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What SMEs can learn from bigger businesses about outsourcing recruitment processes - and avoid paying agency placement fees


Let’s face it, not everybody wants to use an agency to place their staff.

There may be a variety of reasons for this: wanting to maintain control over the process; budgetary constraints and wanting to avoid one-off placement fees; needing a more consistent marketing and hiring strategy as company grows rather than relying on sporadic, contingent hiring; or poor previous experiences.  Many businesses (especially SMEs) think the only options are engaging a recruitment agency or doing it yourself.  Fortunately, there are other options available.  They have been used by the larger corporates for decades because they have done the time and motion studies that show them to be cost-effective.  However, these options haven’t always been offered to smaller organisations.

So, how can you get the staff and the expertise, without the agency placement fees?
The recruitment and staffing sector, like many, is littered with acronyms and abbreviations that are generally understood by HR professionals and the corporate giants but not always by business owners and hiring managers outside of the industry or in SME businesses.  One of these acronyms is RPO which stands for Recruitment Process Outsourcing.  Business coaches and mentors often advise their SME clients to outsource the things that they are not expert at to allow them to concentrate on delivering the things that are going to grow the business. 

RPO is not the same as using a recruitment agency to place candidates as and when required.  It is usually a service, or suite of services, that outsources the recruitment processes.   An RPO provider will provide its own, or may assume the company's, staff, technology, methodologies and reporting.  This can range from providing a full service where the RPO provider is based within the client business and manages the whole process from talent attraction through to interview and selection, referencing and on-boarding once employed, to handling the interview and selection process or just providing psychometric testing and selection tools. It is often a great tool for improving processes and making sure that costly hiring mistakes are avoided.  It is also a great tool for attracting the best talent and positioning your business as an Employer of Choice.  As we all know that a business is only as good as the people in it, it makes sense to attract the best we can so that we can outpace our competition.

Who does RPO work best for (excluding the big boys): 

  • SMEs with rapid or ambitious growth and volume recruitment plans
  • Businesses looking to build a Call/Contact Centre facility
  • Businesses who do not employ an experienced recruiter or HR person
  • Businesses with an HR function that is too stretched to dedicate somebody to ongoing recruitment and coordinating with hiring managers
  • SME or micro businesses that are just starting to grow and have limited budget and resources. 

As part of my role in corporate sales for a previous employer, I secured and implemented RPO solutions for national retailers, local authorities, and logistics and distribution providers. I thought it was about time SME businesses could easily access the services that could help them grow in a more consistent, and cost-effective, way.

Our new service lines include:

Recruitment advertising campaigns
Numerous providers now offer online recruitment advertising packages.  This allows you to tap into the job boards that are used by recruitment agencies and big employers.  The advantage of using a provider that has a recruitment background is that adverts will be professionally copy written to take advantage of different job board algorithms, candidate search criteria, and maximise your response.

We offer a range of packages that start from just £189 + VAT - read more here

You can choose what suits your needs best.  From a standard advertising campaign for specific roles to a fully managed ongoing talent attraction campaign to build a talent pool for businesses with ambitious growth plans or who have naturally higher staff turnover rates (such as telesales and call centres or care/support workers).

There are no placement fees regardless of how many candidates you employ from the advertising campaign.

Outsourced interviewing & selection
Great for companies who do not have experienced interviewers inhouse or have made poor hiring decisions before.  You simply pass the CVs and applications to us and we sift and screen.  You invite the selected candidates for interview and we conduct an effective and thorough interview, along with an internal representative.  You can simply hire for a half day or full day depending on the number of candidates invited in.  There are no placement fees for candidates employed.

Psychometric and skills testing can be added or used as a stand-alone service.

Full RPO
First, we provide a FREE review of your recruitment processes.  We can either handle the full talent attraction and recruitment processes onsite or work alongside your existing teams to implement and manage the processes.  This will include ongoing digital campaigns on social media and your company website, creation of talent pools, improving your profile as an Employer of Choice, developing referral programmes, recruitment advertising campaigns, interviewing and selection, psychometric and skills testing, reference checking, and on-boarding new employees. This service is invoiced on a monthly basis at a level commensurate with business requirements.

There are no placement fees for candidates employed.

HR & H&S Consultancy
Recruiting staff also brings responsibilities. Aside from regulatory requirements, good HR and H&S advice and guidance can increase productivity, employee engagement, and profitability, while mitigating risk.  Finding the best Consultants and partners is not always easy.  With over 20 years’ experience in the recruitment sector, and numerous requests from clients to recommend the best partners, we have established excellent networks with independent HR and H&S Consultants. 

Our primary HR partner is Denise Waite, of The HR Dept, who comes with a wealth of corporate and SME experience.  From contracts of employment and employee handbooks, to handling complex disciplinary procedures, and everything in between, Denise is brilliant at telling you what you CAN do rather than what you can’t.

Staff is both our biggest overhead and biggest investment.  We have excellent contacts with great gurus who provide training in practically any field you could imagine.  From sales and marketing to CPC and driver training.  You name it, we know somebody who can upskill your teams to boost productivity and profitability.  Training and development are also the best ways to retain employees so it’s something we would recommend.


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