Companies may not be hiring the quantity of people they once did but the quality of those they do recruit must be top notch. Yet finding and hiring new people and ensuring they settle in costs time and money, and there is enormous pressure on both.

It is why many organisations are contracting out their entire recruitment process to specialists. In fact, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) can be an attractive solution for hard-pressed human resources departments.

War on talent

Les Duncan, director at Hays Resource Management, appreciates how changeable the recruitment market can be. After all, his team has been tasked with finding staff for investment banks for more than a decade.

Today, RPO is a vital cog in the Hays machine which as a group generates £2.4bn and places about 50,000 permanent and 300,000 temporary workers every year around the globe.

Good employers need advice so they don’t make expensive recruitment mistakes. The war on talent is still raging despite the unemployment figures even if many companies are nervous about signing up too many permanent staff.

It has meant more temporary workers are being recruited, but employers can be unclear about the law and how much to pay people.

Saving time and money

“The management and reduction of cost is the top driver for outsourcing but contracting out the entire process means companies also have peace of mind,” says Duncan. “Agency workers are a flexible option for employers but the law has changed and we make sure companies do not fall foul of the new Agency Worker Regulations 2011.”

Most RPO contracts are about three years and companies can make significant savings. Duncan claims that in some instances the time it takes to advertise for candidates, profile and interview them and help them settle into their new post can be cut by 50 per cent.

“Often an employer won’t have the resources to recruit quickly and will not know what to say to an employee to really tempt them,” he says. “Candidates want a clear idea of the prospects and career opportunities while it is our job to get the employer’s brand into the market so the best people want to join that company.”

Handing over responsibility

RPO outsourcers take on the burden of marketing a post and manage time-consuming tasks such as carrying out telephone assessments. Some employers ask Hays to complete the entire process from advertising to start date and beyond while others prefer to be given a shortlist and conduct final interviews.

Clients are shifting to an integrated outsourcing model where they want temporary and permanent recruitment included within the same contract.

Global employers prefer to work with providers that have offices in different countries. Hays has a local presence across Europe and further afield in Brazil, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

Global recruitment can be a tricky business for employers who must navigate a cultural and legal minefield to find talented people. Local RPO providers have an intimate knowledge of the employment culture and the working ethos of a particular client. There can be huge international competition for talent in sectors where there are skill shortages, such as engineering or energy project management.

“When choosing an RPO provider you need a company that understands the industry as well as the employment market,” says Duncan.