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3 surefire signs it’s time to outsource recruiting

Thought Leadership on Recruiting and Retention presented by Vector Talent Resources.

Hiring needs are difficult to predict, leaving recruitment departments understaffed and overwhelmed. No matter how many people you have on the recruitment team, they may not have the expertise to attract and acquire the top talent your company needs.

If your company is experiencing rapid growth, or even consistently experiencing a higher than average requirements for your industry, it may be time to look into outsourcing recruitment.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) can mean one of two things: You either seek assistance from an RPO provider to complement your existing department, or you can entirely replace your recruiting function depending on projected core business needs. If you are unaware of what type of RPO service you need, start with complementary services. This allows your recruitment team to work in tandem with the outsourced recruiting department for a given amount of time.

But how do you know when it’s the right time to call for help, and how should you budget for RPO services? Take a look at some of the top reasons companies outsource recruiting when it’s obvious the time has come:

Sign #1: Lack of quality hires … again and again…

Time to solve: 6 months

A few bad hires shouldn’t have you searching for a new recruiting department, but consistently bad hires (coupled with a high turnover rate) is reason for alarm. Somewhere in the hiring process are a few major holes your recruitment team needs to patch up, but do they have the knowledge and know-how to do so? It may be time to do an audit on the hiring process, specifically sourcing methodologies, candidate screening practices and the interviewing process. These three aspects are the points where your recruitment team should really be weeding out those potential bad hires.

To do: Bring on a RPO-provider for six months so they can evaluate and remedy sourcing, screening and interviewing processes. Look for a staffing firm that specializes in your industry so they can really get to the crux of the quality hire issue.

Watch out: Low quality of hire may not be the fault of your recruiting department. In fact, many employees plunk their reasons for leaving directly with management. Having an objective third party run into similar quality issues may mean the problem lies elsewhere within your company (and it’s useful to know if you have a problem with management sooner rather than later).

Sign #2: A higher than average turnover rate

Time to solve: 4–6 weeks

According to, one of the top five reasons U.S. workers leave their jobs shortly after being hired is because the work they end up doing is not what they expected. While there can be multiple reasons for a high turnover rate, one recurring problem is with recruitment messaging. This messaging is portrayed in the job advertisements, social job ads, career page and even in candidate communication, and could mislead candidates into positions they’re not suited for. While you can have an in-house team revitalize messaging, they may not have the strategies and skills to be effective, or they may not be able to wrest control from the marketing or communication department to do so. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to reshape messaging, because like any project, your recruiters can get too close to what they’ve created.

To do: Consider outsourcing recruitment as a one-off project for four to six weeks to revitalize recruitment messaging. Make sure the project covers job advertisement messaging, career page copy and all communication during the hiring process from the time an application is received, setting up the interview and even the offer letter. Look for a recruitment outsourcing service with marketing prowess.

Watch out: Many times your internal recruitment team can be hamstrung into using outdated or stale job descriptions by the hiring manager. Putting a team in place who understands industry standards, compensation models for the region and employer branding can ease reluctant hiring managers into revitalizing tired job descriptions. Make sure to A/B test the old and new job ads against one another to make sure you’re fixing the right problem!

Sign #3 – Disengaged or uninventive recruitment department

Time to Solve: 6–12 months

If the recruitment department seems uninspired to hit talent acquisition goals it can mean one of three things: lack of compensation, few or no rewards or recognition for meeting goals, lack of urgency due to low workload or flat out disengagement. Before jumping to conclusions, make sure the former are evaluated, then don’t hesitate to outsource recruitment to give the rest of your team that push they need! There’s nothing wrong with reminding employees they’re replaceable, and a little competition may be just what you need to see which employees are meant to stick around.

To Do: Hire an outsourced recruitment department to work with your in-house team, but make sure you conduct feedback surveys before you bring the team on to evaluate the in-house team’s engagement, morale and outlook. Push the outsourced team to provide provable metrics based on their performance as contrasted with the in-house recruiters. Towards the end of the contract, make sure to do a follow up survey to note positive and negative changes. The external team may be able to give you that outside perspective you didn’t even know you needed.

Watch out: Be warned: outsourcing recruitment with an extremely disengaged in-house team may push them even further out the door. While this seems like a horrible idea at first, you’ll thank me later. After all, if you want to recruit the best, you’ve got to have the best recruiters on your side.

How did you know it was time to outsource recruiting? Share with us in the comments!

Click here for more Thought Leadership on Recruiting and Retention from Vector Talent Resources.