Specialist Recruitment Models

A Sit Down with Kelly Services

by Brice Cantrell, August 2012
Lois Freeke Edited Edge, from Twitter

Source: Lois Freeke @ Twitter

I recently sat down with Lois Freeke, Operations Director of South & East China for Kelly Services.  We discussed Specialist Recruitment Models, how Kelly Services utilities them, and what this means for HR Managers in China. “The Specialist Recruitment Model for recruitment allows for a more comprehensive examination and understanding of a potential candidate ensuring a better overall fit in terms of both culture and competencies,” surmises Freeke. Through the course of our conversation I learned how this particular model of recruitment allows recruits to stay ahead of the curve in China and, as a result, how an HR manager can take full advantage of the new system.

Who is Lois Freeke?

Lois Freeke is a British recruitment professional with thirteen years’ experience in China.  For seven years she has worked in recruitment, operations, and management in China.  She currently manages 50 recruitment consultants in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Guangzhou.  She maintained a high energy presence throughout our meeting.

Kelly Services in China

Kelly Services has been in the Chinese market since 2002 and currently operates 8 offices in Greater China [Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin, Nanchang, and Hong Kong]. The company focuses on mid to senior level Professional and Technical Recruitment, and has an Outsourcing and Consulting Group (OCG) mainly providing Recruitment Process Outsourcing RPO.  Kelly Services primarily focus on the Industrial & Manufacturing (including specialist practices in Automotive, Chemical), Consumer & FMCG, Information Technology and Finance and Banking and  (Life Science (Health Care, Medical Device and Pharma) industries, and also team of functional specialist recruiters for support roles such as Human Resources, Accounting and Supply Chain and Logistics positions.

“Our long history, plus our regional and global footprint, allows us a high degree of flexibility and leverage,”  (Quotes like this one seem too rehearsed, I recommend a revision) says Freeke , “we are focusing on creatively recruiting the best talent.”  The Automotive, Chemical, Consumer and FMG and I.T. industries have all experienced quick periods of growth unneeded/confusing to reader. As they depend on a unique set of industry-specific skills and knowledge, a premium is placed on candidates with prior industry experience, as well as academic specialization. Kelly has recruited Practice Heads based on the same criteria, factoring in recruitment expertise as well. This was the basis of the model. “We wanted to go further, beyond simply targeting candidates working in the same industry as our clients,” says Lois, “we wanted an even fuller understanding of a candidate’s work history and exactly what their strengths are.  That’s what the Specialist Recruitment Model is; a more comprehensive profiling of a candidate. For this depth of industry knowledge you need truly specialist recruiters who understand their candidate landscape and who can provide added value and share valuable market insights with clients – and partner them as their employee brand ambassador – that is what we do.”

Specialist Recruitment Model

The company) is innovating the way recruitment firms operate using the Specialist Recruitment Model. Focus is placed on vertical specialization, a deep focus on functional experience, with special attention paid to industry.  If a candidate can quickly be found with experience in an analogous job and in the same field, roles can quickly be filled. “It’s all about sub-divided specialization to increase the likelihood of identifying and retaining the right candidate for the client,” says Freeke, “this also allows us to find a candidate for a client with greater accuracy and speed than our competitors.”

The specialist recruitment model is changing with China’s talent market.  The number of experienced candidates is increasing both in number and diversity. With a greater variety of candidates than ever before available for hire, it is critical for HR managers better understand the variety of talent and experience available for hire.  Simply filling a position in China was an accomplishment a short time ago.  Now, many new potential hires may be located with similar experience. The model digs deeper into the candidates’ experience and skills to differentiate these experiences and using professionally designed selection methodology. This helps the HR manager locate the ideal match both in terms of ‘hard’ skills and competencies for the role and ‘soft’ skills, or ‘fit’ with the culture and environment of the new company.

The Specialist Recruitment Model is not an original idea in the Chinese economy; it has, however, come to embody ‘Chinese Characteristics’.  Freeke believes that specialist recruitment models are not unique to China but which is unique with Kelly’s perhaps is the depth of specialism offered for the mid to senior level candidate market. “The model is so effective, that by the time we take a client brief the consultant often already has a candidate in mind for the role,” says Freeke. China, like all labor markets, has a unique set of demands and needs.  China, unlike other labor markets, has rapidly evolving needs and demands that grow in complexity with the meteoric rise of the economy. Kelly Services is adapting an international model to meet the needs of an individual economy.

What does this mean for HR?

Attraction is only half the battle.  Once you have a new hire, you must then keep them happy, engaged, and of course, productive.  If an employee does not meet the aforementioned criteria they will leave the company, increasing annual turnover. But too often HR managers don’t think about employee engagement until after the employee is hired; the seeds of employee engagement and retention lay in the recruitment processes.   Recruitment models that delve deeper into a candidate’s work history will help HR with retention down the road by presenting a clearer image of the employee earlier in the process.  For example, if a candidate’s past job was in a company a similar size as your company, they will have a better understanding of what to expect when they enter yours and be a better overall fit.

The on-boarding process is optimized as the new hire is already familiar with the industry-specific elements of his job.  Industry experience affects the new hire’s perception of their new company in subtler but still important ways. Industry terminology and corporate culture should also be considered.  HR managers often lose perspective on the more nuanced elements of their company’s industry. Freeke says, “Our process takes into account the cultural element to prepare an ideal fit such as experience working within an industry.”

Minimize risk

“Simply put, our goal is to minimize hiring risk and make the HR or Recruiting Manager look good,” says Freeke, “our process, quality control and knowledge ensure a candidate is the best possible fit.” Risk is reduced by exploring all issues, even if at first they seem abstract, such as the candidate’s personal as well as professional motivations. This information can then be utilized to create an ideal match.  All of this factors into Kelly Services’ Specialist Recruitment Model for screening and selecting candidates.  As a China-based HR manager it is no longer enough to find a suitable candidate.  HR needs a comprehensive analysis of candidates, their experiences, and motivations for a truly ideal fit- then you can stay ahead of the curve and win China’s War for Talent.