This month’s column came out of a presentation I gave to my partners at our annual global meeting held earlier this year in Vientiane. I had been asked to discuss in-house recruitment (IHR), and how we could combat it.
First, the good news about IHR: It positions and enhances the employer’s brand, creating an effective brand experience; it reduces the time to hire and keeps top candidates who may be suitable for other positions; it controls and reduces the recruitment spend; and it’s done by people who already fully understand the company’s culture and values. That all sounds great.
But there are drawbacks. Line managers report lower quality of hire and the time to hire can be longer. Identifying candidates on social media – LinkedIn, mostly – is not the same as recruiting them and, because LinkedIn is so good, the best candidates are besieged by recruiters. Multiple internal vacancies can’t be ignored and relationships can be damaged if the position isn’t filled quickly. Also, they likely can’t recruit from their clients or other business partners.
A client, MK, gave me another drawback: ‘AI’ – his term for arrogance and ignorance. Some IHR people believe that everyone wants to work at their company. They know little of the outside corporate world and lack sales and positioning skills. MK also reminded me that IHR, being the first mover, weakens the company’s negotiating position as well as throwing confidentiality away. He said that it doesn’t cut costs, it merely transfers them and he would rather pay a fee to a good recruiter than over-pay a new hire (that’s great to hear!). He added that he didn’t want to be seen as desperate by constantly calling candidates, and he was pleased that outsourced recruitment would continue even when he’s on holiday.
It’s a fact that most headhunters have better candidate databases than employers do (it’s our job, for one thing). We are probably also better at making comparisons between candidates, our interview techniques are likely more finely honed, and we know how to take references and background checks. Our approach is broader based – not only looking at the obvious candidates – and we’re good to use for those tricky, hard-to-fill searches. And we have the ability to identify talent and bring it to the table while managing expectations and negotiations.
Of course this is just my opinion. Some companies no doubt feel that their IHR is as good as – or better than – we are. But sometimes it’s worth thinking about using an external recruiter for the reasons I’ve described.
As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.
Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via firstname.lastname@example.org