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Five reasons why I believe the RPO model is truly creating a shift in the recruitment industry.

Posted by Jessica Ferguson, Wednesday August 14 2019

River 1

The RPO takeover.

Just over two months ago, owing to a low volume of hiring, I was made redundant from my in-house recruitment role at a digital marketing agency. Yes, I was sad to leave the agency that I had helped to grow over the last two years, however truth be told, it felt like the right time to go. Why? Because I’d achieved a lot and I felt I’d hit a ceiling in terms of my learning opportunities there.

My job search presented plenty of competitive in-house recruitment roles, but alongside those, a few interesting opportunities within the RPO space cropped up. I’ll admit that up until recently, I actually wasn’t too familiar with the RPO model. Then suddenly I became aware of three or four businesses within this space which are growing so rapidly that they’re apparently turning clients away (!) and, as a result, creating a shift in the recruitment industry. But how and why? What is it about the RPO model that’s working so well?

My top five thoughts, in short…

1. In-house teams are often overstretched (trust me, I’ve been there).
During my in-house career I often doubted my ability. I wondered ‘is it me?’ and ‘what am I missing here?’ more times than I can count (a lonely position to be in, let me tell you). But after a while I realised something – it wasn’t me, it was the fact that I was drowning in work with nobody to help me. We were suffering from a serious shortage of talent, coupled with internal politics which often led to roles being changed or even pulled completely. During those hectic periods, a helping hand would have allowed me to take a step back, work out what was going wrong and implement a fresh strategy, whilst still actively hiring.

2. Contracts can be more motivating for Recruitment Consultants.
As stated above, after two years in my last in-house role, I felt unmotivated. This was down to a medley of factors, but a big one was the repetitive churn of working on exactly the same roles, in exactly the same business, for a long period of time. I absolutely loved all of my project work alongside hiring, but I had pretty much finished the juicy stuff within my first 18 months and there was zero chance of my team growing at any point in the near future, therefore my role had started to stagnate.
Working on a 6-18 month contract basis means that recruiters can master the art of hiring for an organisation in the same way that an internal person can (which is a huge learning opportunity) as well as taking on interesting projects, all whilst working to an ‘end-goal’, rather than getting stuck in the repetitive churn.

3. It’s time effective.
“I’m happy to wait months for my next hire” said no hiring manager, ever. And that’s because gaps in teams are dangerous. They unsettle everyone and they can cause no-end of stress and disruption, often leading to further resignations and/or client loses. The ability to make good hires quickly means the rest of the team can rest assured that they won’t be stuck picking up someone else’s work for too long and, perhaps even more importantly, it keeps clients happy.

4. It’s cost effective.
Most RPO’s estimate filling 3 x jobs per month at a fixed fee (fees vary depending on who you go with). Having done the calculations myself, I can tell you that cost per hire is almost always cheaper than using agencies (unless you’ve managed to negotiate a rate of about 8%, which would be a worryingly low fee if you ask me!). Yes, some would argue that they have internal teams therefore all hires are ‘free’ but the truth is that all internal teams need to use agencies sometimes. Why? Because certain vacancies are priorities, some are simply hard to fill, and sometimes you just have an unmanageable amount of jobs on.
In addition, the fixed monthly fee allows for more effective budgeting - music to the ears of every CFO in the land - plus hiring committees gain valuable hours back to focus on other priority areas. And time is money, right?

5. More resource means less stress.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that an injection of resource will mean a reduction in workload and therefore stress. In addition to having more time to focus, having another recruiter on-site (and on-side) is a god send. Why? Because when the going gets tough they get where you’re coming from and can say, with meaning, “don’t worry, I’ve been there and here’s how I tackled it…”. Hallelujah!
At RS-Engage ‘We’re a team who share in the good and the bad’ is our number one value because we believe that having a support network made up of true recruitment experts, is the biggest game-changer of all.

In the end, the chance to head up a boutique RPO was the job offer that stole my heart. Yes, I could have gone to another in-house role – a fruitful space that I’m both happy and comfortable in – but once I started to break down the details, I realised how much I truly believe in this way of doing things.

My belief stems from the fact that after spending 6 years recruiting – both sides of the fence – I know how tough it can be. Sadly, using an in-house consultancy isn’t going to eradicate all of the stresses that hiring can bring, but approaching it with strategy, purpose, expertise, additional-resource and meaningful goals, will certainly make it far less stressful and ultimately more successful.

I mean the growth that we’re seeing within the RPO space surely proves this…?

Think I’m talking poppycock? Well I’m keen to hear the thoughts, opinions and first-hand experiences of in-house recruitment consultancies, any time! Drop me a line… jessicaf@reuben-sinclair.com

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