Stripping it bare! Niche specialisation is the key.

As recruiters sometimes our proposition gets confused. When we present to potential clients it’s very tempting to rant on about great applicant tracking systems, robust assessment processes, social media expertise, great brand campaigns, or whatever. But really, when we cut through all the clutter, the thing we do that we are needed for is to target,  source and manage the right candidate. Yep we now use a whole lot of tools that were not always available but actually any good corporate recruiter and agency can do deploy these tools.

The thing they need us for is the experience and specialist knowledge of our sector. When combined with the skills to search out , engage and manage the process to successful outcomes our relevance never fades and our value is high.

Certainly I acknowledge that in-house recruitment teams and RPO providers can add great value to organisations in terms of volume hires but when the hard to find key people are needed we remain the best source. This is because if we are any good, we know where they are, what they want and we can go out and get to them.

A simple proposition but a complex role, hence there are many more $250k billers and much fewer $1,000,000 billers in our industry.

Be a niche specialist and great relationship manager if you want to stay high up in the value chain. You will always be relevant!


Get Ready!

Now is a great time to focus on becoming “World Class” at recruitment & retention. Competitive Advantage will stem from highly motivated and capable employees as we make our way out of recession. (Not that I claim to know when that will be…)


Having a high level of engagement within the workforce will be critical as once the employment markets free up companies will lose more people than they desire. This is because many have simply put their head down to stay employed but they will jump ship once opportunities begin to present themselves. Therefore engage with them now if you want to retain them in better times.


The same applies to spending energy now on recruitment processes, tools and training. Even if your not hiring get prepared because things could change quite quickly. So in my view now is a great time to:

  • Keep building your talentpool
  • Stay in contact with future talent
  • Invest in your employment brand
  • Investigate all candidate sourcing channels

Who knows whats around the corner?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing – RPO

Does RPO enhance an organisations ability to attract talent?

It Depends. I don’t think many HR Directors actually understand RPO fully. I also don’t think that Senior management actually spend nearly enough time thinking strategically about this issue. The Mantra of “Our People are our most important asset blah blah blah…” is to easy to spit out without really taking a critical look at how we source and retain the best. I do believe its an area where real competitive advantage can be gained but it takes real effort.

Therefore, I see RPO as the best solution in 2 senarios;

1. High Volume job filling where time and price are the imperatives.

2. Competitive Advantage. Where RPO (done well) is led by the CEO and recruitment and retention is the number one strategic goal.

The first senario is self explanatory however senario two is the challenging solution . RPO (done well) can really help if Senior Management support the supplier with time and committment however when they see it as a default solution its a waste of time. An internal Talent Acquisition team (Whether in-house or outsourced) must have direct reporting to Senior Management and reporting that creates accountability. It must be more than a processing team with a real link between the external market, internal hiring imperatives and the strategic direction supported with a reasonable budget. If this is not the case then stay with the old ‘preferred supplier’ list of agenices and hope for the best! (thats another topic)

I have met a few people who really get RPO and add enormous value to a company however mostly I see the solution poorly executed.

Therefore in my opinion if you want competitive advantage from your recruitment model either choose an RPO provider very carefully or avoid the trap of building a processing centre altogether and select specialist agencies in each key area.

My do’s and do not’s when considering RPO.


1. Pursue RPO if the Senior Executive Team is totally committed to CHANGE due to a strategic imperative.

2. Research internationally case studies with real outcomes. 

3. Incentify the supplier with contractual terms linked to performance.

4. If its a high volume job filling solution then RPO can be very effective also. 

5. Insist on accurate and timely managment information reporting on the key performance metrics that can be sourced from for examples.

Do Not:

1. Contract in a recruiter and expect them to be able to source and attract the best.

2. Launch into the acquistion of enterprise wide e-recruitment software expecting the panacea.

3. Confuse RPO with HR

4. Believe Cutting relationships with agencies is the right way forward

5. Move forward without performance expectations agreed.