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Public Sector

“James [from Vivid] was very helpful… the support you get from Vivid as a candidate and as a hiring manager is second to none.”*

Oldham Borough Council 

Oldham Borough Council is one of the ten councils that make up Greater Manchester, and in mid-2021 it was in need of a Head of Planning. The person in the role at that time was Simon Rowberry, who was working on an interim basis until a permanent candidate could be found. Simon had been in the role for 20 months at this point, and had only intended to stay for a year. The council was in need of a replacement, so Simon contacted Vivid and we started helping them to find the best person for the job.

The Requirement 

This was a challenging post to fill, in part due to the role itself. Simon was in charge of a team of between 25 and 30 planners, which is relatively small, but the job was political-facing. This meant it would involve dealing with politicians, both internally to the council and externally, as well as a range of other stakeholders. It was a very integrated role, performing an important job within the council, and therefore the right candidate would need a range of different skills and relevant experience.

The Challenge

By the time Vivid was brought in, Simon and his team had attempted to fill the role on several occasions. Each time, no candidates had even been suitable for the interview stage. This was partly due to a number of other challenges involved in the recruitment process. One of these was reputational; Oldham Borough Council had several scandals in recent years, including one involving the previous Head of Planning before Simon being sacked for gross misconduct.

This gave the impression that the council was a difficult place to work and had a toxic culture, which wasn’t the case. In addition, the political nature of the role threw up other challenges. While many of the candidates that had previously  been considered for the job had a good range of skills, none had the political experience that would be necessary.

*Simon Rowberry, ex-Oldham Borough Council

Our approach

The Solution

Once we got involved, we were able to start selling the role on Oldham Borough Council’s behalf. That meant talking to candidates about the situation and showing them that the council’s reputation surrounding its workplace culture was unearned. The council had specific needs for this position, and we were sure to become intimately familiar with these so we could narrow down the field of talent early on in the process.

After mapping out the market, we narrowed down the search to a longlist of four possible candidates, which we then whittled down to two. Both went to interview, however one didn’t look like they would be a good fit for Oldham’s workplace culture, which was a key aspect of the role. Luckily, we spotted the red flags for this early on. The second candidate turned out to be a good match for the position, and he started in the role in June 2021.

The Results

One of Simon’s concerns going into the recruitment process was that his replacement wouldn’t be able to sustain what he had built over the 20 months he had been with the council. However, the new Head of Planning has been able to do this and more, fitting in well with the department and performing excellently in the role. Simon has continued to use Vivid to recruit for other roles, and has said that our support for hiring managers and candidates is second-to-none.

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