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    Nov 21, 2014

    More firms taking it easy in talent hunt

    IN THE old days, filling job vacancies in a company was an internal affair.

    But now, this task is being outsourced to recruiting specialists.

    Recruitment providers told My Paper that recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), or the practice of outsourcing all or part of a recruitment department, is gaining traction here.

    Along with other Asia-Pacific job markets such as India, China, Hong Kong and Japan, Singapore is seeing a "spurt" in RPO activity, said Blaise Habgood, director of recruitment firm Randstad Sourceright.

    Last year, the RPO market in the region grew by 16 per cent - a much higher rate than that of other regions, he added.

    Recruitment consultants told My Paper that more than half the employers in Singapore are expected to adopt the RPO strategy in the next five years.

    One key factor driving the demand among companies here is the difficulty in finding the right talent, and finding them fast enough, noted Mr Habgood.

    "They also often don't have the right kind of knowledge or experience internally to find the people they need," he said.

    "This can be a big challenge, especially with the shortage of talent in many industries today."

    A survey by recruitment firm Robert Half, the results of which were released in January, found that more than 95 per cent of the 225 respondents - comprising leaders in the financial services, accountancy and information technology sectors - experienced difficulty in finding suitable new hires.

    "With Singapore's low unemployment rate and tightened rules on employing foreigners, hiring has become more challenging for many companies," explained the company's managing director, Stella Tang.

    In the light of the talent crunch here, Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, noted that companies may be better served focusing on their core business and goals, instead of spending time trying to create in-house recruitment teams.

    "It's quite common these days for companies to get help from specialists who have a more effective way of getting the job vacancies filled," he said, noting that some RPO providers have access to readily available candidates from their own talent banks.

    Mr Habgood added that employers stand to enjoy cost savings with RPO. He cited an example of a client company which previously "racked up huge costs" on unorganised hiring efforts, but later saved over $1 million in costs after switching to an RPO model.

    Such an outsourcing strategy tends to be more applicable for larger companies with a sizeable volume of hires, noted Martin Cerullo, managing director of development for Alexander Mann Solutions in Asia-Pacific.

    But it is applicable and suitable across all sectors, from financial services to aerospace and pharmaceuticals, he said.

    As for small- and medium-sized enterprises, Hays' regional director Chris Mead pointed out that low-investment options into outsourcing recruitment functions can "offer some level of customisation for their needs".

    "More importantly, look for a provider that understands the company's market, and has the ready expertise to add value in a partnership on a regional or even global basis."

    At the same time, Mr Tan noted that the employer, and not the RPO provider, should have the final say in recruiting a candidate.

    "The recruitment consultant can bring in a selection of the best candidates for you," he said. "But it's best that you speak with that person to make sure he's a right fit, be it in terms of working style, values or job expectations."