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Recruiting the recruiter

For an HR department, trusting a third party to take on the responsibility of bringing talent to their organisation is one of the biggest decisions they will have to make. Alexander Mann Solutions’ David Heath discusses some of the key things to consider when outsourcing your recruitment function.

Traditional RPO models generally see a provider working with the client to improve the recruitment function by delivering efficiencies and cost savings. However, we believe it’s about far more than simply changing who is operating the recruitment function. It’s about developing a long term partnership with the client and working together to build world class talent functions and transform the resourcing function. As a trusted adviser, a RPO provider can deliver teams of professionals, working under client brands, who bring unrivalled recruitment skills and expertise to help clients ensure they have the right talent in place to sustain competitive advantage and deliver business success.

Once you have made the decision to outsource your recruitment function, there are a number of key things to consider which will enable you to get the most out of the relationship. You need to understand why you are doing it. What are your strategic businesses goals and what skills and expertise does your organisation’s workforce need to deliver these goals? You also need to consider whether you want to outsource all, or only some of your recruitment processes? Perhaps you need a supplier to help manage a contingent workforce or to recruit very specialist skills across an international base.

Having established your resourcing priorities, my advice would be to ensure the decision to outsource is supported from the top down, with engagement and buy-in from across the business – from Resourcing, HR and Procurement. In my experience, this is one of the most important predictors of success or failure. Next, do your research. There is a whole host of RPO providers available and some are more qualified and experienced in particular areas than others. Industry bodies, such as the HR Outsourcing Association (HROA), and industry analysts work closely with buyers and RPO vendors and will be able to provide more information and independent advice on how to carry out a formal tendering process and HRO Today publishes an annual independent survey of RPO providers who they subsequently rank into different groupings.

You don’t need to have an idea of how your targets should be delivered from the outset. Once you know what you need to achieve, an experienced RPO provider will be able to develop a range of solutions, tailored to the specific goals of your organisation.  For some of the businesses, the aim is to simply improve the efficiency of their resourcing practices. There are many ways this can be done and, by carrying out an audit of the processes that are already in place, a RPO provider will be able identify areas that could be made more efficient. For instance, one of our clients, a financial services group, was looking to improve their recruitment processes across the board. Previously, hiring was done on a transactional basis with heavy reliance on third-party recruiters that drove costs up. By implementing an onsite team that worked in the same way as an internal recruitment function, businesses were able to reduce cost-per-hire by 60 percent and increase direct sourcing levels from ten percent to 82 percent.

Increasingly, as businesses operate on a more international scale, they are looking to create global talent pools. This is often challenging as the recruitment industry still tends to operate on a domestic basis in many countries. However a number of RPO providers have broadened their geographic scope and can now support clients across international boundaries. At AMS we have been doing this for a number of years and now deliver services to clients in over 60 countries worldwide.

Whatever your organisation’s aims, it is absolutely essential that you are able to measure the success – or otherwise – of the deal. It is therefore vital that the goals you identify are both concrete and quantifiable. At AMS we build a risk and reward element into our contracts so that, if we don’t deliver as promised, we tak e a financial hit. This kind of target-setting enables the project to be assessed objectively and can protect your business financially if the outsourcer fails to perform.

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