5 Keys to a Happily Ever After RPO Marriage

by Guest

Happily Ever After RPO Marriage

Talent Acquisition and RPO Leaders, picture this: you’re standing at the proverbial “alter” of business relationships, ready to sign the contract linking your future success and happiness to each other, promising to love, honor, cherish and be faithful, as long as you both shall live (or at least “love”).  So how can you be sure your new marriage will succeed?    

As in other parts of life, there are no guarantees, but I learned a few things in my previous role as GM of a large RPO and also as a global TA Leader who has both insourced and outsourced recruiting.  Here are five key elements of a firm foundation on which to build your RPO marriage - let’s just call this “pre-marital counseling” that will hopefully help you no matter what side of the relationship you are on. 


Most contracts are fixed-term of course, but I advocate more of a “built to last” attitude when setting up your operating model. TA Leaders, once your outsourced process is up and running, give your RPO leader a regular window into your long-term workforce strategy and plan if you can.  How else will they know which of their innovations and new products to make you aware of as they are developed.

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Quality Time

QBRs and weekly check-in calls are fine, but a great relationship needs more. I’m a fan of every second QBR being in person, if possible alternating meeting at the site of the RPO provider and the client, so the respective teams can really see each other in action and meet other key stakeholders.  There’s just something special about meeting in-person that breaks down early relationship trust barriers.  Tough to find the money and time?  Make it a priority and bake it into the business case and budget on both sides as a show of good faith and intentionality.  It will make a big difference.

Sense of Humor

Recruiting can be a very funny profession.  And sometimes if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry!  I like to start each team call with a short icebreaker – just a quick and easy way to get to know each other and maybe laugh a little.  I have found that humor does wonders to break down barriers and soften the hard topics – it’s the great equalizer, tapping into our humanity.


Have each other’s back when there is criticism from hiring managers, finance contacts, marketing, or other 3rd party providers.  And if there are retained recruiters on the corporate team, TA Leaders, I recommend you set some guidelines to guard against the classic we/they devolution.  Something like a “zero tolerance” on finger pointing is a best practice I’ve seen.  That means corporate team members commit to not point the finger at the RPO when challenged on a particular hiring issue.  Likewise, RPO team – no blaming the hiring manager or internal TA team.  Let’s face it, recruiting can be tough.  Committing to collaborate and a hold a united front is the best way to show integrity and solve issues together.  

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Encouragement to Grow

This is obvious from the RPO provider perspective – the more great talent you bring to your client, the better their chances of growing and thriving, creating more work and profit for you.  But what about the client helping the RPO expand?  TA Leaders, when you make the time to complete the surveys that feed the RPO advisor data and industry rankings, or provide a reference to a potential new client, you are helping your provider grow and get stronger. 

Of course, when your partner is expanding and changing, it disrupts the status quo and can be uncomfortable, but the alternative is not ideal.  Let’s encourage each other to become the best version of ourselves and support each other on the way.  In my experience, that works well both in business, and in life!  

New call-to-actionErin

About the author: Erin McDermott Peterson is a Partner and Global Talent Acquisition Consultant with PeopleResults. She previously led Talent Acquisition and RPO for some of the most successful organizations in the world including Accenture, Aon Hewitt, and
Amazon. She translates her unique global experience to help her clients with their
TA Strategy, employment branding, candidate experience, talent technologies,
onboarding, and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) decisions.

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