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By: Debra Kabalkin on March 17th, 2022

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How Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Supports Your Hiring Strategy

Recruitment outsourcing

Recruitment can be one of the most painful things about running a business. Talk to some CEO or HR leaders about their experiences on the hiring market, and they will tell you horror stories along the lines of:

  • “It took months to get any suitable applicants!”
  • “People just ghost us during the hiring process!”
  • “Candidates these days have ridiculous salary expectations!”
  • “Our last hire only lasted six months!”

But not all companies have these issues. Some employers always seem to have a magic formula for finding incredible talent, even when they don’t have enormous salary budgets.

Why do some companies find recruitment so much easier than others? The good news is that it’s not magic. It’s just a matter of executing a solid recruitment strategy.

If you want to be one of those companies that can hire at will, you need two things:

  • A plan: A dynamic hiring strategy that makes it easy to find talent whenever you need it
  • Resources to execute the plan: Either in-house recruitment experts or RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) consultants who can put your plan into action

In this guide, we will look at how to plan and execute a talent acquisition strategy. You’ll find plenty of tips below and an insight into the candidate’s perspective. But first, let’s look at some common hiring scenarios.

Table of contents

  1. Four scenarios to consider in your talent strategy
  2. How to develop a recruitment strategy
  3. How RPO can deliver your recruitment strategy
  4. RPO and your advanced recruitment strategy
  5. Getting started with Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Download Your Hiring Process Checklist

Four scenarios to consider in your talent strategy

Are you a reactive or a proactive employer?

Reactive employers don’t think about recruitment until they need to make a hire. They always start from zero when they go looking for talent. Often, they end up making mistakes that drive candidates away.

Proactive employers think about recruitment all the time, even when their team is at full capacity. They work hard to ensure that they can find talent whenever they need it.

Of course, your precise needs for talent can vary depending on the situation. Your process for hiring a new customer service rep probably won’t work if you’re trying to hire a new CEO.

The first step in building a proactive strategy is to think about these different situations and develop a multi-stranded approach. Here are four of the main scenarios to consider in your recruitment strategy.

Recruiting for team maintenance

Staff turnover is inevitable. People retire, they go off to pursue other opportunities, or they have a change in personal circumstances that can force them to leave. HR’s role is to support business continuity by providing replacement staff as needed.

But this doesn’t mean that you’re looking for a clone of the previous employee. When you refill a position, you should stop to ask questions like:

  • How does this specific role fit in the current team structure?
  • Should we look for someone with additional skills, like relevant IT experience?
  • Can we merge this role with another position? Is there an opportunity to restructure the team?

Every new hire is a chance to optimize the current team structure. As part of your hiring strategy, you should meet with stakeholders and discuss how recruitment can support future growth.

Recruiting for growth

What if you’re recruiting for a position that has never existed before? You might even find that you’re spearheading a major recruitment initiative, such as when a company decides to open a new regional branch.

Recruiting for brand-new positions can be challenging. You will have to consider lots of additional HR issues, such as:

  • Can you attract the talent you need with your current salary structure?
  • How do you get your employer message out to a new audience?
  • How will your organizational culture respond to an expanded team?

Rapid growth can put enormous pressure on your current HR team, who also have to onboard and support your new hires. One solution is to bring in a Recruitment Process Outsourcing consultant to help your in-house HR professionals.

Recruiting for skills

Recruitment is also a way to expand your organizational competencies. For instance, if your company decides to launch a new app, you may need to hire an experienced app developer.

Highly skilled positions present a new set of challenges that you’ll need to consider. For example, you will have to ask:

  • How do we create a realistic job description that meets our requirements?
  • Do we have the relevant technical knowledge to screen candidates?
  • Where can we find candidates with the skills we need?

Specialists are hard to find, especially in a busy recruitment market. An RPO consultant can help you develop a recruitment strategy for hard-to-fill positions. You might also look at other approaches, such as Retained Search.

Recruiting for executive roles

Executive recruitment poses a very different kind of recruitment challenge. You’re not just hiring an employee. You’re hiring someone who will shape your company’s strategy for years to come.

With executive recruitment, you’ll face big questions like:

  • How do we know if candidates share our core values?
  • Do we need someone who can deliver growth? Or is the current focus on business resilience?
  • How do we engage current leadership in the selection process?

Many companies choose to work with a Retained Search consultant in this scenario. Retained Search is similar to RPO, except the consultant focuses on filling a single position.

Mapping out your talent acquisition needs

Recruitment requests sometimes come out of the blue, such as when an employee unexpectedly quits. But you can get a good sense of what’s next by keeping an eye on internal events, such as:

  • Employee data: Watch out for triggers such as employees nearing retirement age or attaining an educational milestone.
  • Engagement: Employee engagement surveys can tell you if people are happy at work, which is a good indicator of future turnover levels.
  • Financial performance: High-performing companies are always thinking about growth and expansion. Growth plans could mean that the HR team will be called upon to oversee a major recruitment initiative.

HR leaders should try to form a strong connection with executive leadership. This way, you’ll know what lies ahead for your company – and what that means for your recruitment strategy.

How to develop a recruitment strategy

The goal of any recruitment strategy is simple: to get the right person into the right job as quickly as possible.

Sounds easy, right?

Like most things, it’s easier if you have a strategy that is:

  • Clear: Everyone should understand their role in the recruitment process. That includes your HR team and senior stakeholders.
  • Repeatable: You should be able to activate your hiring process at a moment’s notice without spending time thinking about the optimal strategy.
  • Scalable: Your recruitment strategy might work when hiring one person, but what if you’re hiring ten people? Or a hundred?

There is no one-size-fits-all recruitment strategy. Everything depends on your company, your culture, and the current state of the hiring market.

But a good place to start is to think about your strategy in terms of the recruitment cycle. You’ll generally find that there are five parts to this cycle:

1.     Defining job descriptions

You always need to start by creating a new job description, even if you’re filling an existing position. Jobs evolve over time, and your ideal candidate might need skills that the former employee didn’t possess.

To get the job description right, you will need to:

  • Consult with all stakeholders: Everyone must agree on the roles and responsibilities associated with this job.
  • Define relevant skills: For each job duty, there is at least one related requirement. Go through the list of job responsibilities and map out the skills, abilities, and experience that a candidate needs to perform each duty.
  • Prioritize skills requirements: You’re unlikely to find a unicorn candidate who meets 100% of the job requirements. That’s why it’s essential to know where you can compromise and what is non-negotiable.

Job descriptions will take time, but they ensure that everyone knows what kind of candidate you’re looking for.

2.     Connecting with candidates

Finding qualified candidates isn’t as easy as placing an ad online. Companies tend to receive around half of their applications through job boards, but only 20% of new hires arrive through this channel. That’s a lot of application screening for little reward.

Instead, your recruitment strategy should think about ways to reach candidates. There are dozens of ways to achieve this, including:

  • Referral programs: Word of mouth is a powerful recruitment tool. Leverage your current team’s networks to find talented people they might know.
  • Social media: Social media is a great way to build your reputation as an employer of choice. It also gives you a chance to connect with people who might not be actively job-seeking right now.
  • Community engagement: Most professionals are part of a community, whether it’s an online group or a local association. Engaging with these communities can help you access specialist talent for hard-to-fill positions.

All of these approaches take time to yield results, so it’s crucial to start right now rather than waiting until you have an urgent staffing requirement.

3.     Screening and interviewing

Candidate screening is a balancing act. Move too quickly, and you could end up hiring the wrong person. But if you move too slowly, you could miss your chance to hire a great candidate.

The right strategy can help you develop a recruitment process that’s fast, focused, and allows you to identify the best available hire. To get this part right, you’ll need to think about focus, involvement, and efficiency.

  • Focus: Does everyone know the ideal candidate profile? Are you working from a clear job description? Do you know which attributes are must-have and which ones are nice-to-have?
  • Involvement: Are the right people involved in the hiring decision? Are those people available to interview candidates without delay?
  • Efficiency: Can you remove any steps in the recruitment process? What about using remote technology to speed up the interview process?

Around 11% of candidates turn down offers because the hiring process took too long. With the right strategic planning, you can design a speedy hiring process without compromising on quality.

4.     Building an offer that attracts

When skilled candidates go jobhunting, they will often receive multiple offers. Your ideal candidate might find themselves comparing your package to the offering from a rival employer.

How do you make sure that they pick you? You can increase your chances by taking a Total Rewards approach and looking at everything you offer, including:

  • Salary: Candidates don’t always go for the highest salary. That said, you do need to ensure that your offer is competitive. You can do this by benchmarking against market data.
  • Benefits: A benefit is only a benefit if it offers value to the individual. Try to get to understand the candidate’s needs during the selection process. Then, you can highlight the perks and benefits that will speak most strongly to them.
  • Professional development opportunities: Candidates will think long and hard about how each offer fits into their long-term career plan. You can stand out as an employer of choice by talking about the training, experience, and support you will offer as they develop professionally.

A great offer isn’t about the overall dollar value. It’s about offering rewards that show you understand the person, so they know that you’re committed to their success and wellbeing. That’s how you attract talented candidates in a competitive market.

5.     Onboarding and integration

Half of all new hires fail within the first 12 months. Sometimes they are released because they didn’t suit the role; other times, they voluntarily depart because they don’t feel at home.

A great onboarding process can help bring those numbers down, which means that you should think of onboarding as a vital component of your recruitment strategy. Think about how to provide new hires with:

  • Practical support: Ensure that each new hire has what they need to succeed, such as materials and IT access. They will also need to receive introductory training, and their local manager should set clear expectations with them.
  • Cultural integration: Each person should feel welcomed onto the team. An introductory social event is a good start. You can also assign a buddy or mentor to help them get a feel for the office.
  • Regular check-ins: Onboarding is all about good communication. Make sure that the new hire has an opportunity to talk about how they’re getting along and that they can ask for help if they need it.

New hire turnover is painful. Not only have you wasted months on a recruitment cycle, but now you have to do it again for the same role. But if you get your onboarding process right, you can massively reduce your level of new hire turnover.

Download Your Hiring Process Checklist

How RPO can deliver your recruitment strategy

Having a solid recruitment strategy is a great first step. But do you have people who can bring that strategy to life?

Many organizations don’t. Common problems include:

  • Current HR team is too small or stretched to focus on strategy
  • HR team members don’t have recruitment experience
  • Not enough people are available to scale up when needed
  • The team isn’t familiar with current technology, such as Applicant Tracking Systems
  • The strategy is failing to produce the expected results

This is where RPO comes in. Recruitment Process Outsourcing gives you immediate access to a skilled, experienced recruitment expert who can help execute your strategy.

Let’s look at the main ways an RPO consultant can help.

Needs analysis

You know where you want to be, but how do you get there?

A needs analysis starts by looking at your current state. Your RPO consultant will examine every aspect of your current approach to recruitment, including your technology, your processes, and your people. They will also study your culture and talk to you about your organization’s growth goals.

Next, the RPO consultant will talk you through your desired future state. This step involves going through your HR goals and your company’s overall strategic goals.

When your consultant understands your present state and desired future state, they’ll help develop a plan to get from A to B.

A needs analysis is typically a one-off exercise. At the end of it, you will have a clear idea of how to execute a reliable talent acquisition strategy.  

Research and targeting

Finding candidates is one of the hardest parts of any recruitment initiative. Your ideal candidates might not be job-hunting in the places you advertise – and the best ones might not be job-hunting at all.

An RPO expert can help develop your outreach strategy and connect with the people your team needs. This process generally involves:

  • Identifying your ideal candidate profile
  • Locating communities relevant to these candidates
  • Creating targeted messages that attract the right people
  • Leveraging word-of-mouth in existing networks
  • Using technology to track engagement

Once you get your message to the right people, you will start to see suitable candidates arrive in your inbox. After that, it’s a matter of choosing the right one.

Identification and evaluation

Some candidates are clearly unsuitable right from the start. But do you have the resources to perform a thorough pre-screening on everyone who applies?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing consultants will help you sift through your applicants and find the most promising talent. This process might include steps such as:

  • Screening: Your RPO consultant will use phone and email screening sessions to learn more about the candidate’s availability.
  • Pre-interviews: The consultant can perform an initial interview to learn more about the client’s background and expectations.
  • Assessment: RPOs might also administer screening tests to learn more about the candidate’s suitability. This might include personality profiles such as DiSC and Myers-Brigg, both of which can help assess culture fit.

Effective pre-screening can ensure that only high-quality candidates make it to the later stages. This will help make the entire recruitment process more efficient.

Candidate co-ordination

Organizing interviews can be a job in itself, especially if you have a multi-step recruitment process. At each phase, you have to:

  • Arrange a suitable time with the candidate for the next interview or assessment
  • Confirm availability for any stakeholders that must attend the interview
  • Make sure that the candidate is prepared for the next step
  • Deal with any last-minute delays or setbacks
  • Conduct the interview
  • Process interview feedback and decide on next steps
  • Keep the candidate informed about what happens next

When you’re dealing with dozens of candidates, this co-ordination work can quickly spin out of control. An experienced RPO will help you navigate and ensure that candidates remain engaged with the process.

Offer design and negotiation

Finally, you’ve found your ideal candidate. But how do you get them to pick you above the competition?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing consultants know everything about the current state of the job market. They will help you with vital tasks like:

  • Salary benchmarking: Your salary offer must align with current market averages. An RPO consultant will help you find a salary that is both attractive and sustainable.
  • Total Rewards offer: Candidates will consider everything you offer, including perks, benefits, professional development opportunities, and work-life balance. Your RPO will help you identify the rewards that appeal most to each candidate.
  • Negotiation: An experienced RPO consultant knows how to talk to candidates. They will guide you through any contract negotiations and help you arrive at a compromise that works for everyone.

Now is the moment of truth in your recruitment strategy. If you get the offer right, your ideal candidate will most likely say yes.

Developing and executing a recruitment strategy will help you find talented people, especially if you have some help from an RPO consultant. But you can go even further and deliver an advanced recruitment strategy.

RPO and your advanced recruitment strategy

Earlier, we spoke about being a proactive employer. This means being an organization that is constantly working to secure fresh talent, even when you’re not actively hiring.

Recruitment Process Consulting can help you move up to this level. Your consultant can do things to modernize your entire approach to talent acquisition, including:

Functional process reviews

You have a recruitment strategy in place, but is it delivering results? An RPO consultant can measure your current process end-to-end and report on your efficacy. This report will offer invaluable guidance, such as:

  • Benchmarking against other employers
  • Recommendations for new recruitment technology
  • Warnings on any process issues that might hold you back
  • Suggestions for improvements that can reduce your time-to-hire

Functional reviews work best when performed by an objective third party, which is why an RPO consultant is the best person to help.

Recruitment tech implementation

Recruitment IT has come a long way in recent years, with AI-powered Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that can streamline your process.

But it’s not always easy to get started with such systems. RPO consultants can assist by:

  • Helping you choose the ATS that suits your needs
  • Advising on the installation and configuration process
  • Designing new recruitment processes that help your people work with the new ATS
  • Optimizing to ensure that you’re getting maximum value
  • Auditing technology and procedures to ensure that you are fully compliant

Technology only provides value when supported by the right people and processes. Your RPO consultant will ensure that your ATS investment delivers real value and complements your recruitment strategy.

Employer branding

Most employers will look up candidates online before making contact with them. You might check their social media presence or see what you can find out on Google. It’s a great way to learn more about their personality and potential culture fit.

And candidates do exactly the same thing to employers. Most applicants will learn everything they can about your company before they apply, which is why you need to ensure that you have an outstanding digital employer brand.

RPO consultants can help by:

  • Assessing your current online presence
  • Recommending appropriate social media channels that will allow you to connect with your target audience
  • Advising on building an attractive, user-friendly careers portal
  • Helping you integrate your online presence with behind-the-scenes systems, such as your ATS

Your employer brand is a powerful tool when you need to go out and look for new talent. You might find that your perfect candidate is already subscribed to your newsletter or following you on social media.

Getting started with Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruitment is like any other business function. If you want to see results, you need to make a plan and see it through.

You also need the right people and processes in place. A Recruitment Processing Outsourcing consultant can help provide the skills that you need to execute your plan. They will also provide guidance and direction to your in-house team, helping you develop a recruitment process that supports you through future growth.

Ready to get started with RPO? Set up a no-obligation call today. Find out how Helios HR can help you attract, engage and retain the best people for your team.

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