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

After 12 years in business, Astute Recruitment Ltd has become one of the premier accountancy recruitment businesses in the East Midlands. We’re also the only East Midlands recruitment expert to have secured over 15 business awards as finalists or winners. You can see some of the awards our team and Directors have received clicking on the following link  www.astuterecruitment.com/about-us/awards/


Business awards won by Astute Recruitment Ltd

 So, we were thrilled for the Derbyshire Life magazine to contact us and ask us if we would like to be included in their special 90th edition in their feature on award winning businesses in Derby!Award Winning Business Feature in Derbyshire Life including Astute Recruitment Ltd


Great for Astute Recruitment Ltd to be featured in this very special 90th edition of Derbyshire Life
Great for Astute Recruitment Ltd to be featured in this very special 90th edition of Derbyshire Life

Why have we strived to secure business awards?


Over to one of our MDs – Mary Maguire – who does all our award entries herself, and manages all Astute’s marketing and social media.


“The biggest hurdle setting up a business and brand is getting that brand and what it stands for ‘out there’. Being able to showcase multiple business awards is a brilliant way to show your target audience that you are a recognised expert in your field. It flags to potential clients that they can have total confidence in using your services.


 Winning business awards also builds trust for potential staff who may be researching local businesses to see whether they would like to work for that company too. So, from an Employer branding point of view, success in winning awards is key.


As most people recognise, there is a talent shortage of workers skilled in several business sectors currently, from finance and accountancy professionals to skilled IT software developers to drivers, healthcare specialists, hospitality workers and so many more.


So, What better way to help your business and team attract the very best staff than to demonstrate credibility from successful business awards! You could be flagging your company to potential clients, but also raising your company’s profile to potential staff of the future as a credible potential employer!”


For Astute Recruitment Ltd, this means that our current and potential clients can see that we’re a thoroughly professional business and are acknowledged experts in our field. Our awards have also been an additional attraction in our recruitment strategy to appeal to the very best potential recruitment staff wanting to develop their careers and also to experienced recruitment professionals seeking to utilise their knowledge and relationships in a really professional but friendly, fun environment! 


 Business awards are awarded by impartial business organisations. For different organisations, this means targeting specific awards relevant to your industry.



Sarah Stevenson, our MD of Astute Recruitment Ltd with Dominic Heale, after being presented with the IoD's prestigious Director of the Year Award - Small SME Business
Sarah Stevenson, our MD of Astute Recruitment Ltd with Dominic Heale, after being presented with the IoD’s prestigious Director of the Year Award – Small SME Business

 How to start winning awards for your business?


While Mary has been hugely successful in writing awards entries for Astute Recruitment Ltd over the years, this is not something that every business owner has the natural flair or time for.


Instead, there are ‘go to’ experts who will be able to understand your company, and successfully craft an award-winning application for you. One such expert in crafting winning words for an array of businesses is the Founder of Derby’s ‘Ask the Chameleon’ – Rachel Hayward.




Rachel herself has had a tremendous 12 months in winning several business awards including: Female Entrepreneur of the Year, by East Midlands Chamber of Commerce (EMCC) and Derbyshire Live Business Awards in the Professional Services category.


Rachel Hayward and some of her business awards in 2021
Business Owner Rachel Hayward and some of her business awards in 2021

We asked Rachel to sum up why Business Awards should be a critical part of every company’s marketing and branding strategy. Over to Rachel!


“Awards really do confirm your place in the marketplace. They help in the buying decision and are hugely motivational for your staff team as well as yourself.  Running a business is challenging and to be judged as excellent by your peers is extremely rewarding.


The key is often choosing the right category for you and your business.  Certain categories will be hugely competitive, so consider other areas in your business that you shine.  Maybe you have an excellent apprentice or can demonstrate consistently high levels of customer service?  Maybe you go the extra mile as an employer, or you are a third-generation family business?  With over 3,500 awards at any one time, there really is an award and category for everyone.     “



“My top tips are:

  1. Do your research, look at your competitors and peers, even those businesses/entrepreneurs who inspire you. What awards have they won?
  2. Do you fit the criteria, can you prove it (you will always need factual information to demonstrate success)
  3. Give yourself plenty of time to create those winning words.
  4. Don’t wait for a secret nominator – many award organisers fully expect you to write your own application.


Make 2022 your year to gain your first award success”


 We completely agree with Rachel! Its great to hear from Rachel being an award winning expert on winning business awards for her clients! Her insights and tips are really useful. You can contact Rachel at her business, Ask The Chameleon on her website askthechameleon.co.uk/about/


For our own team at Astute Recruitment Ltd, from the ICAEW’s award of Best East Midlands SME Business, to the IoD’s Small Business Director of the Year award, our awards have pride of place in our new office in Derby’s Cardinal Square and on our website! 


What our business awards mean to us at Astute!


Business awards reward exceptional business success, ultimately building trust to use your company. Awards inspire confidence to our clients, candidates and potential staff of the future, as we continue to grow, that Astute’s team are unrivalled leaders in financial recruitment.  


Sarah Stevenson and Mary Maguire receiving their award for Best East Midlands SME Business by the ICAEW for Astute Recruitment Ltd
Sarah Stevenson and Mary Maguire receiving their award for Best East Midlands SME Business by the ICAEW for Astute Recruitment Ltd















We want to bring our business to the attention of new audiences to truly stand out, and for us, securing business awards

really is the best way to cement our reputation as the ‘go to company’ in our sector, Financial Recruitment.


So, be ‘Astute’ and give your marketing strategy a ‘reboot’. 

Strive for awards to boost

your business to the next level!



Article by Mary Maguire, MD Astute Recruitment Ltd


Other articles by Mary on career tips, business strategy, tips to recruit the right person and more are below!

Do you know what time it is on your career clock?

How great things can happen when business people get together – a growth mindset really matters for business owners and hiring managers

From Abacus to AI – The history of ‘Accountancy’ and why its a great career choice!

How to manage a successful relationship with your recruitment consultant? Our ‘astute’ tips!

Why its OK to talk about mental health at work! New free initiative for East Midlands employers

How great things can happen when business people get together

Following the end of the last Peer Networks business growth hub this year, our MD Mary Maguire wanted to say a huge thank you.

Thank you to the partnership and collaboration of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and D2N2.

Thanks to Neale Lewis for leading the cohort and huge thanks to everyone in our group.

Its great to share the success of business opportunities such as this, and to show how a growth mindset can really make a difference to business owners and Entrepreneurs.

Since January 2021, a small group of business owners have laughed together, supported each other and inspired one another. The sessions have enriched their understanding of day-to-day business issues and how to solve key problems. From recruitment to HR to business strategies, they have been able to offer understanding in their specialisms, suggest solutions and brainstorm new ideas for others to take away and implement.


As the last cohort of the year has taken place – we just wanted to share how valuable, enjoyable and insightful the sessions have been. Neale Lewis is a great anchor for the group – picking relevant business topics for discussion, teasing out, and developing trains of thought amongst the group to encourage new ideas and free-flowing conversation.


Our MD Mary said that she has taken away many, many ideas over the sessions and made some great friends too along the way!

Mary had this to say;

“Sessions like these are really important as a way to build confidence amongst the SME business community across the East Midlands and nationally. I hope that these continue to inspire and encourage business professionals, MDs and entrepreneurs to make the most of the fantastic support available to them and to enable them and their teams to flourish.

My thanks go to all of these brilliant people and their businesses. Its been great to get to know you all and I hope we can get together soon for those pre-Christmas drinks! 😊”


If you would like some additional support / advice for your business you can contact Neale himself www.nealelewis.com.

Watch video testimonials from other business owners say how they have benefited from Peer Learning, click on the link below: –




You can find out how you can book onto future Peer Network Sessions on the following link: – https://www.peernetworks.co.uk/

and of course seek support from the East Midlands Chamber, Peer Networks  and D2N2.

“Strong, healthy leadership advice and support will inspire business success”




How great things can happen when business people get together

What was in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Autumn 2021 Budget statement for people and business? We take an Astute look at the key takeaways!

In the biggest single-year rates cut in over 30 years, Rishi Sunak has announced a raft of changes.


Included in measures revealed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today was the announcement that the National Minimum Wage is to rise for the second time this year to £9.50 – an increase of 6.6%.


As reported in a piece by Accountancy Today, Sunak unveiled a 50% discount on business rates for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors (up to £110,000), equating to a business tax cut worth £1.7bn, the biggest single-year rates cut for firms in over 30 years.


Unveiling his latest Budget in the Commons today (27 October), Sunak said it will help deliver a “stronger economy for the British people”. Nonetheless, he warned of “challenging months ahead”.


Sunak noted that while business rates will be retained, the government will introduce “key reforms”, with more frequent revaluations of rates set to be made every three years from 2023 onwards.


Following suggestions from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Property federation, Sunak also revealed that from 2023, every company will also be able to make property improvements without having to pay additional business rates for 12 months.


Amongst other measures unveiled by the chancellor, he confirmed that the national minimum wage is set to rise for the second time this year by 6.6% to £9.50 from £8.90 and will come into effect from 1 April.


For the food and drink sector, the chancellor also announced a five-step plan to overhaul alcohol duty, which he called “outdated, complex and full of historical anomalies”. As such, the government is slashing main duty rates from 15 to six – with the new duty aimed at working on the basis of the higher the alcohol level, the higher the rate of tax.


This was also accompanied by a lower rate of duty on draught beer and cider by 5% and a he also confirmed the planned increase of duty on spirits such as Scotch whiskey will be cancelled.


Meanwhile, the Universal Credit taper rate is set to be slashed by 8% from 63% to 55%, which is set to be introduced “no later” than 1 December.


It comes after Sunak noted that inflation has risen to 3.1% in September as demands for goods “increased more quickly” than the supply chain was able to handle, adding that this is set to continue with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects inflation to average 4% over the next year.


Underlying debt was also forecast to be 85.2% of GDP this year, with this figure expected to rise to 85.4% in 2023 and peak at 85.7% in 2024. The economy was expected to grow by 6% in 2022, however, while the long-term hit of Covid was revised down from 3% to 2% of GDP.


While the OBR previously expected unemployment to peak at 12%, it now expects it to peak at 5.2%, which by its estimates, would lead to two million fewer people out of work than previously expected.


Sunak concluded:


“This government chooses to invest and build a stronger economy for the future. We’re unleashing the dynamism and creativity of British businesses with a simpler, fairer, more competitive tax system.

“By the end of this parliament I want taxes to go down, not up.”




Kindest Regards,




Mary Maguire

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

M: 07717 412911

Derby Office: Suite One, Ground Floor West, Cardinal Square, 10 Nottingham Road, Derby, DE1 3QT
T: 01332 346100

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, nor a skilled accountant

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

A great quote by FD Roosevelt. We feel that the same applies to accountants.

It’s through the turbulent times though that we learn, in life and at work. When things don’t go quite as planned, we have an opportunity to learn, to become a better sailor – or, in the case of our clients, become a better business, and our candidates – to become better accountants.

Enjoy the smooth sailing when the seas are calm. But when the surf swells and storms brew, remember: that experience brings the ability to cope with headwinds.

The same is true of accountants and all finance professionals. From credit controllers who can free up much needed cashflow by reducing outstanding debtors to a strong Finance Director or Financial Controller who can win that key tender or negotiate better rates with that new tender. Hard experiences teach finance professionals how to cope in difficult situations.


Our Astute seafaring ode to accountants everywhere: –


What is a business, without an accountant at the tiller?

Assessing performance, the greatest biller?

Forecasting growth, future success,

How to improve profits, stakeholders to impress!

Through recession, through growth, the bad and the good,

None can enlighten like a great accountant could.


Through the choppy waters of business life,

A strong accountant can solve financial woes and strife.

A seasoned finance professional,

Can bring a steady hand and deliver the exceptional.


Financial accountants; “How much are we owed?

Payrollers processing pay for those furloughed.

Credit controllers to keep debtors down,

Managing relationships with a smile not a frown.


Part Qualified and Finalists, improving analysis,

Working hard to avoid performance paralysis.


Accountants in the office or WFH,

Rest assured, their value alone,

Will see your business thrive and grow.


So #BeAstute, use the finance recruitment firm ‘in the know!’


Contact our team ‘in the know’ for your career development or to source an experienced accountant in your finance team: –


Astute Financial Recruitment the perfect fit guaranteed



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

So you think your business doesn't need a finance director? At Astute Recruitment Ltd highlight how an FD can take your SME business to the next levelIf an SME is in good financial health without a finance director (FD), entrepreneurs are often sceptical as to whether they need to recruit an FD.

Having the right people is what makes any business grow, and an inspiring finance director (FD) can contribute more than most. Yet entrepreneurs can be sceptical about hiring such a senior position.

It’s not uncommon to hear, ‘… but my business is doing well, and I already have an excellent external accountant. Do I really need an expensive over-blown bean-counter?’


The idea that an FD is just an overpaid number cruncher, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If an entrepreneur sets out to recruit a glorified accountant, that’s what they’re likely to get. In fact, an FD should be viewed as an essential part of any growing company’s senior management team. Someone to be an expert in planning and running the business AND someone who can add a lot of commercial and operational value to a business.


The FD should be able to provide management information that a financial controller or accountant can’t – information that will really help an entrepreneur make decisions. For example, how profitable an individual customer relationship is compared with others, so they can focus on the customers that really count.


Management information and advice from an FD will also help a company with its external negotiations. Once an entrepreneur gets his or her hands on solid information about changes in their overheads and the cost of sales, it becomes much easier to agree price rises with customers and ultimately protect profit margins.


FDs can also provide advice about which business opportunities to pursue. For instance, if an acquisition is on the cards, an experienced FD will be able to help assess the right target, negotiate and seal the deal, and then help bring the two businesses together. An FD should be a dynamic leader who helps a company to do profitable deals and put processes in place to make sure you realise that profit.


How to pick a Finance Director? 


So what should an entrepreneur be looking for if they decide to recruit a Financial Director?

First, let’s look at what a good FD should already be doing and have on their cv: –


  • Own the numbers & be able to explain the numbers. Fully understand, and be able to explain to everyone else, how the business makes its money


  • A great FD will put systems in place to gather and analyse information to ensure that everyone in the business knows how profits and cash are generated, by product, service, customer, contract, geography, etc. With this knowledge, a management team can make informed decisions about which activities to focus on and which to stop.


  • Actively drive value in the business. Successful FDs are leaders, motivated by the desire to help grow business value as quickly and effectively as possible. They want to be influential in supporting and challenging business planning and decisions. A good FD will actually be keen to add value and if they can’t, that’s a common reason for them to decide to change job.


  • Cash is king. Understand the importance of cash flow. Securing future cash flow is critical to a company’s valuation. A good FD will handle Forecasting, managing cash flow, and championing ways of optimising a company’s cash generation model. This could involve extending supplier terms to re-working the business model and client’s payment terms. (i.e. should the business move from short-term contracts, with unreliable payments, to a long-term, regular recurring revenue model?)

IMPORTANT: If you are looking for a future exit strategy, an FD or CFO will often be interested in some sort of equity in return for their longer-term commitment right through to sale. This means it will be directly in the FD/ CFO’s interests to do a great job and stay in the role.


  • Be forward-looking. An FD should help the business plan ahead by providing analysis, insight and challenge to help the management team evaluate the company’s options for the future. They should help the business pitch their budget at the right level – making it challenging but achievable and then make sure this can be reported.


  • Good with detail as well as the big picture. Great FD’s are adept at contributing to strategy, but also want to get into the detail to ensure the information being used around the business is absolutely correct.


  • Be intelligent, qualified, experienced, and ambitious. Entrepreneurs should look for someone with a professional qualification and experience working with respected people. Another good sign is when a Finance Director maintains a network of professional contacts who can help them keep abreast of the latest industry developments.


So, while a growing, entrepreneurial business may have coped without a Financial Director up to now, and feel they can carry on without one, they run the risk that limited senior management expertise will actually hold back the growth of the business.

The very thing most important to the business owner.

With the right FD at the helm, growing companies will make better-informed decisions AND have the support to lead the company where the owners want to take it, whether that means a trade sale or towards extra PE investment.


If you are considering hiring an FD, CFO, or FC, and woud like some confidential advice around the best options available, please contact Mary Maguire, who will be pleased to help you.

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/

One-way roadmap out of lockdown announced todayA Roadmap out of lockdown!


A one-way strategy of positive milestones from the Government was announced by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson this afternoon.


The basic points are set out below. It is important to remember that these will be conditional on the continued success of the vaccine rollout and maintaining declining figures of hospitalisations and infections.

Nonetheless, some very welcome news!


Summary of key points: – 

  1. Boris Johnson sets out his four-step plan to release England from lockdown
  2. Step one, on 8 March, will see schools reopening and two people allowed to meet outdoors for a chat
  3. From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed
  4. Outdoor sports, including football, golf, and tennis, will be allowed to resume from 29 March as well
  5. Step two would see shops, hairdressers and gyms reopen from 12 April in England
  6. Also from 12 April, outdoor hospitality will resume, as well as zoos and theme parks
  7. Step three would start on 17 May with most social contact rules lifted, as well as limited mixing indoors
  8. The prime minister hopes that step four, from 21 June, would see the end of all legal limits on social contact
  9. The UK PM will also hold a televised press conference at 19:00 GMT
  10. Scotland, Wales, and NI will set out their own approaches
  11. Covid vaccines have a significant impact on the risk of serious illness Public Health analysis shows
  12. In the fourth week after the first dose, hospitalisations were reduced by 85% and 94% for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs

Let’s hope that the 8th March Budget will also provide some fiscal good news and continued support for businesses, employers, and staff.

An article by

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 

Astute Recruitment's 2nd week of our #miles4meals and we have covered an incredible 564.5 miles! Astute Recruitment’s 2nd week of our #miles4meals and we have covered an incredible 564.5 miles!

An amazing effort from our wonderful team and fantastic clients, candidates, and their friends and colleagues who have joined in – a huge thank you and well done!

At this rate we will smash our target!

Last week saw us whizz past our first checkpoint and another 3! From the picturesque Scottish Highlands, past historic Edinburgh, down past Newcastle, and on into Leeds!

We are wondering where we will go from here and how many checkpoints will we hit by week 3!

#miles4meals update 137 miles in one week by our team at Astute Recruitment Ltd and our friends!
#miles4meals update 137 miles in one week!

We started our #miles4meals journey last Monday.


The figures are in and we’re delighted to announce that in just 7 days we have covered a total of 137 miles!

Our virtual journey from John O’Groats to Lands End has so far seen us travel from the beautiful peaks of Scotland, down past the historic Inverness Castle.

We’re now well past our first check-point in Inverness.

Wonder where will be next week?




6 'astute' Interview questions and answers to help you get a job in a pandemic
6 ‘astute’ Interview questions and answers to help you get a job in a pandemic


With interview requests and new jobs taken by our team at Astute Recruitment, it’s great to share some pointers for candidates about to enter the job market to give them an edge on interview.


Imagine, you’ve been selected for a job interview! Well done! It’s always great news, but especially so in such challenging times.  But preparing for a job interview might be trickier than usual, too.


It would be a little weird if you and your interviewer didn’t acknowledge the global pandemic going on.


You’ll probably be doing your interview remotely, online, at least the first interview, and it’s also likely that you’ll be starting work remotely.


The people and business you’re interviewing with won’t be operating as normal, plus you’ll have to navigate different ways to work together.


Apart from the obvious,  (ensuring you’re wearing smart clothes, and your Zoom background looks tidy & professional), preparing for an interview means being ready to answer some different questions. So, what can you expect to be asked?


1. How are you feeling?

It’s normal to start off an interview with an icebreaker, but in the pandemic, small talk can take on a deeper meaning.


For an interviewer, it’s a way to gauge the tone of the interview. Some candidates’ replies might reveal they are struggling, whereas others will take the question much more lightly. In either case, there is no shame in acknowledging how the Covid-19 crisis is affecting you. The worst thing would be if a candidate came across as too disconnected from the situation, which could be a hint as to empathy skills or lack of.


The pandemic is impacting people emotionally, and for an employer to ask this question, shows they care. If you are asked this question, you should show you understand the situation and are adapting to it. You shouldn’t just use the same answers that you had prepared pre-pandemic, as if you were still in a typical office setting.


2. How are you handling your work-life balance?

If you can keep a healthy work-life balance, it shows a potential employer that you’re able to manage your time independently, and be organised.


Working from home is set to continue for a lot of us for the foreseeable, meaning employers are looking for these qualities,


Companies and hiring managers need to know that even if you don’t have a team around you sitting in an office, you ARE going to be able to work by yourself, can be trusted to wfh independently and autonomously.


This doesn’t have to mean that you’re calendar-blocking each hour of your day. But this question is a prime opportunity to highlight how you can, and have been able to work productively.


In an online interview, it’s an opportunity to also build a bond as you can reflect back a question to your interviewer, e.g.”I’ve found it’s key for me to factor in a 20 minute slot to excerise /walk the dog/ play with kids. I find this improves my feelings of wellbeing and makes me more focused and productive working for the rest of the day. What works for you?”.


3. Have you learnt any new skills since March last year?


This isn’t a trick question. Recruiters

wouldn’t be put off if a candidate said they had struggled with motivation or finding time to learn at the beginning of lockdown.

Instead, they’d welcome and expect some  honesty about what they’ve learnt about themselves during the pandemic.


You don’t have to pretend you’ve been on some kind of productivity marathon if you haven’t. Of course employers will want to know if you’ve added any professional skills to your CV, but talking about hobbies you’ve picked up or personal lessons you’ve learnt helps to give interviewers a glimpse of your personality and a real glimpse of you.


For instance, what you learnt about yourself could be how you discovered a new skill or the ability to step back from something. It doesn’t need to be professional, it can be something more personal.


But, how do you answer if you can’t think of anything you’ve learnt in the past few months?


Something as simple as trying out a new recipe counts. Most of us have discovered some new culinary skills 🤣.


4. What’s your ‘work-from-home set-up like?’

Potential employers have every right to ask about a candidate’s home working environment. Especially making sure that potential employees have a computer with internet access, that they have access to a telephone or a landline, and asking about the reliability of their wifi signal


Employers need to know that you have the equipment you need to do the job you are being interviewed for. However, they are aware that few of us have the perfect WFH set-up. Don’t be afraid to mention any challenges you’ve faced working from home, and how you’ve found solutions to work around them.


This is a good question for employers to ask candidates to see how creative they can be, and how they’re dealing with and have adapted to the current situation.


5. “We’re all on Microsoft Teams/ Slack/ Google Hangouts. Have you used it before?”


Of course, if your interview is on a platform you haven’t used before, you’ll want to test it out beforehand to make sure you know how to use it.


It’s also worth getting to know the main digital communication tools that are popular with businesses. Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom are all free to download and experiment with.


Some great advice to all candidates, is to be organised and prepared with the tech that they could be using if they are offered a job.


Lots of companies used digital communication tools before the pandemic. They’re just using them even more now. If candidates are unfamiliar with them they should definitely look them up & try them out before interviewing for a new job.


For employees who have started looking for a job after several years, this is a really useful tip.


6. Do you have any questions for us?

Pre-pandemic and lockdown, candidates would go into the office, meet a couple of members of the team. They’d get all of the contextual information before being offered the job and deciding whether to accept it.


Now, with largely online interviews, applicants don’t have all of the sensory, physical experiences through Candidates who have managed to get an interview aren’t getting the complete view of companies they’re applying for.


To counteract this, ask a lot of questions during your interview to get a clear idea of how the company works, the office culture and how you’ll work with different teams and individuals.


For starters, ask questions about training, daily tasks and communication methods. It’s equally important to ask about potential colleagues and hierarchy. This may mean clarifying who you would report to or who you can ask for help when you need it. Alternatively, it might mean taking a more informal approach to interviewing altogether.


A great suggestion for candidates is to ask, “If possible, could I have a virtual lunch with the team that I could be working with, just so I can get to know them—maybe not so much in a professional sense, but in a more casual, informal way?“


You could ask to have one-on-one meetings with potential future team members as part of the interview process. This shows you take the future culture of your potential colleagues seriously.


Companies should be understanding about these requests.


It’s really key that candidates meet more people, especially now. Particularly so if companies add a few more steps to the recruitment process. This can give applicants the confidence to be happy if they go on to secure a job offer.


Remember, it’s not just the candidate who has to adapt to the recruiter, but the recruiter who has to understand it’s a different situation for applicants too!


If you have questions around this topic or would like more information about this or something else, feel free to contact our MD, Mary Maguire, by email on [email protected]


An article by Mary Maguire, Managing Director
Astute Recruitment Ltd

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

T: 01332 346100

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