Choosing an RPO provider to form a recruitment partnership with is a hugely important decision for any business, especially a startup trying to scale. The people you bring into your business at the growth stage have a lot of influence over the direction of your business. Therefore, finding a company to help you source these individuals is not a decision that should be taken lightly.
An RPO provider who is a good fit for your business can help you scale, build your employer brand awareness, and take your business from strength to strength. They can free up your existing HR teams or leaders and work together to scale your business successfully by acting as a strategic partner, offering guidance and advice. However, the wrong provider can lead to higher recruitment costs and a lot of pressure on your existing HR function.
So, when it comes to the RFP stage, and you have various RPO providers pitching for your partnership, how can you tell whether they’ll be a good fit for you or not? It’s very hard in the middle of a presentation to know what a company will be like to work with and whether they will be a strong addition to your team.
Here are some questions we think you should ask yourself during the RFP stage and beyond. You can save yourself time, recruitment costs, and stress from an unsuccessful partnership by asking these before you decide on your RPO provider. Then, you can be confident in the knowledge that the RPO provider you have chosen will have your best interests at heart and help your scaling tech business to be surrounded by talent.
Do they have sector-specific experience?
If you’re in the tech sector or looking to recruit technical talent, engaging with an RPO provider who specialises in this industry makes sense. The tech recruitment market is so competitive, so you ideally need a recruitment partner who understands the roles you need, how to engage with these candidates and even how to advise you on strategies for growth. To gain the best results from your talent partnership, you need to look for an RPO provider who has experience in your industry or is hiring for similar roles. This way, they’ll have an existing talent pool of candidates to reach out to and prior knowledge to base their strategies on.
Does their strategy excite you?
If you wanted to use the same old recruitment tactics, there’s a high chance you wouldn’t be engaging with an RPO provider. Of course, an RPO provider can save your current HR teams time, but why would you want to work with someone who has new ideas or innovations? All RPO providers know how to source talent, but only some can create innovative strategies that cut through the noise. The tech recruitment landscape is heating up, and if you’re engaging in partnership, you need to work with an agency that can help you to think outside of the box and reach candidates in new ways. During the pitch process, you need to assess whether their ideas excite you. Of course, it’s vital that the strategy will work, and they aren’t proposing anything ridiculous, but they should be able to bring some new ideas to the table.
Do they offer a flexible or fixed approach to RPO?
Not all scaling tech businesses need to hire consistently. They have peaks of urgent demand and then periods where they do not need to expand their team at all. If this sounds like you, you need to look at the pricing structure and flexibility an RPO provider can offer you. The last thing you want is to be tied into a costly contract when you don’t need the people. With a project-based or flexible approach to RPO, like the one we offer, you can scale up and down demand to suit your business needs. Make sure you organise the details and talk about the fine print before starting your RPO partnership to avoid being caught out.
How do they measure results?
If you’re working with an RPO provider, you need to know how they measure results and how this will align with your KPIs. To make reporting as transparent and straightforward as possible and to measure whether the partnership is a success or not, you’ll need to ensure both parties are on the same page when it comes to results. Good recruitment partnerships aren’t just about the number of hires. It could be that you’re trying to measure the success of your employer brand promotions or your social media campaign. Your RPO provider should show you these results too and have regular contact to talk through them. If you don’t understand the reporting or don’t receive enough communication, then it could be detrimental to your recruitment strategy, and really, you could be wasting a lot of money.
Do they understand your business?
An RPO provider becomes an extension of your team, and therefore they must take the time to understand your business from values and mission to company culture and future plans. If an RPO provider doesn’t understand what you do, how are they meant to find the right talent for your organisation? In fact, if they aren’t willing to get to know your organisation in-depth, you could argue that the RPO provider cares more about numbers and filling roles than finding you the right talent to enhance your business.
Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s worth engaging in conversation to check that they do understand your needs and the various elements of your business. Otherwise, you may be looking for a more suitable RPO provider in the next few months, which is a waste of everyone’s time.
The strategy alone may fill you with confidence about their understanding and give you enough reassurance that they know what’s best for your business. But, if you’re left with questions, it’s better to ask them before you begin. Understanding who you are and what you need is the most vital element of your recruitment partnership.
Do they have in-house capabilities?
Before you make a partnership official, it’s helpful to know what an RPO provider is capable of in-house and if they have to outsource any elements of the recruitment process. For example, at Talent Works, we have in-house recruiters, market research professionals, creatives and digital marketers, meaning that we can deliver full-scale projects efficiently. Other providers may not have this, but then you may not need it. For example, suppose your priority is executive search and recruitment. In that case, it doesn’t always matter. But suppose there is potential for EVP development, digital attraction campaigns or employer branding overhauls in your future. In that case, you may want to consider an RPO provider who can provide a greater array of services.
Do you get on with the people?
As with any business deal, people are at the centre of an RPO relationship. Therefore, more than anything, you must get one with the people you’ll be dealing with. A recruitment partnership will never work if you find communication difficult, aren’t able to be honest with each other and have a tense relationship. When you’re at the RFP stage, make sure you also get a feel for the people, not just their strategy. A tech RPO could have the most innovative and forward-thinking strategy in the world, but if the working relationship isn’t strong, your recruitment efforts will fall flat. RPO is a collaboration, and a good provider will embed themselves into your talent function. Therefore maintaining a good relationship with the individuals in the business is key.
If you’re thinking about working with an RPO provider, we’d love to pitch for you. With specialisms in the tech sector and helping businesses expand their technical and digital capacities, we help some of the world’s most exciting enterprises scale.
As an RPO provider based in Northampton and Manchester in the UK and Boston in the US, our teams have truly global reach and can help you expand into new territories.
To find out more about how our flexible approach to RPO can help you or to let us know more about your future recruitment projects, contact us.
We’re hosting a free virtual roundtable on September 1st with talent acquisition experts from Shopify, Moderna, LexisNexis and more. We’ll be discussing recruitment challenges of the last year and strategies for futureproofing talent acquisition in 2022. Don’t miss out. Register here.