Recruitment Lesson from Facebook: If you Can’t Hire Them, you Buy Them – Or Not?

I had the unique opportunity to play golf with Richard Cho (former Recruitment Manager of Facebook) a few years ago and he provided me a fascinating insight into how the social media giant went about building their talented workforce during its formative years.
Richard said, “We faced a great challenge in that we couldn’t keep up with the mass demand for skills that Facebook needed in order to support its global expansion at the beginning. So the CEO Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea of acquiring companies as a faster way of gaining top talent”.
So Facebook went on a shopping spree and had since purchased roughly 50 companies since 2005. Zuckerberg himself had also stated that “We have not once bought a company for the company. We buy companies to get excellent people.”
Now I’m not suggesting that your organisation use the same strategy because not everyone can operate like Facebook. But this does remind me of a report I read recently from Ernst & Young LLP on the different ways an organisation can build its workforce. In it, the report discussed three strategic ways to assemble a team – buy, build or outsource, and it highlighted the potential benefits and challenges of using a contingent workforce.
To make this more relevant to the Australasian context, I’ve modified the flowchart from this report and gave it a more local spin.

Original source: “The Contingent Workforce” by Ernst & Young LLP

Buy, Build or Outsource?

I mentioned“Buy” earlier and how large organisations, such as Facebook, are able to go the nuclear option and acquire entire businesses in order to secure the talent they want. But not everyone can do that and you will have to be creative in looking into other solutions.
One of the other ways to acquire or “Buy” talent would be through internal or recruitment agencies. This is where employer branding, recruitment marketing, candidate experience and talent management comes into the picture. An organisation stands in good stead they do well in these areas.
I was going to leave out the section on “Build” because I thought it did not add a lot of value but I have changed my mind. How many times do we actually stop to consider using our Internal Workforce outside of their normal job? When we have a major project to resource, how many times do we consider moving an existing team into this project and back filling their jobs with a contingent workforce? Inside hiring can fill jobs faster because internal candidates generally require less skill assessment and less time to make their decision. Doing so will also allow an organisation to do all their external hiring at the “entry level”, which is generally cheaper to fill, whilst building a larger candidate pool.
The third option to build a workforce is to “Outsource”. I find it interesting the way Ernst & Young LLP defined Outsourcing as simply using an External Workforce. When you further segment this, you would realise there are many facets to it. Do you hire a Freelancer to get the job done? Or should you get Independent Contractors instead? How about getting a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to do the job? How many times do we really examine these types of options?
[bctt tweet=”Are you familiar with the different sourcing options available to build a strategic workforce?” username=”ATCevent”]
With these many options available, it can be difficult to decide how best to go about building a sustainable workforce for your business. I would suggest taking a step back to contextualise them into your own business and visualise how they can help your business grow.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Evaluate and understand the impact of the prospective project to the business;
  • Project outputs at every stage of the process to determine what skills are required;
  • Evaluate the strengths and diversity of the existing team, what training is required and how to best compliment these skills with additional resources;
  • Assess the profitability of the project and the impact of any pay rate variation;
  • Identify resources, who will be used internally to manage the project and how you will back fill their positions;
  • What other projects are in the pipeline and how they can potentially impact this specific project.

This is Talent Management and dare I say a little bit of Workforce Planning. Talent Managers who are able to grasp these concepts and ideas will no doubt be able to generate lots of value to the organisations they work for.
Image: Shutterstock
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