AI in Recruiting: A Handbook for Talent Acquisition Leaders

Artificial intelligence (AI) has captured attention across nearly every industry for its seemingly boundless potential to transform how work gets done—including AI in recruiting. Yet for many talent acquisition (TA) leaders, AI remains shrouded in hype, myths and even fear that “robot recruiters” are taking over. 

This handbook sets out to demystify AI tools for recruitment with facts about real-world applications across talent acquisition capabilities and provide guidance on how talent teams can start planning to use AI effectively and ethically. We’ll cut through the hype to bring AI down to earth—focusing on what works, not what’s flashy. 

The message we want to reinforce upfront is that AI should not be seen as a replacement for the talent acquisition strategy you’ve already built, but rather a set of tools to make your teams better at tasks both mundane and meaningful.

📌 Before we go any further, here’s a note from our legal team:  

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or other professional advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general information purposes only. Readers of this article should contact their attorney or legal advisor to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this article without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this article are expressly disclaimed by PeopleScout, Inc.. The content in this article is provided “as-is”, and no representations are made by PeopleScout that the content is error-free. 

What is AI? 

The term artificial intelligence or AI was coined by Stanford Professor John McCarthy, who defined it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.” AI is technology with the ability to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Data and algorithms enable AI to “learn” how to accomplish complex tasks without being explicitly programmed to do them. It also includes the sub-fields of machine learning, speech and natural language processing and robotic process automation. 

Over the last decade, AI capabilities have advanced tremendously due to increases in computing power, the abundance of digital data and improvements in machine learning algorithms. As a result, AI solutions can now match or even outperform humans in certain tasks related to object recognition, language processing, prediction modelling and more. 

The disruption delivered by generative AI in particular arrived like a bullet train. In just a few short months, AI went from an abstract concept to a tangible force radically impacting businesses—and jobs—worldwide. With Generative AI (GAI) tools like ChatGPT, Google Gemini (formerly Bard) and Microsoft Copilot, AI has gone from expensive and exclusive to an everyday tool accessible by the masses.  

The State of AI in Recruiting 

Top talent has become increasingly scarce and competitive, while recruiting resources and budgets remain strained. This situation demands that talent acquisition teams work smarter, and AI and automation could represent an opportunity for organisations to enhance human capabilities in recruitment. 

According to Gartner, a massive 81% of HR leaders have explored or implemented AI solutions to improve process efficiency within their organisation. HR leaders aim to use generative AI (GAI) for improving efficiency in HR processes (63%), enhancing the employee experience (52%) and bolstering learning and development programs.  

AI recruitment software

Plus, 76% of HR leaders believe that if their organisation does not adopt AI solutions in the next year or two, they will lag behind those that do.  

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of AI in Recruitment? 

While AI holds tremendous promise, it also comes with some real concerns which talent acquisition and HR leaders must thoughtfully address. AI is largely unregulated and has received criticism for negative impacts on things like privacy, security, bias, and transparency in its decision-making processes. However, with care and diligence, you can establish sensible guidelines at your organisation, so this technology enhances your talent acquisition capabilities while respecting human values.  

Benefits of AI for Recruiting 

AI can help the humans behind your talent program work more efficiently and effectively when used correctly. Applying AI across the various recruiting stages introduces a host of benefits, including: 

  • Efficiency 
    AI-powered tools can shoulder time-consuming tasks like communications and initial screening, allowing recruiters to reach more candidates at scale. AI systems help recruiters to focus their efforts on the most promising prospects, including helping identify passive candidates. This wider reach improves quality by putting recruiters in front of more qualified candidates. 
  • Improved Candidate Experience 
    Tools like AI chatbots and self-scheduling create a seamless 24/7 candidate experience. By fielding frequently asked questions and coordinating interviews, they dramatically reduce time-to-hire. Candidates get quick responses instead of waiting for recruiters to come online, making the hiring process faster and frictionless. 
  • Improved Matching 
    Advanced AI algorithms surface qualified prospects that may have been overlooked. By analysing candidates’ skills, experience, and other attributes and matching them to open roles, AI systems ensure better candidate-job fit. This improves quality-of-hire and unlocks hidden talent pools recruiters may have missed. 
  • Enhanced Diversity and Inclusion 
    With the right data to learn from, AI reduces unconscious bias from hiring by focusing decisions on data rather than gut instinct. By objectively evaluating candidates’ skills without prejudice, AI-assisted recruiting enhances diversity and creates a more equitable hiring process. 
  • Cost Reduction  
    AI can reduce the cost-per-applicant in some cases. Recruiters can outsource low-impact, repetitive tasks to AI, and spend more time interacting with candidates and hiring managers. This optimisation of talent acquisition teams enables resources to be allocated more efficiently, reducing vacancy rates and lowering costs. 
chatgpt for recruiting

Risks of AI in Recruiting 

While there are benefits, talent leaders must thoughtfully address common concerns around AI transparency, interpretation of outputs, data privacy and ethics.  

PeopleScout POV

PeopleScout is committed to striking the right balance between next-generation technology and maintaining the trust we’ve built with candidates and clients. As our clients’ trusted talent advisors, we do our due diligence and work touphold our standards for quality and compliance when helping clients adopt new technologies like GenAI.

As organisations prepare to capitalise on the efficiencies of AI, they must be particularly discerning about AI when it comes to supporting people decisions. Effectively deploying and scaling AI across talent acquisition functions introduces some common challenges, including: 

  • Biased Algorithms 
    Despite its ability to reduce bias, if AI models are trained on biased or incomplete data sets, they can unintentionally perpetuate inequality. In many countries there are laws prohibiting discrimination in the recruitment process, and the use of AI must align with these laws. Leaders need oversight into data inputs and must remain vigilant when considering recommendations made by AI. That being said, bias in AI can be corrected much easier than bias amongst humans. Proactively monitoring and mitigating possible areas of bias is essential for driving more inclusive, equitable hiring—regardless of whether AI is involved.  
  • Disproportionate Impact  
    Certain demographic groups face higher exposure to the potential harms of AI in recruitment. For instance, if an AI screening system relies heavily on standardised test scores that have racial biases, it could automatically filter out qualified minority candidates. Similarly, lower income communities may lack access to the digital tools and internet connectivity required for AI screening. This digital divide could automatically exclude qualified candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without proactive measures to address these systemic issues, AI recruitment tools risk amplifying real-world inequality. Organisations must consider disproportionate impact with their use of AI in order to improve diversity and reinforce equity.  
  • Lack of Transparency 
    Organizations may experience resistance amongst candidates and employees when there is a lack of understanding of how AI is being used in the hiring process and how AI arrives at certain outputs or recommendations. You can nurture trust through training and effective communication to help recruiters, hiring managers and applicants understand the reasons behind AI-generated outcomes and their role in the hiring decision-making process. Use clear and understandable language to describe the factors influencing decisions and put mechanisms in place to capture feedback and reporting of potential issues. Transparency promotes ethical AI use in recruitment and also reinforces organizational values and establishes a positive reputation in the industry. 

Data from Pew Research Center shows that 61% of Americans are unaware that employers are currently using AI in the hiring process. A majority (71%) oppose AI making a final hiring decision, while 41% oppose AI being used to review applications. However, the more people understand about AI, the more they’re in favor of its use in the recruitment process. For example, 43% of those who’ve heard a lot about using AI in the hiring process support its use for reviewing applications, compared with 37% who’ve heard a little and 21% who’ve heard nothing at all.  

  • Lack of Accuracy 
    GAI is prone to making up statistics, sources and even case law—known as hallucinating. There are no safeguards in place to validate the generated content or to check the accuracy or appropriateness of the outcome. Organisations leveraging tools like ChatGPT for recruiting open themselves up to risks. Recruiters must be aware of the importance of the human touch and using their judgement when using GAI tools for creating content and communications. 
  • Over-Automation 
    Heavy reliance on AI also poses risks if the recruitment process becomes overly automated and fails to incorporate sound human judgment as a check. Too much automated communication can feel depersonalised to a candidate. AI should never replace the human touch—rather it should enhance human capabilities. Plus, companies using AI for recruitment must ensure compliance with all relevant regulations. For example, under GDPR, there are strict guidelines around automated decision-making, and individuals have the right to obtain human intervention and contest automated decisions that significantly affect them.  

👉 Learn the dos and don’ts of automating the candidate experience. 

  • Data Privacy Issues  
    Collecting and analysing extensive candidate information required by AI systems can raise concerns around consent, data protection, and ethical usage. Any talent data feeding the AI systems must be compliant with regulations, like GDPR and CCPA, that are relevant to your locations. Organisations should create a framework around the usage of AI recruitment tools to provide transparency around what data you’re collecting, gain consent where applicable, and put access controls and encryption in place to protect sensitive candidate information. Your data security team should vet any AI usage to ensure candidate data is not being scraped for other uses.  
  • Workflow Integration 
    Implementing AI recruiting tools requires integrating them into existing systems and processes. Too often, companies adopt AI in isolation, without considering its impact on surrounding workflows. Instead, organisations should evaluate how AI technologies will interface with current infrastructure. For example, your applicant tracking system (ATS) may need API connections to import AI-screened candidates. With careful integration planning, AI can be a seamless augmentation to talent acquisition rather than an isolated add-on. 

Proactively addressing these concerns through governance, oversight and continuous improvement of AI systems and processes is key to managing the risks responsibly. Overall, the use of AI in recruitment is permitted but becoming more and more tightly regulated. Systems cannot make final hiring decisions and must be transparent, fair and accountable. Adhering to data protection laws and anti-discrimination regulations is crucial for the ethical use of AI in hiring. Undergoing regular audits to assess for unintended bias and maintaining the human touch to review, override or contest automated recommendations is crucial. 

📌 We recommend you consult your legal team before implementing any AI technologies at your organisation. 

AI for recruiters

Use Cases for AI in Recruitment 

As recruiting grows more competitive, organisations are turning to smart technologies to gain an edge in attracting and engaging candidates. From chatbots to video interviews and skills assessments, AI-powered solutions are streamlining efficiencies while enabling deeper insights across the hiring funnel. Here are some examples demonstrating AI’s immense potential to boost recruiting outcomes while improving the candidate experience. 

👉 Learn how to build the ultimate recruitment tech stack

How to Use AI for Candidate Attraction and Sourcing 

Identifying, contacting and engaging prospective candidates is ripe for AI augmentation. Building a robust pipeline of talent typically involves highly manual, repetitive tasks that can divert focus away from higher-value tasks. Here are some of the ways AI can support you in filling your recruitment funnel.  

Building Candidate Personas 

AI can pull from the profiles of existing employees and historical hiring data for a given role to surface patterns and common characteristics. These patterns, combined with qualitative data gathered from interviews, can help you to define a persona profile of the ideal candidate for the role.  

A persona is a fictional character profile that represents the different types of candidates who would be successful in a role. Personas focus on individual characteristics, behaviours, interests, goals, motivators and challenges. With these in place, you can create alignment across your recruitment and sourcing strategies. Your persona profiles should provide specific guidance about how to find candidates who fit the profile, including targeted messages that will resonate. 

👉 Learn more about how to build candidate personas. 

candidate personas

Writing Job Descriptions  

Since launching in late 2022, ChatGPT and other GAI chatbots, like Bing Chat, Gemini (formerly Bard) and more, quickly permeated the workplace. These tools mimic human communication and can help with everything from content creation and market analysis to simply writing emails. They can also be used to write job descriptions.  

By feeding them with relevant prompts that detail the job tasks and required skills as well as employer brand elements like tone of voice, the GAI chatbot can produce a first draft job description in seconds. The hiring manager and recruiter can then massage this text to create the final posting. 

For existing job descriptions, AI can be used to measure sentiment and detect biased language. There are a variety of AI-powered online tools that can highlight biased language—like “ambitious” or “expert,” which are stereotypically masculine—to ensure you’re not turning off a portion of your talent audience.  

Job postings with gender-neutral wording get 42% more applications.

Skills Matching 

Previously a manual process, AI can sift through a huge number of online profiles to find candidates with the skills you’re looking for. For example, the AI-powered Affinix CRM tool in PeopleScout’s talent acquisition suite Affinix searches millions of online profiles to find passive candidates with the skills and competencies that match the role. The AI also assesses the likelihood of a candidate being open to a new opportunity by combining the average tenure of each job listed on their profile with the average aggregate tenure of all other candidates in that same role.  

Manually identifying passive candidates who have similar titles but may not be actively searching for a job can take hours of dedicated time. AI can reduce manual efforts and massively speed up the recruitment process. Plus, it helps you concentrate on skills, rather than experience, to expand your candidate pool. 

Predictive Analytics 

Machine learning models can also provide predictive and prescriptive hiring recommendations based on a candidate’s profile. AI can assess genuine interest, candidate motivations, likelihood to accept an offer and even predicted tenure. This empowers recruiters to be more informed for interview prep and can help them personalise outreach messages to appeal specifically to what matters most for each candidate.  

Over time as engagement data is captured, AI models continue to improve, learning what messages and channels persuade candidates with various profiles and career trajectories. This creates a positive feedback loop, compounding efficiencies over each recruiting cycle. 

👉 Learn more about predictive analytics in talent acquisition 

How to Use AI for Candidate Screening & Interview Support 

Manual candidate screening based on résumés and CVs alone can be an imperfect, biased exercise. With AI lending a “second pair of eyes,” you can ensure quality candidates are not being overlooked. Here are some elements of the process that AI can enhance. 

First Sift 

Natural language processing tools can ingest thousands of résumés and CVs, and analyse the content, context, and trends across the talent pool within seconds. AI tools can be trained to recognise specific skills, experiences and competencies that are required for open roles and then score and rank applicants automatically against your ideal candidate profile. 

Look for tools with a dashboard that highlights the “cream of the crop” candidates that demonstrate the closest alignment, enabling you to reach out or pass the most promising applicants to hiring managers quickly. 

Real-Time Screening 

Intelligent chatbots, like text and SMS screening tools, create a conversational experience for candidates using natural language processing. These mobile-friendly, text interview tools automatically screen candidates using predetermined questions that gauge their interest and qualifications. Based on the responses, the chatbot can instantly determine the next step for each specific candidate.  

👉 Get the best practice guide for texting in recruitment

Skills Assessments 

AI is also leveraged for pre-employment assessments. New tech platforms can test and measure candidates for skills mastery, personality traits, and cognitive abilities to ensure qualified candidates are advancing through the recruitment process. All results should be reviewed by a human to ensure compliance with relevant regulations around automated decision-making. Leveraging AI in skills assessment helps ensure recruiters and hiring managers can focus on priority candidates most likely to succeed in the role, increasing equity along the way. 

Want to learn more about how AI can boost your recruitment processes?

How to Use AI for Candidate Engagement 

AI-powered candidate engagement tools help you create seamless, personalised experiences at scale—boosting candidate satisfaction, accelerating the hiring process and freeing up recruiters to focus on relationship building—where they add the most value. 

Personalised Candidate Communications 

For several years now, organisations have been leveraging candidate relationship management (CRM) technology to automate communications with candidates throughout the hiring journey. Automated email drip campaigns deliver the right information at the right stage in the journey to keep candidates informed of next steps and engaged with content that is relevant to them. This helps you build personalised engagement at scale. 

👉 Learn how to get the most out of your CRM

More recently, recruiters are using GAI platforms like ChatGPT to help them with drafting one-off emails to candidates. Leveraging the appropriate prompts, a recruiter can get a first draft from ChatGPT which they can then review and edit to fit for specific candidates. This has the potential to save hours’ worth of work each week for your talent acquisition team.  

Chatbots 

Chatbots leverage natural language processing to manage various high-volume, repetitive inquiries from candidates. Whether answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) about application status, the interview process, the company or the job role, chatbots provide consistent, accurate responses 24/7—especially relevant when recruiters aren’t working. This improves candidate satisfaction while enabling recruiters to focus on higher-value activities. 

Intelligent messaging platforms can initiate one-way communications at scale to nurture candidates. Using data on the prospect, role, process stage and more, AI writing assistants dynamically generate personalised, thoughtful messages. This level of personalisation improves candidate engagement, advances candidates quicker through the funnel and strengthens employment brand affinity. 

👉 Learn more about using chatbots in recruiting

Self-Scheduling Tools 

Calendar management bots can take over the time-consuming back-and-forth of scheduling interviews, assessments, site visits and more. By integrating with hiring manager calendars, only convenient time slots are shown to candidates. Candidates automatically receive confirmations and reminders, eliminating this task for recruiters and increasing the likelihood of candidates attending interviews. 

AI tools for recruitment

How to Get Started with AI in Recruiting 

Your steps into AI should focus on exploration rather than big integrations. AI in recruitment is fast-moving and receiving more and more scrutiny from law makers, and an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) partner can act as a strategic advisor on your AI recruiting journey. RPOs have experience implementing recruitment tech like AI software for clients and can advise on the best options for your needs, integration requirements, data needs, ethical usage, and workflow design.  

By leveraging RPO expertise, companies can effectively implement AI-enhanced hiring with less disruption and a faster return on investment. Look for a partner that is moving at your speed when it comes to AI in recruiting. They’ll help you identify areas for quick wins, and help you expand this success through experimentation and testing.  

Here are some ways an RPO partner can help your explore AI for recruitment: 

  • Change Management: 
    RPOs can ease the transition to automated processes and drive adoption through training and ongoing support. They can also develop training programs to upskill your in-house recruiters on using AI tools effectively and ethically in accordance with your internal AI policies. 
  • Process Design: 
    RPOs can redesign recruitment workflows to integrate AI tools. For example, PeopleScout’s Talent Diagnostic examines your talent lifecycle, evaluating your employer brand and your attraction strategy, as well as looking for ways to optimise the candidate experience through technology usage. 
  • Ongoing Optimization:  
    RPOs can continuously monitor and evaluate AI outputs and fine-tune processes. These insights will help you improve outcomes over time. 
  • Compliance Monitoring:  
    RPOs stay current on regulations affecting AI in recruiting to advise on lawful and ethical usage in conjunction with your internal legal team. 

AI in Recruiting: Potential and Responsibility

AI has demonstrated tremendous potential to transform talent acquisition. As this handbook outlines, it’s no longer just hype, rather it’s delivering real impact across sourcing, screening, interviewing and candidate engagement. 

The results you’ll experience from AI depend heavily on factors like data quality, transparency, integration with existing systems and processes, and governance to ensure responsible usage. AI solutions are meant to augment—not replace—the human touch in recruitment. Recruiters are invaluable when it comes to relationship building, coaching and negotiation, and AI can’t replicate what makes them uniquely human. 

Looking ahead, the use of AI recruiting technology to connect people to purpose will only continue expanding. Cultivating an ethical, inclusive and values-based recruiting culture remains key when it comes to attracting employees who align with your organisation’s mission. With human stewardship over AI in recruiting, the future of talent acquisition looks bright. 

Ultimate Recruitment Process Outsourcing Toolkit

Ultimate RPO Toolkit

Not sure recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is for you? Think your organisation is too small for RPO? Think outsourcing doesn’t fit your company culture?

Think again.

Our complete six-piece toolkit gives talent acquisition leaders the essential information on how RPO can boost their recruitment outcomes.

In this toolkit, you’ll get:

  • Our comprehensive buyer’s guide for RPO—everything you need to know
  • A guide for building a business case for RPO (including a free template!)
  • Conversation starters to help you create buy-in for RPO at your organisation

Learn how RPO can unlock the full potential of your talent strategy. Download your kit now.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Buyer’s Guide

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Buyer’s Guide

In this challenging landscape, talent acquisition leaders are increasingly turning to recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to gain the flexibility, scalability and agility they need to hire the best talent.

So, how do you know if outsourcing to an RPO partner is right for you? Our RPO Buyer’s Guide provides an in-depth exploration of RPO and how it can help you achieve your global recruitment goals.

In this ebook, you’ll learn:

  • What RPO is and the benefits it can bring to your business
  • Whether RPO is right for you and the benefits of selecting an RPO partner
  • What to expect at each stage of your RPO partnership

 

Ready, Set, RPO: What to Expect in a New RPO Program

Some companies see their RPO provider as only a vendor, but taking a partnership mindset creates a more satisfying, successful working relationship. Working well together as a united front always makes for an easier, smoother rollout with a new RPO program.

The implementation and transition phases before and after a rollout are crucial, as this is when you set the tone and expectations for all involved. It’s also when certain issues need to be addressed and configured.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) has evolved significantly over the past few years. Here are some key areas talent acquisition leaders should focus on when implementing a new RPO program:

1. Identify Key Players Early in the Process

During the transition, one of the most important steps is to establish one key champion within your business. This person is your internal point of contact for RPO with the power to get things. There’s often a lengthy checklist of tasks that need to be completed before a rollout. The appointed decision-maker must be able to use their influence with HR, legal, IT and other stakeholders, including hiring managers and vice presidents, to get things accomplished.

Conversely, your RPO partner should also provide a primary point of contact who will work closely with you to navigate the implementation process. Effective communicate with your RPO contact will keep things moving forward.

Also, be sure to let your RPO team know who your internal stakeholders are (especially any unofficial ones) and how they may influence the implementation and rollout process. Loop your RPO team into conference calls and meetings so they can get a feel for the issues at hand and start building trust with stakeholders.

2. Clarify Expectations and Goals for Your RPO Program

At the beginning of your toll out, have an open discussion with your RPO provider about what success looks like for your organisation today and going into the future. It may be helpful to hold a workshop to specifically determine what stakeholders want out of the RPO program and how those goals can be measured.

Define clear, measurable goals aligned to business objectives like time-to-fill, candidate quality, requisition volume, diversity and more. Both you and your RPO team must work toward, and measure against, the same goals.

If historical data on key performance indicators (KPIs) is available, now is the time to provide it to your RPO contacts so they can use the data to set a baseline for future measurements. But if this isn’t available your RPO partner should be able to help you benchmark against other organisations.

👉 Debunk common RPO myths.

3. Foster Open Communication and Trust

This cannot be overstated: communication is essential to establishing a strong working partnership with your RPO provider. The more you communicate, the better your RPO team can serve you. The RPO team should ask your stakeholders about their experience, what they want to achieve with the new engagement and what potential obstacles the team might encounter.

It’s important to be open about what is happening in the company. If something is working against the RPO process, let the team know so they can work around it. For example, if you’re not documenting things in your ATS or if HR is performing tasks expected of the hiring managers, don’t hide it. It may not be the best practice, but if it works, and everyone is aware, that’s what matters.

Remember, RPO providers can only advise you on best practices; ultimately, they are there to serve your needs. Communicate openly, and your RPO team can make the decisions that will ensure you have a positive experience. The more collaborative the partnership is, the smoother the transition will be.

rpo program

4. Invest in Change Management

A typical implementation for an enterprise, full-cycle RPO engagement is 30-60 days, with a 90-day transition period afterward. Modular RPO engagements will have much shorter timelines. No matter what RPO solution you choose, map your timelines out before beginning implementation, and stick to the timetable and deliverables. However, realise that you get just one chance to roll the process out well. Thus, you should keep your rollout date flexible enough to get the process right.

It’s also useful to set within your organisation the expectation that the first 90 days of a new RPO program are a learning curve for all involved. Proactively manage change by clearly communicating process changes, providing training if needed, and getting buy-in from hiring managers and other stakeholders.

5. Identify Challenges in Your RPO Program Upfront

Don’t assume that your RPO provider knows what the potential hurdles to adoption will be at your organisation. Talk about your concerns and what you see as risks. For example, if a division has historically been run by a person with a negative view of recruitment who will likely go directly to a staffing agency or circumvent the process, share this with your RPO partner.

Together, make contingency plans to address how such situations will be handled, and categorise risks by the level of fallout that may occur. Be sure to discuss what kinds of issues are considered common mistakes and what kinds of things absolutely cannot be allowed.

6. Build an Agile, Tech-Enabled RPO Program

Be prepared to work in an agile way, continuously optimising processes and innovating together. You should work collaboratively with your RPO partner to take full advantage of the latest recruiting technologies like AI-enabled sourcing, virtual interviews, chatbots, and more. Remain flexible and adapt to changing business needs and market conditions quickly.

Technology and automation enable your RPO provider to scale talent acquisition strategically to help you remain flexible and adapt to changing business needs and market conditions quickly. Technology can create a better candidate experience, facilitate better collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers, and equip you with better analytics so you can measure ROI.

RPO has evolved into a more strategic, technology-enabled partnership. By focusing on these key areas, talent acquisition leaders can ensure their RPO engagement will deliver great talent and business impact in today’s world. Taking the time to communicate and build relationships with your RPO partner can make a huge difference in ensuring a smooth and successful rollout.

Building a Business Case for RPO

Amidst the most turbulent labour market in recent memory, talent acquisition leaders and procurement professionals alike are turning to partners for creative, agile and adaptable solutions for their current and future talent challenges. Because recruiting touches the whole organisation, stakeholders across the business will have opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) as well as unique ideas about the best approach. The process to secure buy-in and budget doesn’t have to be difficult. By having a few conversations with the right people in your organisation and gathering some information around current recruitment processes and costs, you can present a solid business case for RPO to your leadership team and create a path forward to an effective and resilient talent acquisition program.

What is RPO?

First things first—what is recruitment process outsourcing? Recruitment process outsourcing, abbreviated as RPO, is a type of business process outsourcing in which an employer transfers some or all portions of the recruitment process to an external service provider. These facets may include job postings, sourcing, screening, assessments, offer management, background verifications, some onboarding elements and more.

RPO can support hiring for high volume or niche professional roles and often involves technology and talent advisory consulting—including employer branding. An RPO provider embodies the best of your culture, employer brand and values in all the activities they perform on your organisation’s behalf, while integrating with your systems, processes and people. Plus, your RPO team brings new ideas, innovation and expertise to bolster your talent strategy and plans. They may sit on-site, work remotely, work offshore or a combination, and they typically take on your company name and email domain as an extension of your organisation.  

👉 Get our RPO buyer’s guide.

RPO can be leveraged to augment existing in-house recruitment teams and can complement your current recruitment program by taking over recruiting for specific job groups, locations or business units. Moreover, across your enterprise, you can leverage different RPO models to maximise the benefits.

When evaluating whether RPO is right for your organisation, it’s important to determine which RPO blueprint is the right one. As you speak to stakeholders, one key challenge you may run into is that stakeholders have different views on what you mean by RPO. In your business case presentation, you’ll want to compare different models—and clearly define them—in order to help the decision-making process.

Benefits of RPO

RPO engagements are not only about outsourcing your recruiting but also about finding the best partner to help manage the people, process, technology and strategy of your talent acquisition function. There is no single best option, only the option that best aligns with your organisational needs.

You should focus on finding the solution that provides the most value for your investment. RPO will create benefits that will be felt across your organisation in terms of both cost and operational efficiencies.

Cost Benefits of RPO

Whether through direct or indirect cost savings, RPO can provide advantages that impact your bottom line. As you prepare your business case for RPO, here are some cost benefits to keep in mind:

  • Reduced Time-to-Fill: The longer a position goes unfilled, the more likely your business is to experience productivity loss—and loss of revenue. RPO teams find candidates and fill roles faster through talent pipelining.
  • Lower Cost-per-Hire:  RPO offers cost efficiencies by shortening hiring timelines and improving the quality of your talent, while also lowering recruitment marketing spend. By streamlining and optimising recruitment processes, improving time-to-hire and retention rates, RPO increases your return on investment and delivers savings to your bottom line.
  • Reduced Agency Spend: A huge benefit of RPO is the reduced reliance on disparate third-party staffing agencies. By consolidating recruitment under a single partnership, you reduce agency usage and make your recruitment costs more predictable.

👉 Learn the top differences between an RPO and a staffing agency.

Operational Benefits of RPO

In addition to the cost benefits of RPO, there are operational benefits that can be felt across your business, including:

  • Elevated Role for HR: Leading RPO providers can provide labour market insights, talent intelligence and benchmarking data. With access to these insights, you have the data you need to support your workforce strategy as well as tactical business decisions. You can capitalise on the latest market analysis, thought leadership and competitive intelligence to inform your talent strategy. Your RPO partner can provide analytics to help you understand what’s working so you can maximise your ROI. Your RPO partner should also be able to give insights into how your organisation is perceived as well as tactical steps to fundamentally change perceptions through your employer value proposition (EVP) and employer brand and even recruitment marketing and media purchasing services.
  • Improved Candidate Quality: As skills gaps and talent scarcity becomes more challenging, having an RPO team digging into passive sourcing to access niche skills sets will expand your talent pool and improve quality-of-hire. RPO providers leverage their comprehensive talent networks and effective screening and assessment tools to produce stronger candidates and more diverse talent pools.
  • Better Candidate Experience: You want your recruitment process to leave every applicant, regardless of whether they get the job, with a positive experience. Your RPO partner can advise on ways to improve the candidate experience including career site audits, job application recommendations and how to leverage technology to speed up the process and reduce friction.
  • Improved Hiring Manager Experience: Your RPO team reduces the administrative burden on your hiring managers by taking over résumé and CV screening, assessment administration, interview scheduling, candidate communication and feedback tasks. RPO teams prepare hiring managers for interviews, provide them with feedback and identify any candidates at risk of dropping from the process so managers can make informed decisions.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Through experience collected over many client engagements, RPO teams are knowledgeable about enhancing your employer brand for wider audiences and expanding your talent attraction efforts to new job boards, social media groups, online forums and events to target more diverse candidates.
RPO business case

3 Steps to Building Your Business Case for RPO

RPO solutions are designed to provide transformative recruitment strategies that are flexible enough to help you achieve competitive advantage at a predictable cost. Let’s explore the steps you can take to gather the information you need for your business case.

1. Engage Internal Stakeholders

Before embarking on your business case, it’s essential to engage the right stakeholders from the beginning. Human resources (HR), procurement, hiring managers and the C-suite will all have different pain points, desires and recruitment costs impacting their budgets. Their support will be crucial for not only securing resources but for the overall success of the RPO program.

👉 Create buy-in with our conversations guide for RPO.

By understanding what each stakeholder cares about, you can show how RPO can provide the solution for their challenges. Plus, once you’ve secured budget and selected an RPO provider, these stakeholders will be more open to change to make your RPO program successful.

The goal in this step is to be able to define current pain points and desired future outcomes so you can address these issues through an RPO solution.

Here are 10 questions you can use as conversation starters to uncover your organisation’s biggest challenges:

  1. Do we have the talent we need to achieve business goals now and into the future?
  2. Are we attracting quality talent with the right mix of skills, experience and cultural fit?
  3. How are we doing with our diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) goals? Are we attracting and hiring underrepresented candidates?
  4. Is our talent acquisition program able to respond quickly to changes in the market (i.e., easily and quickly scale up or down)?
  5. Are we providing an excellent candidate experience consistently?
  6. Are hiring managers getting the support they need to fill their vacancies?
  7. What recruitment technology are we currently using, and is it sufficient for our needs going forward?
  8. Do we have the data and insights we need to do effective workforce planning?
  9. How much are we spending annually on talent acquisition? Are we getting the best value for money?
  10. What are the differences in recruitment strategies between different countries or regions?

2. Assess Your Current Recruitment Landscape

As part of your engagement with stakeholders, it’s important to understand the current lay of the land when it comes to your talent acquisition program. You’ve got to know where you’re starting from in order to improve it.

This may seem like a straightforward question if your company has one in-house recruitment team. However, things get more complicated when there are separate in-house teams sitting in different regions who are using different processes or different local third-party agencies. Worse yet, individual departments and hiring managers may be handling their own recruitment. Ask around and get it all down on paper.

Metrics to help measure your recruitment process:

  • Applicant-to-hire ratio
  • Interview-to-offer ratio
  • Time-to-hire and time-to-fill
  • Time-in-stage or hiring velocity
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Cost-per-vacancy

Sourcing & Attraction

Who sources candidates for your organisation? What channels are you using to get in front of candidates? Are you attracting lots of active candidates, or are recruiters having to engage mostly passive candidates? What are the average costs associated with attracting active candidates versus sourcing passive candidates?

What are you doing to attract candidates to your job ads? Who manages this budget? Are you using any suppliers like creative agencies or advertising platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Indeed, industry publications, etc.)? How are these channels performing?

Screenings, Interviews & Assessments

Beyond sourcing candidates, who reviews résumés and CVs? Who manages the interview process? How many interview or assessment steps are currently required for each role type?

Are there any delays or bottlenecks that are contributing to longer hiring cycles, poor candidate experiences or increased candidate drop-off rates?

What role is technology playing at each stage? Is there opportunity to build more automation into your processes?

Offers & Negotiation

Once you get to an offer stage, who signs off on offers? What is your offer acceptance rate? If it’s lower than you’d like, is there something about the candidate experience that’s turning them off?

Are you leveraging candidate surveys? What is your candidate Net Promoter Score (NPS)? What are your ratings on review sites like Glassdoor?

It’s also worth looking at attrition and tenure metrics to identify any issues causing new hires to leave soon after joining.

Uncovering this information will help you understand your gaps and opportunities. An RPO provider will be able to develop customised solutions to address your unique challenges.

3. Calculating the Cost of Talent Acquisition

Now that you understand what goes into your recruitment efforts, you can assess how much the overall talent acquisition program will cost to run. It’s preferrable to understand how your staffing spend has changed over the last three to five years.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as asking HR for their budget details. You’ll want to incorporate both direct and indirect costs when assessing your talent acquisition program costs. Let’s break this down.

Understanding Direct Costs with Cost-per-Hire

A great place to start to understand your direct costs is with your cost-per-hire (CPH). This is the average cost you incur to hire a new employee. This includes total internal expenditures and external expenditures divided by your total number of new hires. You can calculate cost-per-hire using a monthly or annual measurement period.

cost per hire = total external costs + total internal costs / total number of hires

Internal costs include things like:

  • In-house recruiter salaries
  • Training costs for recruiters or hiring managers
  • Salary costs of time invested by hiring manager and other employees
  • Employee referral awards

External costs are any expenses incurred from external vendors, like:

  • External agency fees
  • Recruitment marketing and advertising costs
  • Assessment costs
  • Fees from drug tests and background checks
  • Technology costs
  • Hiring event and career fair spend
  • Candidate travel and lodging
  • Relocation expenses
  • Visa expenses
  • Signing bonuses

It may be useful to look into the differences in CPH for each job function, experience level, candidate source, geography and labour market. This may mean doing several calculations to capture these categories.

Keep in mind, cost-per-hire doesn’t capture quality of hire or take into account the costs of making a bad hire. If your cost-per-hire is low, but your new hires are leaving quickly or don’t pass their probationary period, is that really an advantage? On the flip side, a high cost-per-hire that brings in new employees that are engaged, productive and invested in your organisation is worth the expenditure. Ultimately, your talent acquisition program shouldn’t focus solely on cost but should concentrate on creating more value for the business.

Sussing Out Indirect Recruitment Costs

There are also indirect costs around recruitment that can be more difficult to measure and present in hard numbers. These could include:

  • Loss of productivity due to vacancy
  • Cost of overtime to cover vacancies
  • Impact on employee morale
  • Customer churn
  • Knowledge loss from turnover (and subsequent training costs)
  • Reputational damage from bad candidate experiences
budget for RPO

Presenting Your Business Case for RPO

Now that you’ve gotten to the bottom of your current recruitment efforts and the associated costs, you can present the business case for the RPO models that will address your challenges. Don’t be afraid to reach out to RPO providers for help with this step. By providing them with the information you gathered in the previous steps, they can provide a breakdown of the services they offer and how they could address your unique needs.

How you go about putting your business case on paper will depend on your organisational requirements and personal preference. We recommend getting everything onto one page. This gives C-suite leadership an easy-to-digest snapshot of your recommendations. While there is often a need to present high-level decisions in hard financial terms (e.g., ROI, NPV, IRR), presenting the business case simply will also help garner expert support to create any detailed financial assessment needed. You can always link to additional documentation to back-up your presentation (e.g., a flow chart of the current hiring steps, a SWOT analysis, etc.).

Your business case one-pager should consist of the following:

  1. Options: These are the solutions you’ve identified as best at addressing the pain points you uncovered in your conversations with stakeholders. Keep in mind that staying as-is is always a viable option. It’s also essential both to include your current situation as a contrast to the new RPO models and ensure each option is adequately described (for example, in supporting documents) so decision makers understand what is being compared. 
  2. Benefits and Drawbacks: These are the positives and negatives you could gain with each option. These should be aligned to the pain points identified by your stakeholders. The risk section (see number 4 below) is the place to capture any uncertainties about the expected benefits. Cash and non-cashable savings can be highlighted here, though most should be covered in the Costs section below.
  3. Costs: This should be both the direct (monetary) costs as well as indirect costs (like investments of time) and should be profiled to cover the whole life of each option (i.e., implementation, operation, close). A leading RPO provider should offer consultation that will help you complete this section.
  4. Risks and Opportunities: By showing the risks for each option, you give leadership the confidence that you’ve explored all the issues when coming to these conclusions. It also helps everyone make more informed decisions. Risks and opportunities are not guaranteed to happen, and in all cases should be evaluated both by likelihood and by impact. They are entirely future focused, so if you have a current issue, it should be listed as a drawback (see above).
  5. Assumptions: Explaining any assumptions you’ve made while preparing this document, helps you acknowledge any possibilities that might impact recruitment plans but that are out of your control or that could change in the future. For example, you could document current plans around mergers and acquisitions or geographical expansion. If there’s anything you want to exclude from the scope of your RPO engagement, you’ll want to document this here too.  

On the next page we’ve included an example of a business case for RPO created for a client who was hoping to move away from a combination of in-house recruiters and staffing agencies to an RPO solution.

Example Business Case for RPO

example business case for RPO

The Business Case for RPO

Going through the steps we’ve detailed in this guide will arm you with everything you need to prove that an RPO partner will create measurable value for your organisation. Presenting a winning business case for RPO—that depicts the process and cost efficiencies in an easily digestible document—will help you to secure budget and buy-in and put you well on your way to achieving talent advantage.

[Webinar On-Demand] The Ticking Talent Clock: Is Time Running Out to Address the Skills Crisis?

[Webinar On-Demand] The Ticking Talent Clock: Is Time Running Out to Address the Skills Crisis?

With the rapid advancement of AI, accelerated digitalisation and the greening of the economy, businesses are grappling with the changing nature of work—how we work and the types of jobs we do. In fact, a new research report from PeopleScout and Spotted Zebra, The Skills Crisis Countdown, reveals that nine in 10 HR leaders believe that up to half of their workforce will need new skills to perform their jobs in the next five years. Yet, only less than one in 10 say they are actively investing in reskilling programs.

Are HR leaders running out of time?

Join PeopleScout’s Global Head of Talent Consulting Simon Wright and Spotted Zebra’s Chief Customer Officer Nick Shaw as they delve into the key findings from the research, lay bare the skills crisis and show why the clock is ticking for HR leaders.

In the webinar, Simon and Nick cover:

  • How organisations are addressing the mismatch in skills demand and supply
  • The current state of skills utilisation, skills-based hiring and the need to expand talent pools
  • Strategies for improving talent mobility (including case studies and success stories)
  • Practical steps you can take to transition to a skills-focused model
  • And more!

 

Countdown to Skills Crisis? What Our Latest Research Tells Us About Skills Gaps

By Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory Consulting

The workforce skills landscape is transforming at blinding speed. Automation, AI, sustainability initiatives, demographic shifts—global forces are conspiring to make skills gaps and talent shortages more acute by the day. Don’t think it’s moving that fast? Well, the World Economic Forum predicts that a jaw-dropping 85 million jobs could sit vacant by 2030, resulting in $8.5 trillion in lost revenue.

The very meaning of “skills” is shifting beneath our feet. Skills requirements have already changed 25% since 2015, and experts forecast 65% more change by 2030. However, companies still rely heavily on degrees and experience over skills when it comes to making hiring decisions. No wonder we’re careening towards a global skills crisis.

PeopleScout partnered with skills-based workforce management platform provider Spotted Zebra to survey over 100 senior HR and talent acquisition leaders globally, plus over 2,000 employees worldwide, to compare perspectives. Our new research report, The Skills Crisis Countdown, maps the skills landscape and diagnoses the disconnects between employers and their workforce.

Read on for some key findings from our report.

HR Leaders are Ill-Prepared for the Skills Crisis

According to a study by PwC, 40% of global CEOs believe their business will be economically unviable in 10 years unless they reinvent for the future. Our study revealed that nine out of 10 HR leaders believe that up to 50% of their workforce will require new skills to effectively perform their job in the next five years. Yet, when asked if they are currently undergoing or planning a workforce transformation initiative in the next three years, nearly half (45%) of HR leaders admit to having no plans to undertake one.

So, in other words, half of employees will soon be underprepared for the future, but most companies have no strategy in place to address the issue.

According to LinkedIn, 84% of members are in occupations that could have at least one quarter of their core skills affected by generative AI (GAI) technologies, like ChatGPT. So, how are HR leaders preparing for this digital transformation and the AI era? Shockingly, a full third (34%) say they have no preparations in place to prepare for new technologies. Those who are preparing emphasise bringing in outside talent rather than reskilling existing employees.

Industry Composition by GAI Segment
Percentage of LinkedIn Members by Industry

impact of GAI on workforce skills
(Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph Research Institute)

This is likely because they lack an understanding of the skills they have within their existing workforce. Our data revealed that 68% of organisations identify skills from manager feedback, which is highly subjective. So, it’s no surprise that 56% of employees think their skills are underutilised in their current roles, and 61% think there are other roles in their organisation where their skills could be utilised.

An unprecedented skills revolution is barrelling down the tracks, but companies are fast asleep at the switch. It’s time to wake up and get employees future-ready or risk a global skills crisis and talent scarcity for decades to come.

Digital & Tech Skills Gaps are Widening but Tech Skills are Viewed as Unimportant

Both employers and employees dangerously underestimate the importance of tech and digital skills. In our survey, both parties listed tech and digital literacy skills with low importance. With the skyrocketing demand for tech and digital talent, this does not bode well.

skills in the workplace

Mobile apps, ecommerce and digital transformation have made technology integral to every corporate strategy. However, supply isn’t keeping up with demand. McKinsey analysed 3.5 million job postings in high-tech fields and found there’s a wide divide between the demand for tech and digital skills and the qualified talent availability. The most sought-after skills have less than half as many qualified professionals per posting compared to average global figures. 

No wonder 63% of HR leaders in our survey admit they struggle to recruit the skills they need. Closing tech and digital skills gaps through recruitment alone is no longer sufficient. So, we were concerned when our research showed that 73% of the workforce haven’t been offered opportunities to reskill.

Organisations must invest in helping their employees evolve their skills via reskilling and internal mobility to cultivate digital and tech literacy across their entire workforce.

Case Study: Reskilling in Action

The Challenge:

A large global financial services company needed to undertake a major digital transformation program. The organisation needed to acquire key digital and tech skills while leveraging the existing company knowledge of employees in declining customer service roles by reskilling them.

Previous efforts by the organisation to assess employees’ suitability for reskilling were led internally and included multiple, time-consuming line manager interviews. Of even greater concern, around a quarter of those who began the reskilling program dropped out.

The Solution:

The bank worked with their long-time RPO partner, PeopleScout, and Spotted Zebra to assess customer service staff in bank branches and call centres to find ideal candidates for its tech and digital skilling program. Skills profiles were created for tech roles, which employees were assessed against to find the best fit.

The Results:

  • Redeployed 150 people, saving over $2.5M in exit costs
  • Saved over $350,000 in training and development costs
  • Reduced time investment by hiring managers
  • Reduced the reskilling cost-per-person by 70%

Employees Don’t Feel Confident in their Skills for the Future

A third (34%) of workers have doubts about how their skills will keep pace with new technology and automation. Meanwhile, just 17% of organisations are offering targeted reskilling programs for existing employees.

Where are HR Leaders Deploying Skills-Based Practices?

Skills-Based Practices
(Source: PeopleScout and Spotted Zebra)

This imbalance spells disaster. As change overwhelms existing skill sets, most workers will begin to feel unsure of their career paths or left struggling to stay relevant.

Investing in reskilling makes solid business sense. We must bridge the gap between workers anxiously facing uncertainty and leaders failing to invest in their resilience. HR leaders who empower their workforce with adaptable skill sets today will drive continued success in times of swift and sweeping change.

Finding a Talent Partner to Support Your Skills Transformation

The agility to match emerging skill requirements will soon become a competitive necessity. If you haven’t started your skills-based transformation, now is the time.

In our survey, one in two HR leaders admitted to a lack of understanding of skills-based practices. If you’re struggling to understand how to take advantage of skills-based practices in your organisation, PeopleScout is here to be your guide.

As a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner, we can help you understand the skills within your existing workforce as well as the external market supply and demand. We offer solutions across the skills agenda, from skills-based talent intelligence and market insights, building skills frameworks, and creating skills-based success profiles to redesigning recruitment processes, skills-based hiring strategies, and helping you maximise the potential of your existing workforce.  

To learn more about PeopleScout’s skills-focused talent solutions, get in touch.  

Talent Predictions: How Talent Acquisition Will Navigate 2024

By Simon Wright, Head of Global Talent Advisory Consulting 

We are in one of the most transformative periods in the history of work. Between technological disruptions, societal shifts and global events, the talent landscape five years from now will likely look very different than it does today. However, even in times of uncertainty, we can discern key trends that will impact the way organisations source, recruit and retain talent. 

As a leading talent solutions provider, PeopleScout has a unique vantage point to view the forces shaping the future of work. Based on our experience and industry insights, we believe there are eight core areas talent acquisition leaders should embrace in 2024 to up-level their strategic importance within the business.  

1. Talent Leaders Will Look to New Models to Ride the Economic Waves 

The power balance has now shifted back to the employer amidst a tight labour market, fewer vacancies and a cost-of-living crisis. But if you think it’s time to pause investment in your talent programs, think again.  

Talent acquisition teams shrunk during COVID-19 and then grew quickly as part of the bounce back only to shed jobs again this past year. With continued uncertainty, TA leaders must showcase the value they bring to business by minimising the impacts of economic fluctuations.  

It’s time to leave behind the boom and bust and embrace agility through a strategic approach to workforce planning and forecasting. Talent solutions like recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), including modular RPO solutions, offer responsiveness to help stabilise operational delivery amidst unpredictable economic waves.  

2. Business Transformation Will Shape the Workforce 

The specific skills and capabilities companies need are shifting rapidly, which means the jobs and roles employers need to fill are changing too. According to McKinsey research, one-third of new jobs created in the U.S. in the past 25 years were types that barely existed previously, particularly in high-demand areas like data analytics, software development and renewable energy. According to Totaljobs, despite a general slowdown in hiring, the demand for green jobs continues to go up, skyrocketing by 677% between 2019 and 2023. 

However, this business transformation is being hampered by the lack of talent and relevant skills. Economic, social and labour market changes are evolving faster than workforce training and development systems can keep pace. There simply aren’t enough workers with experience in emerging fields and new technologies.  

TA leaders must work proactively to build the reputation and influence of their employer brand with potential talent now—ahead of the hiring they need to do in the future. This means being able to recruit the best talent in the market, not just the best talent in your pipeline. Investing in candidate nurturing and employer branding strategies now will ensure organisations can hire first—and fast—when the time comes. 

3. Employees Will Continue to Reevaluate Their Relationship with Work 

TA leaders must be the eyes and ears for their organisation, tuning in to the candidate market and shaping the employer value proposition (EVP) to meet the changing needs and expectations of candidates. Today’s employees are demanding more, and the one-size-fits-all EVP approach must evolve to keep up.  

Organisations that refresh their EVP with a more human-centric approach that recognises employees as people, not just workers, will go beyond traditional offerings to provide exceptional life experiences that match employee needs. Delivering a positive emotional connection will be crucial for improving retention, overcoming the productivity vacuum and attracting quality talent in 2024.  

4. Data Will Be the Key to Overcoming Talent Scarcity  

The labour market has shrunk due to the retirement of Baby Boomers, and companies face an enormous brain drain of institutional expertise. Not only is the upcoming population smaller and not replacing the Boomers who are leaving the workforce, but they lack the some of the soft skills of the departing generation. With this double depletion at play, organisations will need to work hard to attract and train Gen Z in order to keep their workforce development on track for the future. 

Additionally, long-term illness, including lingering complications from COVID-19, has sidelined many working-age adults. The latest ONS data shows that the number of people economically inactive because of long-term sickness is now over 2.5 million in the UK alone. 

The key to reducing the impact of talent scarcity in 2024 is data. It’s time for TA leaders to treat talent intelligence as business intelligence, bringing it to the C-suite to drive decision making and inform strategy. Organisations must leverage data to understand both internal and external talent pools, maximising ROI on talent attraction and retention efforts. 

Talent Acquisition Predictions

5. Skills-Based Practices Will Take Centre Stage 

In order to keep pace with changing roles and dwindling talent pools, leading organisations are taking a proactive and holistic approach to adapting their workforces. They are investing in upskilling and reskilling programs while also leveraging RPO partners to find professionals with the most in-demand and future-proof skills. 

More organisations will look to expand candidate pools and tap into diverse skill sets through skills-based recruitment. To do this, organisations must evolve their candidate assessment practices to focus on skills rather than credentials or pedigree. We’ll see more organisations follow the likes of Google and drop their university degree requirements. This will have the added benefit of promoting greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace.  

6. Internal Mobility Will Receive Big Investment 

More than a third (36%) of HR professionals surveyed identified employee retention as a priority in 2024. Internal mobility will become the key to retention as well as filling open roles and skills gaps. Focus will shift from building external talent pools to internal talent pools, putting methods in place to identify transferable skills that can be boosted to support business transformation.  

We saw an uptick in labour hoarding in 2023 talent trends. In 2024, organisations must invest in transforming the skills of the workers they’ve kept on board in order to ensure they’re ready for what’s on the horizon. 

In 2024, career moves won’t take a linear path but will weave across departments and disciplines, providing workers with variety and rewarding work. Organisations must train hiring managers to look at candidates, not just for their fit for a specific role, but for the value they can bring to the organisation.  

7. Long Overdue Tech Upgrades Will Happen for HR 

The Josh Bersin Company estimates the HR technology is a $250 billion market. 2024 will be the year of recruitment tech stack upgrade.  

Organisations will look to capitalise on AI-powered features to do the heavy lifting so their teams can focus on more valuable recruiting activities. TA leaders should look to technology to augment human touches throughout the candidate experience, to identify opportunities for streamlining through automation, and to help them better interrogate data for a more agile resourcing model.  

This is also an opportunity for TA leaders to demonstrate they can deliver digital transformation and deliver ROI from these investments. This has been a criticism of talent acquisition and HR in the past, and it’s time to dispel that narrative.  

8. AI Fever Will Hit an All-Time High 

And finally, it wouldn’t be a 2024 talent acquisition forecast without a mention of AI. Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) tools, like ChatGPT, were on the tip of our tongues in 2023. As organisations grapple with the ethics of AI, most will succumb to the transformative potential and begin to test and experiment with how AI can benefit their workforce and operations in 2024.  

The role of technology will keep evolving within talent acquisition, but it’s primed to have a pivotal role in streamlining recruitment tasks and improving efficiency in everything from screening to assessments to interview scheduling.  

Organizations should take a principled approach to leveraging AI and automation to augment recruiting, while ensuring human oversight and care for people remains central. Starting with a small project or two will clear the mist so you can see clearly where AI will add value to your recruitment tech stack and candidate experience. 

The Importance of the Right Talent Partner to Help You Ride the Waves 

The future of work holds exciting potential, but also some uncertainty. However, while individual trends are difficult to predict, TA leaders that embrace agility, skills practices and tech innovation will find themselves in a strong position to prove their value in driving business performance. As your talent partner, PeopleScout will be ready to support, challenge and inspire you for whatever lies ahead. 

By staying on top of key shifts like these and working with an expert talent solutions provider like PeopleScout, companies can build workforces with the skills, mindsets and diversity of experiences to thrive in the next era of business. 

Talent Trends: 2023 in Review

By Simon Wright, Global Head of Talent Advisory Consulting  

Earlier in 2023, we highlighted six key areas that would impact how companies attract, retain and develop talent. With the year wrapping up, we’re revisiting these critical topics to examine what transpired in the talent landscape and what may be on the horizon for 2024.  

From closing persistent skills gaps to offering more work flexibility, companies continue to face pressing talent challenges. Economic fluctuations have led some employers to pull back on hiring and remote work, while others doubled down on upskilling programs and expanded their talent pools.  

In the following review, we trace how the 2023 predictions played out amidst an uncertain economy and ever-evolving workplace. 

1. Closing Skills Gaps 

What We Said: 

With rapidly evolving technologies requiring new skills, companies are making upskilling and reskilling their workforce top priorities. Most employees feel unprepared for future jobs, so it’s important for organisations to invest in development to retain employees, build confidence, and help them adapt to changing business priorities. 

What We Saw: 

Skills gaps, and the upskilling and reskilling that must happen in order to close them, are still very much top of mind for HR leaders. The economic slowdown has increased candidate availability, so in the short term there has been more tech talent available, for example. But long term, there is still a skills crisis, and organisations are largely yet to shift to skills-based practices. 

We’ve seen front-runner organisations investing in skills development initiatives to grow the workforce they need. For example, Amazon’s program Career Choice is part of a wider initiative to invest over $1.2 billion by 2025 to provide 300,000 U.S. workers with the training they need to pursue careers in whatever field they choose.  

The average shelf-life of skills is now less than five years. So, the skills conversation is only going to get louder. If the World Economic Forum’s prediction is correct that over 85 million jobs will go unfilled by 2030 due to a lack of skilled talent, resulting in $8.5 trillion (USD) in annual lost revenues, then this is the most pressing issue facing talent leaders today.  

2. Offering More Flexibility 

What We Said: 

Amidst the acceleration of remote work, companies are facing mounting pressure to offer greater location and schedule flexibility to attract and retain talent.  

What We Saw: 

The return to the office debate is still raging. Employees want greater flexibility, but more and more employers are pulling people back into the office. Even Zoom, the video communications company that helps us all work from home, announced in August that it will start tightening its restrictions on remote work. Amazon, Disney and more have all reduced remote-work days. 

While power has shifted back to the employer, this issue won’t go away. If you really think your employees love coming to the office just because you’ve introduced free snacks, you don’t understand what flexibility means to your workers. Flexibility is not just about where you work. True flexibility is about giving more autonomy to your employees about the kinds of work they do and when and where they do it. 

3. Shifting to Contingent Workers 

What We Said: 

As the desire for work flexibility drives more professionals into freelance and contract roles, organisations are increasingly utilising these temporary workers to fill pressing skills gaps and specific project needs while maintaining financial and strategic workforce flexibility. 

What We Saw: 

The economic uncertainty this year has made organisations less likely to make permanent hires. Plus, freelancers, consultants and contractors have developed into an essential part of the workforce as skills requirements become more complex. Maintaining a mix of traditional and flexible talent is crucial for businesses to stay ahead in today’s dynamic climate. 

With the enormous interest in ChatGPT and generative AI, it’s not a stretch to think the pace of business transformation will only accelerate in 2024. And demand for contingent workers will continue to rise. Indeed, according to Ceridian, 65% of organisations plan to increase their reliance on contingent workers in the next two years. 

Talent Trends 2023

4. Tapping into New Talent Pools 

What We Said: 

Facing workforce shortages, organisations are expanding their applicant pool by targeting untapped talent like Generation Z, unretiring Baby Boomers and boomeranging ex-employees.  

What We Saw: 

In 2023, the UK government launched a “returnership” initiative to inspire those over the age of 50 to come back to work. The goal is to help older workers retrain and learn new skills, providing them with a roadmap back to the workplace and encouraging organisations to hire them.  

We also saw organisations turn their attention to the talent pool sitting right under their noses. Internal mobility was a hot topic for talent leaders in 2023 as recruiting new talent became more and more challenging and costly.  

We were also reintroduced to the concept of labour hoarding, a term coined in the 1960s. This practice refers to organisations forgoing head-count reductions now, so they’re prepared when business picks up. In an era of labour shortages, organisations are keeping their workforces to avoid the risk of losing good talent to a competitor and to skip the costs associated with hiring again. 

5. Rallying Around the Mission 

What We Said: 

Our Inside the Candidate Experience research revealed that for 50% of candidates, an organisation’s mission and purpose are a key influence on their decision to apply. Yet, when evaluating career sites, we found details on the mission or purpose of the organisation less than half (48%) of the time.  

What We Saw: 

Employees are more dedicated than ever to finding an employer that shares their values and offers them a sense of purpose. However, workers within organisations that lack a sincere commitment to improving the community and supporting climate initiatives often report disengagement.  

According to Gallup data from June 2023, 59% of global workers say they’re not engaged at work. This is worrying as we move into a labour market that favours employers, as they will inevitably become less motivated to keep their employees engaged. Yet, a key reason why someone quiet quits hasn’t changed—and it’s down to a lack of connection to the company culture and purpose. 

A lack of engagement in the workforce is a leading factor in the productivity vacuum. Going into 2024, my hope is HR leaders will go beyond simply thinking about wellbeing to view their employees as whole people—not just workers. Updating your employee value proposition (EVP) to be more human-focused can help strike the right balance between compassion and business interests. Shifting to a Personal Value Proposition (PVP), and customising offerings so that each employee feels valued as an individual, can help in fostering a positive emotional connection. 

6. Engaging Outside Talent Acquisition Solutions 

What We Said: 

Despite economic uncertainty, business leaders foresee revenue growth in the coming year, but may need flexible and agile workforces achieved through contingent staffing to meet their top challenge of filling critical roles amidst a shifting talent landscape. 

What We Saw: 

We saw an increase in talent acquisition teams looking for quick wins. At PeopleScout, we are investing heavily in talent solutions designed to boost agility for employers of all sizes and across all industries. This includes offerings like our Amplifiers and PeopleScout Accelerate solutions launched this year. 

Amplifiers provide modular, targeted recruitment process outsourcing tailored to specific hiring needs. Clients can implement RPO support for just part of the talent acquisition lifecycle, whether that’s filling the top of the hiring funnel with high volumes of qualified talent or gaining deeper insights to guide strategic workforce decisions. This “as-needed” model is ideal for companies that want to remain nimble. 

Additionally, our PeopleScout Accelerate technology-enhanced RPO solution is purpose-built for fast-scaling organisations that need to ramp up recruiting quickly. We can implement PeopleScout Accelerate in just two weeks, providing access to our proven recruitment methodologies and our industry-leading Affinix talent acquisition technology suite right out of the gate. 

As we close the books on 2023, it’s clear the talent landscape continues to shift in new and uncertain directions. In the coming year, agile organisations that invest in the longevity of their workforce and truly connect with their people on a human level will maintain an edge. Rather than recoiling from change, forward-thinking talent leaders have an opportunity to guide their organisation’s evolution. Now is the time to build workforces that can pivot on a dime while staying true to their purpose. 

Debunking RPO Myths: How Savvy Talent Leaders Separate Fact from Fiction

In the ever-evolving landscape of talent acquisition, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) has emerged as a go-to solution to help organisations redefine their recruitment strategies. However, many employers shy away from engaging an RPO provider because of common misperceptions. If you’re a talent acquisition leader stepping into the world of RPO for the first time, get ready to separate fact from fiction as we dismantle RPO myths. 

Myth 1: Outsourcing Means Losing Control Over the Hiring Process. 

Let’s set the record straight from the get-go: RPO doesn’t mean relinquishing control. You’re not sending your recruitment program into a mysterious void.  

In fact, reputable RPO providers thrive on collaboration. You maintain oversight, make strategic decisions and keep your finger on the pulse of the recruitment process. Your RPO partner should provide you with regular reports so you can track metrics and SLAs against your hiring goals.    

It’s like having a co-pilot who respects your position in the driver’s seat.  

Myth 2: RPO is Expensive. 

There’s a notion that RPO will drain your coffers faster than you can say “ROI.”  

With an ever-widening skills gap and climbing hiring costs, organisations are looking for recruitment solutions to reduce overhead and improve outcomes while reducing risk. By streamlining your hiring process, reducing time-to-fill and minimising administrative burdens, RPO creates substantial value, particularly for high-volume or hard-to-fill specialist roles. While RPO may not be the cheapest option, a good RPO, and the technology they bring to the table, improves efficiency and delivers results.  

Think of it as an investment that not only bolsters your team but also your bottom line.  

Myth 3: RPO Only Works for Large Companies. 

You might be thinking, “RPO? That’s only for the large enterprises with deep pockets.”  

Not so fast! RPO isn’t an exclusive club for corporate giants. It’s an adaptable strategy for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a startup looking to scale or a mid-sized enterprise seeking an edge, RPO can be tailored to fit your unique needs.  

In fact, according to Everest Group, smaller organisations made up 43% of RPO of news deals in 2022, up from 23% in 2017, as they increasingly turn to RPO to help scale and reduce risk in an uncertain labour market. RPO helps these mid-sized and small organisations scale up their hiring efforts without the costly commitment of building talent acquisition teams in-house.  

Myth 4: RPO Takes a Long Time to Implement. 

With the economy see-sawing post-pandemic, we’ve seen our clients shift their focus to agility and speed with an increase in urgent hiring projects. Organisations often think that RPO is not a viable option in these situations due to the misperception that it takes 12 to 16 weeks to ramp up.  

While an RPO engagement can certainly be a long-term strategic partnership, there are also solutions for short-term recruitment projects where speed is the priority. For example, we developed PeopleScout Accelerate, a tech-powered, ready-to-go recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution that combines PeopleScout’s deep recruitment expertise and a pre-configured Affinix™ talent acquisition technology suite—implemented in just two weeks.  

Myth 5: RPO is Only for Filling Volume-Based Positions. 

Your talent needs are unique to your organization and the right RPO partner will know that a one-size-fits-approach isn’t effective. Don’t let the myth of “volume hiring only” keep you from experiencing the benefits of RPO. 

While RPO is an ideal solution for high-volume hiring in which many hires for similar job families are made annually, it’s also perfect for hard-to-fill specialist professional roles. With their networks, resources and expertise, RPOs have the ability to attract candidates from all corners of your industry. 

One huge bonus of the long-term relationship you build with an RPO partner is their ability to create talent pools. Having a pool of active and passive candidates speeds up time-to-hire by giving you fast access to qualified candidates when a new vacancy opens. Plus, RPO providers have access to leading technology featuring AI matching tools that can identify and source strong passive and active candidates within seconds of an open job requisition. 

Myth 6: RPO is Exclusively Cost-Cutting, Not Quality-Improving. 

Quality over quantity, right? Absolutely. And guess what? RPO providers are on the same page.  

Unlike working with a staffing agency, which is often a transactional relationship, an RPO partner won’t flood your inbox with CVs that miss the mark. Instead, they use targeted strategies to find the ideal candidate who aligns with your values and vision.  

RPO providers can help you develop and implement effective selection and assessment processes to identify high-performing candidates with the right skills and experience for the role. Plus, with their tech know-how, RPOs can help you leverage predictive analytics to gain a better understanding of the behaviors of top talent and predict factors such as cultural fit, willingness to change companies and future tenure potential. 

With RPO, quality isn’t compromised—it’s elevated.  

Myth 7: RPO is a One-Size-Fits-All Solution. 

While some providers have gained reputations for making their clients follow a rigid process, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Good RPO partners are chameleons, adjusting their approach to your shifting hiring needs. Whether you’re gearing up for a hiring spree or scaling down temporarily, your RPO provider should deliver custom solutions based on your industry, job types, hiring budget and goals. 

And remember, you don’t have to outsource your entire full-cycle, end-to-end recruitment process. Look for an RPO partner that offers partial-cycle, project-based and even modular RPO solutions to help you scale your recruitment function to meet your needs—from talent mapping and sourcing to designing assessments and onboarding. In the fast-paced world of talent acquisition, flexibility is your secret weapon.

Our Amplifiers provide employers with the agility they need to weather the ups and downs of the labour market. These modular RPO solutions augment your team where you need it in your recruitment lifecycle. You get focused support for peak hiring, hard-to-fill positions, compressed time frames and more—whether as a boost to your internal recruitment team or to an existing outsourced recruitment provider.

Myth 8: RPO Providers Only Cover Recruitment. 

While RPO is focused on improving recruitment processes, it can also include other HR functions such as employer branding, talent management and workforce planning. RPO providers can offer a range of services that can be customized to meet the specific needs of the organization. 

RPO partners are increasingly offering a range of value-added services to meet the demand for proactive, innovative candidate experiences. When you partner with a leading RPO provider, you also access: 

  • Talent acquisition consulting and best practices 
  • Technology consulting and implementation 
  • Passive candidate engagement 
  • Market insights, talent mapping and analytics 
  • Recruitment marketing and candidate attraction strategies 
  • Employer branding and employer value proposition (EVP) development 
  • Assessment design and execution 
  • Diversity and inclusion consulting 

When considering potential RPO providers, make sure they can provide you with value-added services that will optimise and streamline each phase of the recruiting process. 

Myth 9: RPO Replaces Your Internal HR Expertise. 

Your internal talent acquisition expertise is invaluable—and it’s here to stay. RPO isn’t about replacing your team; it’s about augmenting their strengths.  

Organisations often struggle to invest in growing the number of talent acquisition and HR resources required to keep up with the rate of change. RPO providers take on time-consuming, but necessary, recruiting activities such as sourcing and candidate engagement. This frees up internal HR staff to focus on higher value activities.  

Plus, through working across many clients and industries, RPOs have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on the labour market and can share best practices and insights to help you make informed workforce decisions.  

Consider your RPO team your ally, enhancing your internal capabilities and helping you and your team shine even brighter.  

Myth 10: RPOs Don’t Care About Your Company Culture. 

Your company culture is your crown jewel, and you’re not about to let it fade away in the name of outsourcing. Fear not! Reputable RPO providers understand the value of cultural fit.  

Your RPO team integrates your values, purpose and employer brand into every candidate touchpoint. An RPO provider can help you amplify your employer brand by leveraging your established candidate attraction assets in targeted recruitment marketing campaigns. Utilizing job postings, social media posts, your career site and email campaigns, your RPO provider will carry your carefully crafted employer brand to candidates, providing them with compelling reason apply to your open positions.  

It’s like having a partner who not only respects your company culture but actively works to preserve and enhance it. 

If your organisation is looking to develop an employer brand from scratch or update your current one, a leading RPO partner can provide you with employer branding services to complement your recruitment strategy ranging from creative support to full-scale employer value propositions (EVP) development. 

From debunking misconceptions to revealing the true essence of RPO, you’ve now navigated through the labyrinth of misperceptions to arrive at the threshold of transformation. With RPO, you’re not just recruiting—you’re building a workforce that will grow your business for years to come. So, it’s time to shatter RPO myths and embrace the potential of of this powerhouse solution. 

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