AI in Recruiting: A Handbook for Talent Acquisition Leaders

Artificial intelligence (AI) has captured attention across nearly every industry for its seemingly boundless potential to transform how work gets done—including AI in recruiting. Yet for many talent acquisition (TA) leaders, AI remains shrouded in hype, myths and even fear that “robot recruiters” are taking over. 

This handbook sets out to demystify AI tools for recruitment with facts about real-world applications across talent acquisition capabilities and provide guidance on how talent teams can start planning to use AI effectively and ethically. We’ll cut through the hype to bring AI down to earth—focusing on what works, not what’s flashy. 

The message we want to reinforce upfront is that AI should not be seen as a replacement for the talent acquisition strategy you’ve already built, but rather a set of tools to make your teams better at tasks both mundane and meaningful.

📌 Before we go any further, here’s a note from our legal team:  

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or other professional advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general information purposes only. Readers of this article should contact their attorney or legal advisor to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this article without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this article are expressly disclaimed by PeopleScout, Inc.. The content in this article is provided “as-is”, and no representations are made by PeopleScout that the content is error-free. 

What is AI? 

The term artificial intelligence or AI was coined by Stanford Professor John McCarthy, who defined it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.” AI is technology with the ability to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Data and algorithms enable AI to “learn” how to accomplish complex tasks without being explicitly programmed to do them. It also includes the sub-fields of machine learning, speech and natural language processing and robotic process automation. 

Over the last decade, AI capabilities have advanced tremendously due to increases in computing power, the abundance of digital data and improvements in machine learning algorithms. As a result, AI solutions can now match or even outperform humans in certain tasks related to object recognition, language processing, prediction modelling and more. 

The disruption delivered by generative AI in particular arrived like a bullet train. In just a few short months, AI went from an abstract concept to a tangible force radically impacting businesses—and jobs—worldwide. With Generative AI (GAI) tools like ChatGPT, Google Gemini (formerly Bard) and Microsoft Copilot, AI has gone from expensive and exclusive to an everyday tool accessible by the masses.  

The State of AI in Recruiting 

Top talent has become increasingly scarce and competitive, while recruiting resources and budgets remain strained. This situation demands that talent acquisition teams work smarter, and AI and automation could represent an opportunity for organisations to enhance human capabilities in recruitment. 

According to Gartner, a massive 81% of HR leaders have explored or implemented AI solutions to improve process efficiency within their organisation. HR leaders aim to use generative AI (GAI) for improving efficiency in HR processes (63%), enhancing the employee experience (52%) and bolstering learning and development programs.  

AI recruitment software

Plus, 76% of HR leaders believe that if their organisation does not adopt AI solutions in the next year or two, they will lag behind those that do.  

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of AI in Recruitment? 

While AI holds tremendous promise, it also comes with some real concerns which talent acquisition and HR leaders must thoughtfully address. AI is largely unregulated and has received criticism for negative impacts on things like privacy, security, bias, and transparency in its decision-making processes. However, with care and diligence, you can establish sensible guidelines at your organisation, so this technology enhances your talent acquisition capabilities while respecting human values.  

Benefits of AI for Recruiting 

AI can help the humans behind your talent program work more efficiently and effectively when used correctly. Applying AI across the various recruiting stages introduces a host of benefits, including: 

  • Efficiency 
    AI-powered tools can shoulder time-consuming tasks like communications and initial screening, allowing recruiters to reach more candidates at scale. AI systems help recruiters to focus their efforts on the most promising prospects, including helping identify passive candidates. This wider reach improves quality by putting recruiters in front of more qualified candidates. 
  • Improved Candidate Experience 
    Tools like AI chatbots and self-scheduling create a seamless 24/7 candidate experience. By fielding frequently asked questions and coordinating interviews, they dramatically reduce time-to-hire. Candidates get quick responses instead of waiting for recruiters to come online, making the hiring process faster and frictionless. 
  • Improved Matching 
    Advanced AI algorithms surface qualified prospects that may have been overlooked. By analysing candidates’ skills, experience, and other attributes and matching them to open roles, AI systems ensure better candidate-job fit. This improves quality-of-hire and unlocks hidden talent pools recruiters may have missed. 
  • Enhanced Diversity and Inclusion 
    With the right data to learn from, AI reduces unconscious bias from hiring by focusing decisions on data rather than gut instinct. By objectively evaluating candidates’ skills without prejudice, AI-assisted recruiting enhances diversity and creates a more equitable hiring process. 
  • Cost Reduction  
    AI can reduce the cost-per-applicant in some cases. Recruiters can outsource low-impact, repetitive tasks to AI, and spend more time interacting with candidates and hiring managers. This optimisation of talent acquisition teams enables resources to be allocated more efficiently, reducing vacancy rates and lowering costs. 
chatgpt for recruiting

Risks of AI in Recruiting 

While there are benefits, talent leaders must thoughtfully address common concerns around AI transparency, interpretation of outputs, data privacy and ethics.  

PeopleScout POV

PeopleScout is committed to striking the right balance between next-generation technology and maintaining the trust we’ve built with candidates and clients. As our clients’ trusted talent advisors, we do our due diligence and work touphold our standards for quality and compliance when helping clients adopt new technologies like GenAI.

As organisations prepare to capitalise on the efficiencies of AI, they must be particularly discerning about AI when it comes to supporting people decisions. Effectively deploying and scaling AI across talent acquisition functions introduces some common challenges, including: 

  • Biased Algorithms 
    Despite its ability to reduce bias, if AI models are trained on biased or incomplete data sets, they can unintentionally perpetuate inequality. In many countries there are laws prohibiting discrimination in the recruitment process, and the use of AI must align with these laws. Leaders need oversight into data inputs and must remain vigilant when considering recommendations made by AI. That being said, bias in AI can be corrected much easier than bias amongst humans. Proactively monitoring and mitigating possible areas of bias is essential for driving more inclusive, equitable hiring—regardless of whether AI is involved.  
  • Disproportionate Impact  
    Certain demographic groups face higher exposure to the potential harms of AI in recruitment. For instance, if an AI screening system relies heavily on standardised test scores that have racial biases, it could automatically filter out qualified minority candidates. Similarly, lower income communities may lack access to the digital tools and internet connectivity required for AI screening. This digital divide could automatically exclude qualified candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without proactive measures to address these systemic issues, AI recruitment tools risk amplifying real-world inequality. Organisations must consider disproportionate impact with their use of AI in order to improve diversity and reinforce equity.  
  • Lack of Transparency 
    Organizations may experience resistance amongst candidates and employees when there is a lack of understanding of how AI is being used in the hiring process and how AI arrives at certain outputs or recommendations. You can nurture trust through training and effective communication to help recruiters, hiring managers and applicants understand the reasons behind AI-generated outcomes and their role in the hiring decision-making process. Use clear and understandable language to describe the factors influencing decisions and put mechanisms in place to capture feedback and reporting of potential issues. Transparency promotes ethical AI use in recruitment and also reinforces organizational values and establishes a positive reputation in the industry. 

Data from Pew Research Center shows that 61% of Americans are unaware that employers are currently using AI in the hiring process. A majority (71%) oppose AI making a final hiring decision, while 41% oppose AI being used to review applications. However, the more people understand about AI, the more they’re in favor of its use in the recruitment process. For example, 43% of those who’ve heard a lot about using AI in the hiring process support its use for reviewing applications, compared with 37% who’ve heard a little and 21% who’ve heard nothing at all.  

  • Lack of Accuracy 
    GAI is prone to making up statistics, sources and even case law—known as hallucinating. There are no safeguards in place to validate the generated content or to check the accuracy or appropriateness of the outcome. Organisations leveraging tools like ChatGPT for recruiting open themselves up to risks. Recruiters must be aware of the importance of the human touch and using their judgement when using GAI tools for creating content and communications. 
  • Over-Automation 
    Heavy reliance on AI also poses risks if the recruitment process becomes overly automated and fails to incorporate sound human judgment as a check. Too much automated communication can feel depersonalised to a candidate. AI should never replace the human touch—rather it should enhance human capabilities. Plus, companies using AI for recruitment must ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. For example, under GDPR, there are strict guidelines around automated decision-making, and individuals have the right to obtain human intervention and contest automated decisions that significantly affect them.  

👉 Learn the dos and don’ts of automating the candidate experience. 

  • Data Privacy Issues  
    Collecting and analysing extensive candidate information required by AI systems can raise concerns around consent, data protection, and ethical usage. Any talent data feeding the AI systems must be compliant with regulations, like GDPR and CCPA, that are relevant to your locations. Organisations should create a framework around the usage of AI recruitment tools to provide transparency around what data you’re collecting, gain consent where applicable, and put access controls and encryption in place to protect sensitive candidate information. Your data security team should vet any AI usage to ensure candidate data is not being scraped for other uses.  
  • Workflow Integration 
    Implementing AI recruiting tools requires integrating them into existing systems and processes. Too often, companies adopt AI in isolation, without considering its impact on surrounding workflows. Instead, organisations should evaluate how AI technologies will interface with current infrastructure. For example, your applicant tracking system (ATS) may need API connections to import AI-screened candidates. With careful integration planning, AI can be a seamless augmentation to talent acquisition rather than an isolated add-on. 

Proactively addressing these concerns through governance, oversight and continuous improvement of AI systems and processes is key to managing the risks responsibly. Overall, the use of AI in recruitment is permitted but becoming more and more tightly regulated. Systems cannot make final hiring decisions and must be transparent, fair and accountable. Adhering to data protection laws and anti-discrimination regulations is crucial for the ethical use of AI in hiring. Undergoing regular audits to assess for unintended bias and maintaining the human touch to review, override or contest automated recommendations is crucial. 

📌 We recommend you consult your legal team before implementing any AI technologies at your organisation. 

AI for recruiters

Use Cases for AI in Recruitment 

As recruiting grows more competitive, organisations are turning to smart technologies to gain an edge in attracting and engaging candidates. From chatbots to video interviews and skills assessments, AI-powered solutions are streamlining efficiencies while enabling deeper insights across the hiring funnel. Here are some examples demonstrating AI’s immense potential to boost recruiting outcomes while improving the candidate experience. 

👉 Learn how to build the ultimate recruitment tech stack

How to Use AI for Candidate Attraction and Sourcing 

Identifying, contacting and engaging prospective candidates is ripe for AI augmentation. Building a robust pipeline of talent typically involves highly manual, repetitive tasks that can divert focus away from higher-value tasks. Here are some of the ways AI can support you in filling your recruitment funnel.  

Building Candidate Personas 

AI can pull from the profiles of existing employees and historical hiring data for a given role to surface patterns and common characteristics. These patterns, combined with qualitative data gathered from interviews, can help you to define a persona profile of the ideal candidate for the role.  

A persona is a fictional character profile that represents the different types of candidates who would be successful in a role. Personas focus on individual characteristics, behaviours, interests, goals, motivators and challenges. With these in place, you can create alignment across your recruitment and sourcing strategies. Your persona profiles should provide specific guidance about how to find candidates who fit the profile, including targeted messages that will resonate. 

👉 Learn more about how to build candidate personas. 

candidate personas

Writing Job Descriptions  

Since launching in late 2022, ChatGPT and other GAI chatbots, like Bing Chat, Gemini (formerly Bard) and more, quickly permeated the workplace. These tools mimic human communication and can help with everything from content creation and market analysis to simply writing emails. They can also be used to write job descriptions.  

By feeding them with relevant prompts that detail the job tasks and required skills as well as employer brand elements like tone of voice, the GAI chatbot can produce a first draft job description in seconds. The hiring manager and recruiter can then massage this text to create the final posting. 

For existing job descriptions, AI can be used to measure sentiment and detect biased language. There are a variety of AI-powered online tools that can highlight biased language—like “ambitious” or “expert,” which are stereotypically masculine—to ensure you’re not turning off a portion of your talent audience.  

Job postings with gender-neutral wording get 42% more applications.

Skills Matching 

Previously a manual process, AI can sift through a huge number of online profiles to find candidates with the skills you’re looking for. For example, the AI-powered Affinix CRM tool in PeopleScout’s talent acquisition suite Affinix searches millions of online profiles to find passive candidates with the skills and competencies that match the role. The AI also assesses the likelihood of a candidate being open to a new opportunity by combining the average tenure of each job listed on their profile with the average aggregate tenure of all other candidates in that same role.  

Manually identifying passive candidates who have similar titles but may not be actively searching for a job can take hours of dedicated time. AI can reduce manual efforts and massively speed up the recruitment process. Plus, it helps you concentrate on skills, rather than experience, to expand your candidate pool. 

Predictive Analytics 

Machine learning models can also provide predictive and prescriptive hiring recommendations based on a candidate’s profile. AI can assess genuine interest, candidate motivations, likelihood to accept an offer and even predicted tenure. This empowers recruiters to be more informed for interview prep and can help them personalise outreach messages to appeal specifically to what matters most for each candidate.  

Over time as engagement data is captured, AI models continue to improve, learning what messages and channels persuade candidates with various profiles and career trajectories. This creates a positive feedback loop, compounding efficiencies over each recruiting cycle. 

👉 Learn more about predictive analytics in talent acquisition 

How to Use AI for Candidate Screening & Interview Support 

Manual candidate screening based on résumés and CVs alone can be an imperfect, biased exercise. With AI lending a “second pair of eyes,” you can ensure quality candidates are not being overlooked. Here are some elements of the process that AI can enhance. 

First Sift 

Natural language processing tools can ingest thousands of résumés and CVs, and analyse the content, context, and trends across the talent pool within seconds. AI tools can be trained to recognise specific skills, experiences and competencies that are required for open roles and then score and rank applicants automatically against your ideal candidate profile. 

Look for tools with a dashboard that highlights the “cream of the crop” candidates that demonstrate the closest alignment, enabling you to reach out or pass the most promising applicants to hiring managers quickly. 

Real-Time Screening 

Intelligent chatbots, like text and SMS screening tools, create a conversational experience for candidates using natural language processing. These mobile-friendly, text interview tools automatically screen candidates using predetermined questions that gauge their interest and qualifications. Based on the responses, the chatbot can instantly determine the next step for each specific candidate.  

👉 Get the best practice guide for texting in recruitment

Skills Assessments 

AI is also leveraged for pre-employment assessments. New tech platforms can test and measure candidates for skills mastery, personality traits, and cognitive abilities to ensure qualified candidates are advancing through the recruitment process. All results should be reviewed by a human to ensure compliance with relevant regulations around automated decision-making. Leveraging AI in skills assessment helps ensure recruiters and hiring managers can focus on priority candidates most likely to succeed in the role, increasing equity along the way. 

Want to learn more about how AI can boost your recruitment processes?

How to Use AI for Candidate Engagement 

AI-powered candidate engagement tools help you create seamless, personalised experiences at scale—boosting candidate satisfaction, accelerating the hiring process and freeing up recruiters to focus on relationship building—where they add the most value. 

Personalised Candidate Communications 

For several years now, organisations have been leveraging candidate relationship management (CRM) technology to automate communications with candidates throughout the hiring journey. Automated email drip campaigns deliver the right information at the right stage in the journey to keep candidates informed of next steps and engaged with content that is relevant to them. This helps you build personalised engagement at scale. 

👉 Learn how to get the most out of your CRM

More recently, recruiters are using GAI platforms like ChatGPT to help them with drafting one-off emails to candidates. Leveraging the appropriate prompts, a recruiter can get a first draft from ChatGPT which they can then review and edit to fit for specific candidates. This has the potential to save hours’ worth of work each week for your talent acquisition team.  

Chatbots 

Chatbots leverage natural language processing to manage various high-volume, repetitive inquiries from candidates. Whether answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) about application status, the interview process, the company or the job role, chatbots provide consistent, accurate responses 24/7—especially relevant when recruiters aren’t working. This improves candidate satisfaction while enabling recruiters to focus on higher-value activities. 

Intelligent messaging platforms can initiate one-way communications at scale to nurture candidates. Using data on the prospect, role, process stage and more, AI writing assistants dynamically generate personalised, thoughtful messages. This level of personalisation improves candidate engagement, advances candidates quicker through the funnel and strengthens employment brand affinity. 

👉 Learn more about using chatbots in recruiting

Self-Scheduling Tools 

Calendar management bots can take over the time-consuming back-and-forth of scheduling interviews, assessments, site visits and more. By integrating with hiring manager calendars, only convenient time slots are shown to candidates. Candidates automatically receive confirmations and reminders, eliminating this task for recruiters and increasing the likelihood of candidates attending interviews. 

AI tools for recruitment

How to Get Started with AI in Recruiting 

Your steps into AI should focus on exploration rather than big integrations. AI in recruitment is fast-moving and receiving more and more scrutiny from law makers, and an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) partner can act as a strategic advisor on your AI recruiting journey. RPOs have experience implementing recruitment tech like AI software for clients and can advise on the best options for your needs, integration requirements, data needs, ethical usage, and workflow design.  

By leveraging RPO expertise, companies can effectively implement AI-enhanced hiring with less disruption and a faster return on investment. Look for a partner that is moving at your speed when it comes to AI in recruiting. They’ll help you identify areas for quick wins, and help you expand this success through experimentation and testing.  

Here are some ways an RPO partner can help your explore AI for recruitment: 

  • Change Management: 
    RPOs can ease the transition to automated processes and drive adoption through training and ongoing support. They can also develop training programs to upskill your in-house recruiters on using AI tools effectively and ethically in accordance with your internal AI policies. 
  • Process Design: 
    RPOs can redesign recruitment workflows to integrate AI tools. For example, PeopleScout’s Talent Diagnostic examines your talent lifecycle, evaluating your employer brand and your attraction strategy, as well as looking for ways to optimise the candidate experience through technology usage. 
  • Ongoing Optimization:  
    RPOs can continuously monitor and evaluate AI outputs and fine-tune processes. These insights will help you improve outcomes over time. 
  • Compliance Monitoring:  
    RPOs stay current on regulations affecting AI in recruiting to advise on lawful and ethical usage in conjunction with your internal legal team. 

AI in Recruiting: Potential and Responsibility

AI has demonstrated tremendous potential to transform talent acquisition. As this handbook outlines, it’s no longer just hype, rather it’s delivering real impact across sourcing, screening, interviewing and candidate engagement. 

The results you’ll experience from AI depend heavily on factors like data quality, transparency, integration with existing systems and processes, and governance to ensure responsible usage. AI solutions are meant to augment—not replace—the human touch in recruitment. Recruiters are invaluable when it comes to relationship building, coaching and negotiation, and AI can’t replicate what makes them uniquely human. 

Looking ahead, the use of AI recruiting technology to connect people to purpose will only continue expanding. Cultivating an ethical, inclusive and values-based recruiting culture remains key when it comes to attracting employees who align with your organisation’s mission. With human stewardship over AI in recruiting, the future of talent acquisition looks bright. 

Navigating Security and Compliance Checks in Recruitment for Enhanced Efficiency and Candidate Experience

By James Chorley, EMEA Talent Solutions Director, RPO

In an era where security and compliance checks are taking center stage in corporate priorities, it is crucial to recognise their impact on strategic recruitment campaigns. The meticulous efforts of recruitment marketing and employer value proposition (EVP) teams can easily be compromised by a convoluted recruitment process, potentially driving away top-tier candidates.

In fact, recent surveys highlight that three-quarters of job seekers abandon lengthy recruitment processes. This underscores the urgency for organisations to optimise security and compliance checks to prevent potential top-tier candidates from losing interest.

Compliance Challenges for Lean Teams in High-Volume Recruitment

Devising a recruitment strategy requires careful consideration of security and compliance checks, documentation, and candidate data requirements. While experienced recruiters navigate vetting processes adeptly, lean teams face challenges in high-volume recruitment scenarios. Establishing clear guidelines becomes essential to ensure a seamless candidate journey, preventing dropouts and optimising the recruitment process.

Case Study: Transforming the Onboarding Process at Heathrow Airport

At Heathrow Airport, entry-level security employees undergo a comprehensive onboarding process, necessitating the submission of detailed job and address histories spanning five years before the vetting commences. As airports resumed operations post-pandemic, as Heathrow’s RPO partner, PeopleScout’s focus shifted to streamlining this process, ensuring swift candidate progression and minimising post-offer dropouts.

Candidate Hub Development

At the core of our candidate-focused recruitment journey was the creation of a candidate hub, featuring a unique section for individuals who had passed the initial stages of their Heathrow application. This hub aimed to guide candidates through every step of their journey while emphasising early preparation for the extensive onboarding requirements.

Streamlining Communication

To address the issue of candidates dropping out post-offer, we sought to reduce the volume of emails and attachments. Introducing a video-led section, we enhanced inclusivity by providing a clear understanding of the process. These videos, presented by actors and co-created with the Heathrow resourcing team, humanized each stage, informing candidates about what to expect and what actions were required.

Improving Accessibility and Understanding

The video-led approach not only simplified the onboarding process but also contributed to a 36% increase in the weekly volume of offers. By focusing on documentation and key information required for onboarding, candidates were equipped with clear instructions, fostering a sense of inclusivity and understanding.

Enhancing Candidate Engagement

A key objective was to ensure a welcoming candidate journey. We achieved this by implementing regular check-ins over the phone, personalized messaging, and managing individual queries. Additionally, informative webinars were conducted to provide candidates with a seamless experience.

Exceptional Candidate Feedback

The impact of our efforts was reflected in exceptional candidate feedback, with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of plus 70. This underscored the success of our strategy in creating a more efficient, engaging, and inclusive hiring process at one of Europe’s busiest airports.

Dos and Don’ts for Managing New Hire Security Vetting Processes

To help you understand best practices for creating a friction-free vetting process while ensuring compliance, we’ve included practical tips to set clear expectations, provide context, and offer guidance, while avoiding overwhelming candidates with information.

Do:

  1. Set Clear Expectations Early: Clearly outline vetting requirements in the job ad or as part of initial pre-screen questions.
  2. Provide Context: Explain why specific checks are necessary for the role, helping candidates understand their relevance.
  3. Be Transparent about Onboarding Timelines: Inform candidates of the expected duration for the vetting process, ensuring alignment with their commitment levels.
  4. Guide Candidates: Offer advice on where candidates can obtain the necessary data, simplifying the information-gathering process.

Don’t:

  1. Overwhelm with Information: Avoid bombarding candidates with numerous emails and attachments all at once during the vetting stage.
  2. Neglect Reinforcement: Don’t go silent on candidates at this stage. Continually reinforce the reasons they applied and accepted the offer, emphasizing the value of the opportunity.
  3. Assume Uniform Understanding: Recognize that individuals process instructions differently, and provide information in a variety of formats, like bulleted lists and videos, to accommodate diverse learning styles.

Onboarding, Compliance and RPO

Crafting a considerate approach to security and compliance checks in recruitment becomes instrumental in fostering an exceptional candidate experience. Through proactive management of vetting requirements, transparent communication, and clear guidance, organisations fortify their defenses against talent loss. Even in high-volume scenarios, this approach ensures that the recruitment process remains not only efficient but also centered around the candidate’s needs.

At PeopleScout, we seamlessly integrate your go-to-market strategy with tailor-made solutions, ensuring candidates navigate the vetting process successfully. Our award-winning candidate experience solutions, combined with our renowned marketing strategies, form an ideal synergy. This powerful combination not only streamlines your pipeline but significantly enhances the efficiency of your funnel metrics.

Ultimate Recruitment Process Outsourcing Toolkit

Ultimate RPO Toolkit

Not sure recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is for you? Think your organisation is too small for RPO? Think outsourcing doesn’t fit your company culture?

Think again.

Our complete six-piece toolkit gives talent acquisition leaders the essential information on how RPO can boost their recruitment outcomes.

In this toolkit, you’ll get:

  • Our comprehensive buyer’s guide for RPO—everything you need to know
  • A guide for building a business case for RPO (including a free template!)
  • Conversation starters to help you create buy-in for RPO at your organisation

Learn how RPO can unlock the full potential of your talent strategy. Download your kit now.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Buyer’s Guide

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Buyer’s Guide

In this challenging landscape, talent acquisition leaders are increasingly turning to recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to gain the flexibility, scalability and agility they need to hire the best talent.

So, how do you know if outsourcing to an RPO partner is right for you? Our RPO Buyer’s Guide provides an in-depth exploration of RPO and how it can help you achieve your recruitment goals.

In this ebook, you’ll learn:

  • What RPO is and the benefits it can bring to your business
  • Whether RPO is right for you and the benefits of selecting an RPO partner
  • What to expect at each stage of your RPO partnership

 

Ready, Set, RPO: What to Expect in a New RPO Programme

Many companies see their RPO provider as only a vendor, but taking a partnership mindset creates a more satisfying, successful working relationship. Working well together as a united front always makes for an easier, smoother rollout with a new RPO programme.

The implementation and transition phases before and after a rollout are crucial, as this is when you set the tone and expectations for all involved. It’s also when certain issues need to be addressed and configured.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) has evolved significantly over the past few years. Here are some key areas talent acquisition leaders should focus on when implementing a new RPO programme:

1. Identify Key Players Early in the Process

During the transition, one of the most important steps is to establish one key champion within your business. This person is your internal point of contact for RPO with the power to get things. There’s often a lengthy checklist of tasks that need to be completed before a rollout. The appointed decision-maker must be able to use their influence with HR, legal, IT and other stakeholders, including hiring managers and vice presidents, to get things accomplished.

Conversely, your RPO partner should also provide a primary point of contact who will work closely with you to navigate the implementation process. Effective communicate with your RPO contact will keep things moving forward.

Also, be sure to let your RPO team know who your internal stakeholders are (especially any unofficial ones) and how they may influence the implementation and rollout process. Loop your RPO team into conference calls and meetings so they can get a feel for the issues at hand and start building trust with stakeholders.

2. Clarify Expectations and Goals for Your RPO Programme

At the beginning of your toll out, have an open discussion with your RPO provider about what success looks like for your organisation today and going into the future. It may be helpful to hold a workshop to specifically determine what stakeholders want out of the RPO programme and how those goals can be measured.

Define clear, measurable goals aligned to business objectives like time-to-fill, candidate quality, requisition volume, diversity and more. Both you and your RPO team must work toward, and measure against, the same goals.

If historical data on key performance indicators (KPIs) is available, now is the time to provide it to your RPO contacts so they can use the data to set a baseline for future measurements. But if this isn’t available your RPO partner should be able to help you benchmark against other organisations.

👉 Debunk common RPO myths.

3. Foster Open Communication and Trust

This cannot be overstated: communication is essential to establishing a strong working partnership with your RPO provider. The more you communicate, the better your RPO team can serve you. The RPO team should ask your stakeholders about their experience, what they want to achieve with the new engagement and what potential obstacles the team might encounter.

It’s important to be open about what is happening in the company. If something is working against the RPO process, let the team know so they can work around it. For example, if you’re not documenting things in your ATS or if HR is performing tasks expected of the hiring managers, don’t hide it. It may not be the best practice, but if it works, and everyone is aware, that’s what matters.

Remember, RPO providers can only advise you on best practices; ultimately, they are there to serve your needs. Communicate openly, and your RPO team can make the decisions that will ensure you have a positive experience. The more collaborative the partnership is, the smoother the transition will be.

rpo programme

4. Invest in Change Management

A typical implementation for an enterprise, full-cycle RPO engagement is 30-60 days, with a 90-day transition period afterward. Modular RPO engagements will have much shorter timelines. No matter what RPO solution you choose, map your timelines out before beginning implementation, and stick to the timetable and deliverables. However, realise that you get just one chance to roll the process out well. Thus, you should keep your rollout date flexible enough to get the process right.

It’s also useful to set within your organization the expectation that the first 90 days of a new RPO programme are a learning curve for all involved. Proactively manage change by clearly communicating process changes, providing training if needed, and getting buy-in from hiring managers and other stakeholders.

5. Identify Challenges in Your RPO Programme Upfront

Don’t assume that your RPO provider knows what the potential hurdles to adoption will be at your organisation. Talk about your concerns and what you see as risks. For example, if a division has historically been run by a person with a negative view of recruitment who will likely go directly to a staffing agency or circumvent the process, share this with your RPO partner.

Together, make contingency plans to address how such situations will be handled, and categorise risks by the level of fallout that may occur. Be sure to discuss what kinds of issues are considered common mistakes and what kinds of things absolutely cannot be allowed.

6. Build an Agile, Tech-Enabled RPO Programme

Be prepared to work in an agile way, continuously optimising processes and innovating together. You should work collaboratively with your RPO partner to take full advantage of the latest recruiting technologies like AI-enabled sourcing, virtual interviews, chatbots, and more. Remain flexible and adapt to changing business needs and market conditions quickly.

Technology and automation enable your RPO provider to scale talent acquisition strategically to help you remain flexible and adapt to changing business needs and market conditions quickly. Technology can create a better candidate experience, facilitate better collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers, and equip you with better analytics so you can measure ROI.

RPO has evolved into a more strategic, technology-enabled partnership. By focusing on these key areas, talent acquisition leaders can ensure their RPO programme will deliver great talent and business impact in today’s world. Taking the time to communicate and build relationships with your RPO partner can make a huge difference in ensuring a smooth and successful rollout.

Building a Business Case for RPO

Amidst the most turbulent labour market in recent memory, talent acquisition leaders and procurement professionals alike are turning to partners for creative, agile and adaptable solutions for their current and future talent challenges. Because recruiting touches the whole organisation, stakeholders across the business will have opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) as well as unique ideas about the best approach. The process to secure buy-in and budget doesn’t have to be difficult. By having a few conversations with the right people in your organisation and gathering some information around current recruitment processes and costs, you can present a solid business case for RPO to your leadership team and create a path forward to an effective and resilient talent acquisition program.

What is RPO?

First things first—what is recruitment process outsourcing? Recruitment process outsourcing, abbreviated as RPO, is a type of business process outsourcing in which an employer transfers some or all portions of the recruitment process to an external service provider. These facets may include job postings, sourcing, screening, assessments, offer management, background verifications, some onboarding elements and more.

RPO can support hiring for high volume or niche professional roles and often involves technology and talent advisory consulting—including employer branding. An RPO provider embodies the best of your culture, employer brand and values in all the activities they perform on your organisation’s behalf, while integrating with your systems, processes and people. Plus, your RPO team brings new ideas, innovation and expertise to bolster your talent strategy and plans. They may sit on-site, work remotely, work offshore or a combination, and they typically take on your company name and email domain as an extension of your organisation.  

RPO can be leveraged to augment existing in-house recruitment teams and can complement your current recruitment program by taking over recruiting for specific job groups, locations or business units. Moreover, across your enterprise, you can leverage different RPO models to maximise the benefits.

When evaluating whether RPO is right for your organisation, it’s important to determine which RPO blueprint is the right one. As you speak to stakeholders, one key challenge you may run into is that stakeholders have different views on what you mean by RPO. In your business case presentation, you’ll want to compare different models—and clearly define them—in order to help the decision-making process.

Benefits of RPO

RPO engagements are not only about outsourcing your recruiting but also about finding the best partner to help manage the people, process, technology and strategy of your talent acquisition function. There is no single best option, only the option that best aligns with your organisational needs.

You should focus on finding the solution that provides the most value for your investment. RPO will create benefits that will be felt across your organisation in terms of both cost and operational efficiencies.

Cost Benefits of RPO

Whether through direct or indirect cost savings, RPO can provide advantages that impact your bottom line. As you prepare your business case for RPO, here are some cost benefits to keep in mind:

  • Reduced Time-to-Fill: The longer a position goes unfilled, the more likely your business is to experience productivity loss—and loss of revenue. RPO teams find candidates and fill roles faster through talent pipelining.
  • Lower Cost-per-Hire:  RPO offers cost efficiencies by shortening hiring timelines and improving the quality of your talent, while also lowering recruitment marketing spend. By streamlining and optimising recruitment processes, improving time-to-hire and retention rates, RPO increases your return on investment and delivers savings to your bottom line.
  • Reduced Agency Spend: A huge benefit of RPO is the reduced reliance on disparate third-party staffing agencies. By consolidating recruitment under a single partnership, you reduce agency usage and make your recruitment costs more predictable.

👉 Learn the top differences between an RPO and a staffing agency.

Operational Benefits of RPO

In addition to the cost benefits of RPO, there are operational benefits that can be felt across your business, including:

  • Elevated Role for HR: Leading RPO providers can provide labour market insights, talent intelligence and benchmarking data. With access to these insights, you have the data you need to support your workforce strategy as well as tactical business decisions. You can capitalise on the latest market analysis, thought leadership and competitive intelligence to inform your talent strategy. Your RPO partner can provide analytics to help you understand what’s working so you can maximise your ROI. Your RPO partner should also be able to give insights into how your organisation is perceived as well as tactical steps to fundamentally change perceptions through your employer value proposition (EVP) and employer brand and even recruitment marketing and media purchasing services.
  • Improved Candidate Quality: As skills gaps and talent scarcity becomes more challenging, having an RPO team digging into passive sourcing to access niche skills sets will expand your talent pool and improve quality-of-hire. RPO providers leverage their comprehensive talent networks and effective screening and assessment tools to produce stronger candidates and more diverse talent pools.
  • Better Candidate Experience: You want your recruitment process to leave every applicant, regardless of whether they get the job, with a positive experience. Your RPO partner can advise on ways to improve the candidate experience including career site audits, job application recommendations and how to leverage technology to speed up the process and reduce friction.
  • Improved Hiring Manager Experience: Your RPO team reduces the administrative burden on your hiring managers by taking over résumé and CV screening, assessment administration, interview scheduling, candidate communication and feedback tasks. RPO teams prepare hiring managers for interviews, provide them with feedback and identify any candidates at risk of dropping from the process so managers can make informed decisions.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Through experience collected over many client engagements, RPO teams are knowledgeable about enhancing your employer brand for wider audiences and expanding your talent attraction efforts to new job boards, social media groups, online forums and events to target more diverse candidates.
RPO business case

3 Steps to Building Your Business Case for RPO

RPO solutions are designed to provide transformative recruitment strategies that are flexible enough to help you achieve competitive advantage at a predictable cost. Let’s explore the steps you can take to gather the information you need for your business case.

1. Engage Internal Stakeholders

Before embarking on your business case, it’s essential to engage the right stakeholders from the beginning. Human resources (HR), procurement, hiring managers and the C-suite will all have different pain points, desires and recruitment costs impacting their budgets. Their support will be crucial for not only securing resources but for the overall success of the RPO program.

👉 Create buy-in with our conversations guide for RPO.

By understanding what each stakeholder cares about, you can show how RPO can provide the solution for their challenges. Plus, once you’ve secured budget and selected an RPO provider, these stakeholders will be more open to change to make your RPO program successful.

The goal in this step is to be able to define current pain points and desired future outcomes so you can address these issues through an RPO solution.

Here are 10 questions you can use as conversation starters to uncover your organisation’s biggest challenges:

  1. Do we have the talent we need to achieve business goals now and into the future?
  2. Are we attracting quality talent with the right mix of skills, experience and cultural fit?
  3. How are we doing with our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goals? Are we attracting and hiring underrepresented candidates?
  4. Is our talent acquisition program able to respond quickly to changes in the market (i.e., easily and quickly scale up or down)?
  5. Are we providing an excellent candidate experience consistently?
  6. Are hiring managers getting the support they need to fill their vacancies?
  7. What recruitment technology are we currently using, and is it sufficient for our needs going forward?
  8. Do we have the data and insights we need to do effective workforce planning?
  9. How much are we spending annually on talent acquisition? Are we getting the best value for money?
  10. What are the differences in recruitment strategies between different countries or regions?

2. Assess Your Current Recruitment Landscape

As part of your engagement with stakeholders, it’s important to understand the current lay of the land when it comes to your talent acquisition program. You’ve got to know where you’re starting from in order to improve it.

This may seem like a straightforward question if your company has one in-house recruitment team. However, things get more complicated when there are separate in-house teams sitting in different regions who are using different processes or different local third-party agencies. Worse yet, individual departments and hiring managers may be handling their own recruitment. Ask around and get it all down on paper.

Metrics to help measure your recruitment process:

  • Applicant-to-hire ratio
  • Interview-to-offer ratio
  • Time-to-hire and time-to-fill
  • Time-in-stage or hiring velocity
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Cost-per-vacancy

Sourcing & Attraction

Who sources candidates for your organisation? What channels are you using to get in front of candidates? Are you attracting lots of active candidates, or are recruiters having to engage mostly passive candidates? What are the average costs associated with attracting active candidates versus sourcing passive candidates?

What are you doing to attract candidates to your job ads? Who manages this budget? Are you using any suppliers like creative agencies or advertising platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Indeed, industry publications, etc.)? How are these channels performing?

Screenings, Interviews & Assessments

Beyond sourcing candidates, who reviews résumés and CVs? Who manages the interview process? How many interview or assessment steps are currently required for each role type?

Are there any delays or bottlenecks that are contributing to longer hiring cycles, poor candidate experiences or increased candidate drop-off rates?

What role is technology playing at each stage? Is there opportunity to build more automation into your processes?

Offers & Negotiation

Once you get to an offer stage, who signs off on offers? What is your offer acceptance rate? If it’s lower than you’d like, is there something about the candidate experience that’s turning them off?

Are you leveraging candidate surveys? What is your candidate Net Promoter Score (NPS)? What are your ratings on review sites like Glassdoor?

It’s also worth looking at attrition and tenure metrics to identify any issues causing new hires to leave soon after joining.

Uncovering this information will help you understand your gaps and opportunities. An RPO provider will be able to develop customised solutions to address your unique challenges.

3. Calculating the Cost of Talent Acquisition

Now that you understand what goes into your recruitment efforts, you can assess how much the overall talent acquisition program will cost to run. It’s preferrable to understand how your staffing spend has changed over the last three to five years.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as asking HR for their budget details. You’ll want to incorporate both direct and indirect costs when assessing your talent acquisition program costs. Let’s break this down.

Understanding Direct Costs with Cost-per-Hire

A great place to start to understand your direct costs is with your cost-per-hire (CPH). This is the average cost you incur to hire a new employee. This includes total internal expenditures and external expenditures divided by your total number of new hires. You can calculate cost-per-hire using a monthly or annual measurement period.

cost per hire = total external costs + total internal costs / total number of hires

Internal costs include things like:

  • In-house recruiter salaries
  • Training costs for recruiters or hiring managers
  • Salary costs of time invested by hiring manager and other employees
  • Employee referral awards

External costs are any expenses incurred from external vendors, like:

  • External agency fees
  • Recruitment marketing and advertising costs
  • Assessment costs
  • Fees from drug tests and background checks
  • Technology costs
  • Hiring event and career fair spend
  • Candidate travel and lodging
  • Relocation expenses
  • Visa expenses
  • Signing bonuses

It may be useful to look into the differences in CPH for each job function, experience level, candidate source, geography and labour market. This may mean doing several calculations to capture these categories.

Keep in mind, cost-per-hire doesn’t capture quality of hire or take into account the costs of making a bad hire. If your cost-per-hire is low, but your new hires are leaving quickly or don’t pass their probationary period, is that really an advantage? On the flip side, a high cost-per-hire that brings in new employees that are engaged, productive and invested in your organisation is worth the expenditure. Ultimately, your talent acquisition program shouldn’t focus solely on cost but should concentrate on creating more value for the business.

Sussing Out Indirect Recruitment Costs

There are also indirect costs around recruitment that can be more difficult to measure and present in hard numbers. These could include:

  • Loss of productivity due to vacancy
  • Cost of overtime to cover vacancies
  • Impact on employee morale
  • Customer churn
  • Knowledge loss from turnover (and subsequent training costs)
  • Reputational damage from bad candidate experiences
budget for RPO

Presenting Your Business Case for RPO

Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of your current recruitment efforts and the associated costs, you can present the business case for the RPO models that will address your challenges. Don’t be afraid to reach out to RPO providers for help with this step. By providing them with the information you gathered in the previous steps, they can provide a breakdown of the services they offer and how they could address your unique needs.

How you go about putting your business case on paper will depend on your organisational requirements and personal preference. We recommend getting everything onto one page. This gives C-suite leadership an easy-to-digest snapshot of your recommendations. While there is often a need to present high-level decisions in hard financial terms (e.g., ROI, NPV, IRR), presenting the business case simply will also help garner expert support to create any detailed financial assessment needed. You can always link to additional documentation to back-up your presentation (e.g., a flow chart of the current hiring steps, a SWOT analysis, etc.).

Your business case one-pager should consist of the following:

  1. Options: These are the solutions you’ve identified as best at addressing the pain points you uncovered in your conversations with stakeholders. Keep in mind that staying as-is is always a viable option. It’s also essential both to include your current situation as a contrast to the new RPO models and ensure each option is adequately described (for example, in supporting documents) so decision makers understand what is being compared. 
  2. Benefits and Drawbacks: These are the positives and negatives you could gain with each option. These should be aligned to the pain points identified by your stakeholders. The risk section (see number 4 below) is the place to capture any uncertainties about the expected benefits. Cash and non-cashable savings can be highlighted here, though most should be covered in the Costs section below.
  3. Costs: This should be both the direct (monetary) costs as well as indirect costs (like investments of time) and should be profiled to cover the whole life of each option (i.e., implementation, operation, close). A leading RPO provider should offer consultation that will help you complete this section.
  4. Risks and Opportunities: By showing the risks for each option, you give leadership the confidence that you’ve explored all the issues when coming to these conclusions. It also helps everyone make more informed decisions. Risks and opportunities are not guaranteed to happen, and in all cases should be evaluated both by likelihood and by impact. They are entirely future focused, so if you have a current issue, it should be listed as a drawback (see above).
  5. Assumptions: Explaining any assumptions you’ve made while preparing this document, helps you acknowledge any possibilities that might impact recruitment plans but that are out of your control or that could change in the future. For example, you could document current plans around mergers and acquisitions or geographical expansion. If there’s anything you want to exclude from the scope of your RPO engagement, you’ll want to document this here too.  

On the next page we’ve included an example of a business case for RPO created for a client who was hoping to move away from a combination of in-house recruiters and staffing agencies to an RPO solution.

Example Business Case for RPO

example business case for RPO

The Business Case for RPO

Going through the steps we’ve detailed in this guide will arm you with everything you need to prove that an RPO partner will create measurable value for your organisation. Presenting a winning business case for RPO—that depicts the process and cost efficiencies in an easily digestible document—will help you to secure budget and buy-in and put you well on your way to achieving talent advantage.

Countdown to Skills Crisis? What Our Latest Research Tells Us About Skills Gaps

By Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory Consulting

The workforce skills landscape is transforming at blinding speed. Automation, AI, sustainability initiatives, demographic shifts—global forces are conspiring to make skills gaps and talent shortages more acute by the day. Don’t think it’s moving that fast? Well, the World Economic Forum predicts that a jaw-dropping 85 million jobs could sit vacant by 2030, resulting in $8.5 trillion in lost revenue.

The very meaning of “skills” is shifting beneath our feet. Skills requirements have already changed 25% since 2015, and experts forecast 65% more change by 2030. However, companies still rely heavily on degrees and experience over skills when it comes to making hiring decisions. No wonder we’re careening towards a global skills crisis.

PeopleScout partnered with skills-based workforce management platform provider Spotted Zebra to survey over 100 senior HR and talent acquisition leaders globally, plus over 2,000 employees worldwide, to compare perspectives. Our new research report, The Skills Crisis Countdown, maps the skills landscape and diagnoses the disconnects between employers and their workforce.

Read on for some key findings from our report.

HR Leaders are Ill-Prepared for the Skills Crisis

According to a study by PwC, 40% of global CEOs believe their business will be economically unviable in 10 years unless they reinvent for the future. Our study revealed that nine out of 10 HR leaders believe that up to 50% of their workforce will require new skills to effectively perform their job in the next five years. Yet, when asked if they are currently undergoing or planning a workforce transformation initiative in the next three years, nearly half (45%) of HR leaders admit to having no plans to undertake one.

So, in other words, half of employees will soon be underprepared for the future, but most companies have no strategy in place to address the issue.

According to LinkedIn, 84% of members are in occupations that could have at least one quarter of their core skills affected by generative AI (GAI) technologies, like ChatGPT. So, how are HR leaders preparing for this digital transformation and the AI era? Shockingly, a full third (34%) say they have no preparations in place to prepare for new technologies. Those who are preparing emphasise bringing in outside talent rather than reskilling existing employees.

Industry Composition by GAI Segment
Percentage of LinkedIn Members by Industry

impact of GAI on workforce skills
(Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph Research Institute)

This is likely because they lack an understanding of the skills they have within their existing workforce. Our data revealed that 68% of organisations identify skills from manager feedback, which is highly subjective. So, it’s no surprise that 56% of employees think their skills are underutilised in their current roles, and 61% think there are other roles in their organisation where their skills could be utilised.

An unprecedented skills revolution is barrelling down the tracks, but companies are fast asleep at the switch. It’s time to wake up and get employees future-ready or risk a global skills crisis and talent scarcity for decades to come.

Digital & Tech Skills Gaps are Widening but Tech Skills are Viewed as Unimportant

Both employers and employees dangerously underestimate the importance of tech and digital skills. In our survey, both parties listed tech and digital literacy skills with low importance. With the skyrocketing demand for tech and digital talent, this does not bode well.

skills in the workplace

Mobile apps, ecommerce and digital transformation have made technology integral to every corporate strategy. However, supply isn’t keeping up with demand. McKinsey analysed 3.5 million job postings in high-tech fields and found there’s a wide divide between the demand for tech and digital skills and the qualified talent availability. The most sought-after skills have less than half as many qualified professionals per posting compared to average global figures. 

No wonder 63% of HR leaders in our survey admit they struggle to recruit the skills they need. Closing tech and digital skills gaps through recruitment alone is no longer sufficient. So, we were concerned when our research showed that 73% of the workforce haven’t been offered opportunities to reskill.

Organisations must invest in helping their employees evolve their skills via reskilling and internal mobility to cultivate digital and tech literacy across their entire workforce.

Case Study: Reskilling in Action

The Challenge:

A large global financial services company needed to undertake a major digital transformation program. The organisation needed to acquire key digital and tech skills while leveraging the existing company knowledge of employees in declining customer service roles by reskilling them.

Previous efforts by the organisation to assess employees’ suitability for reskilling were led internally and included multiple, time-consuming line manager interviews. Of even greater concern, around a quarter of those who began the reskilling program dropped out.

The Solution:

The bank worked with their long-time RPO partner, PeopleScout, and Spotted Zebra to assess customer service staff in bank branches and call centres to find ideal candidates for its tech and digital skilling program. Skills profiles were created for tech roles, which employees were assessed against to find the best fit.

The Results:

  • Redeployed 150 people, saving over $2.5M in exit costs
  • Saved over $350,000 in training and development costs
  • Reduced time investment by hiring managers
  • Reduced the reskilling cost-per-person by 70%

Employees Don’t Feel Confident in their Skills for the Future

A third (34%) of workers have doubts about how their skills will keep pace with new technology and automation. Meanwhile, just 17% of organisations are offering targeted reskilling programs for existing employees.

Where are HR Leaders Deploying Skills-Based Practices?

Skills-Based Practices
(Source: PeopleScout and Spotted Zebra)

This imbalance spells disaster. As change overwhelms existing skill sets, most workers will begin to feel unsure of their career paths or left struggling to stay relevant.

Investing in reskilling makes solid business sense. We must bridge the gap between workers anxiously facing uncertainty and leaders failing to invest in their resilience. HR leaders who empower their workforce with adaptable skill sets today will drive continued success in times of swift and sweeping change.

Finding a Talent Partner to Support Your Skills Transformation

The agility to match emerging skill requirements will soon become a competitive necessity. If you haven’t started your skills-based transformation, now is the time.

In our survey, one in two HR leaders admitted to a lack of understanding of skills-based practices. If you’re struggling to understand how to take advantage of skills-based practices in your organisation, PeopleScout is here to be your guide.

As a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner, we can help you understand the skills within your existing workforce as well as the external market supply and demand. We offer solutions across the skills agenda, from skills-based talent intelligence and market insights, building skills frameworks, and creating skills-based success profiles to redesigning recruitment processes, skills-based hiring strategies, and helping you maximise the potential of your existing workforce.  

To learn more about PeopleScout’s skills-focused talent solutions, get in touch.  

[Webinar On-Demand] The Ticking Talent Clock: Is Time Running Out to Address the Skills Crisis?

[Webinar On-Demand] The Ticking Talent Clock: Is Time Running Out to Address the Skills Crisis?

With the rapid advancement of AI, accelerated digitalisation and the greening of the economy, businesses are grappling with the changing nature of work—how we work and the types of jobs we do. In fact, a new research report from PeopleScout and Spotted Zebra, The Skills Crisis Countdown, reveals that nine in 10 HR leaders believe that up to half of their workforce will need new skills to perform their jobs in the next five years. Yet, only less than one in 10 say they are actively investing in reskilling programs.

Are HR leaders running out of time?

Join PeopleScout’s Global Head of Talent Consulting Simon Wright and Spotted Zebra’s Chief Customer Officer Nick Shaw as they delve into the key findings from the research, lay bare the skills crisis and show why the clock is ticking for HR leaders.

In the webinar, Simon and Nick cover:

  • How organisations are addressing the mismatch in skills demand and supply
  • The current state of skills utilisation, skills-based hiring and the need to expand talent pools
  • Strategies for improving talent mobility (including case studies and success stories)
  • Practical steps you can take to transition to a skills-focused model
  • And more!

 

The Skills Crisis Countdown: The Clock is Ticking on Tackling Skills Gaps

The Skills Crisis Countdown: The Clock is Ticking on Tackling Skills Gaps

Our latest research reveals, nine in 10 HR leaders believe that up to 50% of their workforce will need new skills to perform their jobs in the next 5 years. Yet, only 7% say they are actively investing in reskilling programs, and 45% admit to having no plans to undertake a workforce transformation initiative to prepare for the changing skills landscape.

PeopleScout partnered with skills-based workforce management company Spotted Zebra to survey over 100 senior Human Resources and Talent Acquisition leaders from organisations around the global and 2,000+ employees globally to compare perspectives on workforce skills. The resulting research report, The Skills Crisis Countdown: The Clock is Ticking on Tackling Skills Gaps, provides a detailed picture of the current skills landscape and the disconnects between the perspectives of employees and businesses.

Download our free report for the latest research exploring:

  • The current state of skills in the global workforce and outlook for the future
  • How HR leaders are preparing for the impending skills crisis
  • How employees expect their skills will need to adapt to new technology or automation.

Plus, you’ll get a roadmap of actionable steps to help your organisation become more skills-centric.

Creating Buy-in for RPO: A Conversation Guide for Outsourced Recruitment

Recruitment touches every employee, team and department within your business. If you’re considering recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), there will be many people in your organisation who will experience the benefits. But it also means these folks must adjust to new processes and approaches. We all know change can be hard for any organisation, so it’s important to engage various stakeholders early on to get everyone on the same page.

Human resources (HR), procurement, the C-suite and hiring managers will all have different pain points, concerns and desired outcomes. No matter where you sit in the organisation, understanding the challenges of each stakeholder can help you demonstrate how talent acquisition solutions from an RPO partner can help individuals across the organisation achieve their business goals. As a result, these stakeholders will be more “bought in” and open to changing their behaviours to make RPO successful.

In these conversation guides, we’ll help you understand recruitment challenges from the perspective of each stakeholder. Plus, you’ll get a list of questions to ask in order to gather information for your business case and tips on how to speak each stakeholder about the value of RPO.

👉 Want to learn more about RPO? Check out our guide.

RPO in HR

What Matters to HR

Whether the talent acquisition function sits under Human Resources (HR) or is a separate department, HR is a crucial stakeholder for any RPO program. Strategically, HR is particularly concerned with ensuring the organisation has the talent it needs to meet business objectives, and that it is set up to meet these needs into the future. From an operational point of view, HR supports hiring managers and current (and future) staff through the entire employee lifecycle. They strive to meet the standards of hiring managers and the C-suite by balancing organisational productivity and employee needs, creating a flourishing company culture and obtaining the best talent to support ongoing success.

Top Concerns:

  • Quality of hire
  • Employee retention
  • Workforce planning
  • Employer branding
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I)

How to Talk to HR about RPO

When speaking to HR, it’s important to present RPO as solving critical business challenges and not just as outsourcing your recruitment function, which can sometimes trigger emotions and anxieties about potential redundancies within the in-house recruitment team. It may be helpful to discuss how RPO could complement or augment the existing in-house recruitment resources to expand scope, provide specialised expertise and alleviate workload. Emphasise the ability of an RPO to scale up and down as hiring needs change and to tackle parts of the recruitment process that would allow the HR team focus on other priorities.

Show examples of how an RPO partner can act as a trusted advisor who can optimise your talent acquisition program through process, technology and employer branding improvements. RPO providers have access to market insights to help HR and talent acquisition leaders make workforce decisions and strategic plans for the future. Plus, with DE&I expertise honed across many clients, an RPO partner understands how to source, engage and hire candidates from underrepresented groups.

Questions to Ask HR to Gain Buy-in for RPO

Strategic Focus

  • Are there roles that are crucial to your organization’s objectives that you’re struggling to hire for now? How do you see this changing over the next couple of years?
  • What are the retention rates for hires made in the last 12 months?
  • What are your DE&I goals, and how does talent acquisition fit in?
  • Are your employer brand and talent attraction methods effective for engaging the right talent profiles in all regions? What feedback are you getting from hiring managers?

Tactical Focus

  • Are you using any third-party agencies for permanent hires? What are the associated costs? Are they meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs)?
  • Is the talent acquisition team the main point of contact for these agencies, or are hiring managers engaging them?
  • What technology are you using for recruitment? What’s missing from your current recruitment tech stack?

Operational Focus

  • How many in-house recruiters do you have right now?
  • What is the recruitment process? Are there stages where you’re seeing high drop-out rates?
  • Are you measuring the candidate experience (i.e., candidate NPS) or asking for candidate feedback? What are you hearing back?
  • What are your key and/or recurring operational issues, and what is causing them?
getting buy in for recruitment process outsourcing

RPO and Procurement

What Matters to Procurement

Procurement leaders look at external spend and evaluate and select vendors that partner with the business to drive results. They are often champions for RPO as they welcome the cost saving benefits. As with any purchase for the business, they’re interested in benefits like flexibility, cost reduction, risk mitigation and tangible results against organisational goals.

Procurement will likely have set processes and policies for selecting a talent acquisition partner, so it’s best to engage them early so you understand what they require during the selection process. Treat them as a valued advisor, and they’ll be happy to support you with requirements definition, process efficiencies and contract negotiations. Bring them in too late, and they could feel more like a barrier than an ally.

Top Concerns

  • Cost per vacancy
  • Agency spend
  • Process efficiencies and added value
  • Risk mitigation

How to Talk to Procurement About RPO

When discussing RPO with procurement, emphasise the economies of scale that can be gained by an RPO partner’s ability to ramp up and down. Procurement professionals will be wary of getting locked into a contract that’s too rigid to account for unanticipated changes in the business environment, so stress the flexibility within the potential RPO partnership.

If your organisation is leveraging multiple staffing agencies, procurement may be frustrated with the disparate methods for obtaining talent and will be motivated to reduce the reliance on third-party agencies to gain control of costs. Share information about how RPO can help you consolidate recruitment under a single partnership, reduce staffing agency usage and make costs more predictable. They may also be interested to hear about a potential RPO provider’s supplier management capabilities as part of an integrated total workforce solution.

👉 Ready, Set, RPO: What to Expect in a New RPO Partnership.

Questions to Ask Procurement to Create Buy-in for RPO

Strategic Focus

  • What is the current annual external spend on talent acquisition?
  • How many third-party agencies are being used for permanent hires? Who is managing these relationships?
  • What issues are created by using multiple agencies?
  • What resources would be needed to support an RPO approach long-term?

Tactical Focus

  • When it comes to deciding on an RPO solution, what do you see as the qualifying criteria? What is the winning criteria?
  • What stages and timescale do you anticipate for a selection process like this?
  • Are you committed to any contract termination timescale with existing suppliers?

Operational Focus

  • What data do you need to collect internally for the procurement process?
  • How should you initiate discussions with providers in the market?

Securing Executive Buy-in for RPO

What Matters to the C-Suite

The CEO and other members of the C-suite are chiefly concerned with ensuring the organisation has the talent it needs to keep a competitive edge. In the midst of economic uncertainty, companies are struggling to navigate changing employee expectations and hire the talent they need. It’s crucial for the CEO to feel confident that the organisation can quickly fill vacancies and grow with high quality talent in order to maximise productivity, hit revenue targets and retain customers.

Top Concerns

  • Speed to hire
  • Candidate experience
  • Candidate quality
  • Employer branding
  • Cost per vacancy

How to Talk the C-Suite About RPO

When speaking to the CEO about an RPO solution, highlight how the long-term partnership allows for a holistic approach to creating a strategic talent acquisition program that fuels business initiatives. They will also be excited by the labour market insights that RPO providers offer, which is not part of an engagement with a staffing agency. This data will help with strategic planning so the C-suite can make informed decisions about geographic expansion, new products or services or other business transformations.

In addition, leading RPO partners offer talent advisory services, including employer branding. This consulting engagement creates a differentiated employer value proposition to help your organisation become an employer of choice for all your talent audiences.

Questions to Ask to Gain Executive Buy-in for RPO

Strategic Focus

  • Do you have talent gaps that are impacting productivity and/or revenue?
  • Does your talent acquisition strategy reflect and boost your employer brand?
  • Does the current recruitment program support business continuity and succession at all levels?
  • Are there business changes coming that could impact recruitment (i.e., merger or acquisition, reorganisation, new location, new product or service, etc.)? Do you feel prepared for these changes with the current talent acquisition approach?

Operational Focus

  • What talent acquisition metrics do you have access to? What would you like to see?
  • Does your visibility into recruitment program vary by region?
  • Do you have good insight into what roles your competitors are hiring for?
getting buy in for RPO

Hiring Manager Buy-in for RPO

What Matters to Hiring Managers

The relationship between hiring managers and recruiters can vary significantly. In some cases, it can be strained, especially when the talent acquisition program is not meeting the hiring managers expectations. In others, there is a strong relationship, though this does not necessarily mean that business needs are being met. Often there’s a mismatch in perceptions—80% of recruiters say they have a high understanding of the jobs they’re trying to fill while 61% of hiring managers disagree.

We recommend speaking to hiring managers in departments where a lot of hiring is needed, like call centres with seasonal fluctuations, or teams where skills are particularly hard to find, like software development teams. This will give you a sense of the current state and the amount of time and effort hiring managers are investing in the recruitment process.

Top Concerns

  • Filling positions quickly with a consistent process
  • Candidate quality
  • Spending less time on recruiting activities
  • Trust in the process and recruiters they work with
  • Control over budget

How to Talk to Hiring Managers About RPO

Hiring managers will want to know how the RPO team manages the recruitment process and how they can reduce the hiring manager’s time investment through interview scheduling, assessment execution and even offer management. Emphasise the RPO partner’s focus on providing quality feedback to both candidates and hiring managers for a great all-around experience.

Another benefit of RPO for hiring managers is reducing time-to-fill through talent pooling. Leading RPO teams create pools of qualified candidates so they’re not starting from scratch every time you open a new requisition or need to backfill a role. In addition, proactive outreach means you can engage with passive candidates who may never have considered your organisation, widening your access to talent.

Questions to Ask Hiring Managers to Create Buy-in for RPO

Strategic Focus

  • How much time are you putting into hiring activities?
  • What are the key areas of need or challenge?
  • What are you spending directly on recruitment (i.e., advertising or agency spend/budget you control)?
  • Are you attracting the right candidates in terms of both skills/experience and cultural fit?
  • How would you rate the quality of candidates being presented by in-house recruiters and/or agencies?

Tactical Focus

  • Are you engaged with third-party recruitment agencies? Are they meeting their SLAs?
  • What kinds of agencies are you working with? What are their strengths?
  • What other recruitment approaches have been working for you (e.g., LinkedIn, events)?

Operational Focus

  • What is your offer acceptance rate for each job type?
  • Are there any roles you get too many responses for?
  • Are there any elements of the process that are not efficient or effective for you or candidates?

Paving the Way for Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Although obtaining data and information for your RPO business case is an important reason to have these conversations, your key aim should be to gain buy-in for RPO and build trust, and to develop a joint-working approach. Hearing stakeholders’ stories, as well as understanding their motivations and what might be blocking them from supporting change, will foster a culture of collaboration and set your RPO program up for success.

One of our experts would be happy to provide information about RPO, more tips on creating buy-in or help building your business case! Let’s chat!