A revolutionary approach to recruitment 

BBC The Apprentice winner and successful recruitment entrepreneur Lee McQueen has urged businesses to ditch the CV when it comes to finding new talent. 

Delivering a keynote address to delegates at ILC’s New Generation in Claims event recently, he said finding the right fit requires a profound assessment of the person rather than judging them by what is written on a piece of paper. 

He said, “People put too much emphasis on education. Every time we interview a young person without much experience we base it on their qualifications. That shouldn’t matter. What should matter is the personality, the behaviour, the competence of the person we’re bringing into our organisation.” 

Lee speaks from experience. From humble beginnings, he left home at 17, bought his first house at 18, and had a thriving career at Capita before going on and winning The Apprentice. 

“That changed my way of thinking,” he said. “I got poor marks at school, but that didn’t matter on The Apprentice because it’s all about what you can do. It puts you under pressure every day and assesses whether you can actually do the job rather than letting a CV make the decision.” 


Two years after winning the show, he put the lessons he learned there into practice by launching his own recruitment business, Raw Talent, which set about challenging the status quo by asking clients to ditch the CV approach to recruitment and focus instead on finding people with the right personality, behaviour, and competences.  

The approach worked, with Raw Talent attracting major organisations in the media, in finance, and in software services.  

Lee explained, “Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about male or female, ethnicity or age. It’s also about education, background. Who are they? What are they like? We wanted to get a deeper make-up of the person and it worked; employers were ready to change the way they recruited because they knew it would also have a profound impact on how they retained talent.” 


Lee’s second business, Phoenix51, built on that concept and was borne out of the digital transformation that occurred during Covid. Phoenix51 is a tech platform that allows customers to set their own recruitment framework based on values, cultures, behaviours and competences. Through online assessments of the qualities that really matter to them, companies are not only exposed to a wider, more diverse talent pool but are also able to identify those candidates who will be the best fit. 

Lee said that retention rates 18 months after hiring are now near 90% – and with a study by Harvard Business School estimating that every unsuccessful new hire costs a company between £12,000 and £30,000, the business argument is a compelling one. 

He said, “89% of successful permanent hires are successful because of their values and cultures, not their skills. You can teach skills, you can’t teach values and culture. We are human beings. We are born to interact and talk. So start doing that with recruitment and talent pools.” 

Three takeaways: 

  • If you want to change your recruitment process, it’s up to you to change it. 
  • Hire based on what matters most to your business. 
  • Give candidates a good experience during recruiting, so even unsuccessful they will reapply. 

ILC’s New Generation in Claims event took place at etc.venues in Manchester, backed by lead Sponsors Carpenters Group and Enterprise along with Ambassadors: Activate Group, Edam Group, Gemini ARC, Kennedys, S&G Response and Solera Audatex.  


Upcoming Event

Insurer Partners


Industry Body Partners

Insights Partners