The Recruiting Project Manager

The traditional recruiting model should be replaced by what I call Solution Recruiting — which I will be writing about in an upcoming Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. For the time being (for the website), I wish to mention a part of the solution I’m proposing.

This part of the solution is called a “Recruiting Project Manager.” Recruitment Process Outsourcing has often failed when the client believed it to be a wondrous pipeline, where money flows out and perfectly qualified employees flow in, without effort or oversight necessary on the part of hiring managers. As in other areas of business process outsourcing, RPO requires considerable upfront planning and the provision of adequate onsite project managers. Because of this, I believe that the development of a new kind of employee — the Recruiting Project Manager — will be a significant milestone in the evolution of corporate recruiting.

As segments of the recruiting process are outsourced, it will become increasingly important to hire individuals who are capable of acting as liaisons between onsite enterprise clients (including hiring and recruiting managers) and offsite RPO resources. These recruiting project managers will oversee different functional groups (such as Internet sourcing, phone sourcing, candidate development and recruiting, coordinating and scheduling), often in dispersed locations. The skills required to be successful in this role are considered to be “high-touch” and “high value-added” in that they require a great deal of direct contact. They also are considered to be of greater value than other skills that are more routine.

While a number of these skills can be taught, many members of recruiting organizations who are highly competent in the traditional roles will not possess the necessary skills to function in a new recruiting environment. These newly required skills include competencies in the following areas:

  • Formulating business strategies and goals
  • Outlining the competencies needed to achieve those goals
  • Identifying core competencies — those competencies that the organization must have in-house
  • Analyzing current competencies and identifying gaps
  • Formulating hiring strategy for addressing the gaps, including bringing in new skills and developing competencies of current staff
  • Monitoring and managing ongoing requirements for organizational capability
  • Interpreting and analyzing explicit and implicit social communication
  • Articulating and representing diverse organizational interests

Some of the competencies in this list are common to many types of project management. However, I have included the last two competencies that are based on managing social relationships because of the greater interpersonal requirements of the hiring process.

Recruiting Project Managers will be critical in the new recruiting environment because they will serve as necessary bridges between hiring companies and outsourced providers of services.

  • Mat Apodaca

    Excellent article Keith and very insightful. I do not have much experience with RPO’s but am fascinated by your take on the next evolution.

  • Sue Marks

    Really great piece, Keith. This is the best writing I’ve seen on the changing – and I believe more strategic and more promotable – role of the Recruitment Manager. As you state, it is project management, outcomes based and results focused at a tactical level and organizational/workforce planning aligned with business objectives at the strategic level. The one thing I would add is we have an entire team that works with prospective client and client teams to design the appropriate solution and interfaces, plan to implement, manage change, and implement. Thanks for a great post.

  • Bob Corlett


    Great post. We organized this way a few years ago – even using the title Project Manager. This has proven to be a a very solid foundation. Admittedly our RPO work right now is with relatively small organizations, but your analysis of the required competencies of the Recruiting Project Manager is spot on.