Recruitment process outsourcing

Kim Winter

Pacific National recently completed the recruitment phase of its Steel Link Project – by partnering with a specialist recruiter to deliver an ahead of schedule, below budget a unique outsourcing solution.

Pacific National won the Bluescope Steel contract to manage the mostly internal movements of steel products around the steelworks. This involves updating capital equipment and employing and managing the employees who move the hot and cold steel.

Pacific National had a number of options available to handle the specialist task of recruitment and transition of over 120 future employees. These options included the traditional business models of undertaking this large assessment and recruitment project with 1) internal HR and recruitment staff resources, 2) utilising one of the large generalist recruiters, or 3) engaging a specialist recruiter for the task of handling such a large scale and complex project.

Pacific National contracted the services of specialist Logistics Recruitment to design, deploy and execute a high-performance recruitment process outsource (RPO) strategy for the project.

RPO is a global recruitment mega-trend widely utilised across many industries, notably IT, banking and finance and other service sectors. The concept has two core elements. Firstly a commercial solution, which recognises the bulk nature of the majority of assignments, featuring open-book commercial design with an agreed margin above cost-to-serve. Cost-effectiveness is achieved through the high visibility of all project economic factors. As with many agreements in the contract logistics and 3PL environment, bonuses and penalties are often included to encourage high performance outcomes.

The second core element of a typical RPO contract involves deploying a specialist recruitment team into the client’s business to supplement and add value to the internal HR and recruitment teams, or in some cases replace internal units.

The Pacific National Steelink project was complex and sensitive in nature. 121 roles were recruited, with roles varying from train drivers and shunters to OH&S trainers and the entire management team. The project needed to be handled in a professional and equitable manner with proven and sound processes developed and executed. A key priority of the project was to ensure all existing Bluescope Steel employees were screened for cultural suitability for integration into the Pacific National business along with mechanical, analytical reasoning tests and full medicals (legislative requirement for train drivers). Regular close contact, with project meetings held on site with Pacific National over the two month period of the project, kept Pacific National management fully updated on how the recruitment process was progressing and operating against agreed milestones and KPIs.

Over 720 applications were registered for the roles as a result of a targeted national advertising campaign. All of these applicants were screened for suitability, with 215 of these progressing to the formal interview stage.

The project took ten weeks in duration. Logistics Recruitment inserted five recruitment specialists on site at Port Kembla, which was essential in keeping up the day-to-day communication and providing a quick turnaround of suitable candidates to Pacific National. It is estimated a time saving of six weeks and a reduction of 30% was achieved over the cost of normal recruitment methods.

The contract went live on schedule and on budget in late 2007. According to Logistics Recruitment commercial manager Matthew Hemingway, who led the RPO team, “the secret of such a successful large-scale recruitment project lies in the total transparency of allowing the recruiter to become part of the business, along with identifying and holding accountable a strong experienced project team on both sides of the relationship to manage the transition.”

Kim Winter is the group managing director of Logistics Recruitment. For more information call (02) 8262 9800 or visit


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