How to Select an RPO Firm

by Allison Reilly

choosing an RPO firmChoosing an RPO firm isn't easy, and it really shouldn't be too easy of a decision. You are choosing a company to help you with your recruiting processes, to be a partner in finding great candidates and in improving these processes with your organization. However, we don't want the choice to be too difficult. Here's how to select an RPO firm:


Just like with choosing any other product or service, you need to identify your specific problems and what you want an RPO firm to solve or to help you with. This primarily means identifying your weaknesses/pain points and identifying your objectives, such as cost reduction, project expansion, and/or recruiting structure reconfiguration.

"If you're unsure... reach out to an RPO firm or a consulting company and have them do a deep dive into your organization," said Cory Kruse, chief operating officer at Novotus. "[They will] establish some baselines on what needs to change."

Kruse also emphasizes the fact that recruitment process outsourcing is a two-way deal. You need to solicit information from providers, but you also need to let providers solicit information from you. RPO is the beginning of a working relationship that's likely to last years.

4 Key Components

  1. Experience - This is much more than years of experience. It also means the quality of the recruiters and staff members. It would also include languages and geographic scope if you are looking for a provider to help with international or overseas recruiting.
  2. Size of Organization
  3. Publicly Owned vs. Privately Owned - "Privately owned companies can operate a little more nimbly. The flexibility is there." Kruse said. "Publicly owned companies typicaly have super deep pockets and more widespread resources."
  4. Sourcing and Research Experience - Is the provider experienced in certain, or a variety, of sourcing techniques? Does the company have particular expertise in hard-to-fill positions or certain geographic locations? Essentially, this ones about the hire and whether a provider can deliver the right candidate.

Kruse also recommends considering implementation process and time line as well as the provider's team structure. These are crucial in differentiating who can deliver your solution on the time line you want, and who will be able to work well with your company and employees.

"Ask for a draft implementation process and a potential time line to get things done." he said. "Work with them to help build it."

Prior to Commitment

Nothing says that after your research and your conversations with potential RPO firms, you have to select one from that pool and sign a contract. If you're debating between two or three, or you want more information to make a more informed choice, then it's okay to select a project as a test or to ask the provider to do a trial phase.

"Ask them to create a sourcing plan for one of your positions and to give some strategies around that," Kruse suggested. "Any good RPO provider would be able to serve up some good information before a complete agreement."

Making the Commitment

Once you've selected an RPO firm, then final step of the process is the service-level agreement. These are the mutually agreed upon expectations that are used to hold each other accountable and to indicate when a problem may exist.

"Agree on things that can be accomplished. Things we typically look at are time, quantity, quality, and cost." Kruse said. "Develop [key performance indicators] that are two-way... KPIs on the provider side and then KPIs on the company side. Measure those and adjust as necessary. Nothing's set in stone."

Before thinking about choosing an RPO firm, you need to understand RPO services and what an RPO provider can do? Learn more in this hour-long webinar: "Fifty Shades of RPO: Loving your RPO partner after the sexy sales team leaves town."

View Webinar

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