Recruitment Process Outsourcing or RPO, is a recruitment model designed to be highly flexible and scalable. It allows businesses to outsource their recruitment efforts, making it an ideal choice for growing or scaling businesses.

Differences between RPO and other recruitment models

RPO is one of many recruitment models. There are a number of different models including; in-house, embedded talent solutions, retained search, contingency hiring and executive search.

  • Executive search: This type of recruitment focuses solely on difficult to find positions such as C-suite or heads of department. It’s ideal for roles that are strategically important and where the talent pool might be much smaller than usual.
  • Contingency hiring: This model is more widely used and is where external recruiters or recruitment agencies are only paid once a candidate has signed a deal with a company.
  • Retained search: With retained search, a recruiter is paid an upfront fee and they then work on an exclusive basis.
  • In-house: As the name suggests, this model is where you have a dedicated member of staff or a team working your recruitment needs. All elements of your recruitment will be handled internally.
  • Embedded talent solution: An embedded talent solution usually involves a recruiter (or numerous recruiters) embedding themselves into a client’s business. They get properly onboarded and manage the client’s recruitment from within the company.
  • RPO: Simply put, RPO is outsourcing some or all of your recruitment processes to a dedicated agency. This model is much more customisable than others. You can choose to only take certain parts of the process and the project can be scaled up or down at any time. RPO providers are specialist agencies experienced in all areas of recruitment. They have ready-made talent pools, technology they can leverage and highly-skilled teams who can manage all aspects of recruitment.

Advantages of RPO

The flexibility of RPO is one of the most attractive things about this model. You can scale up or down, regardless of where you are in the project. This is a particularly valuable offer for businesses who are growing or scaling. Having the ability to stop, pause, scale up or down the project, gives businesses with a lesser budget, more control. Another major benefit of RPO is that it can help expedite the hiring process. Having a dedicated provider take over your processes completely, results in quicker hires. RPO providers are better placed to source candidates quickly. They have the experience, ready-built talent pools and technologies they’ve invested in that support their work. An in-house team, or a different type of provider may not be able to offer these things and therefore, may not be as effective.

RPO providers are specialist providers, so as well as the more ‘basic’ tasks of recruitment such as sourcing and screening, they can offer other valuable services. Some of these can include D,E & I (diversity, equity and inclusion), a thorough understanding of what skills and personalities fit well with certain roles or creating or refreshing your Employer Brand and EVP, for example.

Reduced time-to-hire is something else an RPO can offer over other recruitment models. Thanks to the unique way RPO providers set themselves up, they’re prepared for almost anything. Whether you need support with sourcing, interviewing, creating EVPs/Employer Brands or D,E & I strategies, they have the knowledge and tools to hit the ground running.

Who is it for?

Outsourcing your recruitment processes can be for any company. Recruitment models don’t necessarily match up with particular types of company. RPO may be a more suitable model to use than in-house recruitment for growing or scaling companies, for example. It’s more customisable and can be pared back or scaled up depending on your needs. If your budget is low, this can be a blessing, as recruitment needs can change at any time. Having the flexibility of being able to scale up or down provides more value for those types of business. Their budgets may restrict them from having their own in-house team, so using an external provider can be beneficial.
For large multinational companies, this might not work quite as well, as they often have their own in-house team.

Though no longer the case, RPO has long been associated with high-volume hiring for large businesses. It’s only in recent years that is has become more common for small to medium sized companies to use RPO providers.

It seems then, that using RPO isn’t for any particular types of business. It can work for any size or type of company. RPO providers ensure that their teams are full of subject matter experts – this allows for quick, easy solutions to a range of needs including recruitment marketing, sourcing, screening and interviewing.

Companies with talent acquisition needs (those that need to analyse their long-term talent requirement and identify the best talent sources in specialist or technical areas) often opt to use RPO. The reason for this is that recruiters in an RPO agency are experts in their field – they have a thorough understanding of the requirements for these kinds of roles.

What is the typical structure of an RPO project?

The first stage of an RPO project is normally to create and agree an RPO agreement with the client. With that agreed, the HR management team would normally meet with the provider and come up with the job descriptions. Following this, the provider begins to advertise the vacancy. To achieve the best results, the provider will use a range of tools they have at their disposal; technologies they’ve invested in, social media, industry-specific websites, their own talent pools and any other platforms/services that help them reach their audience. The next stage can either be screening applicants or reviewing and changing the job descriptions to get a better response. Following that is typically either a pre-employment assessment or the start of interviewing. The interview process will narrow the candidates down, so there are fewer candidates to choose from. This shortens the process significantly and is much less time-consuming for the client.

Are all RPO offerings the same?

The RPO Association lists four distinct types of RPO offering. Each of them has qualities that are suited to different recruitment goals.

  1. On-demand
  2. Project-based RPO
  3. Enterprise RPO
  4. Total Talent (RPO & MSP)

On-demand is mentioned as being the best for quickly scaling. If your business has hiring spikes, this model can provide the extra support for your team when you need it.

A project based RPO can be the best option when you need some additional support for a particular project within your business. You might have a new product or service or be in the middle of scaling or growing, so having some extra support from recruiters can help you address these issues.

Enterprise RPOs are best for efficiency – they are full service RPOs which allow businesses to outsource all aspects of their recruiting. On top of finding better quality candidates, this type of solution can help you improve compliance and operational efficiency and can save you money.

Total Talent solutions are an emerging model which integrates RPO and MSP (Managed Service Program). The advantage being that between the two, all permanent recruiting and contingent labour aspects are taken care of.  

If you’re thinking about working with a provider of RPO or Embedded Talent solutions, 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 and Embedded Talent solution provider based in the UK, US, and more recently, South Africa, our teams have truly global reach and can help you expand into new territories.

To find out more about how our flexible approach to recruitment can help you or to let us know more about your future recruitment projects, contact us.