In this fourth article aimed at demystifying the recruitment process, we will look at one of the critical decisions facing employers who have a vacancy that needs filling, which is “do I do this myself or do I get some help?”

There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both options or even when using a combination of the two. These pros and cons mainly centre around four factors, i.e.; Cost, Time, Knowledge and Control.


Anyone who has engaged a recruiter will doubtless have stories of eye watering invoices so consideration must be given to the cost of the service and it’s value for money. If you decide to do it yourself, your direct costs (the value of the invoices your accounts department processes) will almost certainly be less than if you engage external help. Obviously, if you do a lot of hiring then these costs can mount up quickly.

If you decide to do it yourself then it’s advisable to analyse the cost of the time it will take, both in terms of salaries but also opportunity costs when staff are not focussed on their core function.

Most recruiters offer some form of guarantee which gives peace of mind if a wrong hiring decision is made, obviously there is no guarantee if you go it alone.


The recruitment process can be very time consuming, the more complex the position the longer it takes to assess all the critical hiring factors and how each applicant stacks up against these factors. Allied to this is the highly disruptive nature of dealing with applicants, especially if it is not your sole focus.

Consider the following:



No. Of applicants


Ad response – Reviewing applications and CVs and responding to applicants.




Telephonic screening




First Interviews








Second Interviews




Reference checking(2)




The above represents just the core recruitment activities, none of the preparation or administration is included and already it amounts to 25 hours. It also assumes that you will only have 20 people apply, imagine if you have 50 or 100 applicants?


Your internal team should know your organisation far better than an external provider and will be able to discuss company culture with a much greater insight. You also don’t have to worry about disclosure of sensitive company information to anyone other than the applicants. On the other hand, if you do use an internal resource with a core function other than recruitment, they might not have the recruitment knowledge and experience needed to produce a successful outcome.

An experienced recruiter can add immense value to the process through their in-depth knowledge and experience of the recruitment process. Successful recruiters will have tested processes, procedures and assessments that enhance the probability of a successful appointment. A specialist recruiter will also have a knowledge of their chosen market sector that will give the employer a greater insight into candidate’s skills and abilities.

It is very unlikely that an external recruiter will understand your business as well as you, so it makes sense to ensure that critical information is understood. The time spent ensuring the initial brief is thorough is paramount to the success of any recruitment exercise.


Controlling the recruitment process is far easier if it is carried out by an internal resource, such as an HR department or colleague, this is because you, as hiring manager, have direct access to your internal team. Accountability stays within the company and if recruitment is a common activity, performance measures and metrics can be implemented to ensure those doing the recruitment understand their KPAs and the impact of meeting them.

Should you use an external resource, as with any supplier, you should have very clear service delivery expectations, communicated to and understood by your recruiter. Have timelines and deliverables established and accepted. Have a communication plan in place so that you don’t lose control of the process and can intervene quickly if needed.

A number of recruitment companies offer an ’unbundled’ or ‘customised’ service that could give you the best of both worlds, it will often cost a lot less, play to the strengths of both parties and be more time efficient. A particular benefit of this approach is that any internal applicants for a vacancy are assessed in an unbiased, objective and uniform manner

If you opt to split the responsibility for the process you need to be certain that both parties have a full understanding of where their responsibilities lie. Establishing a communication plan is important to avoid things ‘falling through the cracks’

In conclusion, if what you need is just two arms, two legs and a pulse then it’s easy, quick and cost effective to do it yourself, but, if it’s a position that has significant impact on the business and you don’t have an internal resource that is focussed and knowledgeable with enough time up their sleeve, then you might want to consider getting some help.

Irrespective of whether you use an internal resource or engage an external recruiter, whoever is going to do the recruitment for you, needs to be knowledgeable (both of the recruitment process and the company), be focussed on the process and the outcome, have the time available to do a thorough job and be accountable for progress of the assignment (to both employer and applicant).

Remember, both an internal or external recruitment process can prove to be costly if not done properly as a bad hiring decision will inevitably affect your bottom line, regardless of the source.