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.
Contact us
Suite 1, Ground Floor West,Cardinal Square,10 Nottingham Road,Derby. DE1 3QT
Stanford House,19 Castle Gate, Nottingham, NG1 7AQ
Sarah Stevenson MD of Astute with her husband Robert and the rest of the team at Astute at EMCs Business Awards Evening
Sarah Stevenson MD of Astute with her husband Robert and the rest of the team at Astute at EMCs Business Awards Evening

EMC’s 2017 Derbyshire Business awards were a huge success!  We brought our team down for the awards dinner and had a great time!

Our very own Sarah Stevenson, MD, did not win but we are all really proud of her for making it to the final 5 in this tough category. We managed to capture a video snippet of her being announced as one of the finalists which you can watch HERE.

Everyone was delighted for Mo Suleyman of Derby Museums to receive the award for Entrepreneur of the Year. You can watch Mo receiving his award on a video we took by clicking HERE. His work for Derby Museums has been tireless and this accolade is well deserved.

Ashley Sowerby of Chevin Fleet Management was delighted with both of his company’s awards on the night. Firstly for Excellence in International Trade which was sponsored by Greenbank. Runners up included Global Brands and Picsolve International. Chevin’s second award was for Business of the Year sponsored by Mazars. Again we managed to capture a video clip of Ashley Sowerby and his team receiving their award and you can watch this HERE.


Chevin Fleet Management on stage with their award for Business of the Year at EMC's Derbyshire Business Awards 2017
Chevin Fleet Management on stage with their award for Business of the Year at EMC’s Derbyshire Business Awards 2017


You can watch a video of Matt Wheatcroft, MD of Purpose Media and his team receiving their award for Marketing Campaign of the Year HERE. Commiserations to DrivenMedia, Koobr and Tidyco who came valiant runners up.

Thank you to all the Sponsors this year and of course to the EMC themselves for showcasing the top talent across Derbyshire once again!


A full list of all the finalists and winners is below: –


Business Improvement through Technology:
Sponsor: Greendog
Winner: Hardy Signs
Runners-up: Chevin Fleet Solutions, Picsolve International

Community Impact Award:
Sponsor: Futures Housing Group
Winner: Cosy Direct
Runners-up: Derby Museums, Hodgkinson Builders, Sarah Gatford

Outstanding Growth Award:
Sponsor: East Midlands Airport
Winner: Fifteen Design
Runners-up: ChargedEV, Chevin Fleet Solutions, DG Light Haulage, Purpose Media

Marketing Campaign of the Year Award:
Sponsor: Kemps Publishing
Winner: Purpose Media
Runners-up: DrivenMedia, Koobr, Tidyco

Commitment to People development Award:
Sponsor: PKF Cooper Parry
Winner: Talk Staff Group
Runners-up: Fujichem Sonneborn, Sky Recruitment Solutions

Apprentice of the Year:
Sponsor: Babington Group
Winner: Zachary Beer – Hodgkinson Bricklaying Contractors
Runners-up: Bria Kiely – Buxton and Leek College, Tom Lacey – Mercia Image Print, George Faulkner – Peak Sensors, Ollie Henderson – Purpose Media

Entrepreneur of the Year:
Sponsor: Shredall SDS Group
Winner: Mohammed Suleman – Derby Museums
Highly commended: Caroline Hopkinson – Emerald Accountancy
Runners-up: Sarah Stevenson – Astute Recruitment, Mark Pymm – ChargedEV, Matt Wheatcroft – Purpose Media

Education and Business Partnership Award:
Sponsor: Blueprint Interiors
Winner: R.E.A.L Education
Highly commended: Derby College
Runner-up: Skills for Careers

Excellence in Customer Service:
Sponsor: The Money Shop
Winner: Bright Side Vets
Runners-up: Banner Jones Solicitors, Fujichem Sonneborn, Geldards’ Family Team, trentbarton

Excellence in International Trade:
Sponsor: Greenbank
Winner: Chevin Fleet Solutions
Runners-up: Global Brands, Picsolve International

Small Business of the Year:
Sponsor: Geldards
Winner: Bright Side Vets
Runners-up: Bowers Electricals, DG Light Haulage, Frame Fast UK, Tidyco

Manufacturer of the Year:
Sponsor: Rolls-Royce
Winner: Frame Fast UK
Runners-up: Bowers Electricals, Mercia Image Print

Business of the Year:
Sponsor: Mazars
Winner: Chevin Fleet Solutions











This week is the launch of “Motivation Week” by Employee Benefits in association with Red Letter Days. #EBMotivation17

Here at Astute, our clients are always keen to hear about what initiatives their SME business can offer to motivate staff that won’t impact on the day to day, won’t cost a fortune but will increase productivity, performance and profits?

Some initiatives needn’t cost a lot of money AND can be tailored to your own SME business.

How to make this happen?  

  1. Demonstrating the idea.
  2. Promoting the concept to your existing team and to new potential staff
  3. Consistently execute!!

The outcome?

“Happy staff who know they matter and harnessing that true team spirit.”

At Astute we have our Reward Board – envelopes with numbers pinned to a board! The numbers correspond to certain tasks individuals need to achieve – be it a testimonial, client visit or job placement. Once one of the team has achieved the ‘task’ they choose one of the numbered envelopes and write their name on that envelope. Once all the envelopes are ‘claimed’ we have an opening ceremony. The team are allocated their envelopes and open them. Prizes include starting later, retail discounts, early finish on a Friday and lots more treats!

We are also very careful to ensure that the ‘tasks’ are for everyone so our brilliant admin team can also take part and have their own ‘goals’ to achieve. If you are going to have a team scheme like the #RewardBoard – you need to ensure that EVERYONE is included and can take part!

We are always interested in feedback and any comments to our blogs so please email [email protected] Feedback is hugely helpful, often giving us great pointers as to what people want to hear about on rather than what we think they want to hear!

Sarah Before Her Haircut
Sarah Stevenson

Sarah Stevenson, joint Managing Director at award-winning Astute Recruitment, launched the business in 2009 with business partner Mary Maguire offering recruitment advice to SME businesses across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. The Derby based firm has grown to become the go to specialist for growing companies across the East Midlands region with a team of ten including three new consultants in the last 3 months. Here, Sarah explains about the company’s incredible growth and hopes for the future.



A) I started Astute Recruitment when I was made redundant in September 2009. I saw a gap in the market and believed that SME businesses were getting a substandard customer experience. It was my aim to deliver a more value-added, partnership approach using over 25 years’ experience as a recruitment professional. Since then we have grown our team to 10, won numerous business awards and managed to create a truly unique brand in a competitive sector.



A) It’s a difficult thing to measure but I feel our biggest achievement to date is our market reputation; the positive feedback we get from our clients and candidates is fantastic. Another highlight would be last year when Astute was awarded Business of the Year across the East Midlands by the ICAEW. This was amazing for such a small business to have made such a big impact. To be recognised by the Department of Trade and Industry, and other business peers away from the recruitment industry was amazing. To have my company judged as winner above more established and international East Midlands firms was wonderful for Mary and I, but also as an acknowledgement for our brilliant team!



A) Competition is high for SME businesses across a range of sectors. However, if you look behind the scenes – we have several clients where the company is having to put in highly competitive tender prices to win larger contracts, resulting in smaller profit margins. Additionally, there are several SME businesses who are also suffering from significant, large-scale late payments from their suppliers which in turn means delays in them squaring off their debtors! So in my mind, 2 key issues:

Far too many contracts are being awarded dependent on price rather than quality or proven expertise and experience. Secondly, a big issue is companies particularly the larger firms and corporates, who need to start honouring their debts and pay SME businesses on time per payment terms agreed!

Firms within construction/ engineering are sometimes not making enough profit to re-invest in their own infrastructure – for example – recruitment. As a result wages have not risen as much as they perhaps should have done with companies looking for the same “mid-level” qualified accountant as they don’t want or cannot afford to hire more experienced workers. This is hindering sector growth and having a detrimental effect on the long-term sustainability of organisations and programme delivery on projects. The solution? Firms need to plan further ahead and start thinking longer term, ideally, planning their recruitment strategy for the next 12 months on a rolling basis. Only the other day we had a couple of business owners who have known of pending retirements or other issues recruitment wise and left it to the last minute! I’d encourage business owners to plan ahead as much as possible.



A) Service before sales. What does this mean to our clients and candidates? We are honest, transparent and want to be a trusted recruitment business partner that works hand in hand with them, while adding value to their business or career. Ultimately, I would rather have a great reputation for excellent customer service than make a few extra sales implementing some of the negative working practices displayed by some recruitment agencies and which work to give our industry a bad reputation.



A) To be honest – we have never been so busy! Generally, our clients’ attitude towards Brexit in the East Midlands remains very positive with companies happy to go ahead and recruit when and where they need to and at all levels. Manufacturing, Engineering, IT and Pharma sectors seem to be particularly strong.



A) Increasingly firms are realising that they need to invest in recruitment if the skills shortages are to be breached. Flexibility is key, companies need to consider a broader range of skills sets and level of experience, putting more trust and confidence in their recruitment processes and recruitment partners. This is why we came up with our unique Triple Point Guarantee (TPG) to give confidence to employers who take their recruitment process seriously and want a recruitment firm they can have total faith in to deliver a solution. Firms also need to reward and develop their existing staff, otherwise there is a good chance they could be head-hunted and forever lose their financial investment in that employee’s training, knowledge and development to a competitor.



A) The company of choice in The East Midlands within our sector with around 30 staff across our two offices in Derby and Nottingham.



A) Our Triple Point Guarantee! It is unique within the entire recruitment sector. Provided we can have a face to face meeting with our client, work exclusively, agree timelines (and a few other details), if we then fail to secure an offer for the right candidate we will pay our client £500. No other agency gives that commitment to their clients and genuinely provides confidence to non-agency business owners distrustful of recruitment firms.

For our clients we are truly consultative, honest and deliver long-term results. For my current team and future colleagues, we offer unrivalled flexible benefits and initiatives to reward our team’s efforts. Having promoted several staff from trainees to become fully fledged recruitment consultants and in one case promoting one of our team four times to senior managing consultant, we can genuinely say we have great career prospects and development opportunities for the right people.