Jennifer Oyelede

International Talent Acquisition Leader | Employability Specialist

Let’s face it! The HR industry is women-dominated. But why is that? 

Is it because we possess better management skills? Or is it because we have higher emotional intelligence and patience? Or is it that we are more empathetic?

The answer is all of the above.

Let's take a short trip down history lane into the late 19th century. 

According to a ZIPPIA analysis based on a database of 30 million profiles, there are presently around 299,440 human resource managers in the United States. In this number, nearly 70.3% of Human resource managers were women, and the remaining 29.7% were men.

Here’s where it all began - The Welfare Workers Association. Initially, what started with women taking care of other workers later went on to them taking over the reins on recruiting and hiring. Trust us when we say this, you are a part of a revolution.

‘Her Talks’ is a segment that focuses on ‘HER’ in the Human resource industry. 

This time, we got a chance to speak to Jennifer Oylade. 

A winner of the Top 100 Career Women in Nigeria (2022), Top 40 HR Leaders to follow in 2022 by PeopleHum and an award-winning International Recruitment Bussiness leader, Jennifer Oyelede has made her mark in the global HR industry.  

She is also a successful and award-winning EMEA Talent Acquisition Director, Employability Specialist, seasoned writer, author and mentor. As a Talent Acquisition Director, she directed recruiting and market initiatives in various geographies like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, and South Africa.

She is also the author of 'Careerectional Facility - Writing the Wrongs of Professional Development.' Her book focuses on how to properly position yourself for possibilities. Jennifer highlights in her book how to correctly discover and land these opportunities in situations where opportunities are few but, resources are plenty. The book also debunks the myth that career success can only be achieved inside a set framework.

Jennifer Oyalde, has also been featured on BBC Africa’s ‘Gist Nigeria’, Channels TV, Guardian Nigeria, Punch Newspaper, Business day Newspaper and The Nation Newspaper. This is where she provided her sound expertise on Career Strategy, Employee Engagement, organisation transformation, along with Capacity Building for future growth.

Focusing on ‘HER’ in the Human Resource Industry, we had the privilege to speak to Jennifer about her take on Talent Acquisition and what are the two major challenges in Talent Acquisition, according to her.

Here’s her take on this, 

“I would say the first is attracting talent. So organizations are competing for the best talent to meet their corporate objectives. So they are not only fighting for talent in the country, but they're also fighting for talent against other countries who are promoting remote working.” 

Jennifer also strongly believes that the competition is high and companies are constantly attracting the best talent and are willing to pay top dollar and pounds just to meet their corporate objectives. She also states that HR managers and recruiters are fighting against European hiring markets that promote work-from-home options and pay in foreign currency. 

She also shared her views on two of the major problems Talent Acquisition Managers face- Retaining good talent and how to keep employees happy. 

Here is Jennifer’s take on how to resolve this issue. She believes that, with excellent employee engagement initiatives and other corporate initiatives that focus on personal development and more. With this, she believes that you not only retain good talent but also prevent losing them to your competitors. 

Every successful person has their very own mantra. When asked Jennifer about her’s and how she assesses her candidates and if she had a trick to separate water from the milk she said, 

 “I like this question, I don't have a set way that I assess my candidate. So yes will do that. What every usual gritter does is look at their experience, their transferable skills, their academic backgrounds, and their commercial exposure depending on the role. But I also look at their personality and cultural fit. So even though they're technically sound,  they can do the job, but can they thrive in the environment?”

Jennifer says that the marriage of technical skills, personality and culture is just the blend one would require asses her candidates. When it comes to an employee, she strongly believes that adopting a personal route helps. 

“I tend to also go down the personal route trying to find a bit more about my candidates, their likes, their dislikes, kind of like their thought process and aesthetic alongside their technical skills.”

Regarding hiring, the major problem HR managers and recruiters face are Mis-hires. This factor can have a significant impact on businesses and companies too. As we know already, hiring the best talent can be a daunting task. But losing one or even hiring the wrong person and finding out later can stunt your business or company’s growth. 

When asked how often she faced the problem of mis-hires and how it impacts the business, she says she doesn't face as many mishires. How is that, you ask? 

Well, the answer lies in ‘details’. Details- not just about the person you’re about to hire, but details that make up a person fit for the organization. She says, 

“I like to question them. Why do you want somebody to come from this background? Is there a specific reason why this person must come from this university? Or is there a reason why this person needs to have this exposure? Or in terms of the role, what kind of person will be best suited in terms of leadership or middle-level or entry-level? 

It's more the kind of personality fit. So with our clients, I like to stretch out their specifics”

The personality and the culture one carries is just as important as the technicalities. 

Sometimes fancy college degrees and intensive diploma programmes just don't suffice when it comes to hiring an individual. It goes way beyond just certificates. It touches on important aspects like is the person skilled enough for the position, do they have the knack to execute tasks efficiently in a creative or tactile manner or even points like, do they have the exposure they need to perform any given task. 

She adds “It takes the kind of millions that are spent on recruitment. You can't afford to get it wrong because it costs twice as much to refill and misfire than it does to hire in the first place. So I try to mitigate all risks early on and implement contingency plans should this misfire happen and how to rectify it very quickly.”

When it comes to an efficient, working and functional professional ecosystem, three things are imperative- 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

When we asked Jennifer about how she handles Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in her organization, here are her thoughts on this,

“I've always been a firm believer in being an equal opportunities employer. So in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion within my organization, I ensure that there is a diverse workforce. Not because it's ethically correct to do so, but because everybody has their input into what can be achieved. So people with different cultures and backgrounds and experiences can bring a holistic view into any organization, into any project because it's the diversity that brings forth productivity.” 

It’s all a learning process, says Jennifer  although her background may be limited to a certain sector or an organisation, it shouldn't stop anyone from having a voice and contributing to success- be it talent acquisition or the business itself. 

“I believe that everybody has valuable input to bring. And the way you can get a very holistic view is to ensure that the workforce is diverse. 

When it comes to putting a diverse, inclusive and equal workspace or team together, she believes in producing candidates coming from diverse backgrounds- be it race, caste, creed or religion or even sexuality. She ensures that the recruitment is done based on competency rather than ethnicity or a specific diversity or inclusion perspective.


When we asked Jennifer what is the one thing that can make life better for TA specialists and HR Leaders while hiring new talent, here’s what she thinks, 

“Having a diverse methodology for attracting talent and having diverse methodologies. Instead of one strict method. If you are looking at tech, don’t look for technical abilities alone. Ways to uncover their cultural adaptability.” 

When it comes to technology, Jennifer keeps it simple. She uses Zoom for meetings and SLACK to keep everything in sync. She also uses ETS systems to track the progress of candidates. She also uses the help of Project Management software to keep track and record budget control and risk management of any larger HR projects in check. 

Jennifer is a woman leader. She has fought through challenges, hurdles, ups and downs in life to get to where she is today. We asked her about the challenges she faced  as a woman at work, and if there were any untold wishes she hoped for as she climbed the ladder, here is what she had to say,

“I've faced quite a several challenges going up the ladder. So one of them would be the lack of diversity when I started talent acquisitions, because the recruitment space, especially within the eye, is the investment banking area, which is where I started my career, it was very male-dominated.  So really, there was no one to hold my hands to tell me how to thrive in a highly male-dominated environment where testosterone is just flying everywhere.  So along the way, I've had to learn how to manage relationships, manage different expectations and manage different relationships and even orientations to understand that working in a very diverse workplace, not everyone will think the way you think, not everyone will dissect and disseminate information the way you do. And especially being a woman in the workplace, I have to fight twice as hard to be recognized for the work I do.” 

Jennifer, without a doubt, is a fighter. She recalls how she needed to fight twice as hard to be taken seriously on any senior projects. She also talks about how as a woman leader, she faced challenges in handling and managing internal and external stakeholders. She says “Even though it's about managing relationships, as a woman, there's a certain level of expectation that is given to you in the talent acquisition space. So you always have to ensure that even though you may be excellent at current acquisitions, what's your understanding of business intelligence in that space? It is also about understanding how the market works according to your client,  and not just understanding how recruitment alone works.” 

As all great leaders have a message for people who look up to them, so does Jennifer.  When it comes to Talent Acquisition, especially for young, empowered women in this industry, she says,

“My one piece of advice to women in the talent acquisition space is to be a sponge and absorb different areas of talent acquisition in terms of the sector. So not only will you develop your talent acquisition skills, but like I mentioned in my previous answer; it is about understanding the market in which you are working.”