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10 Qualities to Look for in a Hiring Partner

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According to the NCMM’s Q4 2014 Indicator Survey, more than half of middle market companies are struggling to fill a skills gap. Plus, when rating their top five business challenges, the “ability to attract, train and retain talent” ranks fifth with 77% of middle market firms reporting this as a top challenge.

Given the competiveness and urgency for high-growth, middle-market firms to find, attract and retain high quality talent, middle-market leaders must understand all options when choosing a hiring partner.

Relying on recruitment agencies is an option, but it can become costly when you have many open positions. In addition, few employment agencies offer talent management and consulting services to aid with training and retention. That’s where a comprehensive recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution comes in.

RPO is where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment activities to an external service provider; however, not all RPO providers are created equal. All RPOs provide transactional recruitment services; however a subset provides comprehensive solutions to solve challenges along each segment of the talent value chain. If your organization grapples with training and retention as well, the more inclusive provider will solve more of these challenges while you gain the economies of scale of using one provider. In addition, an RPO firm providing broader services will be able to evolve from transactional recruitment provider to strategic, total talent solutions consultant as your organizational needs transform over time.

When shopping for an RPO provider that can provide a total talent solution, here are the 10 qualities to look for in a hiring partner: 

  1. Recruitment &Employer Branding Expertise: Experienced recruitment process outsourcing companies offer extensive research skills, are familiar with cutting edge recruitment and sourcing strategies, and can furnish tools and techniques for building a desirable employer brand.  They can also build specialty talent pools and communities. The best among them understand generational differences in communication methods within candidate pools.
  2. Speed: Skilled RPO providers streamline your recruitment process by eliminating unnecessary research and creating a simpler, more efficient solution—all while balancing improvements in time-to-fill and maintaining a high quality of hire.
  3. Flexibility & Scalability: One of the greatest recruitment challenges is effectively responding to rapid fluctuations in hiring demand. An RPO provider should offer several solution options for scalability and flexibility to minimize your cost and risk as your hiring demand levels vary.
  4. Cost Savings: Outsourcing cuts down both measureable and soft costs. The longer a role is left unfilled, the more money it costs a business. Placing the wrong hire in a position creates unnecessary turnover costs. An RPO decreases a company's cost-per-hire and time-to-fill while enabling HR and hiring managers to focus on high priority responsibilities. 
  5. Technology and Data Expertise: A skilled RPO provider will assist in selecting the best tools and technologies according to your business requirement. They can also analyze and interpret industry and market intelligence, leverage big data for better business decisions and implement automated candidate campaigns for enhanced communication.  
  6. Compliance: From an EEOC, OFCCP and process perspective, your RPO provider must build your hiring system around your goals and objectives. This includes pre-defined Service Level Agreements (SLAs) complete with a governance model to safeguard expected program results and requisition activity levels. 
  7. High-Touch, Consultative Approach: A premium RPO partner provides white-glove service to both hiring managers and candidates with an exceptional attention to detail. For hiring managers, this means offering strategic planning and ongoing reporting and measurement against SLAs. For candidates, it translates into an exceptional hiring process experience to signal how the candidate will be treated as an employee. 
  8. Customized Solution: Many large recruitment companies operate on a one-size-fits all model. Once you hire them, they simply plug your company into their RPO model. This solution isn’t always best for high-growth, middle market companies. Be sure your RPO provider can customize the solution to the unique needs of your organization.
  9. Talent Management and Coaching Services: Premium RPO providers offer value-added talent management and coaching services to aid in the recruitment, selection and development of top talent. Value-add services typically include competency profiling and psychometric testing, interview skills training, career and leadership coaching and services to aid with succession planning. 
  10. Ability to Reach Beyond Current Borders: Whether your operate globally today or have future expansion plans, it may be beneficial to seek an RPO provider who can grow with you globally. However, not all providers who claim to be global truly are. Be sure your provider has an on-the-ground, multi-national recruitment presence with local teams that grasp the values, customs and cultures of a particular geographic location. 

Hudson RPO named to HRO Today's Baker's Dozen List for Top RPO Providers for six consecutive years. Contact Hudson RPO to begin exploring how our products and services can help your business meet its recruiting needs, goals and objectives.


How RPO Impacts Talent Practices in China


Lessons from an Australian RPO Executive Operating in China

While working in China, I have been asked many times what I see as being the main differences between recruiting in Australia where I am from, versus in China. Basically, there are many, and I’m still finding differences each day! While the main process steps remain the same, the key variations are not surprisingly the culture, but also where China is at as a country, an economy and its evolution of producing and managing talent. First and foremost, China is still developing; so recruitment and HR practices are still evolving too. RPO solutions therefore can partner with businesses and HR teams to help shape and progress these talent practices, to ensure businesses engage and retain the talent they need to keep up with China’s growth. Below are some of my key learnings and observations in how RPO is positioned to do this.

I think we are all guilty, myself included, of picking up processes that are tried and tested in another developed country and then attempting to implement them in China. It doesn’t work. One of the key lessons I learnt early on is to localise, localise, localise. Recruitment teams within China are very eager to learn the best practices of RPO Management including sourcing and selecting talent; however they also know what will and won’t work in China. Everything has to be localised.

Selection process objectivity. Internal referrals are high in China; there is a strong culture of recruiters seeking referrals and employees referring people. You don’t actually have to even know them, just meet a person somewhere, exchange name cards and boom – referral made. The average referral rate is between 40-60% in China. While having a high number of referrals can be a great thing and is a really important sourcing channel, our challenge as RPO specialists is making sure they go through a consistent process and to influence managers to show objectivity when choosing their preferred candidate.

Brand is currency! As we know, China loves their brands. So employment branding and image is everything here. However the concept of an EVP is still relatively new. Many big MNCs have their headquarters in Shanghai now, and there is also more competition from local companies for talent. The perception of a company’s brand, their positioning in the global market and reputation as an employer of choice is therefore critical. While China is a massive country, word of mouth still spreads fast! RPO has a great opportunity here to work with clients to develop strong, localised value propositions for their current and potential employees. People in China love to work for a company they makes them proud.

‘A whole new world’. The speed of growth in China means high vacancy and turnover rates. Even though China has a massive population, quality is still hard to come by and speed can’t come at the sacrifice of quality. While hiring turnaround times need to be fast to keep up with the market here, as RPO specialists we also need to push back and manage expectations in regards to timeframes, ensuring we get the right person. Due to the respect of hierarchy in China this can at times be culturally sensitive, so the role of an RPO Leader is to build the team’s confidence to do this and show it’s a way for them to demonstrate their worth and value, by ensuring we hire quality people. Stakeholder management and assertiveness are therefore vital skills for RPO specialists in China.

HR now has a seat at the table. Until the last few years, Human Resources within China focused heavily on recruitment and associated administrative functions. A greater need existed then to ‘buy’ talent. Fast forward to now, and the focus has shifted to developing and managing internal talent. The demands on talent are increasing and China businesses are expecting their new employees to work in complex, global organisations. Therefore HR Directors need to be both strategic and commercial, and HR Managers are now moving into true Business Partner roles. This means that Recruitment too is now seen as a specialist area requiring specialist skills.

Build or Buy talent? Due to increasing people demands, as well as increasing wages costs in China, there is a shift to promote more internally and ‘build’ rather than ‘buy’ talent. HR now must strategically help their businesses to plan for future talent needs. Some capability however doesn’t yet exist in China, so the requirement for RPO solutions to develop specialist sourcing strategies to ‘buy’ key talent is still required.  

Local autonomy required for talent management. For MNCs operating in China, local HR and Talent teams must retain some local autonomy for talent management. The workforce in China is much younger than most Western countries and also the years of experience are lower. With many frameworks and development programs designed and rolled out from global headquarters, local flexibility is needed. For example, employees within China may not yet have developed the same level of competency in some areas that their global colleagues possess; therefore talent programs need to be localised. RPO Specialists can assist HR teams here by providing local market data.

Global mobility programs remain a challenge. Identifying and developing China talent for global roles can be challenge. Family is fundamental in China; therefore family ties can make it difficult for Chinese workers to be mobile. RPO teams can work with the business to identify stretch assignments and secondments, which can be effective ways of giving China talent the global exposure they need, while allowing them to still honour their long-term family commitments.

Competition for talent.  A large portion of China’s economic growth has come from the successful rise of locally owned companies, which now are beginning to attract top talent. Working for a MNC has always been viewed as prestigious, however now senior employees at local companies can get direct exposure to CEOs and Executive teams. To do the same in an MNC, they would need to move internationally. More than ever, RPO Specialists need to work with businesses to ensure their EVP and employment brand is current and competitive in the market.

Support from the C-suite. In China, people respect authority and will follow the ‘Boss’. This means when the CEO and senior management team get behind recruitment and talent strategies, it works. Buy-in from the C-level is therefore critical to ensure a successful RPO solution and recruitment outcome for the client.

Read our case study on RPO Management for entering the Chinese market.

Need assistance with your talent solutions in China? Contact our team.


Illuminating the Darkness on LinkedIn

Tools and techniques for unearthing hard-to-find talent on LinkedIn

This blog article originally appeared on SourceCon on November 25, 2014.

A few years ago I read Glen Cathey’s article called “LinkedIn’s Dark Matter- Undiscovered Profiles.” Reading the article set my mind in motion. In the article Glen calls “dark matter profiles” the profiles that exist on LinkedIn that do not contain enough key words to be returned in most searches. So while these profiles do in reality exist, they rarely, if ever, are discovered.

To illustrate his point he suggests running a search for people in the US with the current title of “Software Engineer” or “Software Developer.” A Boolean search string is added that removes the mention of any technology. The search string would look something like NOT java, NOT C#, NOT Ruby NOT PHP and so on. When you run this search from a LinkedIn Recruiter seat you will get nearly a million results. His article used the example of Software Engineers I will do the same for the sake of continuity.

The problem is there is often no simple way to know if you should approach a person about a job based on title alone. Let’s use a search for Java developers as an example. Using the word Java in your search string will exclude all of nearly one million profiles with the title of “Software Engineer or “Software Developer” that do not include the word Java. A significant portion of those Engineers or Developers are Java developers but you will never see their profiles returned in a search that contains the word Java. These dark matter profiles exist in every profession.

So is there a way to systematically shed some light into this darkness? I answer, yes! One solution provided in the article was to search by group affiliation. For the sake of simplicity let’s continue using the example of Java developers. If you run the same search as before and add a filter that included results for java developer groups then there is a high probability that they are in fact a Java developer. This is a solid way to illuminate some of the darkness in a systematic way. That raises a second question. Are there other methods that can be as, if not more, effective? I answer yes!
While thinking about this problem I reflected back to my school lessons in Geometry. In Geometry we learn that to draw a straight line we require at least two points.

So, if we now think of the profile itself as a single point of information we can think of the missing information as an unknown second point. What can we use to add that second point? The great news is that are multiple tools available to us to create that second point of data and one of them is a tool you have access to and use every single day. We have massive amounts of data in our Applicant Tracking System or ATS.
LinkedIn now offers us a feature that allows us to merge information to LinkedIn profiles. This feature is called Talent Pipeline and it is included in the price of a LinkedIn Recruiter seat. It simply needs to be turned on by your administrator. This feature allows you to upload lists or resumes into your LinkedIn account and will automatically match them to existing profiles. If it is unable to confirm a match it will provide you with the opportunity to match them manually to the closest profiles that it can identify. If it is still unable to find a match it will simply create a shell profile that is only accessible from your LinkedIn account.

The good news is that most ATS systems have a reporting tool. What I like to do is run a report that gives me the first name, last name, email address, phone number and the name of job that every candidate in our ATS has applied to. I then filter my list to remove the duplicates. From there I break up my list into groups of 5,000. 5,000 is limit that LinkedIn has set for uploading lists into its system. I upload those lists using Talent Pipeline. I match first name, last name, email address and phone numbers. I then put the title of the job the candidate applied for in the notes field. I then identify the source as my ATS.
There are several advantages to this approach. It allows me to get a large amount of data into my system in a short period of time. There are now several good things that happen. The first is that I have good contact information for a large pool of potential candidates. When people apply for a job they use a number they answer and an email address they check. This helps improves my response rate and reduces my dependency on inmails. I can now also follow up my email with a call. In addition, it helps improve candidate experience. If I find a candidate in my LinkedIn search that has been identified as having come from my ATS I’m able to reach out to the candidate in a more personal way.

I can send an email that acknowledges their past application, indicate that I kept their information and I believe that I now have an opportunity that maybe of interest for them and the new skills they have acquired. Imagine how much higher your response rates will be! Everyone says, we will keep your information on file and get back to you if we have something else, but almost no one actually does it!

Finally, I know what type of job the applied to in the past. The notes field is searchable! Because I now know 2 years ago, they applied for a Java development job with my company I have enough information to engage. While this person that identified themselves only as a Software Engineer on their profile I know they are in fact a Java developer. This second point of information has allowed me to connect the dots and illuminate some of the dark matter!
This is an efficient and effective way to leverage the information in my ATS. What is even better is that it gives me a competitive advantage while preserving my limited recruiting dollars. Finally, once I have done this work once it is in the system forever. It is automatically included in all my future searches. Business will love this feature as well because it becomes institutional knowledge that will stay with their account even after the recruiter that has that seat has moved on.
There is another method available to illuminate some of this darkness. There are many an adds on offered by the many social aggregators that are commercially available. Tools like Entelo, Guild and others that allow you to pull information from other social media platforms and match the information to LinkedIn profiles. There are two drawbacks to these tools vs using the Talent Pipeline feature.
The first is that you cannot search this information from LinkedIn and the second is that it will cost you almost as much as a LinkedIn seat. However, if you have the budget for them they can provide additional information and illumination to possible candidates that have not applied for a job at your company in the past.
Geometry still has more that it can teach us. Geometry tells us that in order to create a shape we need at least 3 points.

​Is there another way we can use the information from our ATS to create a third data point and increase our competitive advantage? I answer yes! Your ATS is full of key word rich resumes. LinkedIn Talent Pipeline allows for the uploading of up to 500 resumes at a time. My experience has been that it is best to upload no more than 150 at a time locks up the system. It is my understanding that LinkedIn is working to resolve this issue.
My next step is to extract resumes from my ATS and then match them to my LinkedIn Recruiter account. While working as a sourcer at one company I invested the time to upload over 20,000 resumes to my LinkedIn account.

By now you are probably thinking wait a minute, can’t I just search my ATS and save myself the time and effort? I answer yes and no. Yes all this information is already tucked away in your ATS. However there are a few significant drawback.

The first is that the search engine is not going to be as developed as the one that LinkedIn now offers. Another drawback to most ATS search engines is that it limits the number of results. This means that even if you have several thousand resumes in your search engine you will only ever be able to access a few hundred. This is why, I believe, that over time recruiters stop searching their ATS. They believe that they have mined the database when in reality the nature of the search engine and their search string sets an upper limit on the number of resumes they will ever be able to find.

There is another major drawback of resumes in the ATS. The resume itself is another point of data but in the ATS it remains alone point of data. Resumes start to go out of date as soon as they are written. If you source a two year old resume from your database for a job you have today, that person may or may not be a viable candidate for your current search.
So what is the benefit of doing all this extra work? I believe there are a few benefits that justify the time investment. The first major advantage is that it saves you time, in the long run. All your information is in one, searchable location. It is now possible to effectively search your ATS using LinkedIn. The search results can be filtered to return results that are tagged as coming from your ATS. It is then possible to contact the possible candidates in a manner that improves the candidate experience, increases the probability of a response and gives you more timely information about that possible candidate’s relevancy to your current needs.

Additionally, it allows you to customize your message and send that message to an email address that has a higher likelihood of being read. It is also easy to follow up that email with a phone call as all the contact information will be matched automatically to the profile and will show up on the profile page.
While I have been working as a Sourcer using this technique had paid dividends multiple times. For example I was required to identify 30 java developers in a specific market. Because I had already done the leg work I was able to quickly search my market and get good information that allowed me to deliver 47 resumes to my hiring manager within 48 hours. The manager and the recruiter I was supporting were blown away. This was a market they expected to have difficulty identifying even a few candidates in. Sending 47 on point resumes in a short time was enough to earn a nice thank you note to my boss from my hiring manager.
This approach takes two different systems and merges them in such a way that reinforces the strengths of each while mitigating their individual weaknesses. By matching the information from your ATS with the information available in LinkedIn profiles you are able to illuminate at least part of the “dark matter” of LinkedIn. At present there is no way to illuminate all the dark matter profiles but this technique is the most effective way to shed light on the profiles that are most likely to be relevant.

Mike Wolford is the Recruiting Manager at PCAOB via Hudson RPO. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or Twitter 





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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.