The Failure of Internal Recruitment?

The Failure of Internal Recruitment?

This is going to be a controversial article. It will probably provoke a response from those in  corporate recruiting in the Asia Pacific.

5 years ago, it was my opinion that the internal talent acquisition structure with the ability to source candidates on its own through data-mining its corporate CV database and applicant tracking system (ATS) aided by a slew of A-team recruiters with strong head-hunting experience would mean the demise of the recruitment agencies especially here in Asia.

Fast forward to November 2013. I am re-assessing my view.  I am a proponent of the internal corporate recruitment strategy rather than outsourcing to staffing agencies. The cost savings that the organization makes in doing things on its own coupled with the intelligence that it gathers whilst engaging with candidates was a strategy I felt firms would pursue. After all, if one can save millions of dollars in recruitment expenses, it would be a no-brainer.

But in-depth conversations with recruitment leaders among corporations and agencies alike have led me to re-consider my earlier forecast. I'm beginning to see firms struggle to implement plans for a self-sufficient corporate recruitment division. I can't comment what's happening in North American, Latin America or Europe. My views are strictly what I see here in Singapore and Asia-wide.

Agency consultants are avoiding the “dark side”

5 years ago, moving to corporate recruiting from agency work was all the rage. This mass migration seems no longer the case in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia.

Agency consultants are more aware of the work done by internal talent acquisition given their dealings with them.

Corporate recruiters are inundated with things other than finding great candidates. Late night con-calls on HR and other corporate policy issues such as change management. Being dragged in for some corporate project, endless red tape and paperwork related to offer letters due to poor streamlining efforts, politics and the battles with HR (more on this in a separate article!). Lack of respect from demanding hiring managers and an overall sense that remuneration is poor compared with their agency brethren.

It’s also been a boom time for agencies. Foreign firms moving into Asia in areas like oil & gas, finance, health sciences are keeping agencies busy and rich! Most good consultants want to be where the action is whilst being paid well.

High req load

Generally, corporate recruiters are faced with a higher req load compared with agency staffers. 25 to 40 reqs are quite common. Quality of candidates suffers as a result. Recruiters doubling up as sourcers are common. They are also asked to support employer branding work in areas such as updating the corporate social media sites and brand strategy work. Recruiters are over-stretched. Result? Unhappy hiring managers who are not given suitable candidates.

Lack of training

I generally find corporations spend very little (financially and time) in training their internal recruiters. Areas such as managing relationships with hiring managers, how to speak to passive candidates, conduct candidate interviews and generally how to sell the employer value proposition to candidates are given scant attention. Knowing how to work the ATS system, however, is usually given paramount attention! I sometimes think it is a lack of recognition among recruitment leaders that just as employees in other departments like sales and marketing require training, internal staffing employees also need to constantly upgrade their soft skills.

Recruiters: cost versus experience

In the quest to lower costs at every single opportunity, organizations are hiring junior recruiters versus those who are much more experienced. Think about it. Would junior recruiters be capable of managing senior candidates? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a mix of junior and senior recruiters who can handle an assortment of candidates and positions? I also see very few strong recruiters in their late 30s and 40s who are more adapt in speaking to senior candidates and hiring managers. Too many of such folks are promoted to lead recruitment teams and no longer hold reqs as their KPI. As a result, senior positions are even handled by junior recruiters who lack the fortitude to interface with top level hiring managers and candidates alike.

The battle With HR

Many firms who have implemented a new talent acquisition model to take over the staffing work from HR tell me of constant political harassment and insecure HR executives who try to undermine the new recruitment team at every opportunity. Evidently, senior management have done a poor job in communicating to the HR team in Asia why recruitment has been taken away from them and how going forward, HR can add-value in being more strategic to the business in areas like retention, succession planning, organizational development etc. In my work as a consultant, I can tell you at first hand the many battles between the TA and HR teams; some get very ugly. The latter feeling that in the future, they will be replaced by TA. But TA replacing the HR function? Come on! It’s just pure insecurity.

The above reasons have seen morale take a hit among many corporate recruiters in Asia. If management are aware of these issues and address them directly with sensible solutions, failure can easily turn into success.

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Posted in: Talent Acquisition