Why Do RPO Engagements Fail?

by Carrie Kolar

RPO engagements can do great things for your company’s recruiting and HR functions, but success in RPO engagements is not guaranteed. Despite best intentions and efforts, RPO engagements sometimes fail, and it’s up to both the company and the RPO provider to determine and avoid potential pitfalls and roadblocks that can contribute to failure.

In this article, based on the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association’s webinar “Time to Consider Recruitment Process Outsourcing” with John Younger, CEO of Accolo and RPO thought leader, we examine the causes of RPO relationship breakdown and as the question “why do RPO relationships fail?”

Most RPO relationship failures are directly related to something structural, procedural, or contractual. More specifically, these are six of the main reasons that RPO relationships typically fail:


1. Inappropriate processes.

One of the biggest reasons that RPO relationships fail is that a company has a process for recruiting and hiring that focuses on the process itself and not the hiring. Hiring processes should focus on the two important players in the process – the hiring manager and the best possible candidate. Instead, companies have convoluted processes that can act as roadblocks between those two individuals.

2. Missing executive support and visibility.

No matter the type of RPO relationship, executive buy-in and support of the RPO engagement is essential. When the relationship is not managed by an executive who can oversee and adopt processes and changes necessary for the RPO relationships success, the relationship fails.

3. Mis-engagement of hiring managers and interview teams.

One thing that good RPO providers will do when entering into a relationship or engagement is determine the level of engagement and involvement of the internal hiring managers and interview teams. Failure results when these internal resources are not appropriately engaged into the recruiting and hiring processes.

4. Treating RPO as a commodity and going for the lowest bidder.

RPO is not a commodity, and trying to go for up-front savings in an RPO engagement can have negative long-term consequences. The lowest cost provider won’t do the best job, and what you save on the initial RPO investment you will lose when the results of the engagement aren’t what you need. Who you hire and your recruiting function is directly tied to your success or failure as a business. RPO is not an area that you want to skimp on.

5. Lack of clarity about what success looks like, like how to measure it and having proper incentives.

For an RPO engagement to be successful, companies and RPO providers alike need to go into the relationship knowing what success looks like. Once that goal is determined, there needs to be a way to measure whether or not it has been achieved.

6. Forcing inappropriate or inefficient technologies into the process.

Forcing your RPO provider to adopt a technology that they don’t need or that won’t help the process will do nothing but create confusion and inefficiency and impede efficient, timely results.

Done properly, RPO can be a huge advantage to your HR and recruiting functions, and to your company as a whole. However, this can only happen when the relationship is a true partnership, with buy-in and engagement from client company’s executives and internal resources, and processes and technologies that are tested and appropriate for the situation at hand. When these items are in place and goals are identified and incentivized, recruitment process outsourcing can function as an extension of a client’s own team, returning results in the form cost savings and great new hires.

For more information on how recruitment process outsourcing can benefit companies, view this webinar: “Time to Consider Recruitment Process Outsourcing”.

time to consider RPO


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