On-Demand recruiters are one of the best solutions to handling talent acquisition challenges.

There’s an ever-growing consensus that attracting and retaining experienced talent is one of the most critical challenges companies face today. Multiple surveys point to the fact that the availability of talent is, in many industries, having a major impact on growth. In fact, a PwC survey of CEOs found that 63% of all CEOs are concerned about the threat of availability of skills on their companies’ growth prospects and that only 34% of them feel that HR is “well-prepared for the challenges ahead” (link here for more).  Some industries feel the pain more than others: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, has projected a 19 percent growth in employment for Registered Nurses from 2012–2022. Likewise, according to a recent analysis by Indeed.com, technology jobs (in particular, software engineers, computer information systems managers and network administrators) are also among the most difficult positions to fill.Gayle-Table2

Despite the dire data, remedies are available and many of your competitors in need of hard-to-find talent have already begun to explore and implement solutions. As history has shown us, just throwing money at the problem in terms of perks, signing bonuses and pay as many did during the last, pre-recession hiring spike, does NOT work. While pay needs to be competitive, it is clearly not a cure-all. Instead, we are seeing a trend among HR professionals in a variety of industries to review and reevaluate their entire end-to-end hiring process. This is because many have come to the conclusion that recruitment can’t be compartmentalized.  Recruitment  is much more than just hiring people and hoping they will stay; it needs to covers a spectrum of integrated activities under an umbrella strategy described as “Talent Acquisition” or “TA”.  TA encompasses not just sourcing/interviewing/assessing and hiring but also employer branding, compensation benchmarking, on-boarding, mentoring/coaching, formal retention policies and so on.

Within the entire range of TA components, one particular strategy that can result in the most immediate return on investment – and is therefore becoming increasingly popular – involves revamping the recruitment function itself to be sure that the team is operating at maximum strength. For many organizations feeling the pinch of a talent shortage, this assessment often reveals that the internal function simply can’t keep up with current needs – much less fully anticipate future needs. Consequently, to augment internal resources, we’re seeing increased use of what’s known as On-Demand recruitment, defined as a turn-key, fully-managed recruiting and sourcing resource (whether a team or an individual) delivered via an external partner to supplement the internal team, focus on specialized roles or priority positions, handle recruiting spikes and/or to build a pipeline for future talent needs.

In a very recent, real-life example of how this can work, a growing health system turned to us to deliver an On-Demand recruiting engagement to support advanced nursing roles, as well as clinical, strategy and IT recruiting needs following a comprehensive consulting engagement to re-engineer recruiting to support growth. In response, our firm assigned a hand-picked team of very experienced On-Demand recruiters to provide targeted candidate sourcing to support the system’s now changing hiring needs. The project lasted 18 months during which over 175 critical talent needs requiring nursing leadership, IT/EPIC, strategy, clinical operations and leadership roles were filled.

The example above, in which a dedicated team focused on sourcing and pre-qualifying candidates to meet a hospital system’s most pressing needs, is just one way in which On-Demand recruitment can provide relief. In another situation, a healthcare system in the middle of a business transformation sought to fill twenty critical roles including nursing leaders in six months, but wasn’t successful in using contingency search firms to fill those roles. In fact, the majority of positions had been open for six months prior to our involvement via an On-Demand arrangement. TalentRISE assigned a team of 4.5 recruiting consultants and filled 20 critical roles within five months with two additional offers pending going into the sixth month. Additionally, the system achieved a cost savings of over 50% compared to using contingency search vendors.

On-Demand arrangements can also yield favorable results when the external consultant’s efforts are focused on building talent pipelines for future or anticipated needs. Given the anticipated wave of retirements within many industries, attracting younger employees today to allow for on-the-job mentoring and knowledge transfer by more experienced staff is critical. However, members of the millennial generation typically have different perspectives on work-life balance with more appetite for rapid career progression, development opportunities and upward mobility than their baby-boomer counterparts did. Clearly, employers seeking to fill their ranks well into the future need to rethink how to adjust their employment brand to appeal to the next generation as well as the channels that they use to source them. That’s why using the skills and knowledge of an On-Demand consulting team to now focus on developing a deep talent pool to prepare for the future can be so powerful.

Assuming your organization decides that an On-Demand recruitment solution is the right approach for you, how should you proceed?  In our experience, the best first step is to spend time upfront defining your issue and articulating what exactly you want an external provider to accomplish. For example, know what type of support are you looking for, whether sourcing versus full lifecycle recruiting. Also be able to articulate the issues are you facing and what your most urgent needs are. Are these difficult to fill positions, and do your job descriptions accurately reflect the position you are looking to fill or will you need a different skill set?  As far as selecting a provider, the first rule of thumb is obviously to be sure that they have deep industry knowledge. But also question their past experience in handling On-Demand projects of this type. Other things to investigate include:

  • Who on the consultant’s team “owns” the project? Ideally, you should be dealing with an individual at the top so that his/her project management oversight will ensure that performance expectations are met in the desired time frame.
  • How will results be reported? Is there transparency, whether the reporting is done through weekly status calls, recruiter activity metrics tracking and/or other reports?
  • Are the recruiters proven and experienced with relevant backgrounds?
  • Are the recruiters equipped with a comprehensive “toolbox” of sourcing, assessment and research tools including today’s leading-edge social, mobile and video-optimized tools?
  • How is candidate data tracked? Ideally, recruiters are equipped with a CRM they use to track potential candidates sourced.  This data should then be provided to you at the end of the engagement.
  • How will billing work? For budgeting purposes, you will find that a time and materials hourly billing approach will be the simplest and the best way to calculate true ROI.

In conclusion, it’s clear that talent shortages for several job categories in many industries will persist for a long time. While there are many strategies and tactics available, one of the most sensible is to consider external assistance in the ways discussed above. An On-Demand engagement – whether it is focused on filling currently available positions or sourcing in anticipation of hiring new talent in the months to come or both – has several distinct advantages, the greatest of which, in our experience, is scalability. Using experienced external resources on an as-needed basis is easier on the budget than hiring full-time recruiters, and allows your internal team to focus on their jobs. As many organizations experience challenges attributed to shrinking talent pools, working with an On-Demand partner can help you keep your head above water.

Gayle Norton

About the Author

Gayle has spent over 20 years honing her expertise in guiding talent acquisition transformations and optimizing talent operations.