Finding Balance: Leveraging Internal and External Resources

For better or worse, one of the permanent changes that appears to have emerged from the pandemic is the rise of hybrid work. Research from Google, among others, suggests that hybrid work will become standard practice for companies whose workers can perform some or all of their job functions remotely.  

Within the executive recruiting industry, we’ve observed a separate yet loosely related trend that’s gaining popularity among more progressive companies: hybrid strategies for talent acquisition.  

Specifically, a growing number of companies in the medical industry are finding success by hiring a director of talent to handle routine internal staffing needs and then utilizing external specialty firms when seeking to fill director-level and higher roles as well as revenue producing positions within sales & marketing.

These shifts are born of both time and necessity—the lack of one and abundance of the other—and they promise to reshape the way countless organizations within the healthcare industry and beyond approach recruiting and staffing for years to come.

Dollars & Sense

Those who aren’t familiar with the nuances of recruiting often view outsourced services as a expense. Convinced they can realize substantial savings by eliminating this spend, many companies cut ties with their executive search partners and task their human resources leader with overseeing talent acquisition for the entire organization. Larger enterprises sometimes take it a step further, hiring two to three recruiters to build out an internal TA team.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to underestimate the financial investment it takes to staff and maintain a talent acquisition department. To achieve the same level of support a specialty firm can deliver, you’d also need to hire professionals to manage an applicant tracking system, recruit passive candidates on LinkedIn and other platforms, and serve other functions related to brand strategy, human resource, on-boarding, candidate marketing, etc. These, in turn, become recurring costs that can eat away at a company’s bottom line.

For example, suppose you hire two internal recruiters at an annual salary of $100,000+ each (including benefits). Their combined monthly paychecks of $16,700 may seem justifiable when business is good and you have numerous positions to fill. However, if business dips and hiring is frozen for six months, you still have to pay $100,000 —the equivalent of an entire salary—to keep those recruiters on payroll even though they’re not actively recruiting during slow periods.

The opposite holds true when your hiring needs ramp up. Depending on how many openings you have to fill, those same two recruiters may struggle to keep pace. Time-strapped and resource-strained, they’ll likely rely on job boards and inbound applications to fill their candidate pool. This approach is acceptable for some positions, but less than ideal for the mission-critical roles because it typically yields far fewer top tier qualified candidates.

What’s more, there are real costs associated with letting key positions stay open too long resulting in lost revenue growth, customers moving to the competition, and the opportunity cost of not having a sales professional or a leader in a critically important position.

This all supports importance of hiring the right person for the right role—and doing it all in the right (i.e., shortest amount of) time.

An Alternative Approach

By and large, internal talent acquisition professionals are great at what they do. This typically includes managing open requisitions across departments, working with hiring managers to develop profiles and identify candidates, and screening applicants for most positions.

What most corporate recruiters and staffing specialists lack, however, is the time needed to perform outbound recruiting and identify passive candidates. These are generally the most attractive professionals because they have the skills and experience you need or want, and they’re usually really good at their jobs and currently employed. Typically, they bring a level of expertise that’s much harder to find when you’re choosing from scores of active jobseekers.

On the other hand, external search firms can invest resources to develop relationships within passive candidates. These third-party agencies can then deploy a team of recruiters, account managers, and support personnel to identify, vet, and refer the most-qualified professionals for the roles that will make the largest financial impact on their clients organizations. 

Fortunately, you can strike a healthy balance. Consider using internal recruiters and human resources specialists for entry level roles and volume hire positions as well as less difficult searches.  Then, for any roles that pay $100,000 and up, look to specialty niche recruiters who have relationships within your industry and marketplace credibility and treat them as an extension of your team through an exclusive and/or retained partnership.   

That’s a hybrid approach that will serve you well for years to come.  

Lee Kester is the CEO and founder of Kester Search Group LLC, a consultative talent acquisition firm that specializes in executive search and commercial expansion projects for dental, diagnostic, medical device and healthcare technology companies throughout the United States. He can be contacted via email at