We Got It Wrong!

Winter 2024

We’ve always been passionate about recruitment and are incredibly grateful to have built an amazing team of wonderfully diverse people united by our collective commitment to Scaling Conservation.

In the last two years, we’ve had more than 2,000 applicants for around 20 permanent roles. We intentionally recruit the 1% – the very best people living and working in the UK to deliver positive environmental and social impact.

Our journey in attracting the most talented individuals has been marked by creativity, adaptability, and a commitment to radical honesty and transparency. We care about every aspect of the recruitment process, seeking to give candidates a wonderful experience from start to finish and are especially happy when we receive positive feedback from them.

However, we deviated from this approach in our recent recruitment campaign for Estate Managers and it didn’t work! In this piece, we’re going to describe what we did wrong and what we’re going to do about it!

The Power of Unique Job Titles

We’ve prided ourselves on using unique job titles as a way to stand out from the crowd and quickly communicate our culture. From a “Head of Storytelling” to a “Terrain Detective,” our titles have been a testament to our creativity and distinctiveness. We’ve even invited the “misfits, the rebels, and crazy ones” to become our interns and are delighted that three of these people are now incredibly important members of the team.

This approach was not only intended to attract candidates who are excited by our mission but also to demonstrate the importance of innovation, adventure, and playfulness within our business.

Adaptability: Listening and Learning

The journey of Oxygen Conservation has also been one of adaptability and we’ve always committed to listening even though we won’t always agree. Feedback from our interactions with Estate Managers across the country revealed that our playful approach to job titles might not resonate with people within this sector – as a result, we launched campaigns titled for and targeted at existing and experienced Estate Managers. We also were encouraged to prioritise recruitment as close as possible to an Estate so worked hard to advertise within local geographies. And whilst the great advice of recruiting like for like replacements of existing Estate Manager might work for other companies, we haven’t found it effective for Oxygen Conservation.

Diversity of Opinion & Experience

We realised that we were seeking advice and guidance from people experienced in living and working in the environment of the past, not the future. We were also talking to people living and working close to the Estate at the time of the conversation, many later sharing that they had relocated or moved for their dream roles. Unfortunately, due to the remote locations with low population densities, this approach also results in a very limited applicant pool.

Finding the Right Balance

The challenge we faced with Estate Manager recruitment was a great opportunity to re-evaluate and improve our processes. Despite overwhelming responses for literally every other role, we saw significantly fewer, both the number and diversity of applicants (in every way). This outcome, along with a critical analysis of our processes, helped us realize that we had strayed from the essence of what makes Oxygen Conservation unique.

Forward-Looking: Learning from Our Mistakes

Our reflection and analysis have been invaluable. We now understand the importance of not just focusing on local candidates, as every role is local to someone and somewhere. We also recognise the need to broaden our perspective beyond traditional skills to include future environmentalists, land managers, as well as estate managers. This realization excites us, as it opens doors to new people, personalities, and possibilities.

What’s Next for Oxygen Conservation

As we move forward, we’re thrilled to apply these learnings to our recruitment process. We’re committed to maintaining our unique culture while also being more overtly open to a wider range different perspectives and backgrounds. This balance will enable us to continue making significant impacts in environmental conservation and build future careers for people in the rural economy and communities.


Rich Stockdale
Managing Director