RTT – Using Contract Resource to Create a Flexible Resourcing Function

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 25th March 2014 hosted by Retroscreen Virology’s Ian Morrison (Interim Director, Resourcing) titled ‘Using Contract Resource to Create a Flexible Resourcing Function’.

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

The rise of the interim recruiter

As we find ourselves in a state of recovery following the financial crisis, many Resourcing functions are experiencing a dramatic surge in workload; reflecting increased project volumes, new site openings and new client wins. In an ideal world Resourcing would of course be made aware of all requisitions in a timely fashion, however this isn’t always the case, especially when there’s a degree of ambiguity surrounding future business plans! Utilising contract recruiters to respond to the demands of the business can be a great way to ensure that required hires are made, whilst allowing the function to flex up and down as necessary.

At what point do you know you need an interim recruitment solution?

Despite the long hours (and prospect of falling asleep at your desk!) what are the other signs that point towards hiring interim recruiters to ease your workload and make your resourcing activity more efficient? Some key factors to consider include time to hire (has this seen a noticeable increase?), a continuing push from the business and of course requisition volumes per recruiter. So, how many requisitions is too many for one person? Whilst there’s no exact number or science to determining this figure, there are some factors that can help dictate an appropriate workload:

  • Has there been forecasting / planning or is it recruiting from a stand still?
  • What’s the seniority and location of the hire?
  • Is there agency support?
  • What’s the capability / experience of the recruiter?
  • What’s the scope of the recruiter’s role (Sourcer, candidate engagement or 360)?
  • What is the hiring managers’ capability / engagement like?

Hiring manager maturity

As mentioned above, hiring manager ‘maturity’ makes a difference when determining requisition numbers. Some businesses are actually now scoring hiring managers based on their engagement, capability, responsiveness etc. to help with effectively managing searches. Perhaps we’ve been guilty of holding hiring managers’ hands too much in the past that they now take less responsibility for the process? However, to a certain extent it’s down to the recruiter to effectively manage the hiring manager relationship – do recruiters have an ‘agency’ mind-set or see themselves as ‘HR’, with a need to partner with the business?

Based on the notion of scoring hiring managers’ maturity / capability, it’s important to up-skill and train these individuals on their areas of weakness. Resourcing need to be clear what is expected from hiring managers during the recruitment process and give them the tools to deliver. However, it’s often very difficult to bring hiring managers round to your way of thinking and convince them it’s an investment worth making. Typically, hiring managers are only interested when there’s an urgent hire to be made, so any training programme needs to be highly engaging and well-designed.

Integrating interim recruiters into the business and building their relationships with hiring managers is something that needs to be treated with caution – there’s occasionally an element of damage that can be done if it’s not handled appropriately. It’s absolutely worth using your permanent recruiters to make introductions to relevant hiring managers and help foster the relationships for the interim recruiters.

How do you on-board interims?

On-boarding interim recruiters is often part of the recruitment process that’s over-looked. However, it’s crucial to make sure that interims are properly introduced to the business, culture and role requirements from the off-set to get the best out of them. Obviously, the on-boarding process is going to be much shorter for interims, however it’s recommended that it be around three days – providing new recruits with a structured induction and the opportunity for the business to outline the core objectives for their position. What’s evident is that plugging a gap with interim recruiters purely for their skill will not work if these individuals don’t adapt to the company and culture.

Using technology to respond to peaks in the market

When recruitment volumes become unmanageable what technologies exist to help respond to peaks in the market?

  • Online situational judgement testing / pre-interview screening

When it comes to recruitment, a large proportion of time is devoted to interviewing candidates; time which is often wasted if these individuals aren’t progressed any further in the process. Introducing an online psychometric assessment and situational judgement testing element into the initial stages of the process can help rule out any candidates that won’t be the right ‘fit’ for the business upfront. It’s worth noting that any tests need to be related back to the business requirements / culture to actually be meaningful. Furthermore, utilising a process like this means that only the candidates who make it through this assessment will end up on your database – keeping your internal candidate pool much more searchable and useful for future hiring. One consideration to bear in mind would be the level of hire that such a tool would be appropriate for.

  • Video Interviewing

Pre-recorded video interviewing is also a relatively modern way of saving time during the recruitment process. This technology also serves as a good test of candidate engagement, from both the perspective of checking they’re committed to completing it (ultimately working for your business) and then from the perspective of checking their ability to build rapport / convey a point over video.

Responding to peaks and troughs (and unexpected requisitions!)

Within some businesses, peaks and troughs of recruitment activity go with the territory; therefore it’s crucial to be given visibility of hiring needs well in advance of when the roles are needed. However, companies will often have amazing business plans but don’t dial in the people element in terms of numbers and timings, let along the skills of the people needed! One way to challenge your organisation is when you’re planning for future hiring; ensure that your business functions are giving you at least a rough indication of hiring activity as a starting point. However, let them know if these numbers dramatically change that recruitment will be billing them on a project basis for the cost of the new hires. It won’t be long until they’re thinking more seriously about forecasting!

In addition to planning in advance for hiring needs, staying in touch with your trusted agencies is key – even during the quiet times. Build strong relationships with your specialist agencies; let them know your top priorities, key hiring challenges, future business plans etc. Good agencies will speculatively pipeline for positions based on your business culture / needs and will be able to turn around your requisitions quickly should you need to reach out to them.

Is RPO the answer?

Many companies opt for an RPO solution when it comes to their recruitment activity. From the perspective of catering to fluctuating hiring volumes, this option can present an attractive solution as the burden or responsibility of flexing up and flexing down falls to the RPO. However, when considering this option there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • The length of time to get an RPO up and running should not be underestimated
  • Unless you’re the RPO’s main account, it’s unlikely that they’ll have a bank of ‘ready now’ talent available to plug into your business – they run on such tight margins that it’s just unrealistic for them
  • RPOs often have the ‘yes’ mentality – ensure that your chosen RPO doesn’t over-promise and under-deliver
  • RPO recruiters’ motivations differ to internal teams; to some extent this can be overcome by integrating RPO staff well. Can you offer RPO recruiters secondments / placements into your business to learn more about the company / culture and ensure they demonstrate the right behaviours?
  • Often the quality of the service will depend on the level of roles you’re hiring – is it exec level or more high volume / low skill requisitions?
  • Always ensure that you get the service delivery agreed accurately during negotiations and take note of exactly how your account will be managed (e.g. do they operate with a smaller budget than your business?)

Interim due-diligence

With HMRC’s clamp down on false self-employment and the use of intermediaries, employers need to vamp up their due-diligence around checking contractors on site. If you are paying them, you may now need to be audited. For more information click here.

Final thoughts:

Regardless of how resourcing functions are structured, the overriding goal is to hire the best person as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The reality is that to the business, having an empty seat is actually going to be of greater cost.

As a resourcing function, the ultimate situation would mean that you’re over-resourced on an average basis, so during any ‘troughs’, recruiters are able to be more proactive and can focus more on candidate engagement and pipelining.

Oasis HR

Written by , Network Driven HR Recruitment

Oasis HR is a multi-award winning HR Recruitment Agency based in London that delivers Contingency and Search services within the Human Resource and Business Change Markets. Our client base encompasses all industry sectors and we have a proven track record of delivering permanent, interim and temporary professionals at all levels across all HR disciplines. From a £20k HR Administrator to a £200k HR Director, Oasis HR is well placed to identify, approach and secure the best available talent in the market

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