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On A Mission To Recruit For The Next Oyster Academy

It’s been a while since we caught up with Oyster’s Head of People, Hannah Clarke. She’s currently on a mission to recruit for the next Oyster Academy, so have a read of what she’s been up to in the past year and find out what you should expect from Oyster at an Open House.  

What’s happened since we last sat down? 

So much. But all for the better! As well as growing in headcount, we have changed our working hours to give our employees a better work-life balance. We’ve invested heavily in training, including working with external consultants on subjects such as Diversity & Inclusion and Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Last October we expanded over two floors to accommodate the team, which is unbelievable since when we first moved to the office, we barely used up a quarter of the room. We’ve invested in our tech stack, which has included a brand-new bespoke CRM, a new gamification platform and we’re just about to roll out our new HR system. It’s been a busy year, to say the least!  

What are some of the highlights from last year? 

There were so many highlights from last year, both from a personal point of view as well as from Oyster’s perspective. In October 2021 we hired 22 new Trainee’s. It was our biggest Academy to date, and a personal career highlight.

In the Autumn we piloted a Mental Health and Wellbeing programme which involved a number of workshops taking place over a 3-month period, we received really positive feedback about the sessions and we are working with the Psychiatrist to adapt a programme permanently.

In November we won the Investors in People Award for the Best Company to Work for in the Gold category, which for anyone who knows me, is an accolade that I take massively seriously, so to win this award meant the absolute world to me. In Summer 2021 we launched ‘Rule Number 1’, Oysters very first podcast which is going from strength to strength, and we’ve had some really interesting people join us on this.  

We also placed in three categories in the Cert. Best Companies to work for; Recruitment’s Top 10 companies to work for; London’s top 5 Best Small Companies, and the UK’s Top 25 Best Companies to work for which is huge for us.  

What are the hiring plans moving forward? 

The hiring plans are ambitious, but we love a challenge. Throughout the pandemic, we continued to hire and train and the results have been phenomenal. We, therefore, have the capacity to hire on every division, both Temp and Perm, in the next 12 months.

It’s really exciting to think that we will be over 100 headcount by the end of the year. There’s also such a great atmosphere around the office, everyone seems genuinely happy to be back in full swing. 

Why should someone apply to join Oyster as a Trainee?  

This is something I get asked all the time, and I think the answer is pretty simple. Everyone is welcome at Oyster. Recruitment is recruitment, every agency does the same thing, what makes us different, is the people we employ.

We don’t have a tick list of requirements like our competitors, we just want people who want to be here. It doesn’t matter what your background is, or if you have a 2.1 from a red brick University. It’s all about attitude.

The hiring process is also changing, people can rest assured that they won’t be asked about previous salary, and we will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments wherever possible. We already give loads of information to candidates before they come to meet us, but we’re going to be giving, even more, we want people to feel as comfortable as possible. Regardless of whether someone is successful at an interview or not, we want them to have had a positive experience at Oyster.  

Are you still holding assessment centres? 

I dislike using the term Assessment Centres, as it almost feels like you’re pitching people against each other, which we’re not. We now call them an ‘OPen House’. If you’re invited to an ‘OPen House’ you can expect to find out loads more about Oyster, the industry and recruitment in general.

Sasza, our MD, has a chat about the business, where we’ve come from and more importantly where we’re going. We then invite any attendee to ask questions, in fact, the more questions we get, the better, we don’t mind if they are pre-meditated or if they stem from what has been said by Sasza. We are completely honest in our answers, which sometimes throws people!   

After the Q & A with Sasza, we run a couple of activities. These are a lot of fun, and as of yet, I am yet to find another company that runs them as we do. Anyone who attends the OPen House will find out within 24 hours if they are invited back for a second (and final) stage interview.  

What are you actually looking for at the OPen House?   

I think most people think that to be successful in recruitment you have to be the loudest person in the room, actually, this isn’t the case. We want to see people that are engaged, asking questions and displaying positive body language.

Again, we don’t want to ‘pitch’ people against each other, that’s not our style. We want to see how you communicate as part of a team, and what your general attitude is.  

What’s your biggest tip for anyone attending an OPen House? 

My number one top tip for anyone coming to meet us is, just be yourself. If I had to choose a second, I’d say make sure you’ve done your research on us. The OPen Houses are so much fun, so we don’t want people worrying beforehand. Just come and find out more about us.  

Oyster Partnership is now welcoming applicants to join the team in April 2022. Contact Hannah direct on 0207 766 9000 or HC@oysterpartnership.com for more information or to book onto an OPen Morning.  

The Author…


Hannah Clarke

Head of People, Oyster Partnership

Having joined Oyster in 2009, Hannah enjoyed a successful career recruiting Office Support professionals across London. In 2017 she moved to head up the internal recruitment function at Oyster, and since completing her level 5 CIPD she has been promoted to Head of People.