Local brewery takes on UKs unemployed population

When was the last time you received feedback on your CV from a company who rejected your application? Oh, you haven't - don't worry it isn't as common as we would have wished. Due to COVID-19 the job market is a tough place to be right now. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed and companies are overwhelmed with applications. Some applications are better than others. But don’t be discouraged, there are companies out there trying to help people in other ways than by hiring every single candidate. Let us tell you a story about a brewery in the north of England who had the best possible reaction when they got overwhelmed with applications for a packaging position.




Northern Monk is a craft beer brewery located in the north of England. They brew their beer in Leeds and Yorkshire, but also have a taproom in Manchester. Community and collaboration are their company values and they continuously search for people and organisations to help them bring positive impact to the world. "Keeping the faith" is the tagline of Northern Monk Brewery. And there is little doubt that they aren’t living up to it. In august they put up an ad for a packaging position on a recruitment site. They ended up receiving 1000 applicants. The recruitment team noticed that applicants today are desperate for jobs. Feelings of hopelessness and discouragement was something many of them had in common. Sophie Lennon, the HR manager at Northern Monk thought if there was anything they could do to help these job applicants. She came up with the brilliant idea to offer 50 applicants feedback on their CV’s and to offer 25 applicants mock interviews. Also known as the Northern Monk Employment Support Scheme.


Xperienceships were impressed by this story and had to sit down with Sophie to learn more.


Sophie surrounded by the Northern Monk beer Faith Hazy Pale Ale


How did you respond to the 1000 applications you got for the packaging position you advertised a couple of weeks ago?


- We were shocked. We put the ad out on Indeed and received 100 applications the first day and they just kept on coming. As a custom we try to keep ads up for 3 weeks - just so that everyone has the chance to apply. In the end we managed to narrow 1000 applications down to 100 who were suitable for the role. I booked in 80 telephone interviews and a third didn’t even pick up the phone. A downside of those “easy apply” platforms is that a lot of people click apply, but then don’t follow through. In the end Sophie got eleven people in for an interview and ended up hiring two people for the position.


"Giving people encouragement helps them to become more confident in their job search"

What was your train of thought when you decided to give back to the applicants you didn’t hire?


Sophie says that it is so hard as a job seeker today to get feedback from companies on how you can improve. In today’s climate jobseekers feel hopeless. They might have been made redundant, which causes a lot of discouragement and lack of confidence.


Northern Monk Brewery offers their employees two days a year to volunteer for a cause of their choice. Sophie saw an opportunity here. She decided to dedicate her two days to give feedback to applicants who didn’t get the role. She would either review their CV or by bringing them in for a mock interview and providing feedback.


Sophie says that giving people encouragement helps them to become more confident in their job search. There is a jungle of information out there on how to land a job. It can get overwhelming to try and figure out what information is relevant to you and your journey. So a little encouragement can help someone on focus the right path. This is extra important today when there is an increased demand for jobs.


Getting hired during a pandemic can be difficult. How can you make yourself stand out on the job market today without coming across as "too keen"? Sophies 3 top tips:

  • Add a clear list of key achievements to your CV. Such as: “I was a part of XX project which helped our company reach our annual sales goal by June” “I assisted to put an action plan together so that my team increased our efficiency by 100%” “I developed a brand voice for our social media that lead us to working with key influencers in our field”

  • Have a think about what your previous or current colleagues would say about you. You can then use that as a short bio at the top of your CV.

  • When you have sent the application - Follow up with a call and make a connection with the company. Ask questions about the position, the company and share your values and goals. Have confidence, or pretend that you do. Get your name in their head and your chances of landing a job will increase. Or you will have a larger chance to be referred to other hiring processes.



And what are some key actions that companies can take to support applicants they do not have the capacity to hire?

  • Get back to people and give them feedback on why they are not getting hired. This is priceless to candidates and will help them in their job search.

  • Reach out to other companies in your network and let them know you have some great candidates that you can not hire. But that they are available and could add value in other organisations.

  • Remember - everybody can't do everything, but everybody can do something. Add value based on your resources.


To finish off our chat with Sophie, we asked her what the next steps are for the Northern Monk Employment Support Scheme. She is together with Katherine from the bar going to start this process today (15 sep). It is all very exciting and they are looking forward to starting empowering people. As a finishing touch, all candidates will receive a letter of reference to strengthen their future applications.


The Xperienceships team are blown away by the support Northern Monk is giving to career xplorers in times of trouble. The world needs more companies like them. Companies who aim to help individuals on their career development journey, even if it is not by hiring them.

To learn more about Northern Monk, check out their website here.

Are you feeling lost and looking to receive some hands-on career coaching? Check out our Career Design Xperience today!


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