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Offshore recruitment model is a growth engine for recruitment agencies. While some of the largest and several mid-to-large UK recruitment companies have offshore recruitment teams ranging from 1 to 400 members, the amount of negative reputation and bashing received needs to be countered.

There are two significant reasons. First, one being the lack of awareness and the second one is stereotyping that recruiters who do not work onshore possess less recruiting knowledge.

Here are the top ten misconceptions about offshore recruiters.

  1. Offshore Recruiters do not have excellent communication skills

Agreed! English is not the first language of offshore recruiters. I get this question at all the times from the UK recruitment agency owners. What about the accent, though? My response is that you could have an Asian working out of your office in London or Leeds with the same type of accent. How is this different, only that they are based overseas?

Someone with beginner-level English communication skills is not a cut out for this trade if it requires working for the region where English is the first language. However, In a realistic scenario, offshore recruitment companies that understand the business model and client requirement will always recruit and put forward candidates with good English communication skills.

A suggested approach would be to conduct written and verbal communication test when onboarding the offshore Recruiter.

Having Asian recruiters can be beneficial in industry sectors such as healthcare and information technology where the majority of the working population are candidates from Asian countries.

Offshore recruitment model is a vital cog in the wheel for some of the largest UK healthcare recruitment companies.

  1. Offshore Recruiters only focus on keyword sourcing without understanding the job or position

This is stereotyping the offshore recruiters. Just like you would have a recruiter in your office in the UK with poor recruitment skills, a similar situation exists in the industry elsewhere.

Given this situation, a sourcing test must be conducted before onboarding the Recruiter. Many offshore recruitment companies also offer trials, make the best use of this opportunity.

What is also imperative is the quality of the information provided by the recruitment company.

A detailed job specification and a brief discussion with the onshore Recruiter working on a specific job has always proven to deliver better results from the offshore recruitment team.

Setting expectations is critical, give a spec of the type and experience of the Recruiter you need on your offshore team. The offshore recruitment company can either find or allocate someone depending on the availability of the candidates.

  1. Anybody and everybody with basic skills is deployed to work

How you view, your offshore recruitment arrangement is critical. Several agencies take a transactional approach to this model, and the emphasise on one sole objective, i.e. reduce costs. Squeezing the offshore recruitment partner too much on pricing serves to this scenario.

Selection and partnering with a type of offshore recruitment company and their transition/implementation plan have a lot to do with a situation like this. A recruitment company be it onshore or offshore is as good as it is recruiters.

In my experience, a transparent model where clients (recruitment agency) are involved from start to finish, i.e. series of interviews and selection has proven to be phenomenally successful.

The offshore recruitment company shares the profiles of shortlisted recruiters with the recruitment agency, upon their feedback Skype of Video conference meeting is scheduled with the recruitment agency. Once approved by the recruitment agency, offshore recruitment company makes an offer to the Recruiter.

Hence, when partnering with an offshore recruitment company, be clear about your objectives, model, expected output, etc.

  1. There is a lot of red tape in this industry; one Offshore Recruiter is deployed on multiple accounts, same resumes are sent across to different clients, i.e. recruiting companies

Taking a cue from point number three, the majority of problems like these happen mainly due to the following factors

  • Too much emphasis on finding the cheapest offshore recruitment partner
  • Transactional approach – Low touch
  • Poor selection of engagement model
  • Lack of effective governance methodology

If an offshore recruitment partner works with you on the cheapest rates, there will be a situation where one Recruiter is deployed to work for multiple clients. This is the only way for the company to sustain and make possible margins. I do not endorse this practice, but this is for recruiters looking for the cheapest partner. You will have to live with this fact if this is your only objective, i.e. work with someone who can offer the lowest price.

Hence, getting your priorities right is overly critical for the success of this model. A practical review governance methodology is the key to avoid problems like these. Having outlined KPIs, Dependencies, i.e. enablers and a review mechanism works wonders to pave the way for the success of offshore recruitment model.

  • Too much emphasis on finding the cheapest offshore recruitment partner
  • Transactional approach – Low touch
  • Poor selection of engagement model
  • Lack of effective governance methodology
  1. Tools of the trade, i.e. when the recruiting company shares its tools with the offshore recruitment company, offshore RPO uses these job boards to source candidates for other clients

Is this a fact? Yes! Does every offshore recruitment partner practice this unethical approach? No!

Before you conclude that data breaches only happen within the offshore recruitment model, think about the number of UK recruitment companies, you know that have been set up and operating from the database that was stolen.

Given the data security issues, not just in recruiting, but also in other industries, it is imperative to ensure the offshore recruitment partner has adequate security measures in place.

As per this article from the computer world, In the UK, the average cost of a data breach has grown to nearly £2.7 million, according to IBM research, and the reputational harm can be incalculable.

Hence, putting adequate security measures in place when partnering with an offshore recruitment partner is critical.

Accessing client (recruitment agency) system remotely clubbed with permission levels for “can view”, “can do” and “cannot” can be implemented by the recruitment agency. Simple measures like giving viewing, downloading, emailing, etc. rights mitigate risk like this.

Alternatively, locking the IP addresses that the recruiter/offshore recruitment company will use to access your tools also be helpful.

It is relatively easy to identify if the job boards are used to conduct searches other than the ones assigned by the client (recruitment agency).

Any unusual activity such as irrelevant CV searches (not related to your business), number of views, downloads, accessing the job boards at irregular hours, i.e. out of regular working hours, etc. can be flagged as a part of routine monitoring by the IT department.

Following necessary measures are critical to the data security and must be included in the agreement with the offshore recruitment partner.

  • CCTV monitoring
  • No access to external drives and USB
  • No access to a third-party email, i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, etc. until the client approves
  • Skype or messenger access only provided upon client (recruitment agency) approval
  • Printing rights
  • Biometric / Access card-driven entry/exit for all staff
  • Bags, mobile phones, and personal items barred in the operations areas
  1. Offshore recruiters do not understand the recruitment process

I completely agree. Offshore recruiters do not understand your recruitment process.

Although standard, every recruiting company works with a unique process in place that has proven successful for their business.

Hence, during every transition process, Knowledge Transfer or as we call it KT, that is one of the many items on the plan. E.g. Pitching the candidates in a certain way, candidate pre-qualification process, candidate write-up, etc. These factors need learning and educating new team members onshore, or offshore is a part of the process for every recruitment agency.

Offshore recruiters understand the recruitment lifecycle; however, learning how you as a client (recruitment agency) operates helps offshore recruiters understand your process to yield better results.

A formal training plan is a solution to embed the offshore recruitment model for your recruitment agency effectively.

  1. Offshore recruiters contact candidates without thoroughly matching candidate CV

 Again, it does happen. But not just with offshore recruiters, this is a common problem be it in the UK or any other country.

The root causes are not one too many. Some of them listed below.

  • Unskilled recruiters
  • Lack of training and development
  • Focus on quantity v/s quality
  • The pressure of KPIs, i.e. core focus on the number of calls, talk time, number of submissions, etc.

Right from the type of offshore recruitment company you partner with, to the kind of Recruiter you are assigned and defining the KPIs, i.e. measure what matters is imperative. E.g., if one of your core evaluation criteria is talk time, interestingly, phone time does not matter success. Aptly put on this blog “Why Your KPIs Are Outdated” by Hunted.

Hence, the quality of recruiters, training and your overall approach as a recruitment agency matters much more in line with partnering with the right offshore recruitment partner that matches your requirement.

  1. Offshore recruiters are not great at connecting with candidates

Cultural and geographical differences lead to creating a gap when building rapport with the candidates. However, given the digitisation and the internet-connected world we all live in, it has never been easier to develop a rapport than ever before.

We all have access to similar digital platforms, i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. A recruiter based in Ahmedabad; India can be a big fan of football supporting a well-known football club.

With my experience and something that I practice, offshore recruitment company must train the new recruiters on the following factors.

  • UK Geography – Counties and Cities
  • UK Culture – This may sound funny, but educating the recruiters on TV shows, e.g. Love Island, Coronation Street, Sherlock Holmes, The Crown, etc. to Thursday drink dos and the pub culture forms the part of this training
  • UK Transport – How to read a tube map, travelling by bus, national rail, etc.
  • Functional training: Imparting functional training, i.e. recruitment refresher clubbed with industry sector-specific training, understanding candidate temperament, etc.

Covering these factors as a part of knowledge transfer (KT) yields better output when executing an offshore recruitment model.

  1. Offshore recruiters flood candidate LinkedIn inbox with random cold approach

Yes! LinkedIn – as we all know, is the most widely used source by sales and recruiting professionals. There is a reason it is called a cold approach; it is the first approach. However, most recruiters globally reach out to candidates on LinkedIn as a part of their sourcing strategy.

What is important is the messaging. A cold approach to the point matters much more against a path full of fluff.

Several training courses and blogs on how to use LinkedIn for recruiting that can be referred to by both the onshore and offshore recruiters.

Helping recruiters with great messaging content as a starting point helps create positive connections with the candidates on LinkedIn. It is all about being able to create an impact for the candidate to respond to your message.

Be it onshore or offshore recruiters, LinkedIn recruitment training is universal. It must be a part of the overall training manual.

  1. Lack of monitoring and supervision

Unlike every business, monitoring and supervision are a crucial factor for the success of offshore recruitment model.

Most offshore recruitment companies have a robust monitoring and supervision structure/process in place.

However, depending on the type and experience of offshore recruitment partner you work with, here are some factors to be considered.

  • Management structure – Who reports to whom
  • Attendance and discipline
  • Consequences for regular absentees and latecomers
  • Measures to retain recruiters
  • Span of Control, i.e. how many Recruiters are managed per Supervisor, Manager, Director, etc.
  • Governance and performance management
  • How are the reviews conducted, i.e. weekly, monthly, etc?
  • What do these reviews comprise of, i.e. KPIs v/s Actuals delivered, Challenges, Training Need Identification (TNI), etc.
  • How are Recruiters placed on an action plan if they do not hit their KPIs?
  • Escalation process and timeline

Out of sight, out of mind, stood right in the pre-COVID era. With professionals globally working remotely for over three months, companies and individuals are coming out with some fascinating learnings as the lockdown eases globally.

Offshore recruitment model was widely adopted by leading UK recruitment agencies and several small-to-mid-sized recruitment companies for over a decade. The offshore recruitment model has been endorsed by industry thought leaders.

The best-suggested approach is not “Us” v/s” “Them”. A “US” approach is most successful when implementing an offshore recruitment model. Every misconception, process and skill gap can be managed effectively.

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