Insource or Outsource Your Recruitment Function: How About Asking a Different Question

The seemingly ongoing debate about whether to outsource or insource your recruitment function isn’t abating. Even today, in a world where the engagement of contingent workers continues to rise, the age-old conundrum – stuck as it seems in a time-vacuum – gets bandied about, ad nauseam.

So rather than trying to volunteer an answer – which, technically, would be downright stupid of us: one size in any business function (especially that pertaining to people) certainly does not fit all – we’ve decided to change the question. Who says we can’t? 🙂

So, think about the other – better – question to ask, which is this: why are your permanent & contingent workforce recruitment functions completely disparate? Why is there little or no strategy in the effort to find contingent, as there is for permanent.

Why haven’t your permanent & contingent recruitment functions joined forces?

Think about it. Why?

Firstly, let’s go back to the original scenario of insource vs outsource? One of the MAJOR drivers for changing the model, in any business, is to create greater efficiency: efficiency of time, cost, turnaround and delivery. Stands to reason therefore, that the a potentially bigger source of inefficiency – in a workforce that is climbing closer to 20% contingent – is the abject demarcation of permanent to contingent hiring.

But for argument’s sake, let’s humour ourselves & delve into the in vs outsourced recruitment models…

What does Outsourcing look like?

  • Mostly, the outsourced model features a recruitment agency, head-hunter or the like.
  • Some employers use multiple agencies or third parties, suited to role types or pecking order (e.g. a dedicated recruitment agency for IT roles, a head-hunter for C-Suite).
  • Temp agencies are used for seasonal talent surges, short-term requirements or covering perms that are on leave.
  • Retained agencies usually fill more senior roles, and usually for larger employers.
  • RPO’s are like the ‘outsourced insource’ model: typically the entire recruitment function, business-wide, is handed to a recruitment agency, whose dedicated team sits within the client office (but doesn’t always eliminate the need for in-house recruitment talent).

What does Insourcing look like?

  • Sometimes, the HR team gets handballed the recruitment function, without a skills audit. And surprise, surprise, it frequently doesn’t work.
  • Internal recruiters need to have a close working relationship with Leadership and hiring managers. So their internal ‘brand’ needs to be visible, and political diplomacy on point.
  • Legal & compliance requirements are very real. Internal processes, strategy, marketing, reporting, planning – all these factors play a part of the daily life of the internal recruiter.
  • The hiring team have a deep knowledge and – critically – experience of the culture, personalities and requirements of both the hiring manager & team, and the skills & personality fit of the candidate. This sets the in-house model well above their outsourced cousin, in most scenarios.

And of course, there’s a blended model. Where some departments outsource to recruiters (say the finance team), whilst the rest of the business relies upon their internal recruitment colleagues.

Ultimately though, despite the dichotomous nature of these two sourcing strategies, if your business – like most in Australia, and across the developed world – is taking advantage of the prolific contract worker base, you’ll INCLUDE the hiring thereof in whichever model you adopt.

And critically, you’ll set the path for the sourcing and engagement of contract workers with as much rigor and investigation, as you would your perms. Of course, time is often not on your side. And it’s here that you’d be well served to develop a trusted pool of talent with the skills, knowledge and proven ability, to tap into, as your business demands (this stands to reason also, for perm hires…).

One final point. The best plan, no matter what your business size or industry, is to research the recruitment approach which is right for your needs. Look at the existing relationships in place – both within your employee networks and those with recruitment agencies. In today’s digital media environment, finding talent – all categories of talent – is a lot easier to do directly, if you know how to leverage Twitter (the biggest job board on the web), LinkedIn, Facebook, even Instagram. An organic, holistic approach to hiring, where you’re leveraging the skills and networks of your existing staff, will serve you far more prudently than the often clinical decision to nominate one approach to finding people.

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