A new report examines the current talent landscape.
By Pam Berklich
Far from simply filling existing gaps as quickly and economically as possible, recruiting has become a high- stakes competition to foresee economic conditions and business projections, estimate critical talent gaps as early as possible, and source the highest-quality talent available.
Even in the face of economic recovery in many global markets, recruiting top talent remains a major concern; in particular, a shortage of skilled labor continues to vex hiring managers. Accessing quality talent remains a top concern. As many recent studies confirm, among the biggest challenges HR professionals face is recruiting quality talent. The 2013 PwC CEO Survey found more than half of United States CEOs report a shortage of skills is a potential threat to growth this year. Respondents to our RPO survey report similar frustration. Sixty-one percent say they experience difficulty recruiting staff, and of those, 87 percent blame a shortage of skilled recruiting staff in the roles required. Other critical challenges include being unable to offer a competitive salary (49 percent) and offering an undesirable work location (30 percent)—both of which only sustain the all-important challenge of attracting and retaining top talent.
Hiring Challenges
A shortage of high quality talent is a serious problem for more than two-thirds of companies. Sixty-eight percent report talent shortages slow or stall the hiring process (see Figure 1). Among other top factors slowing the hiring process: hiring manager satisfaction (37 percent), time-to-hire (36 percent), cost-to-hire (25 percent) and quality of recruiters (23 percent). Not surprisingly more than a third report their organization’s average time- to-hire is more than 45 days, a statistic signaling that despite reports of high unemployment, a number of roles are still very difficult to fill. Time-to-hire is still a difficult statistic to benchmark given variation by type of hire, industry, company size, and outsourced vs. in- house recruiting. As a point of comparison, however, the Society for Human Resources Management reports the average time to-hire for large organizations—those with more than 1,000 employees—is 43 days. Time to hire for small organizations—defined as having fewer than 1,000 employees—is 29 days.
Hiring appears robust for the coming year, both for internal full-time labor as well as contingent hires. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of companies surveyed plan to increase the number of internal full-time hires in next 12 months, and 57 percent plan to increase the number of contingent hires. These numbers show robust hiring growth will continue across the globe in the coming year—despite reported high levels of unemployment.
Talent Shortages
In the industrialized world, 40 million workers are unemployed according to the International Labour Organization—yet more than ever, companies are suffering critical shortages of key talent across the globe. A 2012 study from Oxford Economics shows the imbalance of talent supply and demand across the globe will deteriorate over the next 10 years due to shortages in particular disciplines (e.g. so-called STEM jobs), as well as regional imbalances of labor supply and demand. In particular regions, severe talent shortages will define the next decade. For example, in the developed Asian economies, the demand for talent in the business services sector will increase by more than 50 percent, while the demand for talent in life sciences within the same regionwill rise by only 8.2 percent. In North America, the energy sector will require a 22.7 percent bigger workforce, while the demand for talent in financial services will drop 8 percent.
Even in the face of relatively high levels of unemployment, recruiting professionals are still vying to capture top talent—a heated competition that will not abate anytime soon.

Approaches to Outsourcing
As complexity of the talent management function grows, companies rely on outsourcing to fill gaps— particularly recruiting high-value professionals. We asked companies whether they outsource HR activities. Specifically, we wanted to understand to what extent companies outsource parts and portions of recruiting to multiple vendors (e.g., screening, sourcing, assessments, interviewing), as well as whether companies are using end-to-end recruitment process outsourcing (i.e., outsourcing the entire recruiting process to a single vendor).
The complexity of the HR function—as well as the pressure to attract and retain high-value workers— continues to stretch the resources and technology of in-house HR departments. Not surprisingly, well over half (58 percent) plan to use third-party recruiting firms to engage hires in next 12 months. Of those using recruitment firms to augment recruiting needs, the
most common applications include sourcing, screening and testing (86 percent); applicant and recruitment performance tracking (45 percent); and reference checking (43 percent). (See Figure 2.)
In this case, third-party recruiting is a carved-out function, a tactic applied to parts and portions of the recruiting function. Almost 70 percent use outsourced recruiting for less than a quarter of their hiring—meaning outside assistance is likely only used for particularly challenging hires. The majority of recruiting is still conducted within country borders. More than half of respondents (56 percent) say less than 10 percent of vacancies are filled cross-borders.
One step beyond external recruiting support is recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), which was first introduced nearly 20 years ago. An RPO firm manages the end-to-end recruiting process, including onboarding of new hires. It differs from traditional staffing and recruitment outsourcing because it assumes full ownership of the recruitment process, including strategy, systems, methodology, and technology. Unlike traditional outsourcing, the full continuum of recruiting activities— for all or a select group of skill sets—is handled by a single vendor, which is solely responsible for delivering results.

In the hunt for high-value talent—and in particular “knowledge workers” who work in fields like engineering, technology, and the sciences—companies are turning to RPO providers to outmaneuver the competition. RPO firms offer dedicated infrastructure and expertise to find and secure scarce talent, and in many cases operate across multiple employment markets.
Familiarity with RPO is still not the norm. Fifty-four percent of respondents say they are only somewhat familiar or not at all familiar with RPO. And only 26 percent fully outsource their recruiting/hiring process using an RPO model.
Overwhelmingly, companies that outsource recruiting services hire vendors on a stand-alone contract, separate from other HR outsourcing services (68 percent use a separate provider).
Companies are most likely to use a third-party recruiting firm to hire professional staff (50 percent), though third- party recruiting is also common in hiring temporary or contingent labor (36 percent).
Of those respondents who do not currently outsourcea whole or part of the recruiting function, 40 percent indicate they would like to do so in the future. Areas of particular interest for outsourcing include professional recruiting (48 percent), contingent or temporary labor (38 percent), and outsourcing all recruiting responsibilities (34 percent).
Overwhelmingly respondents cite “faster time-to-hire” as the key benefit of a third-party recruiter partnership, followed by integrating multiple sourcing channels (58 percent) and lower cost to recruit (51 percent).

Talent Supply Chain
These findings support a more general, growing interest among global companies to adopt a talent supply chain management mindset. As the name suggests, talent supply chain management is much like traditional supply chain management: directing a network of suppliers and resources to ensure the optimal mix of price, access, and risk. The high level of interest in RPO—including professional recruiting as well as contingent and temporary labor staffing—demonstrates a greater degree of sophistication about balancing the cost of recruitment against other critical variables, particularly access.
Whereas a decade ago outsourcing was usually a cost- savings tactic, in the future, talent-related outsourcing is as likely to be related to accessing top-flight talent or improving time-to-hire ratios. In fact, in a 2013 Talent Supply Chain study sponsored by Kelly Services, companies defined as best-in-class were three times more likely to “strongly agree” they take greater risks to secure the talent they need, and two times more likely to “strongly agree” accessing high quality talent when needed is more important than cost.
For many global organizations, recruiting the right talent at the right time is the single most influential factor driving growth and innovation. In the 20th century, capital was the basis of advantage, but in the 21st century, talent will drive global advantage. Far from simply filling existing gaps as quickly and economically as possible, recruiting has become a high-stakes competition to foresee economic conditions and business projections, estimate critical talent gaps as early as possible, and source the highest-quality talent available.
All of this is part of a larger trend toward managing talent needs holistically across all categories of work—a discipline called talent supply chain management.
Outsourcing recruiting is no longer primarily about carving out an existing internal function and giving it to the lowest-cost provider. Rather, outsourcing recruiting allows organizations to access niche expertise that is simply too difficult or too expensive to grow in house. Third-party recruiters and RPO firms offer companies expertise in particular disciplines or geographies, import effective processes and procedures, and present regulatory and risk-management expertise. What’s more, RPO allows companies to make intentional decisions about whether to prioritize cost savings, access to talent, or risk-control (or some optimized mix of the three) depending on the category of work and area of expertise.

Companies we surveyed are optimistic about the benefits of outsourced recruiting. Eighty-eight percent believe outsourced recruiting offers faster time-to-hire, 58 percent say outside providers integrate multiple sourcing channels, and 51 percent cite lower cost of recruitment using a third-party provider. (see Figure 3).
Organizations surveyed project a strong growth in hiring:
73 percent to increase number of internal, full-time hires and 57 percent to increase contingent hires in the coming 12 months (see Figures 4 and 5 ). Given this and the competitive landscape for attracting quality talent, we expect organizations may increasingly look to external recruiting partners to augment their own capabilities or fully outsource the recruiting function in the years ahead.
Pam Berklich is senior vice president of direct hire practices for KellyOCG. The above was excerpted from the report Global Trends in RPO & Talent Recruitment 2014, prepared by KellyOGC in partnership with the Human Resource Outsourcing Association, HR.com, the Shared Services & Outsourcing Network, and the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals.

Tags: RPO & Staffing, Talent Acquisition

Related Articles