Before everyone gets up in arms, let me put it out there: I am Scottish-born. I may have defected to the dark side (some might say) but I think it’s fair to argue I have a stake on both sides of the independence debate. I am both a business owner, and a recruiter. So where does my vote lie?
The debate has been a long-standing theme on the talent agenda. Shareholders fell out with third-party recruiters in the recession, looking to rein in the pennies by taking back the power to elect their own. And who can blame us? Recruiters are outsiders. How can they understand our culture, unique processes and specific needs? How can standardised policies and practices, designed for the business world at large, ever find the right fit for the individual?
As a cost-cutting measure, it’s argued. Why pay out for another body to do a job we can manage ourselves? But when it comes to recruitment, the true cost of independence isn’t so black and white. The paper-pushing associated with filtering through CVs drains resources. Endless interviews in a limited timeframe increase the risk of “making do” and compromising on quality. And while size and scale is arguably a weak point for agencies in some respects, it does bring the benefit of economies of scale: reducing costs and increasing reach, power and the ability to attract a larger talent pool.
However, there’s always the danger of an outside partner focusing on their own motives or objectives. Pushing ill-fitting candidates off their books in the pursuit of easy revenue, rather than applying the time to understand and deliver a perfect fit. If they’re not invested in your end goals, cutting out the middle man may be the only way to get what you’re asking for.
But while they may not know the individual business, they know the market. There’s a lot to be said for experience and expertise, especially against smaller HR departments struggling in a growing global market. Their processes aren’t always specific or tailored, but they’re established and tested. And for those turning their backs on recruitment process outsourcing, there’s the added burden of entering the market as a new starter. When nine out of 10 new ventures fail, I can’t say I like those odds.
When you weigh it up, there’s no right answer. No wonder independence is such a close call.