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Oxfordshire market for executive talent is largely untapped

Having moved back to Oxford after spending the last 13 years working in recruitment in other parts of the UK, I quickly realised that there is a wealth of executive talent available locally which many employers are not aware of.

By Jake Shuckburgh, Head of the Executive recruitment division at Allen Associates

I have been struck by how many Oxfordshire employers are still looking to London for their most senior hires when there are so many talented individuals at the top of their game right here on our doorstep.

While it’s true that many of these executives developed their careers in London, the undeniable benefits of living and working in Oxfordshire have proved irresistable and many have made a complete break and are looking for new challenges here.

Interestingly, many executives have reached a point in their careers where financial remuneration is no longer the primary driver. In my experience, many are motivated by fresh challenges – for example, being able to help shape the growth and direction of ambitious, fledgling businesses. They are excited by the prospects of being able to use their considerable skills and experience to help companies diversify, take products to market, launch new service lines or overhaul the way they do things.

Lifestyle is also important with shorter commutes or the ability to work flexibly having strong appeal.

These factors are increasingly more valuable to senior employees and shareholders than salaries alone. Candidates often say "I would like to be able to affect positive change and growth within a business” which is very telling. There comes a point when however prestigious the role or the firm, the bright lights of London can and do lose their appeal and senior people start to feel undervalued or frustrated at being unable to reach their full potential.

All this means that there is a veritable goldmine of candidates already living and working in Oxfordshire who are available to businesses that are willing to look a little outside of the box and explore what the local market has to offer before they engage the services of London ‘head hunters’.

The language of the City and the job titles they use, are in some ways designed to confuse and deter prospective employers from looking at core skills, and this can sometimes mean that great candidates who have the right skills for a job can be passed over as their CV doesn’t tell the full story. At Allen Associates, we interview every candidate we register, working closely with prospective employers to identify the right people for them. At an executive or senior level, this is particularly crucial, which is why we spend so much time understanding each candidate’s skills, experience, motivations and expectations so that we can align them with the commercial needs, teams and culture of prospective employers. 

So before you look to London for your next senior hire, please remember that there are some really impressive candidates here in Oxfordshire, looking for demanding roles where they can really make a difference to the bottom line.

For a confidential discussion about any of the issues raised in this blog or your next senior hire, please email me at or call me on 01865 335611.

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