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Outsourcing Recruitment Continues to Raise Challenges

The quality of outsourced recruitment firms remains spotty. So-called recruiting professionals often lack professionalism.

by Matt DeLuca

The war for talent is real and has been since the dot-com boom at the end of the century. Without realizing that the war was raging when I went to work as an outsourcing consultant for Lifetime Television in April 2000, I gingerly jumped in to take responsibility for all of the network’s recruiting needs when the HR staff did not want to do it themselves. Naively, I thought it odd that any HR department would want to have someone else perform the staffing function. This is the most important of HR activities, I reasoned, so how can you trust it to anyone else?

But they did, and it was a great assignment for me. It also was great preparation for all the recruiting I am now doing for a major healthcare provider in New York City, this time as a traditional HR staff member.

Exciting and complicated are the two best words for the matrixed staffing environment I find myself in—one foot as part of the centralized HR/staffing team and the other foot with the business partner and unit paying the bill for my services. So what does this have to do with outsourcing?

As a recruiter, I have the authority to use fee-based sources for all of our openings. Naturally I view this as an opportunity to build outsourcing relationships.

On the regular (we used to call them “permanent” to distinguish from the “temp”) side, what I see to date is helpful when it comes to using outside assistance, but the quality convinces me that I will not be replaced by an outsourcing firm anytime soon. I find it is best to both do my own recruiting and also use recruiting firms while retaining ownership for the complete function at all times.

Now when I use recruiting firms, I encounter many quality-control issues. Some of my recruiters readily admit they never see their applicants. Also, the recruiters who use other staff to source sheepishly concede they do not get to speak to their candidates. I even know a recruiter who expects to use me to convince every candidate to meet with us. Then there is the recruiter who is reluctant to check references and another who is unable to obtain service experience proof we require for our nurse hires. I even have one recruiter who has the temerity to suggest that my organization rehire a former employee who did not get along with a supervisor. (They and I have been unable to find a suitable replacement, even though this same recruiter found an acceptable candidate who we discovered had lied about his college degree during our background check.)

This recruiter suggested that I speak to this former employee’s boss’ boss to let him know the employee would return if the supervisor is fired. I would have made that suggestion—if I had no HR background and didn’t know better.

Why do I continue to deal with these recruiters, you ask? They all were actively involved in staffing before I arrived, and each has strong ties to key line players. Let me also add that each has had at least one successful (from our side) placement since my arrival six months ago. In addition, I don’t think this situation is all that unusual when an organization adds an HR pro to the staffing mix for the first time. From my perspective I feel effective because I am the internal recruiter and have weaned the line managers away from direct contact with outside providers in a relatively short time.

Additionally I see that I am a professional adding value because some of those issues mentioned above would be quite challenging if the candidate were allowed to proceed without someone internally addressing them first.

Last, by actively seeking non-fee sources, some money is being saved as well.

Next month, I’ll take a look at working with line managers and providers together, a terrific, creative combination that helps us win the talent wars.

Tags: Engaged Workforce, Learning, RPO & Staffing, Talent Acquisition

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