Recruitment Process Outsourcing FAQs

by Lamees Abourahma

recruitment process outsourcing faqsThe Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association (RPOA) recently hosted a Leadership Forum presentation on recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) 101 called "Fifty Shades of RPO: Loving Your RPO Partner After the Sexy Sales Team Leaves Town."  Leadership presenters Cory Kruse, COO and Jen Iliff, VP Marketing of Novotus shared a very informative (and playful) view of recruitment process outsourcing basics including: (1) ccomponents of RPO (did you know there is more than 20 steps for recruiting?), (2) why is RPO so attractive, (3) what qualities to look for in an RPO partner (criteria for selecting an RPO), and (4) suggestions to help guarantee success (the pre-nup of a relationship).

We got some good, interesting questions from the audience. Below are some of these questions and answers from our presenter and RPO expert, Cory Kruse.

Q: Where do you see RPO going in the future? for example do you see it being more fragmented, or something else?

Cory Kruse: RPO will continue to grow at a relatively fast rate.  Fragmentation will come in multiple ways such as:  Industry specific, size of companies serviced, localization/globalization, etc.  As we discussed during the webinar, RPO Firms will need to offer specialized services to meet the needs of companies seeking a cost effective, scalable, and efficient solution.  While there have been many recruiting firms coining the "RPO" word, the providers that will prevail are those that have successful experience servicing clients in many different ways.

Q: How can RPO firms work with start-ups with small HR/ recruiting budgets?

Cory Kruse: While RPO was in it's infancy, most of the engagements were geared towards larger scale programs.  There are RPO providers that have good experience building and managing programs for start-ups and smaller HR budgets.  We service several start-up companies with programs that range from single search, as needed configurations, to owning everything from employment branding, career pages/ATS all the way through on boarding.  Most smaller companies/start ups can be pleasantly surprised with the cost/quality efficiencies they can experience with the right partner vs. the options of utilizing a mix of solutions like contract recruiters (Single point of failure), contingency firms (Mystery solution built on an "if you hire" agreement), or an in-house recruiter (You still have to invest in tools such as database, social media, branding, background screening, etc.).

Q: What's the difference between a headhunter and RPO provider?

Cory Kruse: While headhunters can be successful with certain single search solutions, they are paid to do one thing - fill the job with their candidate.  A good RPO provider brings a total talent awareness program which addresses several things such as:

  • Compliance
  • Branding your company
  • Concierge and administrative support
  • Extensive reporting and data analytic capabilities
  • Technology
  • Program and Change Management expertise
  • Consultative approach 
  • Sourcing tools that headhunters don't typically invest in
  • RPO firms invest in training (Most headhunter training is geared toward closing deals and billing high dollars)
  • Service level-agreements
  • Consistency
  • Scalability
  • Governance
  • Partnership beyond the hire
  • Accountability to be successful

Q: We have heard about the pro's of an RPO, why they're attractive, the process, and what to look for. But what risks present themselves with going to an RPO?

Cory Kruse: Assuming you have vetted the RPO and engaged in a longer term agreement, there are several variables (Influencers) that may inherit risk in the partnership.  While there is a methodology we employ to mitigate as much risk as possible on the from-end, it is critical that both parties govern the relationship through data, communication and solid program management practices.  Risk typically comes by way of the things I have listed below, but again, understanding and having a plan on the front-end will further ensure the program is delivering the desired results with minimal "noise".

Possible Risks:

  • Internal reluctance to change
  • C-Suite is not involved in the outcome or the program
  • Finance should understand the total program including SLA's, Metrics, and Billing 
  • Program does not align with specific needs of the business (A good RPO partner is a strategic business consultant and should align the program with the actual needs of the business vs. per hire transaction)
  • Internal champion or ownership does to exist or is not equipped with the right experience or skill set to manage and high-functioning program
  • Employment brand is tarnished/Employer reputation (If not recognized by leadership, hard to change)
  • Labor Supply/Demand - Understand the actual supply and having total buy-in on potential time to hire is critical.  Labor Market issues need to be addressed early.
  • Flexibility - Listen to your RPO provider - You hired them for their expertise - Integrate them, teach them your business, and listen to them!
  • Processing efficiency - Internal process is slow and cumbersome - Allow your RPO partner to work with you to build out an efficient process that embraces Candidate Experience (Cx)

Q: Does the RPO contact typically work directly with in-house recruiters or hiring managers?

Cory Kruse: A successful RPO program should have the RPO recruiters working directly with the hiring managers whenever possible. The modern RPO recruiter is very equipped to manage the relationship between the candidate and the hiring manager.  There are business cases where it makes sense to partner an RPO recruiter with an in-house recruiter, such as high volume recruiting situations where heavy processing is present, and situations where hiring managers are unavailable to totally engage in the process.  It is still critical that the HM is involved in the intake session with the recruiters.  Additionally, having RPO recruiters work directly with hiring managers should allow the in-house recruiter(s) more bandwidth to tend to other specific needs of the business as well as partnering with the RPO firm to leverage their experts and elevate their game. 

Listen to Cory Kruse and learn more about RPO in the RPOA Leadership Forum presentation: "Fifty Shades of RPO: Loving Your RPO Partner After the Sexy Sales Team Leaves Town." 

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