Internal Recruitment departments have been in the ascendency for a number of years, with many large businesses now having well established teams in place.  As the global economy continues to make life challenging for everyone, I ask five Heads of Resourcing and an industry analyst what they think this year’s resolutions should be for internal recruitment functions.

“It’s about getting Back to Basics and showing value to the business” said Gary Franklin, newly appointed Group Head of Resourcing for First Group and Co-Founder of The Forum for In-House Recruiters (The FIRM).

Surprisingly, for six entirely separate individuals, this was the overriding sentiment shared by all of my interviewees.

The main areas of their focus, were Up-Skilling existing recruitment teams; Employer Brand and Candidate Experience; show Return on Investment to the Business. They are all linked and together speak to candidate and business needs.

Up Skilling

With the pressure on from the business to achieve more with the same or less, the focus has to be on getting the best out of the resources you have.

Depending on the type of roles you are recruiting for, there is a greater or lesser emphasis on Passive Candidates. “The ability to find passive candidates IS rocket science, but it’s not news. Internal Recruiters have to get better at it”, said Malcolm Kemp, Director of Talent Acquisition at Betfair.

“There’s lots of talk about Recruitment 3.0 and 4.0, but before you can get to that you need highly competent recruiters who can find and manage candidates and talent pools”, said Gary Franklin.

According to Peter Hetherington, Head of Recruitment EMEA for Corporate Executive Board,  “There are three levels of internal recruiter, starting at Process Expert, then  Pipeline Manager, who can see round corners and do some prediction. Finally, there is Talent Advisor, who wields significant influence within the business”. Part of CEB is the Corporate Leadership Council which has an arm, CLC Recruiting, working with global heads of resourcing. A well researched statistic of theirs is that only 19% of internal recruiters are at Talent Advisor level.

A barrier to up-skilling recruiters highlighted by Peter was the lack of opportunity for professional development in recruiting. A professional qualification is sorely missed where many other functional specialisms, like HR with the CIPD, has one.

Employer Brand and Candidate Experience

The emphasis seems to be on improving employer brand to achieve a better candidate experience. The targeted output is more candidates, both now and in the future.

With recent experience at Home Retail Group, Lee Evans, now Recruitment Business Partner at Volkswagon Group, also focused on the mass candidate market. “We need to use technology to manage candidates better, so they can deselect themselves and still feel that the business values their skills and has noted them for the future”, he said.

Where talent is scarce, the story tends to be different. Matt Alder, Founder of Metashift and well known industry Futurologist recounted a recent business meeting where one of the participants left his phone on. It rang five times within an hour. “They are all recruitment calls and I’m not going to return any of them”, said the frustrated employee.

Matt feels, “It’s all about Personal Brand and Employer Brand. If candidates are getting numerous generic approaches, they just switch off.”  This view was echoed by Malcolm Kemp who added, “It’s not just about firing off a load of Inmails. You need to get into the candidate communities and engage. With a better employer brand you don’t’ need to work so hard to have direct conversations”

For Craig Morling, Group Resourcing and HR Projects Lead at Premier Oil, building employer brand to underpin candidate attraction is vital. He says “it’s a challenge of diminishing candidate populations. As many Oil & Gas candidates are in their 40’s and 50’s, they won’t be working much longer.”

“In a market where only 5% to 10% of candidates are active participants and writing in online communities, that leaves a minimum of 90% who are only reading. At the very least you need to have a good Linkedin profile”, said Matt.

An additional area highlighted for focus was Mobile. With more and more candidates wanting to interact and apply via their mobile devices, businesses who adapt their web strategy to accommodate this will stay one step ahead.

Show Return on Investment

When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter how good you are at finding candidates, if the business cannot perceive your worth, you will struggle to maintain your budget and your position.

Peter Hetherington says, “In 2012 there’s a lot of uncertainty about the economy and a potential double-dip recession. You need to benchmark your performance. Improve your leadership conversations and justify your seat at the table.”

“Let the business know what you are doing”, said Malcolm Kemp, who on the day we spoke was writing his own article for Betfair’s internal newsletter, on the value his internal resourcing department is bringing the business.

“You need to change the perception of HR/Recruitment as a cost centre”, says Craig Morling.

“Budgets are being squeezed across the board”, said Lee Evans. Gary Franklin added, “Large firms want to optimise budgets and get better results. Less admin, more recruiting”.

It is important to note that whilst budgets may be tight, there is investment in internal recruitment. Two of the six people I spoke with changed jobs between interview and publication. Gary Franklin added, “Of the interviews I had, all bar one were for newly created roles” Also of note is the increasing number of smaller firms who are investing in internal recruitment functions.

At a time when businesses and candidates are demanding more from the internal recruitment function, it would seem that this year’s resolutions are:

  • Develop existing recruitment teams and achieve more.
  • Build a greater external profile and engage more with candidate communities.
  • Raise awareness and demonstrate effectiveness in the business. 

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