What Would You Do? A Summer Rumination

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 at least equal that amount over the next six 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 outsource a large portion of this task to a third party or instead to build more internal capability. Under his tutelage the firm has created an award-winning recruiting website that allows a candidate both to learn a great deal about the firm and the particular job they are interested in as well as to take tests and go through online evaluations to determine whether or not they can move on to interviews. Building this website has been an ordeal. Programmers and IT experts 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 one vendor could provide what they 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 enough 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 a handful of tools provided him 80% of the capability he needed. After many weeks looking for the ?perfect? applicant tracking system (ATS), his team recommended a solid, but not perfect, ATS tool. They chose one that had a strong talent-management-oriented front-end and a weaker backend, as they felt the primary focus has to be at the front in building a talent pool and creating brand awareness. They then added two more vendors who provided in-depth screening and assessment capability. One of these vendors focused on a fairly high-level screen for culture fit, and the second on an online behavioral interview. These three systems, now integrated, have given him tremendous ability to find the best candidates. He is very pleased that his team chose to spend time and money on integration rather than on features. In fact, his staff of just six recruiters has been able to handle most of the recruiting and only a small number of positions have gone to external agencies. Now, as growth continues, he is deciding whether to outsource some of the remaining recruiting needs, mostly for specialty positions or very low volume recruiting, or instead to invest in hiring and training an internal recruiting staff. Some organizations have recently decided to outsource everything; this model is common in places such as New Zealand and Australia where recruiting has never been looked at as a core internal HR activity. It also looks good from a budget point of view, as expenses are one-time only. Also, although higher than he could do it internally, the training costs and the cost of benefits offsets it. If he is going to have an internal recruiting function, Ross wants it to be very strategic and to focus on workforce planning, talent supply chain development, branding, and on internal selection and placement. External recruiting often gets in the way of these more value-added activities. What would you do if you were Ross? There are many interesting challenges and assumptions in this case:

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

I will address these questions and issues in later columns?? ones that will also contain your ideas and opinions. Please send me an email at comments@glresources.com with your thoughts, ideas, and the steps that you would take. We’ll solve Ross’s problem 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 ERE.net, 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 kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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