3 Lessons Corporate In-house Recruiting Organizations Can Learn from Staffing Agencies

Sep 5, 2014

On average, 118 people apply for any given job — and of those 118 candidates, only 23 actually get an interview. This conundrum begs the question: are employers building the best candidate pools? Staffing agencies and corporations face an identical challenge — attracting the right candidates to begin with.

Enticing a precise type of person to fill one very specific role is like searching for a needle in a haystack. You will end up with strict criteria, and an endless list of names of people who miss the mark. To fill your candidate pool with greater potential, take a page from the staffing agency playbook. Start with these three ideas: 

Forget position-based recruiting. For decades, employers have been sticking to a job requisition protocol that limits a position to candidates with very specific qualities or experiences. The legacy systems behind this requisition-based process were originally justified to decrease new-hire data entry into payroll, an outdated value proposition in today’s competitive world.

Ditch the requisition recruiting that boxes candidates in (or out), and trade it in for a more open system that attracts talent based on relationships. Relationship-based recruiting allows recruiters to spend more time on seeking, engaging, and qualifying the right candidates.

Rethink your recruiting team structure. One advantage staffing agencies have over in-house recruiting is the specialization of roles and responsibilities. In the staffing agency setting, roles are clear cut because one member, the recruiter, can focus on attracting and engaging candidates with the best fit based on skills, while another team member, the sales executive, focuses on understanding skill sets required by the client. In-house recruiting departments should restructure to specialize by splitting recruiting teams into two parts.

While one group focuses on building strong relationships with candidates and creating a talent pipeline, the other group can focus exclusively on understanding the business needs of hiring managers. This allows one party to attract the best candidates, sometimes even snagging them from competitors, while the other finds matches for the right internal teams.

Connect recruiting with revenue. Staffing agency recruiters are acutely aware of the direct tie between great candidates and growing agency revenue, since talent is their product. Direct employers, where candidates are not the end itself but a means to an end, should also evaluate the connection between recruiting and revenue. In the knowledge economy, sales can be directly tied to hiring for many businesses across many roles, whether salespeople, consultants, or service delivery personnel. According to a top staffing analytics provider, the expected value of candidate pipelines is a critical KPI for overall staffing agency performance.

Similarly, when more companies draw the connection between their ability to grow and their ability to hire the right people, then the role of the in-house recruiter will change. Even more than staffing agencies, employers have the potential to measure recruiter performance by tracking each individual recruiter’s placements over time for their success within the company. By measuring and paying recruiters for performance, which corresponds directly to employee success and company growth, corporate in-house recruiting will strengthen their strategic value and deliver true competitive advantage.

People will have 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We could greatly decrease this number and increase overall productivity by filling candidate pools with the right type of candidates from the beginning. How many workers are unhappy with their current jobs? Over half of workers surveyed in the spring of 2014 claimed to be dissatisfied.

To match people with the best jobs for their talent and passion, we must reinvent the practice of recruiting. Corporate recruiting teams should take a page from their staffing agency counterparts: Rely more heavily on pro-active relationship-based recruiting, restructure to focus on attracting the best candidate pool, and relate recruiting to revenue through measurement and reward. Employers will land the best candidates only when they rethink how they’re getting applicants in the first place.

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