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What Is Recruitment Research?

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​Offering a mix of candidate sourcing and vetting with useful talent intelligence, recruitment research is another option to staffing firms and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). The recruitment research method is a collaborative approach with a flexible pricing model that differentiates it from other external recruitment options. Kathleen Duffy

Kathleen Duffy, president and CEO of Duffy Group, a recruitment research firm based in Phoenix, spoke with SHRM Online about this lesser-known process, how it differs from recruitment alternatives and how it can be used to help employers pipeline future talent.

SHRM Online: What is recruitment research?

Duffy: Recruitment research is a multistep methodology that targets and connects passive candidates with companies looking for talent. The process is equal parts detective and skilled salesperson. 

Recruitment research has five key steps:

1. Sourcing strategy, which includes an in-depth situation analysis to glean insights about the company and open position. Leveraging a comprehensive intake process, recruiters speak with the hiring leader and key stakeholders to understand the company and its culture, and the open position's role and responsibilities, along with compensation and geographic preferences.

2. Identifying candidates whose background, education and experiences are a fit for the job, and then outreach to potential prospects.

3. Candidate vetting, which involves contacting viable candidates and pre-qualifying them with "hurdle questions."

4. Candidate evaluation, at which time the hiring leader gets comprehensive profiles of the top candidates to schedule interviews. This typically happens within 15 days of the start of the search.

5. Presenting and reporting to share the results of the search and provide the hiring leader a database of all prospective candidates.

Recruitment research is a comprehensive method that takes a thorough and agnostic approach to the recruiting process.

Sourcing, along with candidate outreach and qualification, and the collection of market data—which includes an overview of the competitive landscape, a company's organizational structure and compensation—is the foundation of recruitment research. Recruitment research generates competitive data and intelligence that can be used for future recruitment efforts. The research can reveal insights about your competitors and equip you with information about strategies and staffing in other industries that may help spark new ways of thinking about your own growth and innovation.

SHRM Online: How does recruitment research differ from RPO?

Duffy: RPO, or recruitment process outsourcing, is a recruiting model in which a company outsources the management of the recruitment function, in whole or in part, to a third-party specialist to drive cost, quality, efficiency, service and scalability benefits. 

There are two traditional search modalities: contingent and retained. In contingent search, the client pays 20 to 25 percent of a candidate's total compensation contingent upon the hire. The recruiting firm carries 100 percent of the risk in identifying and qualifying candidates with no commitment from the employer. 

Retained search firms charge 30 to 35 percent of a candidate's total compensation and bill one-third at the start of the search, another third when a slate of candidates is presented and the final third when a candidate is hired. With this approach, employers carry the majority of the risk, as they are committed to paying two-thirds of the fee with or without a hire.

Unlike contingent and retained search, recruitment research is a collaborative approach to unearthing candidates. Recruitment research isn't about hiring the candidate who will receive the highest salary, because fees are not based on a candidate's compensation. Unlike other recruitment models, recruitment research offers a flexible pricing model based on billable hours. That means clients pay for only the effort required and the value delivered—not fixed fees or contingency fees.

SHRM Online: How does the recruitment research model help employers build their talent pipelines?

Duffy: Recruitment research takes a proactive approach in finding candidates for today and well into the future. It's a research methodology used to uncover candidates who are not looking at job boards or posting resumes. The leads that are generated can be used for future opportunities.

Part of the recruitment research process involves keeping in touch with prospective candidates in a variety of industries. In addition, a report is created on every search, which includes a candidate database that serves as a stable of additional potential candidates. The process enables us to pinpoint the skills needed for a particular position and create opportunities for companies to consider top candidates for other open roles.


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