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

How to start a new job remotely and prepare to re-instate your staff back to work. Astute tips from Astute Recruitment LtdHow to settle into a new job &  prepare to return to the office… They aren’t that different!


Settling into a new job in lockdown – and preparing for a return to the office are not that different. We help highlight tips on transitioning employees back to the office, or wfh after furlough.


Cast your mind back 12 months. The first lockdown meant businesses, and employees were in survival mode. Most employers relied on the Government’s furlough scheme to remain in business, and keep their talented teams together with little or no revenue. But, as things began to settle down, companies pivoted, adapted, and improvised creating new ways to operate.


Hiring slowly returned.


Now, as we look ahead with optimism returning to the recruitment sector we’ve seen increasing demand for accountancy professionals at all levels. From transactional to qualified and part qualified accountants, Finance Analysts, Management Accountants, finance business partners, and more.


The Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD revealed overt half (56%) of employers  planned to recruit in Q1 2021. We’ve certainly been busy.


With recruitment appetites returning, successful candidates have been faced with the challenge of starting a new job whilst in lockdown. How have they coped?


Starting a new job remotely via Ms Teams, Zoom or other.

Starting a new job is a daunting prospect at the best of times, but being removed from the usual office workplace has made it an almost surreal experience.


Jessica Doyle who joined The Irish Times digital team during the first lockdown said this of the strange situation:  “The funny thing about starting a new job remotely during the coronavirus pandemic is that all the usual social rigmarole of the occasion goes out the window.


“Everything you learn about making a good first impression – give a firm handshake, introduce yourself to everyone, make eye-contact – means nothing as you’re reduced to a disembodied head on a screen.”


The connectivity provided by online platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams has been a critical tool working from home, but nothing totally replicates face to face human interaction when you are trying to integrate in a new environment.


In Lockdown 1.0, the Zoom craze was a catch-all, adopted by all with huge enthusiasm.


Companies held online events. Quiz nights and virtual drinks became routine.


However, as time dragged on, ‘Zoom fatigue’ set in, with online socialising becoming rarer.


Now as we near the end of lockdown 3.0, many are admitting It has become harder to make connections in this latest lockdown.


Think of a pre-covid first day in a new job. At your new office, you would be bombarded with new information, meeting too many people all at once.


Usually you get a bit of time at your new desk to chat to your new office colleague(s), or accept an invitation to join them at lunchtime and bond.


This is the biggest challenge for new starters, to gain sense of belonging without spontaneous office chit-chat – the so-called ‘water cooler’ moments.


Instead, faced with a screen full of strangers, it’s harder to build personal relationships. Virtual conversations can be stilted & open to misinterpretation. In bigger groups, the louder characters tend to dominate virtual group discussions.


One saving grace of Zoom is that, at least, you can see everyone’s names at the bottom of their screens, avoiding first-day embarrassment of forgetting your new colleagues’ names! 🤣🤣


It is understandable to feel a bit of an outsider without physically meeting colleagues. You could easily assume everyone knows each other well (often incorrectly) and that you are on the fringes. An office or workplace is a social environment. Taking the social aspect away, can create feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Add to this the nagging worry about whether you are making a good impression. Away from an environment of instant feedback, how can know how you are doing?


Stanford University Professor Nicholas Bloom states how new staff struggle with unspoken rules: – from, ‘How many hours do people really work?” to, “When is it acceptable to take a break”, and “What do I wear on my first day?”.


Bloom raises the issue of ‘over-communication’. Where a new recruit will endlessly send unnecessary emails and Slack or WhatsApp messages just to highlight the fact that they’re still there.


Its never been so vital to have an onboarding plan, AND a ‘reset’ for existing staff returning to the office.


As it is so much more difficult for new employees to integrate, it is incumbent on the manager or business owner to implement an effective onboarding process. Extra thought needs to go into integration of new starters. From installing company ethics and ways of working, as well as the specific requirements of the job role.


Global management consultants, ‘The Boston Consulting Group’, calculates that companies that have effective onboarding processes in place achieve 2.5 times more revenue growth AND 1.9 times the profit margin as opposed to organisations with poor onboarding strategies.


Employee onboarding is a series of activities which educate new hires how to get to know their team and learn about the company’s attitudes, methods, rituals, and tools. For a new employee it’s an opportunity to get used to a unknown environment.


Onboarding can consist of formal training, workshops, and video calls, as well as shadowing people on the team and organised introductions. It can be a long, immersive process that lasts several months after initial induction sessions.


While a line manager may be the direct source of onboarding, the process should include meeting colleagues, by arranging video calls or assigning a ‘buddy’ to the new hire to provide vital support in those initial months.


A new starter should expect a proper and friendly introduction to the new company, but sometimes the new employee may need to reach out for help. In such a case, it is certainly worth asking a manager for introductions with other team members.


You should never be left alone to your own devices when starting a new job. If you are, then perhaps this isn’t the firm that deserves your services.


Preparing for the big return.


If all goes well, virtually all restrictions will come to an end by 21st June, and the big work from home experiment will come to an end. Although many people will continue to wfh, some of the time, most will return to the office in some capacity.


It may come as quite a shock.


While some people are counting down the days to freedom, others will be looking at the return with trepidation. Many of us have become quite reclusive during the lockdowns, and the social skills we used to take for granted can quickly become rusty.


Kelly Feehan, services director at wellbeing charity CABA, says, “Returning to the workplace after such a long period of time working from home will be tough for the majority of us. But for the people who started a new job during lockdown, and the working from home period that followed, it’s bound to be an even more daunting experience.”


In many ways, it will be like going through that awkward first day all over again. The only consolation is that everyone will be in the same boat.


Feehan says, “It’s hard to get a true sense of an organisation’s workplace culture when you’re working remotely, so you’ll want to spend some time reading the room and observing the different dynamics between your team members.”


The good news is that we pick up new habits and routines very quickly. Although we have become used to our own company, we are social animals by nature.


So, let’s celebrate! 👏👏👏 It’s nearly time to rejoin the human race and get back to near mormal!

Just make sure your existing staff and any new employees understand your expectations, and can access any help or support they may need.


Mary Maguire is one of the owners of accountancy specialist Astute Recruitment Ltd.


If you would like to see our company updates and industry insights, follow our LinkedIn page : – LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/


Mary Maguire

Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

How to start a new job remotely and prepare to re-instate your staff back to work. Astute tips from Astute Recruitment Ltd

Read Astute Recruitment Ltds latest updates on staffing trends, business and employmentAs the weather heats up, will it be a bumper summer for business? The forecast looks good! 🌞

In 1976, like now, some boys hair was as long as girls, if not longer. 🤣🤣👭 Fashions were tank tops, and of course, flares! On the airwaves, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Bay City Rollers, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, the Bee Gees, and more. 🎶


But, it wasn’t the clothes we wore, or the music we listened to that made 1976 stand out. It was the incredible heatwave!


Like this year, April 2020 was one of the sunniest Aprils on record, and 2020 ended up being one of the driest springs on record too. Thats what happened in 1975, the year before we enjoyed one of the greatest, long, hot summers in the UK.


Our economy seems to be heating up too! Below we share the latest key statistics from respected organisations on staffing trends, employment and business confidence.


After the turmoil of 2020, 38% of firms surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said their outlook on the business situation had improved in the past three months.


This is the first positive reading since January 2020, before the pandemic shut down much of the UK economy and the highest since April 1973.


Factories are also stepping up hiring, with the measure of firms looking to grow their workforce over coming months at the highest since 1974.


The survey’s results also found that while manufacturing output was broadly flat in the past three months, orders for new work are picking up and investment plans are being accelerated to take advantage of a “super-deduction” tax break announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget.


The release of the IHS/Markit purchasing managers’ index came after official data showed strong growth in retail sales in March when most of the lockdown restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic were still in force.


Overall PMI rose from 56.4 in March to 60.0 in April, well above the 50 cut-off level that shows whether the economy is growing or contracting. Service sector business activity rose from 56.3 to 60.1, while manufacturing output was up from 56.6 to 59.1.


Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said it was the strongest showing in the 23-year history of the PMI other than a four-month period between August and November 2013.


Companies are reporting a surge in demand for both goods and services as the economy ‘unlocks’ and the encouraging vaccine rollout adds to a brighter outlook,” Williamson said.


“Business activity should continue to grow strongly in May and June as virus restrictions are eased further, setting the scene for a bumper second quarter for the economy.”


In more good news for business, The Office for National Statistics said that in March 2021 – a month in which there was only a modest relaxation of the curbs imposed across the UK to stop the spread of Covid-19 – retail sales rose by 5.4% – well above the 1.5% predicted by City economists, with sales in March 1.6% higher than they were before the pandemic began to have an impact on the economy in February 2020.


In good news for the high street and businesses with fixed premises, rather than just online revenue streams, the ONS said the proportion spent online decreased to 34.7% in March 2021, down from 36.2% in February 2021, still above the 23.1% reported in March 2020, the month when lockdown restrictions were imposed for the first time.


And what of jobs and employment trends? 


New data from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), stated that business confidence in their ability to hire new staff continued to improve in the three months to February 2021.


Employer confidence in hiring rose to a net level of +16 in December-February 2021, six percentage points higher than in the three months to January. In February alone, this surged to net: +29, as the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown was announced and firms could start putting their re-opening plans into gear.


Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, had this to say:

“Recruiters report that this latest lockdown has been much less damaging than many feared back in January. The relative health of the economy and the jobs market is now being reported by business surveys, official figures and our own data. Our figures show that hiring companies are confident about bringing people into their businesses now, and that has to be good news for all of us.”


Employers are still being cautious, reflected in employers leaning more on interim and temporary staff.


Interim workers remain a great way for people to find work quickly and for firms to hire when the outlook is not certain.


Key statistics: – 


  • Hiring intentions for temporary agency workers rose by eight points to net: +14.


  • Employers’ intentions to hire permanent staff in the short term fell by five points, but remained high at net: +19.


  • Employers’ intentions to hire staff in the medium term (over the coming 4-12 months) increased in December-February 2021, rising to net: +30 for permanent staff and net: +15 for agency workers.




So, the weather for business looks set fair, and the forecast for Summer 2021 and the rest of this year, looks very encouraging!


Could it be a record-breaker? We’ll just have to wait and see.

A bit of fun for those too young to remember the summer of 1976, here are some reminders.


  • 1976 was the hottest, sunniest and driest summer people had seen up to that date. The government panicked about low water levels in April and May, and hosepipe bans combined with water restrictions were introduced. People were told to water their gardens with used bath water. I remember families including mine, collecting water from standpipes in their streets.


  • A minister for drought (Denis Howell) was appointed, promptly telling all to cut water consumption by half, or face water rationing until December! He also told people to pour washing up water into toilets instead of flushing.


  • Water companies issued a total of 139 drought orders.


  • Hospital admissions soared with many people suffering from sunstroke, heart attacks and a higher incidence of asthma.


  •  The M1 and other motorways had problems with tarmac melting.


  • Large areas of woodlands and heath turned brown, and were sadly devastated by fires which in some cases had to be left to burn because of the water shortage.


  • The high temperatures continued through August with many parts of England exceeding 330 hours of sunshine and highs of 25-30c on many days. 🌞😎


Then the heatwave finally ended.


The last week in August saw the beginning of the end of the heatwave, with spectacular thunderstorms.


That historic heatwave was followed by an exceptionally wet autumn, with some places recording over 200% of their normal rainfall. Heavy storms and torrential rain continued on many days through to October, ending one of the worst droughts on record.

Mary Maguire

Managing Director
Astute | Accountancy & Finance | HR | Office Support

Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT

T: 01332 346100
M: 07717 412911

E:  [email protected]

W: www.astuterecruitment.com

LI:  https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mary-maguire/18/73/553

LI: www.linkedin.com/company/astute-recruitment/Read Astute Recruitment Ltds latest updates on staffing trends, business and employment

Happy St George's Day from Astute Recruitment Ltd and learn 9 little known facts about England's patron saint Think of St George and you’re probably picturing a heroic knight, slaying a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon! On the 23rd April we celebrate England’s patron saint, St George.

However, like many early saints, the exact details of his life remain a mystery. Here, we separate the facts from the fiction, establishing the truth behind the legend of St George. Here are 9 little-known facts about our own favourite patron saint!



St George might be hailed as a national hero, but he was actually born – in the 3rd century AD – more than 2,000 miles away from England in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey).

He is thought to have died in Lydda (modern-day Israel) in the Roman province of Palestine in AD 303. It is believed that his tomb was in a place called ‘Lod’, a centre of Christian pilgrimage.



Often portrayed as a knight in shining armour, the truth is less fanciful.

Whilst St George was depicted from the 11th century as a heroic knight or a warrior on horseback, it is more likely that he was a humble officer in the Roman army.



Like many saints, St George was described as a martyr after he died for his Christian faith. It is believed that during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian in the early 4th century, St George was punished by execution, for refusing to make a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods at that time.



Yep, St George never actually visited England. However his reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and his feast day – the 23rd April – was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards.

He became popular with English kings. Edward I (1272-1307) had banners bearing the emblem of St George (a red cross on a white background) and Edward III (1327-77) had a strong interest in the saint and owned a ‘phial’ or ‘relic’ of his blood. It was not until the reign of Henry VIII, that the cross of St George was used to represent England.



The story goes that St George rode into Silene (Libya) to free the city from a dragon who had a taste for humans, but it’s a story that post-dates the real George by several centuries!

Images of George and the dragon survive from the 9th century – 500 years after his death. Originally these may simply have been symbolising the battle between Good and Evil. In the Middle Ages, the story was developed and popularised in a compendium of stories about saints’ lives called ‘The Golden Legend’.



St George was canonised in AD 494 by Pope Gelasius, who claimed he was one of those ‘whose names are justly revered among men but whose acts are known only to God’.

A feast day of St George has been celebrated in England for hundreds of years on 23 April, which was possibly the date of his martyrdom. Following the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, St George’s Day became one of the most important feast days in the English calendar.



St George is truly an international saint and England is not the only country or region to claim him as its patron. Something that in todays multi-cultural England, ought to be celebrated!

England shares St George with Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Ethiopia and Catalonia among others as their patron saint and many of these places have their own celebrations and ceremonies in his honour.



During the Middle Ages, people believed that St George was one of the ‘Fourteen Holy Helpers’ – a group of saints who could help during epidemic diseases. St George’s protection was invoked against several nasty diseases, many fatal and with infectious causes, including the Plague and leprosy. It is a shame we cannot invoke his name to defeat the Coronavirus!

From around 1100, St George’s help was also sought to protect the English army. In William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the monarch calls on the saint during his battle cry at the Battle of Harfleur in the famous, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech, crying “God for Harry! England, and St. George!”

Five hundred years later – during the First World War – a ghostly apparition of St George is said to have aided British troops during their retreat from Mons, and the naval commander of the Zeebrugge Raid, cited the saint as inspiration!



The Order of the Garter (founded by Edward III in 1348) is the very highest order of chivalry in the country, with Queen Elizabeth II at the helm as ‘Sovereign of the Garter’.

To this day, St George’s cross still appears on the Garter badge and his image is the pendant of the Garter chain.

In 1940 King George VI created a new award for acts of the greatest heroism, bravery or courage in the face of extreme danger. The George Cross, named after the king, bears the image of St George vanquishing the dragon. The image of St George also adorns many of the memorials built to honour those killed during World War One.


Last year, poignantly, thoughts on this day turned to the bravery, dedication and hard work of all critical workers and our NHS Heroes who worked so valiantly to help those affected by the Coronavirus and COVID-19. This year, with the huge success of the vaccine roll-outs and reduced infections – we are thankfully in a totally different place.

Happy St George's Day from Astute Recruitment Ltd and learn 9 little known facts about England's patron saint

Happy #NationalUnicornDay – in honour of all finance recruiters who find that magical one-of-a-kind candidate!

Here at Astute, we have adopted our very own unicorn as our cuddly mascot! We felt it appropriate to celebrate these mythical creatures as we are always finding ‘unicorns’ for our clients! 😊

celebrating recruiters everywhere who find that one of a kind candidate
One of our MD’s Mary Maguire, having a socially distanced cuddle with our resident unicorn mascot!



National Unicorn Day on April 9th each year celebrates the mythical horse-like creature with a single, pointed horn growing from the centre of its forehead.

Unicorns have been a popular mythical creature since Ancient Greek times when people believed they lived in exotic India. While they were once considered to be fierce, powerful animals, many now see them as a symbol of love, purity, enchantment, and magic. They also appear in many movies and cartoons as magical creatures. Both adults and children find a fascination with unicorns. They also continue to find their way into fantasy novels alongside other mythical creatures.




WHAT TO DO ON #NationalUnicornDay

There are several ways to celebrate this fun day.


Try these fun ideas with some younger fans of unicorns: –

  • Make some brightly coloured unicorn-shaped pancakes or cupcakes.  Decorate them with multi-coloured sprinkles or glitter.
  • Bake chocolate cookies in the shape of unicorns.
  • Watch a favorite movie including unicorns.
  • Draw a picture of a unicorn or write a story about one.
  • Read your favourite fantasy novel featuring unicorns.


Thanks to National Calendar who have also created a colouring page and a picture puzzle.

Can you spot the differences?

Use the key to see if you find them all!




Astute Recruitment Ltd approaches our final international destination in southern Italy. Our final miles are being counted.

Back in the dark days of winter, our team wanted to do something different. We wanted to help inspire those wfh, furloughed and people looking for work with a target to help them with their fitness and mental health. We also wanted to provide much needed support to a local charity.


But how?


Tom Norton, one of our Senior Consultants, came up with the inspirational idea for our team and any friends of Astute who wanted to join us, to try and walk from John O’Groats down to Land’s End by Easter, with all money raised going to Derby City Mission – a fantastic local charity which provides many critical services and support to our local communities including vital food parcels. Our #miles4meals charity initiative was born!


At first, our team themselves managed nearly a couple of hundred miles. Our MD, Sarah Stevenson covered 90,000 steps in just one week herself!


Slowly but surely, as we spoke to more candidates, clients and companies generally, more and more people wanted to join us. Whole finance teams rallied together, while WFH to walk, run, cycle, and jog with us. Popping us emails once a week with their mileage tally. People looking for work would look forward to their weekly catch-up with our team to give us their progress.


Amazingly, as a group we were soon covering over 1,000 miles in a single week. Our initial goal was smashed, as was our ultimate goal to make a round trip of 1,822 miles from the northernmost tip of the UK down to the southernmost edge.


Back then, with over a month to go, we decided to set a new challenge and walk from Norway down to Southern Italy, a total distance of 4,960 miles. We thought that rather than just keep going up and down the UK, we would set a challenging goal for our dedicated band of followers and see what we could achieve together for our charity.


Our team rang round more local businesses, accounts teams, HR professionals and business owners.


The result?


With a week to go we have Italy in our sights and a distance of just 1,200 miles to go.


What started as an idea just 2 months ago in the short days of February with just 9 recruitment professionals, has grown into a truly wonderful movement of people, including teams from over 72 local East Midlands companies, people WFH, people looking for work. We are truly inspired by everyone’s help and are deeply grateful.


Keep an eye out for our news in the next few days when we will be announcing if we have achieved our ambitious target to get to Southern Italy, and importantly, how much money we have raised in total for Derby City Mission.


We hope that you have all had a wonderful Easter break in the meantime.


Thank you again to everyone who has supported us. Your efforts are deeply appreciated by all of us at Astute Recruitment and by Derby City Mission.


Astute promotion for Sarah-Louise Wykes to DirectorIt is with huge pleasure that we can announce our long-serving employee, Sarah-Louise Wykes, has just been awarded a well-deserved promotion to Director! As part of the ongoing development of our recruitment team, it is crucially important to reward success and see the careers of good people in our team flourish. We have a clearly defined career structure of promotion and career development for our staff, and it is wonderful to see someone achieve so much in our team.

Sarah-Louise originally joined Astute in 2012 after a successful career as an Assistant Accountant. With her hands-on experience in accountancy, she has been able to develop excellent, long-standing relationships with clients and candidates in the local East Midlands market.

From starting as a Trainee Consultant, Sarah-Louise achieved 4 promotions. After a break to follow an opportunity to recruit finance professionals internationally, we are delighted to announce that Sarah-Louise has just been promoted to Director after resuming her career with us in 2020!

A well-deserved promotion!

Our MD Sarah Stevenson said of Sarah-Louise’s promotion: – “I recruited Sarah-Louise into my team at Astute with no prior recruitment experience, but a great grounding in accountancy and finance and lots of ambition. She has always been quick to learn, and equally keen to develop. Sarah-Louise has been and remains one of the hardest working members of my team. To be able to help her career along, and watch her thrive and become the successful business person she is today is one of the proudest moments in my career.”

Mary Maguire, MD also had this to say: – “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sarah-Louise for many years now. Recruitment is a people business and you need colleagues in your team who are great listeners, communicators, and team players. Sarah-Louise has each of these attributes in abundance. I’m thrilled and delighted to welcome Sarah-Louise onto our Board of Directors, and look forward to many more successful years working with her.”

All non-qualified, transactional finance staff, from ledger clerks to supervisors and managers, bookkeepers, assistant accountants, and aspiring part qualified accountants on a temporary, permanent, and contract basis within the East Midlands.

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