When should you outsource a search?

Does your company have a policy against having you outsource a search?


Stephen Ham at Agile News has some very good points.  The most important is that an open position left unfilled is a very expensive problem.  Hiring a recruiter first may very well cost less than leaving the position open while the usual methods are used without result and the decision is being made to use a recruiter.  And using “unbundled” search – my specialty – can cost even less.  The cost of an open position and work NOT done needs to be part of the cost-to-hire calculations that top-notch HR teams use in determining the ROI of HR.


When (if ever) Should You Outsource Your Search?

Stephen Ham at Agile News

This is a particularly pertinent question when more companies than ever are choosing to conduct their own searches utilizing internal employees, typically either HR business partners or contract recruiters.

Let’s face it, using a recruiter costs money, typically 20% or 25% of the recruit’s first year salary, and can be as high as 34%. So on the face of it, keeping a search in-house is a huge savings; and with so many candidates applying for each open position, why pay more for someone else to do the job?

First of all, it’s important to note that there normally is little need for an outside recruiter for lower level/hourly positions, which means they’re only going to be considered for mid-level to senior-level positions. Also,  every employer should do their due diligence when conducting a search. Resources such as utilizing internal job postings, networking with peers who hold similar positions in the industry, and outside job postings are all great ideas to see if there is a quality candidate just waiting for this type of opportunity.

But what if the perfect candidate isn’t waiting in the wings, ready to swoop in and save the day? What is the plan for that contingency?

“Hope for the best, while planning for the worst.”

It’s an old saying, yet highly pertinent today, even when conducting searches for mid and upper management. Planning a proper recruitment strategy will encompass the elements of time and money, and both play a big part in determining if there is a need to outsource your search.

Time is money, so the length of the search should directly impact the decision to proceed in-house or employ an outside recruiter. If the position is a critical one, the decision most likely needs to be made sooner rather than later, and perhaps significantly sooner than most HR teams would like.

Take the following example:

Day 1      – Position opens and search is begun immediately by in-house recruiter or HR

Day 7      – Job has been posted internally, on a large, general job board, and also on an            industry specific board.

Day 30    – No quality candidates have been developed and outsourcing is discussed.

Day 45    – Decision is made to outsource the search

Day 60    – Search is awarded to a firm

Day 90    – Candidate is sourced who will ultimately be hired

Day 91-120 – Interviews conducted, references obtained

Day 121  – Offer is made

Day 150  – Start Date

This example shows  a 5 month timeline between the position opening and having a replacement in place. For many companies this is an unacceptably long period to leave a senior position vacant. The solution here is deceptively simple and goes back to planning.

HR needs to sit with Department heads/Hiring managers when there is an opening to determine how difficult it will be to find a replacement. If the answer is moderately to very difficult, then HR should do a quick scan of active candidates utilizing the aforementioned resources. The decision to outsource would then be made at the end of 2 weeks, rather than 2 months, because if nobody steps forward immediately, the recruit will probably have to be contacted directly. This is the type of work that HR usually cannot take the time to do, and is the realm of the professional outside recruiter.  Need some help? 

Contact me at connie@biosciencejobkit.com


Cost-to-Hire, HR and Hiring Managers, Unbundled search , , ,

2 responses to When should you outsource a search?

  1. Chetan Patadiya

    I think hiring recruiter is essential as recruiter reduces a load of searching, shortlisting and interviewing candidates from large pool of applications. Now world is getting more and more closer and relocation whcih was once very difficult thing to do is now much easier so more people are applying for remote possibilities of job hunt. Recruiter can isolate and dedicate their effort in finding not just right but the best suited candidate. I think recruiters also reduce many risk associated with direct hiring.

    Chetan Patadiya.
    Packaging Engineer (Company Confidential)
    Helping students to direct their search in right direction!!!
    551 482 5426

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