Global HR, Recruiting and Staffing

My $1,200 Lesson When I Decided to Give Offshored Recruiting a Try

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If you haven’t been contacted by a recruiting offshoring company yet, you can add yourself to a rare segment of Talent/HR Pros.

Almost daily, I receive an email or phone call – from a U.S. phone number – telling me how I can save thousands of dollars by using their services to help us recruit for our open positions.

I always find this funny since my company is a third-party recruiting company. So basically, they are telling me that they can save me thousands of dollars from the thousands of dollars I tell my clients we are going to save them – sounds to good to be true!

But I’m also a sucker! Yep, I took the bait!

What they promised

Here’s the deal:

  • For about $1,200/month, you get a “Full-time Recruiter” (the price might change a little based on how many you need, volume, etc., but that’s the ballpark cost);
  • This “Recruiter” works Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm EST.
  • This “Recruiter” will have a U.S.-based phone number.
  • You can have contact with this recruiter via phone or email – in fact it’s encouraged.
  • This “Recruiter” is actually based in India, in a call center environment.
  • This “Recruiter” has access to the major job boards and the Internet, and is trained at making a basic recruiting call.
  • You can get some guarantees on how many “candidates” presented, screened, etc.
  • The “Recruiter” has an email address from your company and presents themselves as working for your company.

What they delivered

Here’s my reality:

  • At $1,200/month I had to try it, because it seemed like a small investment for some education into this offshoring recruiting world I keep hearing about.
  • The recruiter was pleasant, although a bit hard to understand, and I felt they wanted to do a good job. It also sounds like they are sitting on the busiest street corner in Mumbai! (imagine a giant call center with 500 folks all on the phone at the same time, with the windows open, sitting on Times Square — that’s the sound!).
  • They basically just call folks they find on job boards and/or an internal database of contacts which consists of H-1B candidates that need sponsorship (we had them working on some IT openings we had to see what they could come up with).
  • In 30 days of working on a JAVA developer opening, for a U.S. client in the Denver Metro area willing to pay a competitive wage, this offshored recruiting company presented zero candidates that didn’t need sponsorship, and only one candidate overall.
  • It wasn’t an easy opening – but that’s why I gave it to them to see how this person would do.
  • After the first three days, I got a message and a call almost daily from the offshore recruiter and this person’s manager asking for more orders, even though they had yet to present one candidate. This didn’t stop. We tried at the end to give a couple more IT openings we had, that I had my internal recruiters working on to see if they would come up with different candidates, and again, we only got a bunch of H-1B candidates.

The big issue: What you get vs. what you paid

I don’t consider this to be a total failure. The experience let me know exactly what kind of orders that an offshoring company could handle and do well with.

Those orders would most likely be ones where you have a healthy candidate base and just don’t have the internal capacity to go through the process of screening, or you have a staff that just has a hard time picking up the phone and calling potential candidates (stop laughing – that’s most corporate HR folks – or there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar recruiting industry!).

Would I do it again? Probably not, although the lure of a $1,200/month recruiter is very enticing, especially one that isn’t afraid of the phones, but the reality of what I got doesn’t match up with what I paid. Now,  if I had to hire for a U.S.-based call center and needed someone to plow through Monster and find 50 candidates a week for us to interview, maybe that might be the key to making this thing work.

This was a $1,200 education for myself. You don’t have to get this same education. If you are seriously considering this, call me and I’ll tell you about some better options for your $1,200!

This originally appeared on the blog The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community – so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.
  • TNoebel

    Huh.  But I thought recruiting was easy.  Don’t you just call people and ask if they would consider a job opening you’re working on?

    Oh wait, there really IS more to it than that.  But you knew that Tim.  Sometimes the best thing to come from an experiment is a negative outcome.  Look at the lesson you can share with your clients without them having to pay for it.

  • Maureen Sharib

    According to wisegeek.com, the average annual salary for an Indian call center agent is approximately $2,500 USD PER YEAR.

    http://blog.inovasolutions.com/2010/indian-call-centers

  • https://www.small-improvements.com/ Per

    Wait, you gave them one of the hardest jobs available (finding a qualified JAVA developer) and had any hope of succeeding? We’re looking for those developer too, but we spend a LOT of effort, and it’s rarely got to do with calling people (or placing ads). It’s about building long term credibility in the developer community, by working on open source projects, blogging and tweeting about technical things, browsing interesting new OS projects, attending conferences and workshops, presenting at the local Java user group, we’re doing plenty of SEO just to make developers visit our company website, etc. You can’t outsource such a thing to a call-center, no matter where it’s located. :)

  • http://twitter.com/ongig Ongig

    Thanks for the eye-opening piece, Tim. When faced with tons of job openings, piles of resumes, and a lack of staff — or even the opposite issue, a lack of a candidate list, it’s hard to figure out the best next step. Hiring managers should sit down and think about their current strategy before blowing money on offshored recruiting, or any agency for that matter. You should look at the value proposition you provide to top candidate’s first. The holy grail seems to be the passive candidate. Well…if you aren’t a referral, what do you see about the job? Really take inventory of why people want to work for you. You can then use social media, photos and video, and social recruiting to create buzz about your company and open jobs. The best news is that you can leverage a multitude of tools for free these days in “showing” candidates your value proposition!