future to both candidates and recruiting businesses particularly for the right fit for the role!!!
Lisa LeighLisa Leigh
11:56 30 Nov 22
I have worked as a candidate for Astute and they have been excellent. Super friendly service and professional agents keen to fit the right person to the right job. It has been a pleasure dealing with them and I would happily work for them again in the future. Highly recommend this agency.
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Stanford House,19 Castle Gate, Nottingham, NG1 7AQ
Youth and Ambition vs Experience and Wisdom - Which is best for your team?
Youth and Ambition vs Experience and Wisdom – Which is best for your team?


I watched a great documentary last night that followed Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. They’ll be squaring up to face one another this Saturday night. Youth vs experience.

Whist I personally don’t place boxing in my top ten of sports, watching how Anthony came from humble beginnings, pulling away from the rough side of the tracks to embrace the rigours of sport and become so successful is really inspiring.

It was also brilliant to witness the impact and importance of having a great team around you. To inspire, laugh, encourage and support Anthony on his journey. He had a couple of great friends to lighten the mood pre-match and keep him from losing valuable adrenalin by keeping him relaxed. He also had trainers and physios to help keep him at his physical best while undergoing intensive training at ‘boot camp’. This made me think about the importance to all of us of having a great team around us to enable us to perform at our best.

Anthony’s first mentor was a key constant in his young life, pulling him in a new and better direction away from trouble with the police. At the end of the program Anthony showed just how amazingly grateful he was for this initial guidance by buying his early mentor a brand new sports car! It was one of the most heart-warming and genuine acts of gratitude I’ve seen. Especially as the whole thing was a complete surprise!

The boxing contest where Anthony and Wladimir will be fighting to win the 2017 IBF heavyweight world title sees the 41 year old Klitschko in his 29th world title fight against the 27 year old champion who is looking to defend his title in what will only be his 19th fight as a professional. If successful Anthony will win the WBA belt if he defeats Klitschko which has been his ultimate goal since he started boxing.

This match of ‘Youth vs Experience’ made me think of the challenges employers and candidates face. In an ever-tightening pool of talent, trying to secure the best employee is a constantly critical business challenge. Equally, it is really hard for candidates to secure the very best opportunities when they are up against more experienced professionals.

However, are some of us business owners missing a trick? 

Over the last 25 years I’ve benchmarked providing business owners and hiring managers with a shortlist that embraces up and coming talent, people who are the exact match and more experienced options with extra skills than the client was initially seeking but who may be more costly. I always encourage employers to think about the hire they are looking to make. Are they looking for someone with the energy and potential to grow with their business or actually do they need someone who will be a credible more senior option to ‘hit the ground running.’

One of the most important aspects is the person themselves. I’ve come across and placed a number of candidates overlooked in the market by my fellow recruitment professionals as being ‘too experienced’. They are the lost and neglected candidates who don’t fit the first time mover from big 4 or high flying graduate profile that a lot of employers and recruiters generally seem to focus on.

If a more experienced candidate has the guile, desire and deft ability to still listen, learn and change to respect the processes of new employers – this is the sort of person who can always compete and win against a less experienced hire. The life skills and experience they will have combined with the attitude to learn and think fast will always mean that they make my shortlist.

Equally – less experienced candidates struggle to get the opportunity from a recruitment consultant to even get their CV in front of a company boss if they don’t have the exacting systems or qualifications set down on a standard job description.

Again it is all down to attitude, passion and desire to learn.

So – Youth vs experience? Don’t overlook either option – the ‘best fit’ option isn’t always the RIGHT option. Take a chance and consider potential staff who are over qualified AND underqualified. As a person – their character, work ethic and personality can be a winning formula that the most suitably qualified person can never compete against.

My team here are hosting our next business breakfast event on 21st July 2017 which will be on “What you need to know to scale up your business for financial success”. One of the critical four areas our guest speaker will be covering in this powerful workshop will be how to attract and retain the right talent in your team. To find out more please click HERE.

How to scale up your business for financial success
How to scale up your business for financial success

Bring your leadership team for Astute Recruitment’s powerful breakfast workshop focusing on the Four priorities that you need to master to successfully grow your business.
Neale Lewis is an international coach and acknowledged expert in helping SME businesses and start-ups put in place the key strategies for growth.

Join us at 7.30am Friday 21st July 2017 at the Dave Mackay Suite, Pride Park Stadium, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8XL. You will learn from Neale the tools to overcome the four critical issues facing every business: –

  • Attracting and keeping the right PEOPLE
  • Creation of a truly differentiated STRATEGY
  • Driving flawless EXECUTION
  • Having plenty of CASH to weather the storms

You will also learn about the key strategies you need to adopt in your business and team including: –

  • ALIGNMENT – How to get faster results with less effort by developing organisational clarity and accountability
  • ACCELERATE – How to develop a strategic advantage over your competitors and position your brand as a market leader
  • ADVANCE – See your company’s reputation and revenues soar as employees fulfil 100% of all promises

Neale is owner and director of Neale Lewis Associates whose services are specifically designed to help growth minded entrepreneurs, companies and business professionals achieve their potential. His team recognise the challenges that come from developing a company from the ‘Start Up’ to ‘Scale Up’ phase helping to achieve clarity on the numbers right through to developing a powerful business growth strategy.

This is the fourth business breakfast event hosted by Astute Recruitment and follows on from the great successes of our first event “Strategies to win in business with Neil Back MBE”.  and two subsequent breakfasts on “Emotional Intelligence for Business Success with Lisa Spencer-Arnell”


Neale Lewis ★ Scale Up Expert ★ High Growth Business Coach  ★ Leadership Trainer ★ Strategic Planning Consultant ★ Keynote Speaker


7:30            Registration, complimentary tea / coffee and breakfast

7:45            Introduction

7:50            Neale Lewis

8:45            Opportunity for Q & A/ Networking

9:00            Close

Free car parking is available and if you have any special dietary requirements please contact Mary Maguire – [email protected]

This event is strictly by invitation only. To find out more please contact the team at Astute on 01332 346 100.

What is the most important advice you could give your younger self?

What is the most important advice you could tell your younger self?

I was asked this very question by Nottingham Trent Business School students recently whilst advising on mock assessments. At first my mind went blank. Then a string of typical “management speak” phrases leapt to mind.

No Good!

Then the memory hit me.  That’s it! I realised that actually the most important thing I could tell my younger self is to have CONFIDENCE!

Yep – to believe in yourself. That simple.

Like most kids and teenagers, I was wracked with self-doubt. Am I going to get the right grades? Complete that coursework to deadline? (um… actually do the coursework!). Can I take a sickie from my dead end first job to go to an interview for my then dream job?

Of course – I don’t have a TARDIS like Doctor Who. I’m lucky to have a car that gets me from A to B on time let alone go back in time!

So – who gave my younger self confidence? For the job interview it was my Mum. She simply looked at me, all suited and booted with self-doubt oozing from every pore and just said “What have you got to lose Mary? If you go and it doesn’t work you still have a job. If you go and it goes well – you’ll have a great new job!”

And that was that really. Thank you Mum. She gave my younger self the confidence to do something different and take a chance.

I got that job and it was the best feeling – I still to this day remember walking out of the offices in Hampton Wick with the sun streaming down bouncing off the Thames and the sky that perfect cornflower blue of summer. I recall thinking “now Mary – you have to walk to the end of the road and turn right before squealing or jumping!” And that’s exactly what I did. I squealed in pure and simple delight as soon as I turned that corner in the road.

This is a true story – so if you were walking near Hampton Court bridge 25 odd years ago and recall a smartly dressed girl in red jumping up and down laughing – that was me!

I told the students this story and thought I’d share this with you.

So – believe in yourself.

You’ll be amazed what you can achieve with a bit of confidence!



Warm or Cold which is best?
Warm or Cold which is best?

After speaking to a great Finance Director I’m representing and have known for a while and on talking to attendees at a CIMA event I was a speaking at on interview techniques, a common theme emerged which I think would be a great topic for discussion on LinkedIn – Warm vs Cold approaches to the hiring process.

Professional job seekers whether experienced in accountancy, law or other disciplines have two separate types of relationship with recruitment businesses and their consultants.

Some agencies have what I’ll describe as the ‘cold’ approach. This is where most communication is via email and there is very, very little in the way of a relationship where a sense of trust and openness can develop. Any correspondence is on a very formal basis, often the candidate is made to feel one of many and any sense of their own individuality and uniqueness is pretty much lost!

The other approach is the “warm” approach. This is one I personally have always believed in. Where a consultant meets the candidate face to face and thereafter a truly professional relationship begins to develop through positive interaction over time. A sense of trust, empathy and honesty is forged where the consultant and candidate relationship morphs into an understanding on a personal, platonic as well as professional basis.

There seem to be a lot of recruitment professionals who purely look for ‘the quick win’ the ‘fast placement’ and the ‘easy fee’. What they fail to realise and easily lose sight of is that the ‘win’ as they see it is a unique and individual person with their own career aspirations, commitments and priorities entrusting their professional dreams in the hands of that recruitment professional. The ‘win’ is the SME business owner who genuinely needs a business partner to work with them, be passionate and care about their particular company – not just someone looking for any role that will do!

Instead, there is a better way and that is to emotionally engage with your candidates and clients.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

The Finance Director I mentioned at the beginning – let’s call him Andrew– is facing redundancy and for the last few months he has been looking for a new opportunity. He has family commitments and is ideally needing a role that will not involve quite so many 70 hour working weeks! He told me he’d applied through one of the online agency recruiters for a great sounding opportunity with a manufacturer in his sector for a full time position which was offering flexible working hours. Andrew said that his frustration was that every time he tried to actually speak to someone at the ‘agency’ he was fobbed off, given excuses and never, ever had the courtesy of an email or phone call acknowledging his application – let alone arranging to meet him and explore his details further.

On chatting I asked him “Agency wise, what do you as a candidate feel is the most effective approach – the personal, ‘warm’ touch like me and my team, or the email based ‘cold’ approach used by other recruitment businesses where you can’t really speak to the recruiter or have the opportunity to build a really good relationship?” I said I’ll draft something and email it to him for his thoughts and then I’ll post on LinkedIn.. he thought that would be a great idea and I thanked him for his inspiration. In life the best ideas often come from listening to others I find.

So – what do you feel?

I’d welcome comments from hiring managers, recruitment professionals as well as those of you looking for a job or who have experienced the recruitment process as such through using a recruitment consultancy. Personally ‘warm’ wins it every time for me!

I hope this provokes some good discussion and thoughts and thanks again to ‘Andrew’ – you know who you are!!


How you can be lucky in life and in business.


After driving home, the other night my mobile rang.

“Hello – is this Mary?” I heard a familiar voice say, but I couldn’t place who it was on the other line.

“Yes” I said, “Sorry who is this?”

“It’s Anne-Marie.”

Anne-Marie! I’d not spoken to her for years! We’d gone to school together, primary school, middle school and were really good friends. We lost touch when she moved and changed schools. Two weeks ago, I was randomly scrolling on Facebook and thought of her. In the moment, I thought I’d try and find her on Facebook. Doubts ebbed at the back of my mind – would she want to hear from me after all this time? Maybe she’s changed her name? Still I popped her name into a search and there she was! I sent her a friend request then thought nothing more about it. Now, here she was on the phone!

Half an hour flew by and in that time, we’d exchanged life’s happenings – marriage, divorce, kids and jobs. After arranging to meet up she said; “You have been so lucky Mary, you have your own business, a great marriage and two wonderful kids!” I paused and said “well, yes I guess I have been!”

This exchange set me thinking: – Have I really been lucky? Or have the decisions I’ve taken and choice’s I’ve made, lead me by myself to be where I am today. Has ‘Luck’ got anything to do with it or as my Dad always said, ‘you make your own luck in this life.’

The dictionary definition of luck is: –

‘Success or failure apparently brought on by chance rather than through one’s own actions.’

E.g. ‘It was just luck that the first kick went in’

Synonyms: good fortune, good luck, success, successfulness, prosperity, advantage.

1:1 Chance considered as a force that causes good or bad things to happen

Verb Informal: –

Chance to find an acquire “He lucked into a disc – jockey job”

1:2 Something regarded as bringing about or portending good or bad things. “I don’t like Friday the 13th – it’s bad luck”


The earliest origins of the word luck was around the late 15th Century from the then middle Dutch “luc” a form of gelucke shortened down to ‘Gluck’.

Through the ages people have done things to try and keep good luck or acquire it. Wear a lucky pendant, touch wood, refrain from walking under ladders (me!)

According to Noah Webster’s dictionary luck is a “purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favourable or unfavourable for an individual, group or cause. The author Max Gunther defines it as “events that influence one’s life and are seemingly beyond one’s control”.

There are two senses that people use the term “luck” Prescriptive and Descriptive.


In the Prescriptive sense luck is supernatural and deterministic concept of forces (religious or other) that prescribe that certain events occur the way very much the laws of physics, will prescribe that certain events occur. It’s the prescriptive sense people mean when they say, “I do not believe in luck”.

In the descriptive sense, people speak of luck after events that they find fortunate or unfortunate or maybe improbable.

Cultural perceptions of luck, vary greatly them it being a matter of random chance to contributing to such explanations of faith or superstition.

The Romans believed in a goddess “Fortuna”. The philosopher Daniel Dennet believed “Luck is mere luck”. Purely down to chance, fate or kismet.

Carl Jung described luck in terms of synchronicity as “a meaningful co-incidence”.

Luck is, and probably always will be a universal concept to both celebrate success and attribute causes of failure. “I was so lucky I got that job offer!” or “I was so unlucky not to get that job!”

Throughout history philosophers and writers have universally framed luck with destiny and the result of one’s conscious actions. In chapter 25 of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ he says: – “Fortune only rules one half of men’s fate, the other half being of their own will”. He reminds the reader that Fortune perceived as a woman, favours a strong, even violent hand and that she favours the more aggressive and bold young man than a timid elder. In other words we have the power – each and every one of us to shape, mould and carve out our destiny.

Shakespere was no stranger to Lady Fortune: “When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes I all alone beweep my outcast state”

Sonnet 29.

So back to you my reader – how does all this relate to you?

I’ll tell you.

Human beings one and all have a deep sense of self. We all have unique and amazing brains capable of great avarice, humility, love, ambition and reflection, of ourselves and of the wider world around us.

My take on luck is that in your own life, it is YOUR OWN ACTIONS AND DECISIONS that frame what you do and ultimately how successful you will be. You need to expand your horizons, step outside your comfort zone and meet new people. Learn new things. You also need to recognise opportunities when they arise and embrace them. Instead of viewing redundancy as a negative – think of it as an opportunity to look for a new job. I did. I set up my own business with my former boss after we were both made redundant!

If you have an exam/ driving test/ job interview/ presentation to give, make sure that you plan and prepare as much as possible.

‘Lucky’ people are more often than not the ones that don’t just dream about change but actually do something positive to make that dream happen. They are also people who refuse to be negative, have a strong belief in themselves and will actually work very, very hard to achieve their goals. So my friends, luck to me is what you make it!


Carpe Diem.

Seize the day.    EVERY DAY!

Please let me know if you have enjoyed this and have any comments!

Our Managing Director, Sarah Stevenson, was delighted to be asked to feature as one of the “Leading Ladies” in the latest issue of Derbyshire Life. The popular local magazine ran a feature highlighting the leading ladies in the region highlighting how Derbyshire women mean business! In the article they turned the spotlight on some of the county’s most successful businesswomen – and discover what makes them tick. The article featured several influential women in business across the Derbyshire region including Sarah!

From the article….


Sarah Stevenson, Managing Director and Founder of Astute Recruitment



Managing Director

Astute Recruitment

Sarah is one of the founders of Astute Recruitment and has built an unrivalled reputation placing candidates in this market since 1997. Recent winner of the East Midland’s ‘Institute of Directors’ Director of the Year award and the Derbyshire Times’ Entrepreneur of the Year award.


What was your first job?

“Working in a bar! I must have been destined to work with people even back then.”


What is the best part of your current job?

“Getting a job offer for someone after all these years and knowing I have personally made a difference to the person. I still get a buzz when a candidate tells me they are thrilled! It is even more special when they have been looking for a while and its because my team or I have gone the extra mile for them.”


Whats your best piece of business advice?

“Never give up and surround yourself with people who have different talents to you.”


If you could change one thing, what would it be?

“Not to be so impatient!”


If you could go back and tell your 13 year old self something, what would it be?

Patience is honestly a virtue!”


How do you unwind?

“Unwinding with my beautiful horses. I compete at shows in the Ridden Hunter class and whether competing or just taking them out by myself – its the closest thing to perfection and totally relaxes me after a hard day at work!”





It was great to host our second event on ‘Emotional Intelligence For Business Success’ at Alfreton Golf Club. With over 30 local professional businessmen and women in attendance it proved to be a great morning. Here are some of the photos… Our thanks to Lisa Spencer-Arnell, and to everyone who attended on St Patricks Day!


It’s important to all of us here that our events are useful, engaging and enjoyable so we took feedback from everyone who came. …. Some of their comments are below…

“I found the event very informative and gave me some good ideas to use with my current team”

Very interesting topic. Thanks for the invite!”

A very relaxed and interactive session – I found it to be quite inspiring”

“It was a great event with a really interesting speaker”

Our next event will be on 21st July at Pride Park with guest speaker Neale Lewis, business scale up expert, high growth business coach, leadership trainer and international strategic planning consultant. Neale will be talking about how to scale up your business and career for financial success. We will announce more details on this event in the next few days.


Neale Lewis, International Business Coach, Trainer and Speaker





Derbys Finest committee with Mayor of Derby Linda-Winter from left April Hayhurst Claire Twells Bev Crighton and Amanda Strong

A brand new networking group – Derby’s Finest – aiming to celebrate and support women who make a positive contribution to the city – was officially launched with a great event at Derby College’s Engine Shed restaurant at the Roundhouse in Pride Park.

This new group has been set up by Claire Twells from Smith Partnership, Bev Crighton from the University of Derby and Amanda Strong from Mercia Image Print in Little Eaton. Fifty women from a wide range of businesses and organisations attended the launch event to hear about plans for future events and about the chosen charity of the year – Prostate Cancer UK. This first event raised nearly £300 for the charity and the target is to grow this to thousands over the coming year.

Sarah-Louise Wykes and Mary Maguire went along as guests and look forward to supporting Derby’s Finest with their future events!

Dannie Alldread, Kathryn-Williams and Jo Newman
Dannie Alldread, Kathryn-Williams and Jo Newman
Mary Maguire, Sarah-Louise Wykes and Saima Majid
Mary Maguire, Sarah-Louise Wykes and Saima Majid
Maggie Lucas, Samantha Cotter and Debbie Leafe
Maggie Lucas, Samantha Cotter and Debbie Leafe
Dawn Foote and Wendy Mackney
Dawn Foote and Wendy Mackney