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Kevin Green: Five steps to good recruitment

As demand returns to the economy many organisations are seeking to grow. However, skill and talent shortages are proving a major constraint, with many UK businesses saying they are having problems hiring the people they need.

For HR professionals this means shifting the focus away from cost-saving activities such as restructuring, and towards their organisations’ need to attract and recruit new talent. 

Until recently, the HR community has concentrated on staff engagement as a way of improving the performance of the people they already employ, thereby making their organisations more productive.

This is evident in the fact that 78% of large organisations have contracted out much of their recruitment activity, seeing it as outsourcing transactional activity. The idea that recruitment can be completely automated, or given over wholesale to outsources to perform, is short-sighted. 

Attracting the right people is by far the most important thing that HR does for business. Performance management, rewarding, developing, and organisation design are irrelevant if you haven’t hired the right people in the first place. As part of the Good Recruitment Campaign we have defined what ‘good’ looks like, and one of the key principles is making sure your supply chain delivers for your organisation.

Here are my top five tips for getting it right:

1. Build a strategic relationship with your provider

Is your provider positioning your organisation as you would want it to be sold to potential candidates? Only 11% of employers seek candidate feedback, but if you've invested in your employer brand then making sure your frontline ambassadors are on message is critical. You need to know what candidates are saying about your business, especially those who haven’t been hired. Your partners should provide this data for you.    

2. Don't let procurement manage the contract without your input 

It's really important that HR has a say when selecting a recruitment partner. Is your procurement team best placed to ensure your brand will be properly represented, and that candidates being put forward are high quality? Or will they primarily focus on cost reduction because that's how their performance is measured? HR should help define the contractual terms and the measures used to evaluate success. Make sure you get regular data and are present at contract reviews. 

3. Balance contract metrics 

Contractual performance measures should not just be about cost and effectiveness. Ensure outcome measures are included in the contract and that these are reported on by the provider. What gets measured in a third-party contract is fundamental to its success, so include candidate feedback and satisfaction as well as retention figures for new hires. 

4. Don't just focus on the prime supplier 

When dealing with large employers it's common for the prime provider to outsource resourcing activity to smaller agencies. Often the second-tier suppliers are forbidden to talk to the end user. This risks the commoditisation of the recruitment process, and is dangerous in my view. Quality recruiters have a choice about who they provide their best candidates to, so if smaller agencies feel disengaged they could send the talent elsewhere. Make sure you meet and motivate the whole of your recruitment supply chain, and are able to tap into the expertise of specialist recruiters. 

5. The candidate is king 

In a world where you are competing for talent, your candidate experience needs to be as good as it can. Define what recruitment should be like, then align your managers internally to deliver this. Make sure your processes support a good candidate experience, and that your external provider is managed in accordance with these objectives. 

If you want to know more read the REC's Chain Reaction report. 

Chain Reaction was published with the CIPD and CIPS, so HR, procurement and the recruitment professional bodies are aligned in providing advice on what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to managing recruitment supply chains.

Kevin Green is chief executive of the REC