What’s Better: Internal or External Recruiters?

Recruiting employees has become so complex that many organizations don’t have the internal experience and knowledge to source and screen efficiently and effectively.  But does that mean retaining external recruiters is the better option?

Tug of war - internal recruiting vs outsourcing 1. Recruiting to many organizations still means simply putting butts in seats. But recruiting today isn’t about advertising an opening, interviewing candidates, and extending job offers. Those functions barely scratch the surface. Recruiting with a high ROI entails understanding the talent marketplace, using the right sources, creating a positive first impression for candidates, implementing an applicant friendly process, responding to all candidates quickly and professionally, and hiring qualified and quality employees. This requires a collaborative effort between marketing, HR, and management. Management still thinks they can market multiple jobs under one ad to save money but would never think of marketing all their products or services to all audiences with the same ad. Marketing departments take the time and effort to look at demographics, readership, ad placement, and even time of day and day of the week before purchasing an ad. But when it comes to HR, they choose Craig’s List over CareerBuilder because Craig’s List is cheaper, and LinkedIN over Facebook because management personally  considers Facebook a waste of time. The right source should have nothing to do with personal preferences. The right candidate source pool is the one where the most qualified candidates are hanging out – whether you personally like the venue or not.

2.  Recruiting in many companies is still an HR function that is executed only when a vacancy opens. In many companies, recruiting is a function done when HR has time. When HR is recruiting other vital functions are often ignored.  Why do you think recruitment efforts fall off in many businesses during the 4th quarter of each? Is it because the need to recruit is less? NO!  It’s because that’s the time most organizations have open enrollment and complete their performance reviews. But recruiting can no longer be turned on and off with a switch. It also can’t be run anymore on an as needed basis. The short term fix is hiring outside help. But ultimately recruiting is a 24/7/365 enterprise wide function which requires outside help to strategize, design, engage multiple departments, and guide implementation. To achieve best practice recruiting outcomes require the seamless collaboration of all company functions with the leadership of a skilled and experienced external partner. Companies are so lean today they just don’t have the time, resources, or experience even if they have the expertise.

3. An effective recruiting campaign can result in a resu-mess of applications. Technology is a must to screen faster and hire smarter. Employee screening software is now essential to improve the screening process and build talent communities. But recruiting software today must be so much more than system that builds a database resumes. Home grown systems just don’t cut it anymore. Oddly, few companies would consider integrating CRM without a technology partner. But when it comes to capturing applicants and building a robust and functional database of potential workers, companies feel they can rely on DIY – do it yourself. An applicant tracking system is best obtained from an outside vendor just as CRM software is purchased for sales and service. It must integrate with multiple sourcing channels, assist in creating a brand to engage applicants, and offer easy to administer functionality for the employer. Why do they think they build their own system without a good partner? (That doesn’t mean they have to retain outside support indefinitely. Recruiting with internal staff can get equal if not better results than relying on outside recruiters if the internal staff is trained and has a proven system to rely on.)

Every one of these reasons suggests that external recruiting has its benefits. They also suggest ways for companies to internalize recruiting too. But the decision to use internal or external recruiting begins and ends with where does the expertise lie and what’s the cost-risk benefit. The decision to use internal vs external recruiters generally is made when one or the other is not working, not because the alternative is a better option. Since few companies track HR ROI like they should, they can’t possibly know for sure whether using internal employees or outsourced recruiters is best. Until a company is confident it has the people, processes, and systems in place to screen faster and hire smarter, it’s best to rely on an external partner to navigate the very murky waters of recruiting qualified and skilled workers in a 21st century marketplace.



Ira S Wolfe