Mark Needs Your Help

A small organization is in the midst of rapid growth. Through a series of 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 at least equal that amount over the next six and, if the economy is improving, to move beyond that. Some of this talent acquisition is in Asia and Europe as operations expand to these areas. They are hiring a wide range of people, but those that will be core to the company’s success are highly skilled and have a technical background.

Mark Mackey, the director of staffing, is faced with many issues and decisions. While the initial effort to hire 200 people was a success, it is getting harder to find the right people and convince them to accept his offers. The first group was relatively easy to hire because they were located in the community where the company has a good reputation. Now that Mark has to go out nationally and even internationally to find people, success is a lot harder.

Perhaps his toughest decision is whether to engage a recruitment process outsourcing firm or to build more internal capability. He recently hired several sourcing experts and is hopeful they will begin producing good candidates, but they are already struggling with the lack of interest in the company. He feels that perhaps an RPO company could get results faster.

Six months ago, when he first came to the company, Mark created a recruiting website that allows a candidate to learn a great deal about the firm and the particular job they are interested in. He incorporated video and even has a podcast about the company that candidates can download. But, he has learned that just because you build a website doesn’t mean that good candidates will come. His firm lacks brand recognition and is tucked away in a corner of the country that is not particularly desirable. He is challenged as to how to best build brand awareness and get the better candidates to come to his site.

He has invested some of his budget in ads in the magazines and journals that are attractive to the candidates he wants to attract, but they haven’t improved traffic to his website nor have they resulted in more hires. He has just hired a public relations firm to help him build a brand, but he’s somewhat unsure of their ability to do it.

The more he thinks about his problems and future direction, the better the RPO strategy looks. Hiring an internal staff and getting them up to speed on the brand and organization will take quite a lot of time to begin producing the results he is exacted to deliver.

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His CEO and the VP of HR are open to either an RPO solution or to a hybrid of a small internal group supplemented with the RPO. So, if he’s going to grow an internal recruiting function, Mark wants it to be very strategic and to focus on workforce planning and talent supply chain development. This will most likely mean that the website and branding will take a back seat as he finds the right recruiters for these functions. The HR staff is small and not very experienced in recruiting so he cannot rely on them for much help.

The pressure is building and Mark is getting frustrated as there don’t seem to be very many answers to his problems. Last week he called a few colleagues at other organizations to see what they were doing. Some had larger or more developed staffing functions, but none of them had much advice for him.

His choice seem to be to go heavily and quickly to RPO and to only very slowly build internal capability or to do the opposite and invest a lot in hiring a strong team as fast as he can. He also has to somehow improve the awareness candidates have of the company. Right now very few have heard of his firm and even fewer know about what a fantastic place it is to work. It has world-class benefits, flexible work schedules, and other perks that are hard to find. It is committed to career development and allows employees time for personal development at the company’s expense. The international recruiting piece is also very frightening for Mark as he has no experience in working or recruiting outside the U.S.

Money is not a major issue. The CEO and VP of HR understand that getting the right talent is a strategic business initiative and are willing to invest to get good people. But, neither Mark nor they want to waste money on futile activity that doesn’t build the brand or bring in the candidates.

What would you do if you were Mark? What is the best way to approach these dilemmas? I will give you my thoughts in a few weeks and ask you for yours. Please send me comments, ideas, approaches or strategies you think will work. I will incorporate as many of them as I can into the follow-up article. Send your ideas to me at

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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