The recruitment supply chain – it’s no wonder we have problems!

So why is the recruitment supply chain quite so complicated and is that one reason why it appears to be broken (according at least to many of our readers)? And what can we in procurement do about it?

Let’s go back to the olden days. My grandfather was a coal miner in the north east of England. If they discovered a new coal seam, and needed more miners, what did they do? They would put a notice on the board outside the pithead. Now current workers might mention this to friends or relatives, so I suppose you could say they were involved, but basically there were two players in the supply chain – the individual who applied, and the boss (or his representative) who interviewed the applicant.

Now scroll forward 50 years, to the 1950s and 60s perhaps.  The line manager may well have a “Personnel” function (pre Human Resources days) who will help with the recruitment, and the job may be advertised in he local newspaper, or even the national press if it is a management role. So now we have 4 players; line manager, personnel, the media, and the applicant.

But then, a whole new industry around recruitment springs up, from swanky St James’ Square headhunters, to agencies for blue collar workers.  So there’s another link in the chain to consider. And as they develop,  the procurement profession gains confidence and we decide that, if third party providers are going to be involved, then procurement has a role to play in contracting with these firms.

So now we have line manager, the HR department, the procurement function, the recruitment firm, the newspaper, magazine or jobs board that carries the advert, and the applicant. And just to make things really simple, the last few years has seen the growth of firms acting as a “managed service provider”. The client organisation then passes all recruitment through this MSP, who may or may not take a vendor neutral stance, but manages other recruitment firms in the supply chain.

So now we have 7 definite levels or players in the supply chain, and you might even call it eight if you include social media as a separate entity from traditional recruitment advertising media.

I offer no great answer to the problems that various readers mentioned, and I can't see how we might turn the clock back, as it were, but this growth in complexity does at least explain some of the issues we see. Complex supply chains require a lot of clarity in terms of who does what - and the more participants in the supply chain, the more scope there is for friction and confusion at the interfaces.

We will come back to this whole area - just working out how best we can add something useful to the debate and / or the body of knowledge!

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Voices (4)

  1. Yersinia:

    Which is why it is so important for all participants to remember there is a human being at one end of this potentially dysfunctional chain, who has the hope that this could be their dream job, and deserves some respect – and a stressed manager at the other end trying to get their department fully staffed to fulfill company commitments. Sometimes the mid chain participants act like it is some sort of one-up-manship game as to who has more clout in the process, losing sight of the main goal to get a good person in the right job. No wonder managers try and circumvent both HR and the Procurement function.

  2. Final Furlong:

    Fun and games between HR and IT…and Procurement

  3. Huhh?:

    I’ve always firmly been of the opinion that employee relations would be greatly improved with a well aimed metorite into the HR offices in most large organisations.

  4. Final Furlong:

    You’ve identified the evolution which takes place in any company in respect of their HR function, and its inherent relationship to company growth, effectiveness and efficiency.

    Employing a handful of people
    Talent Management (CEO finds them himself/herself)

    Employing 20 people or more
    Payroll function

    Employing 50 people or more
    General Manager

    Employing 100+

    Employing 1,000+
    HR (Human Resources)

    Employing 10,000+
    HR (Human Remains)

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