Talent Acquisition debate: Should I self-source or outsource?

Should I self-sourced or outsource?

People are the most important asset for any organisation. They determine the success or failure of any business. A company’s employees skillset accounts for 85 per cent of a company’s assets, thereby determining the company’s growth.

Peoples unique ability to generate ideas, solve problems and make decisions places them on top of a company’s valuable asset. These skills give birth to other intangible assets: patents, copyrights, IPs, brands, trademarks, etc. People also contribute immensely to an organisations profit and shareholder value. Therefore, every HR professional’s responsibility is to have the right people with the right skills for the right position.

How then do HR practitioners get these people? The two standard recruitment techniques are self-sourcing, where HR professional takes on the recruitment responsibility and outsourcing, where they engage an external agency or headhunter to take on the responsibility.


This method is preferred because HR personnel have direct control of the whole recruitment process. In addition, the professional can carry out various in-house performance tests to gauge the candidate suitability to both the job and the company culture.

As businesses continue to make reactive decisions due to the turbulency of the various business environment, some recruiters prefer self-sourcing due to the methods agility and flexibility. In addition, technology advancement in talent sourcing and screening helps expedite the process,  reducing recruitment bias and evolving the HR recruiter’s role to that of a strategic talent advisor.


It is also known as Recruitment Process Outsourcing-RPO. It involves transferring part or all of its recruitment process to an external agent. RPO provides access to a broad network of applicants as most agents already have a talent database that cuts across different industries and geographical areas. For many recruiters, this means securing the best talent in the quickest possible time.

The scalability of the RPO model makes it the go-to solution for organisations that recruit during specific times of the year- seasonal jobs. RPO is also ideal for companies that are expanding and hiring many individuals at a go.

How then do HR practitioners get these people? READ ALSO: 5 HR risks and how to manage them

Should I self-sourced or outsource?

The decision to source for talent internally or externally lies with the organisations Human Capital Strategy. The strategy guides the  HR department on conducting various functions such as recruitment, onboarding, payroll and benefits, performance management etc. Depending on the type of hire, the strategy will guide on the most efficient and cost-effective method. The strategy outlines the organisation’s vision, so whether self-sourcing or RPO, it has to be in line with the business needs both in the short and long term.

The strategy also provides clarity on stakeholders alignment to the process, Human capital goal and acts as an accountability system hence able to guide on the method that is sure to recruit the best available talent.

Other key factors that should be looked into when deciding on the recruitment method to use in line with the Human Capital Strategy are;

1. Technology expertise: Evaluate whether your organisation has access to new HR technologies that can handle self-sourcing. If not, outsourcing to an agency with the preferred technology is ideal.

2. Cost: Keenly analyse both the direct and indirect costs of the two models. Look into the time, IT, legal, marketing and activity cost spent during the recruitment in line with the available budget. This will help decide on the most cost-effective recruitment method.

We are our choices.― Jean-Paul Sartre

3. Access to talent: It has become quite common to see job re-advertisement on various job placement websites and newspapers. Unfortunately, the recruiter did not find a good fit for the job in the first round. 

Such occurrences will continue with the current dynamic labour market, which is changing the workforce and working patterns. So purpose to settle for the method that will give you access to quality talent, A talent that will resonate with the organisation’s mission and cause. Whether on a permanent, freelance or internship basis.

4. Company culture: An organisation’s culture plays a crucial role in deciding whether to outsource or self source. Company culture has a huge effect on the work environment and performance hence the need to find a candidate who will fit in with the already established culture. 

For example, in a company with a bureaucratic culture, structures are already in place. There is also a very low appetite for risk. Such a culture also discourages individual decision making and the freedom to be creative is not entirely allowed. For this reason, in-house recruitment would be encouraged to find a unique fit for such an environment. If a decision to outsource is agreed upon, ensure a representative from the company does part of the interview, especially the personality and organisational fit tests.

5. Skill gap: Analyse the skill gap required and the longevity of the project. For example, hiring an agent to source for a three-month internship vacancy makes no business sense, while outsourcing for a network engineer position ticks all the right boxes. The latter is bound to offer more comprehensive services related to computer networks and for a longer time. 

All the above considerations will help you decide on the route you choose, Whether to invest in in-house talent acquisition resources or seek the support of an external partner to achieve your human capital needs. 

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