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Raising the bar is no longer about improving delivery and raising the profile of HR – it’s about transforming the very role and nature of HR itself.

In his foreword to new research commissioned by Oakleaf Partnership, Ralf Schneider*, founder and Principal of 2B, says that raising the bar is no longer about improving delivery and raising the profile of HR – it’s about transforming the very role and nature of HR itself.  New operating models, roles, tools and processes require new skill sets and, perhaps more importantly, new mindsets.  To achieve this, the HR function has to “grow up” and run itself like a business operation.  This journey starts by applying the same commercial rigour, fact based decision making and accountability for results as the business.

The fact that only 11% of all hiring managers in HR are happy with all their hires into the function 12 months post-hire suggests they are not hiring the right people for the right roles.  As Ralf Schneider puts it “Getting the right people on the bus” is essential for this journey. 

With this in mind, Raising the Bar in HR Recruitment offers a healthy look in the mirror for the HR profession.

The research asks whether recruiting HR professionals is in fact a “lottery” as a result of “Cobbler’s Children”.  It looks at the factors behind poor HR hires is the interview and selection process flawed do then candidate skills simply not match the roles that have been created: or is it a more fundamental reflection of the HR profession’s relationship with the business and view of itself? 

With 74% of respondents citing “lack of culture fit” as the number one reason for failed HR hires, it is clear that HR needs to do a better job at defining and interpreting its culture and assessing fit. 

Richard Colgan, Managing Partner of Oakleaf Partnership, says: "Our research clearly shows that there is a need, at an operational level, for improvements in the recruitment of HR professionals and at a strategic level, culture needs defining not just for today’s business environment but for the future journey.  Raising the bar will enable the business to be more successful which will itself be a catalyst for and enabler of HR change. 

Ralf Schneider asks: “Is our current recruiting experience designed for cultural fit towards the future, or rather the past?”  He goes on to say that “The sophistication of hiring into the HR function might give us an early indication of the capability, and will, to make change happen.”


HR recruitment agencies also need to embrace the new recruitment paradigm of commercially logical and physically viable direct candidate sourcing methods, via social media inter alia, and various outsourced recruitment models.   Against this back-drop, 67% of respondents say that to raise their bar, HR recruitment businesses need firstly to understand their clients better. 

Richard Colgan concludes:

“An increased level of value-add and sophistication from suppliers is essential – many suppliers continue to measure success in the rear-view mirror.  A consultative approach is critical to growing engagement levels with candidates and clients alike via their overall “customer experience” – Agencies that do this successfully will de facto have a bigger loyalty-based pipeline of talent and a broader route to the relevant markets for that talent.”


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