In cost saving mode? Then isn’t this the perfect time for a contingent hiring solution?

“We can just do it ourselves on LinkedIn”, she said, “why do we need you?” – A very fair statement? 

I met a CHRO recently and who asked me who our biggest competitor was and I said LinkedIn. It’s understandable, especially with all the current cost saving initiatives at play. Inhouse recruiters are doing all they can to source themselves. Their response was I thought, very honest, “Yes, Well we can all hire someone from LI but we aren’t necessarily getting the best person”. This obviously really resonated with me and this hugely credible individual can’t be the only one thinking this?! 

Sourcing HR Talent 

I wholeheartedly agree. Referrals aside, I would put LI sourcing for HR talent into 2 distinct camps – BP’s, TA, Learning predominantly in one and more technical hires (Comp, Benefits, Payroll, HR Tech) in another – one you get inundated with responses and it is actually very time consuming to identify the best talent – on paper 75% of applicants can probably do the job so unless you meet them all how on earth do you assess fit, style and ability as a match to the business. The other you typically don’t get the responses you desire – the talent pool is too slim and the best people are heads down so need approaching. The result – you don’t necessarily find the best person. 

There is some irony here. The HR / People function, the custodians of talent, settling for “talent” rather than the best or the right talent. I understand the cost and time pressures and of course if an HR/TA team can’t source for their own function it raises eyebrows.  

The right solution 

We then discussed the value we could add to a search….and the response was we don’t want to commit to a search and retainer. So what about the contingent solution? The US has an all too often predisposed assumption that everything must be retained. There is time and place for retained work of course and we support clients with this methodology when it is fit for purpose. The contingent solution is designed for exactly these times though. Cost is the main driver and there is no cost unless you make the right hire.  

You can source directly and partner with an external supplier (I would suggest just one) exclusively to ensure you really do cover the market – external suppliers should be an extension of your inhouse capability so they should work together to get the best talent. It gets confusing and potentially brand damaging when multiple, unconnected routes to market are being used. 

So why use a boutique contingent agency partner to ensure you get the best talent.

1. Outstanding HR networks

Oakleaf have been doing HR recruitment for over 18 years (some of us a tad longer!) and we know the HR community incredibly well. We have a team of HR recruitment specialists, who all bring their own networks to every assignment we manage. We take the time to meet all our customers (we refer to both candidates and clients as customers) from HiPo future talent to the current best in class. Our ability to navigate the market for passive and active candidates is second-to-none. Diversity is a core value and intrinsic in everything we do. Our daily purpose is to immerse ourselves in the vast array of talent available in the HR profession and we pride ourselves and our reputation in tracking, sourcing and identifying that specific talent for each bespoke assignment we work. 

2. HR is what we know 

We talk to HR professionals every day – we live and breathe HR – we see how HR partners the business across industry. We speak with CEOs, Presidents and Exec members too so we know how HR is constantly evolving, what non HR business leaders are looking for from their HR partners. HR hiring is not a typically a volume area of hiring for inhouse teams so understanding the nuances of HR recruitment is understandably not front and center. One of the key challenges is time. Direct applications (referrals aside) can be huge in volume and technically it is likely most of the candidates can do the job in question. You need to meet them all to identify fit and approach and that is where the time taken becomes very hard to manage. We remove that pain. We can save you time!

3. Candidate knowledge – Active market v Passive market 

It is now easier than it has ever been to find profiles of individuals who are looking for work – the green banner / Open to work flag on LinkedIn. In order to get the right talent you still need to invest time in getting to know that person – drivers, fit, style, commerciality, chemistry – what will work for them. It is without saying that skills and experience play a part too although at more experienced levels of hire that is often a given. It is very likely the person you need is not active in the market – the needle in the haystack! We have the ability to tap into the most important market – those individuals who are not actively looking for new roles – our network, that we have got to know well over many years. We will find you the right person for your business because we have deep and long-lasting relationships with our network.  

4. The LinkedIn back hole 

Our HR customers, when they have their candidate hat, on are continually frustrated with the job application process on LinkedIn. Many firms do get this right, many don’t. Applications that never even get an acknowledgement, let alone a response. It is useful to see how many people have applied for a job. When a job has been advertised for 24 hrs and you notice over 400 applications it can also act as a massive deterrent. It begs the question, how many candidates don’t apply when they should? I spoke with a highly regard CHRO networking group earlier this year and this discouraged their applications above anything else. There is also an employee brand damage exercise to consider here.

5. The best outcome 

Dare I say it we have a huge, vested interest in getting it right! Turnover rates are apparently up in the US – according to Forbes 30% of new hires leave in their first 90 days. Two of the main reasons stated that 43% of new hires said the role didn’t meet their expectations and 32% didn’t think the company culture was a good fit – arguably both of these factors are minimalised considerably when you partner with an external party – a more detailed brief with more searching questions, tighter candidate management, expectation management, post placement candidate support are all value add that we will provide to ensure the best outcome is achieved. 

Our knowledge of HR and our network has been built over time, we reduce the volume, save you time and show you great people. No one wants to spend money unnecessarily. The benefit of chosing the right contingent recruitment partner is that you don’t need to spend anything without the desired result. Is it not a worthy investment in identifying and ultimately landing the right candidate? 


A contingent solution is one of a selection of solutions Oakleaf Partnership provide for our US customers.

Simon Hunt

US – Managing Director

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