Mark Needs Your Help: Your Responses and My Thoughts

A couple of weeks ago I presented a case study about a recruiting director named Mark who was faced with numerous challenges and decisions. His organization is not well-known, and is growing faster than Mark can bring in the talent it needs.

He has run ads, posted jobs, and created a recruiting website but is not getting the volume of quality candidates he needs. He’s considering using a recruitment processing outsourcing firm to help but isn?t sure it can do any better than he can. He is debating between building more internal capability and going the recruitment process outsourcing route. He is also struggling with how to create more name recognition and visibility for his company with likely candidates.

I asked the ERE community to respond to Mark?s dilemma and more than 60 of you did! In fact, many of you thought Mark was a real person in a real situation. Mark?s situation was invented by me from a composite of the woes of clients and colleagues that I have worked with. Your many responses seem to me to underline how ordinary Mark?s problems are.

Here are some of your responses and my own thoughts.

Should Mark Use Outsourcing or Build His Own Internal Recruiting Team?

Mark is in a small organization, perhaps between 300 and 400 people, but growing fast. It has made many acquisitions and has employees in Europe and Asia. He has hired a few sourcing experts but they have not been on board long enough to produce many candidates yet. People and money are not big issues; he can get what he needs from the CEO.

More than two-thirds of those who responded were in favor of using a recruitment process outsourcing firm in some way. Many felt that a mix of recruitment process outsourcing and internal recruiting was the best way for Mark to approach solving his problems. As one of you said, ?The best answer is to go with the hybrid model, using recruitment process outsourcing for the transactional hires (and make them full-life-cycle, not just supplemental front-end to existing staff) and keep the higher-band roles and recruiting strategy/operations with internal staff.?

Another said, ?A small company probably has a core competency other than recruiting. Therefore, IMHO they should establish a long-term agreement with a third-party recruiter to provide all of their hiring needs??

Some felt that recruitment process outsourcing should be used selectively. ?He can use recruitment process outsourcing for the site business leader & site HR leader (or very high-priority positions) and for the rest of the vacancies, the HR & site leader can handle that.?

Yet, there were a few who disagreed with this. One felt that Mark needed a strategy to guide his thinking before he decided on recruitment process outsourcing or on building internal capability: ?Recruitment process outsourcing or hybrid that is mentioned in his case or even the PR agencies are unlikely to work in the present context where Mark is in. These are just tools, not the directions.?

My own perspective is:

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  1. Mark does need a more complete overall strategy and philosophy of how talent should be acquired. This should be something mutually worked out with his leadership team and executed carefully.
  2. At the same time, he needs to fill open positions quickly and needs to hire some seasoned recruiters with expertise in the most critical functions he is recruiting for.
  3. And perhaps use recruitment process outsourcing for the routine or less-strategic positions.

How Should Mark Source for Candidates?

Mark has used print and job boards as well as a recruiting website to attract candidates. None have been very successful. Many of you thought that Mark needed a much broader sourcing campaign and that he should try a variety of tools and techniques until he finds the combination that works best.

One of you provided Mark a simple checklist:

  1. Advertise everywhere;
  2. Use your current staff for referrals (the reader sends out all of her open locations on a weekly basis);
  3. Use government programs to place diverse groups; and
  4. Use email groups.

Another enterprising recruiter wrote: ?Set up a mini recruiting site that looks like an agency. Buy directories of your competitor and send people targeted emails directing them to this third-party site. It looks like an agency but is much more guerilla recruiting. Also you can buy out categories on Monster and send direct email too. If you use a recruiting site that is not your own, you do not run the risk of a competitor finding out it is you.?

And a few suggested using the emerging tools, such as blogs, that I and others on ERE have frequently mentioned as ways to attract candidates. For example, ?Given that Mark’s company operates in the technical arena, I would strongly suggest the creation of a blog with an open comments forum to draw like-minded technical people. I would also suggest arranging a presence at tech fairs, MS conferences, and the like. We strongly encourage our employees to blog in addition to contributing to technical papers to raise awareness of themselves and our company by default.?

As one of you mentioned, Mark has a opportunity of a lifetime. But, he needs to balance strategy with execution and ensure that whatever tactical direction he takes can be changed or stopped as his strategy develops. He needs to take the time to thoughtfully examine with his senior management the philosophy and overall direction this organization want to go with talent. Do they want people for the short term or do they want to develop people? Is this a company where people briefly stop on their career journey or is this a destination where people stay? He needs to be forthright in deciding which functions are most vital to the organization?s success and focus his best recruiting there.

Most likely he will adopt a hybrid approach with a mix of strategic internal recruiting and some well-chosen external recruitment process outsourcing help.

Thanks again for all your wonderful and enlightening responses!

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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