Recruiting agencies, talent search firms, executive recruiting companies, head hunters – all of these provide recruitment and staffing services for businesses who may not be able to or want to carry out a recruitment process internally. The decision to use an external search firm for recruitment purposes is usually based on the availability of common business variables such as time, money, and resources. It may be a more efficient approach to use an external recruiting firm if the internal resources are not available to complete the tasks. Having said that, not all recruitment campaigns benefit from the use of an external process or firm.
The opportunities for and challenges of outsourcing recruitment campaigns are reviewed in Canadian Business’ online magazine.
As noted in the article, the issue of cultural fit is one of the concerns that must be addressed. It is critical that an external recruiter has more than the basic understanding of the technical qualification and skills requirements needed for the position to be filled. Effective recruiters must be able to ascertain or assess whether or not the potential candidate will ‘fit’ the organization’s cultural needs, before offering the candidate into the field for consideration.
The issue of cultural fit is a tricky one to navigate, especially for public sector organizations. An example of this may be provided through the recent recruitment scandal connected to the hiring campaign for the position of Commissioner with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). An executive search firm was hired on behalf of the provincial government to conduct the campaign at a cost of forty thousand taxpayer dollars. It is not unusual for public sector organizations to use executive search firms, given the constraints and obligations to ensure that taxpayer money is used in open and transparent process for all involved. Unfortunately, this particular campaign resulted in the controversial appointment of an allegedly unqualified individual with political and social connections to the current premier of the province. The appointee eventually withdrew from the process, but the impact of the scandal remains.
One could argue that the appointment was based on ‘cultural fit’ factors. These factors, however, have the taint of political manipulation which infected the entire process including the reputation of the search firm itself. This is most unfortunate given the fact that search firms do not make the final hiring decisions, the organization’s leaders do.
Using an external search firm does not provide for the abdication of decision making responsibility on the part of the employer. While the process itself may be outsourced, the hiring decisions remain internal with all of the leadership accountabilities and responsibilities linked to those decisions intact.
- As you plan for your career in HR, what are the benefits of working exclusively for a recruiting agency?
- What are the cost-benefit considerations for an organization looking to hire talent through a recruiting agency?
- How should organizational leadership positions be filled? Through an internal (HR driven) process or through an external (executive search firm) process? Explain your rationale.