Recruitment strategies: CEO advice on top HR considerations

Kathi May

Recruitment strategies often headline workforce planning conversations.

Just ask Kimberley Hubble, CEO for Hudson RPO in APAC.

As a trusted recruitment leader with more than 25 years of industry experience, Kimberley regularly consults with business leaders about fundamental considerations for HR and the wider organisation.

Kimberley Hubble presentation

In this blog, she explores the key factors to consider when selecting a recruitment strategy: RPO, in-house, or a blended solution combining both?

Discover her insights into the recruitment strategy decision-making process below.

Introduction to recruitment strategy decision-making

Kimberley Hubble, CEO for APAC, reflects on what to consider when evaluating recruitment strategies.

When my team and I meet with top HR leaders to discuss their talent acquisition models, we often begin by reflecting on the basics.

Let me take you through our thought process. I’ll share with you the key points you should consider when evaluating talent models.

Kimberley Hubble, CEO for APAC, reflects on what to consider when evaluating recruitment strategies.

By the end, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of which recruitment strategy may be best suited to support your business objectives.

Let’s get started!

Subject matter expertise and business transformation

Do you have sufficient in-house expertise to manage a transformation of your talent acquisition model?

In addition to strategy change, you should also consider a mix of process transformation, technology transformation, and skills transformation. These will all help bring your model up to best practice.

If you do have these skills in-house, then an in-house model might be for you.

But if you don’t, you may want to consider loaning them from an RPO provider. This partnership could exist over a defined period of time, or on an ongoing basis.

Attracting and retaining top recruitment talent

Do top recruiters want to join your business? Critically, will they stay?

These insights will affect the calibre of recruitment talent you can expect to fill in-house recruitment roles.

The opportunity to develop one’s career continues to be a major driver behind successfully recruiting and retaining top talent.

So, does your organisation offer a sufficient variety of roles and clear career progression? Do employees have diverse and compelling career paths to choose from, supported with ongoing skills development?

Because RPOs serve a huge range of clients in different industries and frequently spanning different geographies, they’ve actually got a bit of an advantage when it comes to retaining great talent. Many top recruiters are drawn to the diversity of career paths offered by an RPO.

Workplace culture and commercial success

Related to the question of your ability to attract and retain recruitment talent is the question of organisational culture. Specifically, does your workplace drive a culture of consistently high performance, measurement, and continuous improvement?

By its nature, an RPO consists of professional recruiters tied to achieving clear, measurable targets. In an RPO, a recruiter’s commercial success depends on achieving the goals of the partner business.

The right corporate culture facilitates a high-performing talent acquisition function. If this sounds like your culture, then in-house may be a suitable recruitment strategy. If, on the other hand, your culture does not currently value these things, then outsourcing may be the way to go.

Recruitment strategy cost management

When considering recruitment strategies, there is also the question of cost. There are many categories of cost within the talent acquisition function, such as:

  • The costs of internal talent acquisition team members
  • Third party agency costs
  • Executive search fees
  • Technology costs: ATS, CRM, and other recruitment tools
  • Advertising and employer branding costs: job board costs, costs of using LinkedIn, and costs to develop and execute an employer brand strategy
  • Other operational costs, such as cost of background checking, psychometric testing, travel for team and candidates

If you are currently paying for an internal recruitment team, but are still paying high costs for other categories such as agency spend, search fees, and advertising for example, then an RPO is probably the way to go. This is because they can take cost out quickly by reducing agency spend to under 5% literally overnight.

However, if you have an in-house team using no or very minimal agency support, then you would need to assess if the RPO can save money in other areas such as off-shoring some roles at a lower cost, or changing technology and process to drive cost reduction.

The other thing to think about is whether you want high fixed cost in your business. Internal recruitment teams can lead to high fixed costs that unnecessarily burden your business.

So, if hiring volumes drop suddenly, or once a hiring peak passes, what will you do with the surplus resources?

The costs of making people’s roles redundant is high and not great for your brand. As a recruitment strategy, RPO is designed to easily scale recruitment resources up and down in line with hiring volumes. It keeps your costs flexible, not fixed.

Rapid scaling capabilities

Related to the issue of fixed cost versus variable cost, is the question of rapid scaling. If your business needs to scale up quickly, or if it has many unanticipated hiring peaks throughout the year, then an RPO is a very good choice.

An RPO can assemble large recruitment teams at very short notice. For example, we recently assembled a team of 55 recruiters within six weeks for a special project in the government sector.

Behind the scenes, most RPOs have their own RPO model positioned to support high-growth periods. They use this function to build pipelines of recruitment talent for their own business. This enables them to resource solutions for all clients at short notice. They can also temporarily share resources from across their client base depending on hiring volumes at any time. All of these activities make it easier for an RPO to scale up quickly versus an in-house team.

Access to niche skill sets

Does your business need access to skills that may be in short supply? Perhaps these skills only exist overseas in necessary quantities.

An in-house team, with a primary focus on the domestic market, may struggle to understand specialist talent pools based overseas.

In comparison, an RPO with global reach and international experience, can use global networks and deeper knowledge to source candidates from all over the world.

If you’re frequently searching for rare skill sets, this may prove a deciding factor in which recruitment strategy you select.

Business outsourcing experience

Has your business recently outsourced any other functions? This might include payroll, finance, or IT, for example. Feedback from these initiatives can help reveal end-user attitudes towards outsourcing as a practice in your company. These insights may influence the business appetite for future outsourcing initiatives.

If there have been poor experiences with outsourcing, a business may be reticent to accept an RPO model. In these circumstances, an in-house model may be the best way forward for talent acquisition.

Alternatively, the RPO can make a special effort to position the model as ‘insourcing‘, as effectively the focus in on bringing recruiters inside your organisation. Who the team are employed by becomes a secondary consideration.

Employer brand communication

Your team, whether in-house or RPO, must be outstanding ambassadors for the business. They are often the first human point-of-contact that candidates have with the business.

So, who will communicate your employer brand in the most compelling way?

If you go down the RPO route, or even if you opt for a blended model, you must be able to invest the necessary time and resources into ensuring your RPO team are top brand ambassadors. To do this, they must fully understand your corporate:

  • business
  • strategy
  • structure
  • culture
  • value proposition

Tech knowledge driving smarter recruitment

RPO firms have entire departments dedicated to researching, testing, and applying new technologies that enhance the recruitment process. Often, companies with in-house teams don’t have the luxury of dedicating headcount to recruitment tech consultancy.

The right choice of technology can create efficiency, while forging human connections. Yet, the talent acquisition industry is saturated with new technology offerings. These require vigorous research before potential implementation. The range of HR tech, which an RPO can advise you on, includes:

  • sourcing tools
  • screening tools
  • applicant tracking systems (ATS)
  • candidate relationship management systems (CRM)
  • chat bots and AI tools
  • recruitment automation tools
  • predictive analytics tools
  • reporting tools
  • assessment tools
  • on-boarding tools

Recruitment strategy market insights

Do you want to know if your company is performing well against market benchmarks?

There are plenty of sources of data out there, but being able to adequately interpret these insights isn’t always easy. And, as humans, we sometimes tend to spot the most positive data points, rather than the most reflective.

An RPO can provide detailed reporting and analytics functions to help drive objectivity, transparency, and measurable improvements throughout your talent acquisition function.

With numerous accounts running concurrently, the RPO structure provides insight into a large set of market data. In this respect, an RPO can help you compare your company’s performance against the market.

You can also measure organisational policies against others in the market, for example comparing employee referral rates, parental leave policies, etc. These insights are always produced while maintaining individual brand confidentiality.

Headcount pressure affecting talent acquisition

Headcount pressures can also become a factor in deciding whether to outsource or build an internal recruitment function.

Most companies these days are severely headcount restricted. They need to free up headcount by outsourcing recruitment, in order to put that headcount into other critical HR roles such as Learning & Development, HR Business Partnering or Remuneration & Benefits.

In these instances, outsourcing to an RPO is the only way to manage recruitment effectively while still being able to provide a full HR service.

Wider HR support from the recruitment model

RPOs often have a broader range of services on offer to support the talent acquisition function. The wider strategy can include things such as employer branding services, technology consultancy, diversity consultancy, redeployment services, exit interviews and management of corporate-induction and orientation programmes.

Does your team need extra support in these areas? Or are you adequately resourced?

The answer can influence which talent acquisition model you select.

Next step: selecting your recruitment strategy

There’s no shortage of factors to consider when evaluating the right recruitment strategy for your enterprise.

Sometimes, companies may start off with an RPO model. Then, once the function is established and operating well, they may move to an in-house model, incorporating best practices from an RPO.

Sometimes, companies choose a mixture of both models. They may use in-house recruitment teams for roles and/or business units that show stable hiring patterns. However, for business units that need to scale quickly or with frequently fluctuating hiring demands, they may supplement in-house capabilities with RPO support.

In short, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all talent acquisition model. The model needs to be carefully crafted based on a deep understanding of your business needs, organisational capability, culture, and cost.

Consultation ⁠— internally, with teams and stakeholders, and externally, with consultants and RPO vendors ⁠— will always be key to selecting and implementing a best-fit talent acquisition model.

Whatever you decide, it is worth putting in the time and effort to make the right choice. After all, attracting and selecting top talent is at the forefront of an organisation’s competitive advantage.

Kathi May Headshot

Kathi May

Regional Director, Marketing & Employer Branding

Kathi leads Marketing and Employer Branding in APAC and is passionate about helping Hudson RPO clients attract, engage and retain top talent through innovative employer branding initiatives.  She works closely with the Client Solutions team to develop meaningful marketing strategies that promote the benefits of recruitment process outsourcing in delivering cost reductions, reduced time to hire and significant improvements in quality of talent, staff retention and recruitment service levels.

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