CWS 3.0: September 28, 2011 - Vol. 3.26

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Because You Asked: Recruiting Overseas

My company has decided to work with an offshore staffing and recruiting firm for engaging temps and full-time hires for some of our requisitions. Do you have any tips that would make this operation a success?
—Not Cutting Corners in Newton, Massachusetts

Dear Not Cutting Corners,

There has been plenty of dialogue recently on sending work overseas. In fact, data from Staffing Industry Analysts indicate that the number of U.S staffing firms using U.S-based outsourced and India-based offshore recruiters is projected to grow roughly 50 percent. Meanwhile, the number of staffing firms using other offshore recruiters is projected to increase 175 percent.

So you are definitely on the right track. But doing business across thousands of miles involves cultural differences, time zones and other little challenges. Here are some tips to help the process. 

  • Due diligence. It’s well worth the effort to spend time in looking for an offshore recruiting partner that you are comfortable with and can trust. Cost should not be the deciding factor in forming this partnership. As in hiring an employee, having a referral always helps in this situation, too. Also, make sure that you find out about the company’s infrastructure — Internet connection, back-ups, their hiring process, whether they have experience in your area and specialty.
  • Start small. Starting with a pilot program is always a good idea. It helps you test the waters and to iron out any kinks in the process. It could be a small project involved with cleaning up and updating your database. However, even for the pilot, it’s better to hire at least two recruiters to start with. This helps with the continuity of the project if one recruiter does not work out to your satisfaction.
  • Contractual agreements. Have very clearly defined service-level agreements right in the beginning itself. Make sure that both parties are in agreement when it comes to expectations and metrics that the offshore recruiters have to meet — including the number of calls, contacts  and candidates they will make and find; number of pre-screened candidates they will have ready in a week.   
  • Interview the recruiters. Remember that you have a say in the recruiters who are assigned to you. Make sure you pick your team as if you are hiring recruiters for your company. Some things to keep in mind when interviewing them is whether they speak American English and if you are able to understand them.
  • Ownership of the project. This is an operation that requires hands-on management with daily or weekly meetings with your offshore partner. Staffing firms usually assign a senior-level manager to work with recruiters overseas to make sure they are on track with all requirements and also to answer any questions they might have to perform their job better. Similarly, make sure that there is a high-level executive from the offshore recruiting firm’s side who is accountable, too.
  • Continuity. Try to keep the same recruiters calling for candidates with a certain skill set on a constant basis. This helps them gain a good understanding of your clients as well as the candidate base and pretty soon they become sophisticated in passive search too.
  • Part of your team. Whether you have your own recruiting center overseas or you partner with an offshore recruiting firm, some of the best successes have occurred when they are treated as part of the program’s team. Some companies have set up webcams for regular status update meetings so both parties can see each other. This gives it a more personal touch and makes the offshore recruiters feel they are truly supporting your organization. As the relationship gets stronger, some companies have found that it really works to align overseas recruiters to certain branches to give them more of an ownership in the company.

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