Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO): A Comprehensive Guide

Jason Bouchard
Jason Bouchard
Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO): A Comprehensive Guide

If your organization has ever considered working with a talent partner, you have probably heard of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). Although many organizations' employees are familiar with the term, a great deal of them do not know exactly what it entails or how it can optimize their organization’s talent acquisition and management processes. If this sums up your situation and you are interested in learning more, our comprehensive guide to RPO has you covered.

What Is RPO? 

An RPO program is a talent solution in which an organization outsources all, or part, of their internal recruitment processes to an expert RPO provider who specializes in recruitment and talent acquisition and brings expertise, industry knowledge, and best practices to the table. This specialization allows them to navigate the complexities of the hiring process more efficiently than a general HR department might. RPO programs provide efficiency and flexibility to organizations who do not have the means to fulfill their talent needs on their own, or would prefer to delegate the recruitment process to experts so they can concentrate on strategic HR initiatives, employee development and other critical aspects of their business. 

Four main types of RPO solutions exist to meet each customer’s unique needs. Between the following four solutions, there is something for everyone.

  • End-to-End RPO: This is for organizations who want to outsource their entire talent acquisition lifecycle from start to finish. With this solution, the RPO experts will handle every aspect for your organization, from the initial requisition planning to the final onboarding.

  • Project RPO: This is defined as having a specific time period or amount of hires the RPO provider will be responsible for. For example, a partner is launching a new product and would like to add 100 new members to its current sales team within the next 6 months – the RPO provider would have total responsibility for these roles, allowing the partner’s internal team to stay focused on their everyday recruiting tasks.

  • Hybrid RPO: For this solution, organizations choose which elements of the recruitment process they want their RPO provider to handle and which elements they want to continue to handle in-house. For instance, the RPO provider completes all of the sourcing and initial screening of candidates and then schedules their interview with either your internal recruiting team or directly with your hiring manager.

  • Contingent RPO: This solution is for organizations who want their RPO provider to help them hire both full time employees AND contingent workers through one unified recruitment team. 


Debunking RPO Myths 

Now that we have covered the four main types of RPO solutions, let’s debunk some common myths associated with RPO programs.


Myth #1: RPO is only for big companies. 

Organizations of all sizes can benefit from working with an RPO provider. Big companies more commonly utilize RPO, but small companies can also benefit from implementing a program considering talent acquisition is typically one of their highest expenses.


Myth #2: It damages employer brand and candidate experience. 

The right RPO provider becomes immersed in each customer’s culture to ensure they are representing that organization’s brand appropriately when they communicate with candidates. RPO teams are there to be brand ambassadors and ensure candidates are receiving best-in-class service. RPO teams should ensure that all communication, both written and verbal, reflects the customer’s messaging, branding, and employer value proposition (EVP) and uses their terminology, language, and tone.


Myth #3: The program must last a few years at a minimum. 

A program can last for as little or as long as a customer chooses. A Project RPO solution, for example, can last for a short three-month project if needed. But with that said, the longer an RPO provider is supporting a customer’s TA function, the more efficient a program will become which improves overall candidate and manager experience while reducing costs.


Myth #4: RPO is too expensive. 

While signing an RPO deal might seem expensive at first, the program will help organizations save money in the long run. RPO providers create efficiency throughout the TA process by quickly filling positions using customized customer-centric talent pools, providing robust technology, reducing turnover, etc. – which all leads to money saved for the customer.


Myth #5: An RPO team won't understand our specific needs. 

RPO providers are experts at what they do. They are trained to learn the ins and outs of each organization they work with so they can customize the best solution to meet their customers' unique needs. A good RPO provider becomes a central part of your organization to such a great degree that all candidates and even many managers may not know that the RPO team is separate from your organization. RPO team members are dedicated to your account and take pride in the brands they are representing. 


The Challenges RPO Can Mitigate for Organizations

In short, these are the key challenges that an RPO program can help organizations mitigate to ensure their talent acquisition results are better than ever.


Access to Talent Pools

You will not have to worry about finding candidates that are a good fit for your open positions. Your dedicated RPO team will curate talent pools for you, and they know how to leverage their connections to fill it with the best candidates.


Communication Throughout the TA Process 

Consistently communicating with candidates and hiring managers during each stage of the TA process is a vital part of delivering a positive hiring experience. 


Cutting-Edge Technology 

Many organizations struggle to afford and keep up with the latest recruitment technology. To mitigate this challenge, you can utilize your RPO partner’s technology stack instead of purchasing your own, giving you access to the best innovations on the market.


Reporting and Analytics 

RPO providers are also experts at tracking and collecting data to provide analytics to their customers which allow them to identify and make organizational improvements. They have the right tools and expertise to track significant TA metrics including time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, diversity percentages, retention rates, etc.


Best Practice Advice 

An RPO provider can act as an advisor to your organization. They are experts in talent acquisition, management, retention of talent, and they are there to provide best practices regarding these key aspects to streamline your organization’s success. 


Based on the information provided in this blog, we hope your comprehension of RPO solutions and their benefits is better than ever. As a  final note, one question that many organizations have regarding RPO solutions is, "When is the best time to start an RPO program?".

In general, certain times may be more ideal than others to start a partnership. During an economic downturn, for example, one strategy could be to start the RPO partnership process when hiring has reduced so your organization has more time to focus on program planning. Then when the economy recovers, your RPO team will be ready to hit the ground running. Considering RPO solutions often take several months to plan and implement, it’s always best to start the program before your organization actually needs the solution.


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