What is Recruitment Transformation?

Google the phrase “HR Transformation” and you get about 465,000 results. A quick name-check reveals the usual suspects (Deloitte, PwC, Oracle etc.) and an abundance of whitepapers, models & case studies. By Stuart Jones Recruitment Transformation​ training & consulting for HR/TA teams, January 18, 2017.

In short, if you want to know more about HR Transformation you don’t have to look very far. Now, try Googling “Recruitment Transformation” and it’s a different story. You’ll get about 4,500 results (1% by comparison) and not a big-4 consultancy in sight. Why is that? Are we to assume that general HR models have got it covered? It’s not surprising recruitment remains such a problem for so many.

Defining Recruitment Transformation

So, what is the definition of recruitment transformation? How about: “Recruitment Transformation is the process of change required to move away from low-value, reactive recruitment towards high-value, strategic resourcing

Or words to that effect. But creating a catchy definition isn’t the challenge. The devil is in the detail: what do we mean by ‘strategic resourcing’, and what does the ‘process of change’ look like? This is where there seems to be a lack of consensus.

Recruitment Transformation Methodology

What the in-house recruitment sector needs is a methodology for recruitment transformation. A consistent framework any talent leader can use to assess their current progress, re-calibrate, and plan their next steps.

The model I use suggests there are four broad, but distinct, stages of recruitment transformation that successful companies navigate on the road to building a truly strategic resourcing function.

Each stage has its’ own key characteristics, metrics & next steps – which I’ve outlined briefly below.

The Four Stages of Recruitment Transformation

Stage One: Informal & Uncontrolled Recruitment

This is recruitment in its organic state. Informal, uncontrolled and, unsurprisingly, carrying a high level of risk. What do we mean by risk? That’s another blog post, but at a high level it includes basic legislative risk, as well as the time, cost & quality factors related to recruitment itself.

Stage One Characteristics:

  • Recruitment policy, processes & responsibilities are undefined (or unfollowed)
  • Those people responsible for recruitment have little or no training
  • Uncontrolled, inconsistent methods of supply and selection
  • Recruitment performance is generally unmeasured and unknown

Stage One Metrics (or lack of):

  • General levels of dissatisfaction within the business regarding recruitment
  • Possibly high levels of early attrition (or even non-starters)
  • Recruitment costs are perceived to be high

Next Steps:

To move forward from stage one, we need to identify and quantify the risk, build a business case for change (the business may already be demanding change!) and bring more control to recruitment activities.

Stage Two – Controlled & Compliant Recruitment

Controlled & compliant recruitment removes many of the obvious risks associated with stage one. However, costs often remain high and service levels low, with HR focused on process compliance & vacancy fill rates.

Stage Two Characteristics:

  • Recruitment policy, processes & responsibilities are defined (and followed)
  • Supply & selection activities are more consistent and controlled
  • Those people responsible for recruitment are trained to a basic level (process, employment legislation etc.)
  • Recruitment activities are tracked & recorded (typically manually).
  • Overall recruitment performance is understood.

Stage Two Metrics:

  • Process & policy compliance levels amongst hiring managers
  • Vacancy volumes & role types
  • Vacancy fill rates
  • Overall cost of recruitment and average time-to-hire

Next Steps:

A controlled process is not necessarily a good one – especially if it’s delivered manually by a generalist population. It’s time to make recruitment more efficient by streamlining and investing in specialist skills & technologies.

Stage Three – Performance Managed & Efficient Recruitment

Recruitment becomes a specialist, performance-managed activity but remains focused on efficiency metrics (direct hire %, time-to-hire, cost-per-hire). Recruitment is still largely reactive, and the team’s focus is often inward and down (siloed & task-oriented) rather than outward and up (business-focused & strategic).

Stage Three Characteristics:

  • Recruitment policy, process & responsibilities are streamlined
  • Core processes and administrative tasks are reduced through automation
  • The business invests in specialist recruitment skills & technologies
  • Introduction of metrics / KPIs to proactively manage recruitment performance

Stage Three Metrics:

  • Detailed cost-per-hire & time-to-hire measures
  • Source of hire (with a typical focus on direct hiring % levels)
  • Quality of hire, within a 0 to 2-month timescale

Next Steps:

For many, the journey ends here. The recruitment team feels justified in delivering against its internal metrics, but the business questions the value of the service. There’s one final step to take towards partnership status.

Stage Four – Strategic Resourcing

Strategic resourcing means taking things to the next level in terms of quality, service & partnering. That typically means delivering services in three key areas:

  1. Proactivity – continually searching for ways to get ahead of the game. That might simply be getting an early nod that someone has put their notice in, attending regular tactical planning meeting with hiring managers, strategic workforce planning, or potentially using predictive analytics to forecast next year’s vacancies tomorrow. It doesn’t matter what you do, but it needs to be done. The more foresight you have of recruitment requirements, the better your recruitment will be – it also forces recruitment to build stronger links with the business and ask more of the right questions.
  2. Experience – because, let’s face it, efficiency sucks from a customer perspective. We need to put candidate & hiring manager experience at the heart of everything we do. This doesn’t mean taking orders and jumping through hoops – it means being the expert, adding value, being transparent and building partnerships. Try building some non-essential touch points back into your recruitment process.
  3. Long-term perspective – focus on long-term quality of hire is the ultimate performance measure for recruitment. Adopting a long-term approach to hiring, encourages the development of more strategic initiatives, like employer branding and talent pipe-lining. And unsurprisingly, recruiting people who perform well over the long-term also reduces that turnover problem you’ve been having, meaning less of your vacancies are reactive back-fills, allowing you to work closer with the business. Win win.

Stage Four Characteristics:

  • Process, policy & responsibilities are re-designed to optimise stakeholder experience
  • Introduction of pro-active & added-value initiatives
  • Focus on long-term quality of hire & brand development

Stage Four Metrics:

  • Quality of experience (candidate & hiring manager)
  • Quality of hire (12+ months / long term performance)
  • Success of strategic initiatives & brand development

Next Steps:

Once you reach stage four, your job is to keep moving forward. Track the market for innovation. Recruitment doesn’t stand still, and it might not be long before your technology is outdated or your process is no longer fit-for-purpose.

Ultimately, this model isn’t hierarchical, it’s circular. Be sure to underpin any new activities with well-defined processes and adopt a data-drive approach to continually fine-tune and manage their performance.

So where from here…?

I’d argue that these four stages are the key steps in the journey – and as such they form the foundation of the recruitment transformation methodology we use at InSource Talent.

Having witnessed the rapid expansion of the in-house recruitment sector over the last decade, I do see a risk of the sector retrenching if teams continue to stall at stage three (efficiency) and fail to deliver on some of the bigger promises made to the business along the way.

Ultimately, as much as we talk about putting candidates first, it’s often the internal customer that decides the fate of the recruitment team. And the more hiring managers I speak to, it’s clear that while cost and time efficiencies are important, their primary concern is quality of hire and the level of service they receive along the way.

In the argument between insourcing vs outsourcing, I’m convinced that building in-house capability offers the best chance of delivering at strategic partnership level.

If nothing else, hopefully, this model provides a new perspective for those of you trying to deliver recruitment transformation in your own organisations. If that’s you – or you have your own ideas on recruitment transformation – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like more information

The methodology described in this article is taken from my Strategic Resourcing Workshop – a training session for in-house recruitment leaders.

As the founder of InSource Talent (a training & consultancy business dedicated to the UK in-house recruitment sector) I work with companies and in-house recruiters to help them achieve recruitment transformation.

You can find our latest range of training workshops listed here, or you can contact me directly at stuart@insourcetalent.co.uk.

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One thought on “What is Recruitment Transformation?

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