Moving from Agency hiring to Inhouse or RPO: Winning Hiring Managers’ Hearts and Minds

4 steps to explain the benefit of moving from agency hiring to RPO to get hiring managers onside during a hiring transformation.


Dan Walker, Talent Partner at Instant Impact shares his top tips to engage hiring managers through transformation.

A typical situation that we often see is when a company needs to boost headcount but can’t afford to continue with an agency first model. You may currently rely on recruitment agencies to fill a range of positions from niche and time-consuming roles to high volume recruitment. A potential result of this is that you may be shelling out tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds in agency fees. While you need to grow, costs are running out of control, and you just don’t have time to manage the influx of vacancies. Does this sound like you?

If so, then there are two main options that could provide a solution and naturally there are pros and cons to each.

Option 1 - Build out an internal team. This will give you full control over your recruitment function and can almost completely cut out agency recruitment spend (although there will most likely always be some). However, the cost of training, purchasing recruiting tools (without any economy of scale) and convincing hiring managers to move away from agencies can be expensive, time consuming and can have huge knock-on effects on overall business performance. Not forgetting that a bad hire or two can put you in an even worse position.

Option 2 – Outsource by introducing an RPO. They will become your recruitment function and work as a direct extension of your HR team and wider business. This way, you still retain control, but guarantee a team of experts that can leverage internal L&D, economies of scale, create ways of working and ultimately have experience in evolving recruitment practices across companies. It gives you the ultimate flexibility with minimal risk.

No matter which option you choose you will have one major challenge – getting the wider hiring community on side.

Changing the mindset of hiring managers who have previously solely relied on agencies to build out their team is a challenge. There are some that prefer a hands-off approach to recruitment, and the convenience of having an external agency filling positions and others who believe that only XYZ Agency have access to the talent they need in their business unit or area (as they don’t know we all have LinkedIn, Job Boards and access to web sourcing tools!). I have found in my experience as an embedded talent partner, it is vital to both explain and educate the hiring managers about our role and the added value provided by using a centralised approach.

Below are my 4 steps to getting hiring managers onside.

1. Educate them about the chosen model and why they will benefit

As either an RPO or Internal recruiter, we are here to focus on hiring and building successful teams, so that the hiring manager can carry on with other projects, and not spend time on hiring. We take away the time burden, whilst also being your own dedicated recruitment resource, able to adapt to your specific needs. The quality of hire will improve as the team spend time with your employees, in-person or virtually, recognising what makes your company special – the people and its culture. Once we gain that understanding, we can quickly pinpoint a diverse range of candidates who will complement and add to your company culture, meaning you will hire exceptional people who will want to stay with you for longer.

2. Explain the difference from agencies

Recruiters working for an agency will, in most cases, directly financially benefit from filling a client’s vacancy, whereas with internal recruiters (or RPO), while there may be an incentive to fill vacancies, it is tied to other metrics such as candidate / hiring manager satisfaction. This means that time can be taken to find the right candidate, feedback is remembered, and everything is done for the benefit of the organisation because we genuinely care about the future of your business and its culture.

3. Provide insight into the other areas the model will support.

As a Talent Partner, one part of the job that I particularly enjoy is being able to work closely with the HR team within the partnership to further improve their recruitment process. Whether that be minor refinement or major transformation, we offer expertise to help establish what works to optimise the hiring process for the company and for the candidates. We can add value in other ways too, including competitor analysis by looking into the following:

  • What are your competitors doing differently to you?
  • Who have they hired in the last 12 months?
  • Where have they lost talent to in the last 12 months?
  • What departments have they been growing?

We can carry out research on competitor career pages and benefits packages, we can look into new locations that you may be looking to expand to or offer more information on the market (globally). Having someone focused full time on you compared to other companies and what more can be done do to improve your Employee Value Proposition can be the difference.

4. Ensure hiring manages know what we will NOT do

It’s important to note that the role of an internal team or RPO is not to damage any relationships with agencies. We will however play a vital role in managing them and advise where and when they are engaged. By putting in a primary contact for all agencies we can ensure they support key hires, really niche roles or potentially volume spikes. The creation of a PSL adapted to the new need will see only the best agencies retained with a better share of the business, generally meaning higher engagement. We are not here to be the police, rather to support the business holistically.

As a final point I would advise you ensure all candidates go through the same process to protect the experience and brand (regardless of whether they were sourced directly or by an agency). Naturally, there may be the odd occasion, but this should always be the exception and not the rule.

A complete upheaval of how you attract and hire talent is a daunting prospect. The first step however in transition away from agency first is to review your objectives, internal bandwidth, and budgetary constraints – where do you want to spend your time and money?

Get in touch here.