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Why Oakleaf?

Here at Oakleaf we have been riding the COVID-19 rollercoaster over the past 4 months and I am pleased to say that we are now starting to see more and more businesses press the hiring button again. Our new mandate numbers are increasing weekly, offers are being made and virtual inductions are happening without a hitch. I certainly feel more confident about what the next few months hold.

A few years ago, we created our Corporate Purpose, which was agreed as:

“Proudly redefining the recruitment experience, one person at a time”

Two weeks ago, I hosted a number of internal virtual workshops for our Consultants, both for those working and on furlough, to discuss and evaluate our proposition and Corporate Purpose. I felt it was important to stay ahead and to question how and why we do things, so that we can continue to innovate and deliver an exceptional level of service to our candidates and clients. We continue to work with some long standing Oakleaf friends, whilst enjoying working with new organisations and candidates, who value our expertise in everything HR, but what more could we be doing to keep raising our own bar?

When speaking to, and virtually meeting, our candidates they have said their phones and emails are busier now as they have been for several months, with interest in their cv or profile, and many now with multiple interviews and offers on the table. As the paralysis wears off, and businesses once again start trading, we continue to partner with some fantastic organisations to identify and secure the best HR and Payroll talent available in the market for them. There has been an unsurprising and noticeable shift towards direct sourcing of late, either via internal referrals or direct advertising on LinkedIn, and whilst we acknowledge there is a place for this type of attraction solution, I wanted to share the group thoughts as to the value a consultancy can bring, going beyond the CV through a job board or LinkedIn advert. I think the recruitment profession sometimes forgets how proactive we are at times, without even a fee at the end!

New ventures, new offerings

As we continue to operate in a virtual world rather than face to face, we are excited to branch out our Executive reward offering globally. Jamie Newton is leading on this and we have noticed markets such as Switzerland and UAE pick up the pace over the last few weeks. Jennifer Scrivener is launching our “Flexible Resource Consultancy” arm as part of our executive interim practice , offering more flexibility to our SME and start up clients, who might need extra ad hoc Executive HR on a part time, consultative basis.

Culture fit behind the words

400 direct applications for a role sounds like an extremely positive response level (who needs an agency?). 400 CVs (2 sides of A4), 800 pages with words and phrases to read and then decipher which applicant would be successful in your business. Technical skills are important, but the fit, style and approach are extremely hard to measure on paper. Hiring managers are in danger of passing a CV by based on assumptions because they do not know the DNA of that applicant. At Oakleaf, we have spent years getting to know candidates, what they like, how they operate and what business models/cultures might suit them. We speak to people who know them and referees. Equally, we spend a lot of time getting to know the cultural nuances of organisations, so that we know the type of person who will excel and thrive there.

One of the services we offer is candidate referencing where possible. The feedback from our candidates when we suggest taking verbal character references to support their application has been very positive. Our team are trained to ask relevant questions, sometimes specific for the role we are considering them for. It gives a good insight into a candidate’s relevant skills and likely team/culture fit.

Alongside our verbal, numerical and logical reasoning tests, we are also able to offer personality tests to give additional insight to the candidate and establish company “fit”.

Understanding the applicant’s technical skills and personality

When working with a consultancy like Oakleaf, we go beyond just presenting a CV. We have committed to continue training our consultants in competency-based interviewing, so we can assess against technical ability, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. For roles in Payroll and HR Analytics we can also offer Excel testing to determine the level of competency.

We partner with an Occupational Psychologist to assess numerical, verbal and logical reasoning for all senior and executive roles, which is extremely helpful to clients during the interview process.

Unconscious Bias and Diversity of Talent

At Oakleaf Partnership we are committed to promoting Equality & Diversity and translating this into all aspects of our everyday work. We have created a D&I steering committee to drive internal and external initiatives. We make all opportunities (including advertising, interview and selection processes, promotion, and training) as accessible as possible to under-represented groups and endeavor to attract, both for our own workforce and candidates, from these communities. One of our key networking groups is Women in Reward, a group focused on promoting and supporting females in the reward profession.

The first 90 days….

It’s a well documented fact that the first 3 months in a new job can be tough. A rushed interview process, an incomplete understanding of the role/culture, limited or lack of interview feedback, a poor or rushed contract negotiation and a poor induction can all add to this feeling of isolation and anxiety. Whilst we always ensure that our process is both professional and thorough to ensure the “success of hire” for both parties, we also recognise that the first 90 days in a new role can be lonely. That’s why we offer a free external mentor to our placed candidates where appropriate and mutually agreed. This unique initiative has worked extremely successfully over the years and invariably extends beyond the 3 -month initial period.

The time v cost v success of hire debate

For as long as I can remember, the cost of hiring has always been the deciding factor when recruiting for some businesses. But it is also critically important to remember the long-term cost (time, money, reputation) of a failed hire when embarking on a recruitment process. Arguably, the success of hire should be the first consideration, but is only measurable after, say, 12 months. I believe that our track record of success speaks for itself and our own reputation depends upon it.

The talent pool

One of the key messages we at Oakleaf want to get across is that even without a mandate to work on, we are proactively pooling talent daily, with no expectation of an immediate fee. We do this so that when a business approaches us with a critical need, they know we can access the most relevant and best talent quickly, saving them both time and money.

Account management

When hiring multiple roles in a HR department, it is important that when using an agency you have an experienced account management team working on your behalf. We always love working on projects to build HR functions across all the key areas, it is fun to do and we see great people come together.

The Oakleaf offering

Clients will use a recruitment or search firm if they feel they can access the best and most relevant talent quickly. They will use a firm who they feel knows the nuances of their industry and how they operate. They will also use a firm who has a deep understanding of the profession they are recruiting for: HR, Reward and Payroll is all we do and our forensic knowledge of the respective professions and the businesses we partner with, is part and parcel of our ongoing success.

Katrina Stewart

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