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What is RPO in recruitment?

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) means moving your recruitment processes over to an external company that handles the process of screening and recruiting candidates for you. This article will explain some of the pros and cons of using RPO, as well as what it covers.

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What is RPO?

Recruitment process outsourcing providers are often external professionals who handle the entire process of recruiting on behalf of another business. This can be useful for a business that either does not have the time or resources to handle intensive recruitment processes, but also for businesses looking for additional insider knowledge and professional support in sourcing the right candidates. Businesses might also turn to RPO if they are operating in an industry where specialist candidates are needed. 

Pros of using recruitment process outsourcing

Using RPO can be a great benefit to your business if it’s right for you. Some of the benefits of using an RPO provider may include the following: 

  • they allow companies to recruit a high quantity of applicants at a lower cost
  • they help businesses work out what their recruiting needs are, including forecasts
  • potentially, they have wider access to job boards, networks and social media contacts
  • they have experience building up a brand’s reputation when it comes to attracting new recruits
  • they may improve the candidate experience over the entire recruitment process

Cons of using recruitment process outsourcing

There are some potential pitfalls of using RPO, particularly if it’s not right for your business or you aren’t using an efficient enough provider. These cons may include the following:

  • RPO may not be a cost-effective long-term solution for smaller businesses that are not looking to recruit a high number of new candidates
  • an RPO provider may not fully understand the culture of your business and so select candidates who aren’t a good fit
  • businesses may have less control over their recruitment process
  • an RPO provider may not work as hard as in-house human resources to source the right candidates

Therefore, if you’re looking for much more control over your recruitment processes, and have very specific requirements for culture fit, you might not find that using RPO suits your business. However, if you are using an RPO provider that specialises in a particular field, such as tech recruitment, you might find that you can more easily source the right candidates.

It is also important to bear in mind that using RPO is usually a long-term decision, as it often requires allowing a third party to take control of your recruitment processes. This makes it different to using a recruitment agency to source a candidate. Also, unlike a managed service provider, RPO providers do not control other processes like managing employee payroll or benefits.

What types of RPO providers are there?

When choosing an RPO provider that suits your business, it’s worth considering that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, there are lots of different forms of RPO, which means that you might find that one works better for your type of business than another. Below are some of the different options available.

Recruiting on demand

This form of RPO is particularly useful if you’re looking to recruit during particular seasons, such as the Christmas holidays or during the summer. This makes recruiting on demand a potentially good solution for retail outlets that need additional staff for busier periods. As RPO providers can help you to find larger quantities of candidates in a shorter period of time, RPO can work well when you need this kind of additional support in the recruitment process.

Project-based RPO

If you are looking to change business strategy, grow your business or launch a new product and campaign, then a project-based RPO could be a good fit. Usually, a project-based RPO will work closely with your HR and/or talent acquisition team to base their recruitment strategy around the project, therefore fully accommodating your requirements. This is usually a shorter-term solution, and project-based RPO solutions do not involve handing over all of the recruitment planning responsibility to the external provider. They usually have a set goal from your business in terms of what they need to achieve.

End-to-end RPO

End-to-end RPO, on the other hand, involves relinquishing most recruitment responsibilities and strategy to the external provider. This type of RPO is also known as enterprise RPO, or full talent lifecycle RPO. Here, you are allowing your external provider to plan the entire recruitment lifecycle of your business, with very little input from your HR or talent acquisition team. This could be a good option for companies looking to save money on recruitment processes, but it can be complicated to completely switch to end-to-end RPO.

Hybrid RPO

You might find more of a middle ground between your current recruitment practices and end-to-end RPO through hybrid RPO. That’s because this type of RPO combines the processes of both your HR team as well as your external provider. You might split the responsibilities, so that your RPO deals with advertising for general administration and customer service staff, while your own in-house team deals with selecting more specialist staff like technical staff or senior managers. This means that you might be able to save some money by outsourcing the bulk of hiring to an RPO provider, while still carefully selecting candidates for more experienced roles who may need to be just the right cultural fit. 

Whether RPO is right for your business or not will depend on factors like your budget, the size of your business, what specialist skills your candidates need and how involved you want your own HR team to be in the recruitment process. Therefore, it’s worth considering some of the different RPO options available before settling on one. You might find that different options work better at different points in time for your business and recruitment needs. However, you might also find that RPO doesn’t suit your budget or other requirements.

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