In-house search - more effective or more work?

Following our recent survey exploring candidate perceptions of the search industry, one interesting fact (among many) emerged – it was evident that a growing number of organisations were now taking more direct control of their own senior-level search activities and were approaching candidates directly rather than always using an intermediary. Is this the start of a new trend in head-hunting or is it more work for already heavily pressed HR and resourcing teams?

The traditional advantage of using an external third party was the access to a candidate database that was not available to the client, or at least hard for the client to find.

Additional benefits included confidential candidate approaches, access to private market data, support for your company brand, and so on which led, based on a thorough understanding of your business, to a list of candidates that would all fit the role, corporate values and culture.

An increasing number of organisations, however, are realising that many of these services can be carried out as effectively, or even better by themselves rather than a third party.

Who knows the business model, the brand values, the corporate culture better than those who actually work for the company? Why spend time explaining this to someone you may never see again when you have all this information to hand? Additionally, the commoditisation of data now means most organisations can create their own candidate lists (even finding those hidden in relatively dark corners) and are in a much better position to determine the suitability of candidates, at an earlier stage, against their own brand and values.

Perhaps most importantly, the fees historically charged by search firms means that bringing the process in-house can almost always deliver a more cost effective solution.

To do this, of course, relies either on existing in-house resources who may already be overworked or lack the skill to operate at a more senior level, or new in-house resources for whom you might not have budget or headcount approval. There are also some issues about confidentiality, market knowledge, non-poaching agreements with competitors, brand protection and timeliness of delivery that might give pause for thought.

Some very large organisations have already started to address these issues and have established in-house search functions that deliver value and quality, but not all organisations have the capacity or resources to do this. For those that want to create an in-house search function that enables them to harness the benefits of running their own searches without adding extra headcount or creating additional management responsibility, there is another option in the guise of embedded search.

Embedded search is the effective outsourcing of all your search requirements to a third party who provide consultants who work on your site, absorb your company culture, and act in accordance with your company’s brand values. They become, in effect, your own employees but being employed by a third party means they do not impact your headcount or staff budget.

You pay an annual fee to cover all search assignments during that year, or a fixed fee per assignment, thus bringing certainty to at least one part of the hiring budget. Assignments are typically delivered within a relatively short time frame and your company gets access to all the market and candidate data generated by the consultants.

One further fact from the survey was that many more senior candidates are actively and directly seeking out opportunities with potential new employers.  By bringing more recruitment activity in-house either directly or through an embedded search model, employers are potentially in a much better position to benefit from the savings to be gained by direct contact.  Assuming again of course, that employers have access to the skills, expertise and time, to communication effectively with direct applicants, and ensure a positive impact on employer brand regardless of the outcome for the applicant.

If you have an interest in changing your company's talent acquisition model, please do make confidential contact with Leanne Morris, Director at Carter Morris Talent Solutions.