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The Power of Embedded Recruitment

By Thomas Molenaar. Thomas leads Zeren's Embedded Recruitment division and is responsible for the quality of service delivery.

It’s been several months since I joined Zeren, but it feels like only yesterday that I started with the business. It is a very exciting time to join a platform like theirs, leveraging the start-up mentality of the clients we serve, whilst having the credentials of Renovata in the group as well. The company has been on a noticeable growth trajectory in the last year, and it isn’t hard to see why. There is a strong focus on driving end-customer results, as well as a focus on truly understanding the problems that a client is facing. That drive and focus are why I joined this firm, as they will be instrumental to what is going to come next.


The world of Embedded Recruitment is diverse, but it’s crucially not figured out yet. Recruitment Process Outsourcing, or RPO for short, came into being in the early 2000s, in response to more complex tech and IT roles, as well as a greater emphasis on delivering the same or greater value against tighter and tighter budgets. So, Embedded Recruitment was born, as companies realised that they could bring experienced, empowered recruiters into their organisation without the hassle of having to hire them themselves. Fast forward to today, and the model has been split up further, with some organisations focusing on long-term engagements with listed corporates, whilst others try to be reactive to the more volatile start-up industry or everything in between.


I have had a lot of personal experience with this model as well, and have come to fall in love with it. The core of a recruiter’s job is to help businesses tackle their challenges by finding niche talent that can support this. Within that process, there are numerous bottlenecks that have to be tackled, from the infamous “selling people to people” -a problem where the two negotiating sides can be fickle, to misaligned market expectations around skillset, remuneration, or location.


As an agency recruiter, you sometimes can be wrongly incentivized to help clients, focusing on making the placement instead of making a business impact. Embedded Recruiters are less prone to this. they have greater exposure to the business context, understanding not just the ‘what’ of a role, but also the ’why’. At the same time, they are also less incentivised per placement, as companies leverage a monthly retainer model instead. This leads to amazing statements that RPO and Embedded Talent firms can make such as “we saved the client 50% on their hiring over 6 months”. However, at the core, this is still a very transactional relationship – the metric of success is how many ‘bums are on seats’.


At Zeren, we want to now take this model and its strengths, and go one step further. By leveraging that focus on end results and the business context, we want to create an embedded offering that does more than fill vacancies. By partnering with a company on equal terms and taking ownership of business outcomes, we want to create a solution that delivers lasting impact. After all, none of the recruitment firms out there are true company builders; organisations that can help founders scale from 0 to 1000 employees and beyond – Zeren now can. We can find executives and build the companies around them. And our Embedded Recruitment offering will become a crucial service line that underpins our endeavour to support clients at every stage of their growth journey.



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.

We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.

We partner with high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.

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