Friday, 20 September 2013

#SErecruit - innovation in RPO and digital recruitment

Yesterday was Symposium Events' latest session focusing on innovation in recruitment.  It was another great conference put on them by them, and I'm really looking forward to chairing their HR Business Partnering conference in a couple of months time.

Although there were a number of excellent sessions focusing on different areas, my greatest inspiration was around the outsourcing angle that was a key focus of the conference.

Here are some of the general highlights first:



In terms of outsourcing, I think one of the things that made the conference work so well was the mix of practitioners and outsourcing providers.  And the other was some excellent speakers.

Greg Allen from Lloyd's Register gave a riveting talk which woke everyone up nice and early, suggesting that he'd tended to rely on 'recruiting by probation' i.e. not bothering to set up an interview between manager and candidate (which had the additional advantage of reducing age bias) but simply giving them a technical test and then leaving it to customer feedback during the probation period to see whether someone would stay in their jobs or not.)  Not good!!!  However, LR have now introduced a Licence to Operate which I think is a great idea.

Other ideas included that the recruiting shouldn't be done just by Recruiting and HR or they become part of the kicking culture that is normally directed at the RPO.

And I wasn't too convinced by the idea that you should ask potential vendors about what they have they you need, or what they can contribute to the business (rather than forming a rather tighter specification yourself.)  However I know myself that I like to be part of drawing up my own statement of work, rather than have to work to a redeveloped contract, so I'm prepared to agree that the scoping conversation should be two way.  And Greg did say that you shouldn't just do what the RPO wants, so for example he involves the RPO in screening to provide more data rather than hearsay within the process.

Greg's approach also seemed to produce benefits for LR, introducing them to  new technologies including Avature CRM, HireVue video interviewing and Hollaroo alumni communities.  Which was clearly a good thing, but again, if I was a Director of Recruiting I'd want to know about these things (and their alternatives) myself.


Andrew Wilson from Visa Europe talked about the importance of developing a special relationship with the vendor and not treating them like a slave.  I completely agree with this -- avoiding a kicking culture rather than deflecting it onto the RPOs has got to be the right idea!

Andrew's suggestions included:

  • Not tell, tell, tell!
  • Be honest
    • Not filtered
    • Outline politics on both sides
    • Share as much as you can
  • Keep talking & listening
  • Share your vision
  • Share future scenarios in terms of demand
  • Set clear expectations (SLAs have huge impact.)


The approach seems to have worked well.  The agency acts on behalf of the organisation, eg posting to their social media streams.  And it has supported a 16% reduction in Time to Fill and a 25% reduction in Cost Per Hire, plus customer satisfaction has increased as well.  But we didn't get to find anything out about Quality of Hire, which I think was a pretty significant omission.

My other way was that despite being well impressed by VE's approach to partnering, I was left wondering how far it would go.  VE's Twitter stream is OK, but not very 'social'.  If they wanted to use it for developing conversations and relationships rather than for just posting jobs, would their RPO partnership still work?

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 14.28.47.png


The UK's recruitment sector is based heavily on an RPO based model but I left the conference still thinking that it probably shouldn't be.

Yes, there are some good partnerships and good vendors around - it was great to see some of these sponsoring the conference.

But technology is making it much easier to do things in-house, and the idea that you need to outsource to gain access to the technology is bizarre.  If your firewalls are so tight your IT team won't let you on these, find a way around them (some non networked PCs, or how about an ipad???).  Or just fire the IT Director.

And even with the special relationship between company and vendor, making outsourcing work in an increasingly social environment is getting harder and harder to do.  Easier just to do it yourself; I think.  So my suggestion, from this conference at least, would be: don't just innovate - obliterate!


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