Help Ross! A Summer Case Study

A medium-sized organization is in the midst of rapid growth. Through a series of small acquisitions and a vigorous hiring campaign, the firm has added more than 200 people to its staff over the past six months. Projections are to add at least equal that amount over the next six months, and if the economy is improving, to move beyond even that. Ross Simon, the director of staffing, is faced with many decisions. Perhaps the largest and most strategic is a decision about whether to engage a recruitment process outsourcing firm or to build more internal capability. Under his tutelage, the firm has created an award-winning recruiting website that allows a candidate to learn a great deal about the firm and the particular job they are interested in, and also to go through online evaluations to determine whether or not they can move on to interviews. Building this website has been an ordeal. Several consultants, as well as the internal IT department, evaluated vendors for months and worked to integrate many disparate systems into a seamless whole. Ross has learned a lot. His first major “ah-ha!” was simply that no single vendor could provide what his firm needed. He was forced to hire a project manager to go quickly through the many vendors and select those with the tools that were closest to what they felt they needed. This was a major win for Ross, as he was fortunate to get a consultant with IT expertise and HR/recruiting knowledge to head up the effort. This gave him objectivity and reduced his need for permanent headcount. His second “ah-ha” was that none of the applicant tracking systems he evaluated was able to handle the candidate relationship management he felt was essential to success. He wanted to build talent communities and be able to send emails, newsletters, and other communications to select candidates on a regular basis. He also wanted to keep track of unsuccessful, but well-qualified, candidates so they could be presented again. He remains at a loss for a solid system that can provide this capability, as well as provide backend tracking and scheduling. This has further driven him to seriously consider recruitment process outsourcing. After all, large organizations like Kellogg’s have outsourced everything for some time with success. RPO looks good from a budget point of view, as expenses are predictable and negotiable and he can get a guarantee on service levels and quality. That is more than he can get from his internal staff. If he is going to improve his internal recruiting function, Ross wants it to be very strategic and to focus on workforce planning, talent supply chain development, branding, and internal selection and placement. This will most likely mean that several current recruiters will be laid off and several new ones, with a different skill set, brought in. This will be expensive and stressful and will definitely lower morale and productivity for a while. What would you do if you were Ross? There are many interesting challenges and assumptions in this case:

  1. What is the value of internal recruiting vs. outsourcing? Is it really cheaper or better?
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  3. What is the role of the “new” recruiting function? What should recruiters be doing?
  4. What challenges would Ross face in implementing this approach? How would the CEO and hiring managers respond?
  5. Is talent supply chain management a legitimate role for recruiting? Who “owns” talent?
  6. Should recruiting be involved in internal as well as external recruiting? If so, how?

I will address these questions and issues in later columns ó ones that will also contain your ideas and opinions. Please send me an email at with your thoughts, ideas, and the steps that you would take. We will help Ross’s as a worldwide team!

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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