Insights into in-house recruitment: Murphy Group

Written by
Rachelle Harry

15 Feb 2016

15 Feb 2016 • by Rachelle Harry

Leanne Jones is a group recruitment manager at J. Murphy and Sons Limited.

Please tell us about Murphy Group.

Founded in 1951, J. Murphy & Sons Limited is a global engineering and construction company with a turnover of £954 million. We provide a range of construction services to infrastructure sectors including transport, water, power, communications and natural resources. We currently employ more than 4,000 engineers, professional managers and skilled operatives.

Murphy operates in United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, USA, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.
Our head office is in Kentish Town in north London on a large site, as Murphy owns a large proportion of its own plant, transport, fleet and materials.

What tasks does your role involve?

I help Murphy to achieve recruitment goals in the most cost-efficient, yet speedy way, and I have to keep our internal HR processes in motion too. We recruit on a permanent, fixed term and temporary basis so, depending on what the role is, I have to advise business managers on the preferred way to proceed.

How man many gratuates do you recruit each year?

We’ve only been running the graduate scheme for the past two years. In 2014, our first year, we recruited 20 graduates and in 2015 we recruited 41. We want to maintain or, if possible, increase the number of people we get on to our scheme – ideally, I would like us to reach 50 this year, introducing our programme to the support service businesses within Murphy, such as communications, IT and business development, as well as the core engineering business.

How are you tapping into talent, while ensuring you're reaching out to all relevant genders, nationalities and age groups?

We’re looking for a range of people from all backgrounds, especially as our business is so diverse.

While we understand the importance of connecting with people on social media and other online methods – we like LinkedIn, in particular – it’s still important that we get out and meet graduates face-to-face.

There are a lot of companies offering graduate programmes and incentives that are different to ours but we aspire to become the leading contractor for graduate employment. By meeting students at universities and careers fairs across the UK and Ireland, we get the chance to talk to them about their aims for the future, explain a bit about Murphy and what we do, and tell them some interesting facts about the company that they perhaps didn’t already know.

We always have a fantastic reaction from students who are interested in us and I am optimistic that we will achieve our goals.

What's your sorting process to select the best candidates for a shortlist?

For every one role I suggest up to four interviews. We have implemented a competency booklet based on a question and answer scoring system, and offers of employment should go to the highest scorers.

While it’s important that we’ve got people who want to achieve and want to be a part of a successful business, we don’t just rely on examination passes and university grades. In a business like ours, which is made up of people of all abilities, backgrounds and ages, we want people who want to be here, who are enthusiastic and hard-working and want to be part of our working family.

How do you ensure graduates know about Murphy Group and its values?

We have a graduate brochure, meet students at events and explain more about our company to them there. We also talk to them on the phone before inviting them to interview.

On their first day, our graduates have a group induction and this is followed by a graduate programme induction within the first two weeks of employment, while they’re with their new teams. This day is designed to get all the new graduates and undergraduates together to network and socialise, hear presentations from people working at Murphy – including the CEO – so that they get a real feel for what we do and who we are.

Murphy is proud to be a family business. The values that come with that – working as a team, caring for customers and each other, being open and honest – are central to what we do on a day-to-day basis.

How do you make Murphy Group stand out against competing businesses?

We offer a graduate scheme that is different to others. Some of our graduates can actually complete the scheme after a year if they prove good enough and produce an excellent portfolio. There is plenty of scope for them to progress in their careers quickly – we award hard work and all our employees have opportunities to continue developing and training throughout their careers with personal development programmes.

Our projects are global and as a multi-disciplinary company, covering numerous sectors – house building, tunnelling, engineering, rail, roads, water and power – we can offer a host of exciting opportunities in different areas that competitors can’t.

What is the biggest challenge youve faced in your role and how did you overcome it?

There is an on-going challenge with the skills shortage in construction. The challenge is being patient and hoping that the hard work going in to attracting graduates, undergraduates and apprentices to the sector will help close the skills gap.

What do you think are the best and worst aspects of your role?

I came in to this role because I love being around people and giving them opportunities.

The best part of my job is doing just that – meeting people, introducing them to a new challenge, which is sometimes in their first role, and seeing them grow.

The worst part is trying to get people to see past the hard hat and construction site, to realise that there are so many interesting, exciting and diverse opportunities within civil engineering and construction.

What advice do you have for other in-house recruiters?

Give people the attention they deserve. Just because someone’s a graduate, that doesn’t mean they don’t need a push in the right direction and a helping hand.