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Recruitment Outsourcing

26th May 2023

What is Recruitment Outsourcing?

Recruitment process outsourcing: everybody’s doing it. But why? What are the benefits of outsourcing recruitment? And what’s the best way to do it? Here’s our guide, including something other recruiters rarely talk about…

What is recruitment process outsourcing?

Some organisations keep all their recruitment in house. Some let a specialist recruiter cover the hard yards of hiring. If you’re handing over the nuts and bolts of recruitment to someone else – to any extent – you’re outsourcing recruitment.

What does recruitment process outsourcing involve?

There are lots of recruitment companies out there (you’ve probably noticed). Although they all operate with slight differences, in general you can expect recruitment outsourcing to cover the sourcing and screening of candidates. Your outsourcing partner might prep candidates for interview. Some will act as the liaison between client and candidate right up to and sometimes even beyond induction.

Most recruiters will do as much or as little as you need. You can ask the recruiter to recruit for you. Or you can ask them to recruit with you, adding their skills to your own. You don’t have to sign up to a complete end-to-end process either. If you simply want to outsource the job ads and initial screening, you can.

As we’ll see in a moment, there can be big benefits for organisations that choose to outsource.

Benefits of recruitment outsourcing

Cost savings: No retail business operates with the sort of permanent staff numbers it only really needs during Christmas peak season. It’s the same with an HR department. Even if you run a recruitment team in house, it will be a team designed to cope with the daily churn. It probably won’t be designed to handle peak season recruiting that happens once every August, or the occasional volume recruitment exercise, because that would leave you with lots of people with nothing to do for significant chunks of the year.

Recruitment outsourcing by exception means you bring in additional support only for the times you really need it. It ensures you stay in control of costs, only paying for the resource you need. And by keeping your in-house recruitment team at minimal levels the rest of the year, you don’t just avoid the additional salaries and benefits; you avoid paying for training, induction, sickness, pensions and infrastructure costs too.

Candidate quality: One of the big reasons to outsource recruitment is because it enables you to tap into the candidate networks and recruitment channels that few in-house setups can match. Why does that matter? Think of it this way. When it comes to recruitment, most organisations are swimming in the same big pond. Similar ads connect with similar candidates with similar skills. It’s why, if you’ve already run an in-house recruitment exercise and haven’t found the people you wanted, repeating the exercise is only likely to return the same people.

But recruiters have their own connections. At Zachary Daniels, for example, everyone we’ve ever placed is part of that network. They’re not on jobs boards because they’re not ‘officially’ looking for a job; but occasionally they may call one of our team for a chat about what’s ‘out there’. That’s just one of several ways an outsourced recruiter can connect you with people that, by recruiting in house, you never could.

Recruiters spend years building contact lists and, naturally, they’re extremely protective of them. Their contacts are one of the key factors that separate them from the next recruiter. The only way to access those contacts is by working with them.

Scale, speed, tech and experience: Unlike your organisation, outsourced recruiters only do recruitment. While you spin a thousand plates, they deal with just one. One of the benefits of outsourcing hiring is that you get to tap into the specialist training, best practice, technology and experience that’s much harder to build in a wider HR department.

Many recruitment companies are staffed to deal with volume hiring exercises, so if you have a store opening programme that’s way beyond your small team’s capacity to deal with, outsourcing recruitment can solve the problem.

And recruitment companies work fast. They have to. So when you need to cut time-to-hire, outsourcing recruitment can help you take advantage of streamlined systems and processes designed to do just that.

Recruitment shield: Here’s something that every recruiter implicitly knows but rarely talks about. Recruitment isn’t what it once was. Once upon a time, you could run the largest hiring exercise and, unless you were part of the process in some way, no one would know or care about it.

But things have changed dramatically. Now, if you run a volume recruitment exercise in a town, social media will ensure everyone knows about it. That presents a risk, because the nature of any hiring exercise is that you’re going to disappoint 90%+ of the people who apply.

When you run the exercise in house, it’s your brand on the ad. It’s your brand that dishes out the disappointment. And it’s your brand that faces the backlash from rejected candidates and everyone they’re connected with if, in their minds, you’ve acted unfairly or done something wrong.

With recruitment outsource processing, however, candidates often don’t know the brand they’re applying to until they’re through the initial sift. That removes a lot of unsuccessful candidates from the equation while ensuring it’s the recruiter that faces the music, not you.

Is recruitment outsourcing right for you?

We have a lot of conversations with in-house recruiters who may be initially wary of outsourcing. After all, no one knows your business like you. No one knows your people like you. Perhaps you only want your outsourced recruiter to work on demand. Perhaps you want them to integrate with your own in-house team for a major hiring exercise and nothing more. Perhaps you worry you’ll lose control of the process.

Yet even the most micromanagement-obsessed head of HR can find outsourcing rewarding when they work with a recruiter who takes the time to understand them, their perspective, the business and the candidates they’re looking for. It’s taking shortcuts, or simply not working in an empathetic way, that causes problems.

How does recruitment process outsourcing work?

It’s for the above reasons that the answer to this question is: ‘however you want it to work’. There’s a standard way of working, of course, but a great recruiter is flexible – able to adapt their standard way of working to fit in with you. That’s particularly important when you’re asking an outsourced recruiter to work alongside your team, because you want to know it will be a seamless match.

To decide whether and to what extent you need recruitment process outsourcing, you’ll want to consider the following steps:

Needs assessment: What’s the recruitment challenge? What in-house skills do you have and where are the gaps?

Recruiter selection: We spend our lives talking about the importance of ‘brand fit’, that certain something that makes a candidate perfect for a client (and vice versa). The same can often be true of recruiter and client. If you’re going to be spending a  lot of time working together it’s important you choose a recruiter whose values, ethics and way of working match your own. 

Service level agreement (SLA): You’ll want to outline the scope of your relationship. The SLA is where you agree roles, key performance indicators, timelines and any other relevant terms and conditions.

Sourcing strategy: The outsourced recruiter puts together a sourcing strategy to attract potential candidates. The details will alter depending on who you’re aiming to recruit, but the strategy will typically involve a mix of job boards, social media platforms, professional networks and the occasional spot of headhunting. You’ll also agree the criteria by which applications will be screened.

Implementation: The recruiter puts the strategy into action, then screens the results. Screening may include pre-interviews, tests and application evaluation based on the criteria you agreed. The recruiter will then present the best candidates for interview and you will draw up a shortlist.

Interview coordination & candidate selection: Most outsourced recruiters will manage the logistics of scheduling and coordinating interviews of shortlisted candidates. They’ll also support candidate selection with feedback. 

Negotiation and onboarding: Some outsourced recruiters will support candidate negotiations, liaising between parties as you agree salaries and notice periods. They will then stay in touch with the candidate during onboarding to help ensure a smooth transition to their new organisation. That’s a standard part of the way we work, for example, but it’s not something every recruiter will do.

Recruitment process outsourcing with Zachary Daniels

If you need to take advantage of the benefits of outsourcing recruitment, do it with a recruiter who’s spent more than a decade partnering with organisations across the UK.  To get started, let’s have a chat.

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