Move to internal recruitment pays off for IT company

Source: Shortlist

One of the biggest barriers to moving to an internal recruitment model is convincing hiring managers who are used to picking up the phone and ringing their favourite recruitment company, to support the new system, says Certus Solutions Australia and New Zealand talent manager, Carol-Ann Hickmore.

Hickmore told the NZ Sourcing Summit in Auckland today that Certus – which focuses purely on IBM software and services – had cut its recruitment process costs dramatically since moving to an internal model last year.

But the move hadn’t come without resistance from hiring managers, she said.

Certus, which is NZ owned, has more than 200 staff and does 60% of its business in Australia.

It has grown rapidly in recent years and expects to have a workforce of about 550 by the end of 2015.

When she first joined Certus 12 months ago, Hickmore said the company’s use of recruitment agencies was very high.

There were no set processes, recruitment was overseen by the HR department, and costs were high.

But over the past year, the company had built an internal recruitment function from scratch, introduced social media sourcing, and importantly, had created a talent pool of regular contractors with specialist IBM experience.

“It’s a highly skilled [group]. It’s only small but they all have specific, deep IBM tools experience, and that’s what we look for, so it’s a quality talent pool. They are all reference-checked, all their CVs are there with their skills, availability, their rates – and everything gets updated.”

Hickmore said that since the changes to its recruitment, Certus had gone from making 34 permanent hires at a cost of $NZ330k ($A275k) in 2012; to 56 hires at a cost of $NZ92k ($A77k) so far in 2013. (These figures included recruitment process costs, she said, but not staff salaries.)

While the company still had a panel of agencies that it valued, they were now a much smaller part of the hiring process, she said.

How to convince hiring managers to come onboard
One of the biggest challenges she had faced when building the internal team was changing hiring manager behaviour, Hickmore said.

“Particularly in Australia, if they were looking for someone they would ring a recruitment company, get a whole lot of CVs, hire somebody, and the bill would go to HR.

“There was no supplier agreement, no rate negotiation, no audit trail. That worked while they were a small company, but it wasn’t working anymore.”

Convincing line managers to let go of the “quick fire hiring” attitude was especially difficult, she said, “because you know how it is – when they want someone, they want them yesterday”.

Hickmore said there was “only one way” to get resistant managers to come round, and that was by demonstrating that the internal model worked.

“Some people will not change and you can’t force them, or get mad, or tell on them to the CEO… Just show them by your delivery. Earn respect, don’t demand it.”