Is Your Job Going to India? Part 2

Last month, I wrote an article entitled, Is Your Job Going to India? In the wake of that article, I received a flood of responses from staffing directors, managers, and recruiters. The staffing industry’s response to this piece will surprise you ó and recruiting may never be the same again. First I’d like to make something clear. This article on offshoring was more of a question than an answer. The purpose was to bring to light a very real choice that staffing directors are making every day: Can outsourced or offshore labor take over the more administrative pieces of the recruiting process and whose jobs are at risk? The opinions expressed below from staffing directors, recruiters and vendors were selected from the many I received. Out of respect for their authors, I have chosen to keep their names, companies and certain details confidential. Responses From Staffing Directors What surprised me most from the responses I got is that there are not many compelling arguments against offshoring out there among staffing directors. In fact, I had several staffing directors email me asking where they could find some offshore assistance with tasks like resume processing and database mining. Another mentioned that the article would be used as a motivation tool for his recruiting team which, in his opinion, was starting to fall into a very reactionary recruiting mode. Even those who were most reluctant to consider using offshore labor had to admit that there may be some merit to the approach:

As an American I am completely opposed to offshoring jobs. As a business person, however, it’s my fiduciary responsibility to examine all possibilities. Quite a conundrum. Like most recruiters, I bristle when I hear about any outsourcing, as the connotation is that jobs will be lost here. Outsourcing part of the work, laying off more recruiters, and asking the survivors to do more is not going to produce the results one would hope for. But if you outsource the administrative part of the function and allow recruiters to do what they do best ó network, build relationships, sell candidates ó without further reducing staff, then the idea might have some merit, one I have been reluctant to consider.

Responses from Recruiters I also heard from a few recruiters, who were just as frustrated and scared by the reactionary recruiting efforts they took part in. Perhaps the most poignant response I got was from a regional recruiter, who said the following:

Just wanted to thank you offline for putting my fears into words. I worked as a contract recruiter for a large consulting firm, recruiting nationwide. Due to time and budget constraints, I wasn’t allowed to meet the hiring managers in person. I became just the type of ‘inbox recruiter’ you described ó getting all of my candidates (except one, whom I found through my own recruiting) from responses to our postings and internal referrals. All I did was screen resumes, conduct phone screens, present candidates, and guide them and the hiring managers through the process. In 9 months, I made over 80 offers without once meeting a candidate… My point: Despite the fact that the company that hired me seemed satisfied with my service, I felt like a resume monkey. I felt completely expendable, or at least replaceable, with smart overseas labor (okay, very smart labor ó but it could be done). I declined a full-time offer with the company because I could easily see my job (in its current format) going overseas, yet I couldn’t see a way to make myself more valuable. With over 50 reqs and a cumbersome internal process (up to eight approvals required for every offer), I could barely spare a minute for external recruiting. Now I’m back trying to build my own business. I know I have to make my services so valuable that I won’t be outsourced. You hit the nail on the head with your article.

Responses From Vendors Several vendors contacted me about the services they are starting to provide large companies in the areas of resume mining, processing, and screening. I heard through the grapevine about several companies that have been successfully experimenting with the approach and are achieving some of the same time and cost efficiencies I hypothesized about in my article. While experiences were mostly positive when companies used offshore labor for repetitive and administrative tasks, some companies also told me about the risks and failures they experienced when they tried to take on too much of the recruiting process:

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I worked for a company that started an offshore recruiting service. It just didn’t work out. The reasons were obvious: People in the U.S. have a different work ethic than other countries, and there are different time zones, dialects, and language barriers. [The offshore recruiters were] using the same recruiting job boards, and no relationships were being built with hiring managers. If you have a hiring manager for XYZ Company talking to someone in India who merely works as a ‘resume miner,’ it just won’t cut it. Recruiters are sales managers too. They build the relationships in both corporate and agency environments. They get to know the local recruiting landscape and how to bring value to recruiting. Much like when someone buys a home or car, managers want to deal with a live person.

Conclusions Some things we’re all going to have to face up to in the coming years:

  • Regardless of what you think of offshoring, it is about to become a very real, much more common phenomenon in the recruiting industry. If current trends continue, you may not recognize today’s recruiting department in the next five years.
  • If your primary role is sorting through active candidate inflow, your job is potentially at risk ó whether through full recruitment process outsourcing, offshoring, or both.
  • Offshore recruiters ó by their own admission in most cases ó will never be able to perform as full-lifecycle recruiters. They will also not be able to fully replace the recruiters who do things the right way, i.e. the ones that focus on finding the absolute best talent and building strong relationships with hiring managers and passive candidates.
  • Offshore recruiters are also not likely to be able to effectively sell the best talent on working for your company.
  • By taking on the less-than-glamorous pieces of recruiting, offshore recruiters may enable you to focus on and get better at higher value activities.

While the risks of offshore labor are very real to many, the opportunities are also great. The value of a good recruiting team cannot be found in how many resumes they process or sort through, nor in the number of individuals they screen or schedule. The real value a recruiting team provides is to give your company a competitive advantage for great talent ó regardless of how the work is split up. As companies begin to outsource and offshore the administrative aspects of recruiting, this presents a very real opportunity for recruiters to excel in the areas that add the most value to their companies. If you have examples of your own positive and negative experiences with offshoring, please share them by posting a review below or emailing me at davel@jobster.com.

Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (www.talentsparkconsulting.com), a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.

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5 Comments on “Is Your Job Going to India? Part 2

  1. I could have written the ‘recruiter response’ in my last couple of jobs.

    One of the reasons I recently left a corporate recruiting management position for a small staffing company was to get to start focusing on a local niche market for the first time in years. I want to get back to the basics of recruiting – building relationships with candidates, learning who the local gurus are in a specific area. I see that as a challenge, but also likely to lead to more reward than shuffling paper for a large corporation.

    I loved the mgmt role, but in that recruiting environment, it felt administrative rather than professional. There was no vision, and we all had to color within the lines.

    Corporations whine that their recruiters have become paper shufflers, but look at why. They expect recruiters to build pipelines in 25 markets nationwide for 25 different skill sets from admin to technician to sr acct exec without ever getting to meet the candidates, or even the hiring managers. Yeah right. I don’t see them asking their sales people to be effective under those terms.

  2. My job in Bangalore is to make your job easier.
    That’s what I tell my recruiter clients, and I genuinely believe it.

    As we say in our pitch – ‘We work quietly behind the scenes to take care of the mechanics of the recruitment business, leaving you free to focus on working the phone, networking with candidates and connecting your clients with compatible candidates.’

    I don’t think we take away recruiter jobs, I think we make a recruiters job easier. It’s not like there are a whole lot of people in India who can even begin to comprehend how to network with candidates for a position like ‘Risk Manager – RV and Marine Portfolio’. I had a hard time explaining the position to our researchers who’ve never seen an RV in their lives, and can’t imagine that there’s an entire industry around it. Once I explained the key attributes of the position though, they had no problems finding profiles of people with the right skills and names of people in industry associations. Our recruiter client had a whole list of names to network with next morning. This kind of assistance, I’d like to think definitely makes a recruiter’s job easier and more fulfilling. I remember feeling good about an email from a recruiter client – ‘You’re my patron saint’ – when he got a list of names to kickstart his task of filling a difficult position.

    It’s not recruiter jobs that are likely to go to India, it’s recruiting assistant jobs; but hey that’s not you right?

  3. I did not read the article in question but would like if anyone has contacted their legislative representatives yet? Within my industry, hundreds of jobs are being lost to India based firms on a daily basis. It is spreading-it will hit your industries too.
    I have sent letters to my Federal and State representatives to state my concerns and complaints on this practice. We all lose in some form or another. We all pay through higher taxes.
    Maybe I am naive, but apathy does not help either.

  4. For those who want to enact legislation that would make it more difficult for American companies to offshore jobs to India and other countries, would you also be in favor of legislation that would make it more difficult for foreign companies to create jobs in the United States?

    Let us not forget our history and therefore be doomed to repeat it. The Great Depression of the 1930s was largely created by short sighted protectionist efforts. The motives may have been good (who isn’t favor of creating more jobs and safeguarding those which already exist?), but if we throw up protectionist walls, then we have to expect that other countries will do the same.

    Steven Rothberg
    CollegeRecruiter.com job board
    http://www.CollegeRecruiter.com .

  5. Steven
    You have truly made an excellent point.. There are just too many issues to deal with when it comes to this factor there are many sides of the coin and we should view them with open minds. There is extreme good and bad on both sides, we are all aware of the bad, but we must educate ourselves on the positive. W/O doing that may unfortunately like you said stunt our own development, and allow others to advance and progress.

    Of course People who lose their jobs and are seeking new employment may not likely be appreciative of my words, or even have the ability to see where there could be future opportunities to be developed from this for them or their children.

    There is a lot to lose and gain from this all, but the question is how long before we see rewards, and will the rewards be strong enough to justify the negatives.. Will the average Joe employee really reap the benefits on a personal and financial level, will there be more jobs created in the outcome to supersede the jobs lost, or will the benefits mainly be for the large corporations and their pockets. Will this new economy also eventually create more educated individuals in America, improve our customer service so that we may better compete, and what new technology (?combustion engine?) will come from this era.

    We are approaching a new age, and new era.. Just like the Technological Age that many of us resisted 20+ years ago, so many of use were not even willing to even consider the internet, far less internet banking, or even owning a home computer..

    We can try to resist change, but what good will that do.. It will occur whether we want it to or not… This new era of outsourcing will eventually get the bugs out of it, and there are bugs, but by then a new era of something else will come that will again cause discomfort that we will have to learn to adapt to.

    We must instead try to make lemonade out of the lemons that are given to us. Find a way to see how we can improve our present status, so that the future does not leave us behind at the curb. With my kids, I am making sure that they do learn a foreign language, and international trade, and to learn things that will make them indispensable in the future, no matter what the future holds? As I tell them frequently, the job they may have in 20 years may not yet be invented.

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