How to know when it is time to outsource your recruitment

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How to know when it is time to outsource your recruitment
Darren Topping

How to know when it is time to outsource your recruitment

Recruitment Process Outsourcing is about acquiring expertise. You ask a hairdresser to cut your hair, so why wouldn’t you ask an expert to help you build a better business? From boosting agility, to thinking long-term or improving efficiency, here’s how to know when it’s time to call in a specialist.

Many talent acquisition teams are still uncertain about outsourcing - whether it's a case of losing control or not knowing who you can trust. And yet, going to a specialist is simply part and parcel of day-to-day life. Nowadays, many people choose to go to a hairdresser, hire professional cleaners, or use a personal trainer. Reaching out to experts is the logical way to get better results, in shorter timeframes, or at a fraction of the cost. Outsourcing recruitment is no different. So, how do you know when you’re defying common sense? When is it time to outsource?

Flag #1: Your hiring process is haemorrhaging time and money

At its most fundamental level, recruitment process outsourcing is about hiring the right people for as little cost, and in as short a timeframe, as possible. These two elements maintain a delicate balance; a cut-price solution can be rife with inefficiencies (in turn, covertly ramping up cost), just as much as a drawn-out process can easily let candidates slip through the cracks.

So, achieving a smooth, quick process that drives down costs is often the primary reason for looking to outsource. From increasing direct delivery through talent pipelines, to rationalising supply chains or increasing talent retention by streamlining processes, outsourcing almost always results in savings. Many providers also build implementing cost savings into their strategic delivery, so it stays top of the priority list.

Flag #2: You’re not building talent pipelines

Planning for the future is the backbone of any stable recruitment strategy. A reactive recruitment process that responds to incoming requirements will never attract the ‘ideal’ calibre of candidate, as it will always be delivering against the clock. But workforce planning, succession planning, and anticipating future need is time-consuming and difficult without an overarching understanding of the different user groups and external market trends.

Here’s where outsourcing plays its trump card. Recruitment outsourcing is a dedicated function, which means that resources are solely focused on interpreting your requirements and plugging skills gaps. More often than not, this means anticipating requirements and ensuring that the delivery team has the foresight to meet need head-on. By building ‘talent pipelines’ (candidates tagged as suitable for specific short, medium, and long-term needs), recruitment providers can drive down time-to-hire while improving quality of hire due to greater time to source without pressure.

Flag #3: Requirements are difficult to predict

Sometimes, your internal team is against the wire; other times, they’re at a loss for things to do. This means that at peak times, candidate quality plummets and timescales lengthen, whereas when requirements ebb, morale dips. You could invest in additional headcount, but be left with a spare part during troughs. Or you could volunteer for new projects during low points and watch them pushed to the backburner at the sight of the next spike in demand.

Outsourcing takes away this dilemma by introducing scalable delivery teams – recruiters that can be flexed up at short notice to meet increases in requirements. This provides businesses with full reassurance of delivery, without taking on unnecessary headcount. Of course, you can still retain some of your internal staff and simply use the outsourced provider when you need to announce a call-to-arms (at Lorien, we call this Project RPO). This would enable the internal team to refocus their energy on business critical projects, as well as picking up some of the activities previously left on the backburner.

Flag #4: Your processes have stagnated

The recruitment market moves rapidly and talent acquisition strategies that worked well even a few years (or even months) ago can quickly become outdated. Knowing which trends to follow and which to avoid can be difficult for internal teams, especially when stakeholders may be reluctant to invest company money in risky new innovations. Add to this that for many internal teams simply meeting the flow of day-to-day requirements can be challenging, and the need to stay current with the recruitment market quickly drops to the bottom of the priority list.

Outsourcing recruitment enables businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest market movements. Many outsourcing companies provide access to market insight as part of the package, with some companies going even further with access to whitepapers, seminars and conferences with industry influencers. Internally, outsourcing companies also invest regularly in emerging tools and technologies to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to resourcing for talent. That means access to the best ways to acquire talent, without the risk.

Flag #5: Lack of quality candidates and frequent dropouts

The cost of a bad hire is significant. It leads to 80% of employee turnover and costs 2-3 time the salary level of the position being hired for. It demotivates employees. It wastes hiring manager time making up for poor performance. The list goes on… 

If you’re frequently making bad hires, the source of the problem can be difficult to pinpoint. It could be that all the best candidates have dropped out, that they were never engaged to begin with, or that they simply weren’t attracted to the opportunity. Most outsourced journeys begin with an audit of the existing process (in fact, many providers offer this as a standalone service).

They will unpick challenges in your sourcing and qualifying strategies, interview methodologies and overall process – including onboarding. They may interview your existing users, interpret data from ATS/VMS technology platforms (where available), and speak to your current workforce. All of this helps to build a picture of not only the current process, but also its desired destination. Typically, an RPO will also include some form of onsite recruitment business partner, who will work with stakeholders on an ongoing basis to determine requirements and identify what makes a good ‘fit’ culturally as well as by competency and experience.

Over time, attraction becomes more targeted, qualifying more comprehensive, and the process more streamlined. The combination of these approaches often leads to a marked improvement in candidate quality, and, because the candidate has been qualified against behaviour and values and managed through a seamless process, improved retention.

Of course, rectifying these challenges is not beyond the capability of an internal recruitment team. Moreover, not all internal teams suffer from these challenges, and some may suffer from different challenges altogether. There may even be some challenges that even the best recruitment provider can’t fix – change has to be willing. Naturally, there are many possible solutions that do not involve outsourcing. You can ask a friend to cut your hair, spend a couple of hours on a weekend cleaning the house, or bulk buy protein powder. Going to a specialist isn’t the only way to get things done well, quickly and at a good price. But it sure makes it easier. 

Speak to an expert at Lorien to find out more about recruitment process outsourcing. Contact us at

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