Three & Ntrinsic: Creative recruitment is much more than crunching the numbers.


Find out how we helped Three UK, one of the UK’s Top four mobile operators, to not only recr...

Find out how we helped Three UK, one of the UK’s Top four mobile operators, to not only recruit but to attract people who would buy into their culture, help drive their organisational goals and drive growth in what is a fast-paced marketplace.   


Three UK: A Cultural Phenomenon

One of the UK’s Top four mobile operators, Three UK stands out for its unique brand. It’s cool, its creative and its courageous. And all those qualities aren’t just brand speak for the benefit of customers: they are inherent in the culture and attractive to employees who love it so much, they stick around. 

Across the UK, Three UK employs some 3,500 people and enjoys an extremely high staff retention level. However, in a market where healthy churn is good for everyone, driving both strategic growth and personal development, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!

This element of inertia, combined with a lack of focus on sourcing fresh talent in the external market, conspired to be detrimental to growth and was creating issues that had to be addressed.   

The Brief: Aligned to Business Strategy 

Primarily, Three UK asked us to find capable, confident leaders for their Technology and Operations division.

These opportunities had been created as a result of some shrinkage in market share, with Three losing out to competitors such as Vodafone, O2 and EE. 

All roles we were consulted on were at Director level, with the aim of enhancing the business’s strong, charismatic leadership to inject fresh ideas and energy. 

The Challenge: Driving Cultural Change 

We brought a comprehensive, consultative approach to listening to Three’s needs and wants and answering their questions about the current marketplace.

Their ability to retain staff meant they weren’t familiar with what ‘good’ looked like in the external market, and they were so cautious about hiring badly, they had put in place an overly stringent recruitment process that put candidates off and so formed a barrier to hiring. 

In some cases, hiring managers where overwhelmed by the calibre of candidates we approached and sought reasons not to hire. Elsewhere, they felt that their culture required people from ‘cool, disruptive’ companies, while candidates from that experience did not feel Three would match up to their expectations in that regard. 

We also had to address the challenges that come with Three UK’s focus on enhancing diversity from board level down.

Our Approach: Engaged and Immersive 

We took a multi-pronged approach to joining the dots between Three UK’s understanding of the marketplace and the market’s understanding of Three.

That began with spending as much time are possible with the teams at Three UK, partnering with and getting to know the managers and their key drivers. 

We also then ran a number of proactive and targeted search campaigns in a variety of relevant businesses, selling the Three UK transformation along the way.

We continued our immersive approach by calling every day with updates on great candidates, providing frequent feedback about the brand from the marketplace and ensuring we maintained high touch rates wherever and whenever possible. 

Three UK & Ntrinsic: Working Together 

After a period of working with Three UK on a non-retained basis, we moved to get greater buy-in from them by working on a retained basis.

We also worked on the briefs supplied to make them sharper and so more effective. We see it as our responsibility to our clients and our candidates to provide briefs that are accurate, honest and compelling. That includes making sure things like job titles are descriptive and meaningful to get the right response from the marketplace. It’s all part of our comprehensive, consultative approach.

We also committed to meet every candidate face-to-face, interviewing them thoroughly before presenting them to Three, writing notes on all candidates and submitting these alongside their CV. 

We also committed to a series of weekly calls scheduled to take place on a Friday afternoon, updating the team at Three UK on all activity and across all roles. Before each of these calls, we circulated a standard spread sheet so that everyone was informed on progress and could ask as many questions as needed. Calls varied from a 15 minute catch up to 90 minutes, demonstrating our flexibility to do whatever it takes. 


The Solution: Delivering Different 

Delivering a bespoke solution requires a bespoke approach. We can deliver a different experience to our competitors because we are more agile, flexible and prepared to go the extra mile.

In this case, that meant developing our cultural sensitivity by immersing ourselves in the organisation and facing any challenges head on. 

Key elements of our co-ordinated campaign included carrying out a direct search into our existing network, approaching direct referrals and developing new ones. We also used LinkedIn to advertise the opportunities and directly approached relevant candidates.   


The Results: Recruiting the Best. Building Relationships

Our approach has resulted in achieving our immediate goals and building strong relationships that put Three UK in a strong position going forward. For Ntrinsic, we’re delighted to note that those relationships include those established with the CEO, HRD and CTO.

As well as delivering a series of successful hires that included an entire Data Analytics leadership team, we’ve also cultivated a vibrant network of topical and disruptive candidates that are in demand across Europe. 

Our work with Three UK has also cemented our reputation as a senior level technology recruitment business and we’re excited about achieving even bigger goals in the future. What can we do for you?