Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

So Remind Me Again, What is Recruitment Process Outsourcing?

February 28, 2019

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an external organization (RPO provider) supports an employer’s talent acquisition function by assuming responsibility for portions or all facets of talent acquisition for some or all of an employer’s hiring needs.

For example, an RPO provider’s contract may only cover sourcing and screening candidates (partial-cycle RPO) or it may cover the entire recruiting cycle from receiving hiring manager’s requisitions all the way to presenting and negotiating job offers to candidates (full-cycle RPO).

An RPO provider can deliver its services either remotely or on-site and works closely with an organization’s internal talent acquisition team. Below, we highlight a few high-level reasons why organizations seek RPO providers, and conversely, when RPO may not be a good fit:


Reasons to engage an RPO provider:

  • If your organization is looking for more speed, agility and flexibility in your recruiting processes
  • If you are looking to improve the quality of candidates applying to your positions or struggle to attract the right talent
  • If your organization is looking for a more cost-effective and standardized recruiting process
  • If your organization’s current use of recruitment technology isn’t up to par and you are seeking a variety of digital upgrades specific to your organization’s recruiting objectives

Reasons not to engage an RPO provider:

  • If your company culture is not ready for outsourcing
  • If you just need a vendor to fill a quick requisition or two instead of as opposed to a partner to support your talent acquisition strategy
  • If your organization isn’t in open to optimizing your recruiting processes and technology

Remember, these reasons are not set in stone. Only you and your organization can assess if you are in need of an RPO provider’s services.


Now That I Know What RPO Providers Do, How Exactly Do They Do It?


Great question. During an RPO engagement, the RPO provider’s team works closely with their client’s talent acquisition and HR department and hiring managers to learn the organization’s long-term talent acquisition strategy, hiring challenges and goals.

The RPO provider then designs a customized recruiting program tailored to support the client’s specific needs. This focus on client consultation and partnership distinguishes RPO providers from standard staffing agencies and headhunters.

Now that you know what RPO is, it’s time to find out how RPO can elevate your organization’s talent acquisition program.

1. Recruitment Process Outsourcing Can Improve Your Candidate Experience

Poor candidate experience is usually a result of lack of engagement and communication between candidates and an employer. An RPO provider can provide the much-needed “human” touch by leveraging dedicated resources and technology to positively engage candidates at every step of the recruiting process.

An RPO provider’s team is comprised of expert and experienced recruiters who have regular conversations with candidates, answer their questions and keep the candidates engaged and informed throughout each step of the recruitment process. These conversations can serve a dual purpose of highlighting the benefits of the opportunity to the candidate, while also gauging the ‘fit’ of the candidate for the organization.

Although every candidate considered for a role won’t get hired, it’s important for candidates to leave the hiring process with a positive experience. As much as RPO providers are known for their adeptness at hiring, they are also experts at tactfully and considerately dispositioning candidates as well. In fact, knowing exactly how to disposition candidates in a compassionate and caring manner is one of the most important functions an RPO carries out on behalf of a client.

Candidates that feel like they had a bad experience during the recruiting process are more likely to besmirch your organization’s reputation, which in turn is bad for your employer brand. By treating candidates with respect and providing consistent, transparent and honest feedback, an RPO provider can help keep your reputation sterling.

Your RPO provider can also provide you with innovative talent technology solutions that balance human expertise with automation, enabling better candidate engagement. PeopleScout’s Affinix technology platform, for example, enhances talent intelligence by better leveraging the power of data gleaned from engaging millions of candidates and contingent associates every year.

RPO technology solutions may include:

  • AI technology that can identify top talent quickly and source strong passive and active candidates within seconds of an open job requisition
  • Digital and social media recruitment marketing to reach candidates through customized ads, optimized job descriptions, personalized landing pages and career portals
  • Mobile application platforms that allows candidates to apply from any device at any time throughout the application, scheduling and screening process
  • Video interviews and digital assessments that cut days off the hiring process by using data analytics and machine learning to identify and rank the best candidates. This simplifies the screening process for candidates and hiring managers
  • Predictive analytics and machine learning to gain a better understanding of top talent behaviors and predict factors such as cultural fit, willingness to change companies and future tenure potential

2. Recruitment Process Outsourcing Can Improve HR and Recruiting Efficiency

As the needs of the workforce continue to evolve, RPO programs have evolved alongside them. To meet the challenges of 21st-century hiring, RPO providers have added niche expertise, internal efficiency strategies and talent advisory solutions to their offerings to improve their client’s recruiting outcomes.

What’s more, RPO providers frequently take on time-consuming, but necessary, recruiting activities such as sourcing and candidate engagement. This can free-up internal HR staff to focus on higher value activities.

Along with providing critical support to your HR and recruiting teams, RPO providers can also help you implement technology solutions that can improve candidate engagement and deploy targeted talent attraction campaigns. In fact, 40 percent of RPO deals include a technology component, and RPO providers have started including a wide range of value-added services in their offerings as well to meet the demand for proactive, innovative recruitment. When you partner with an RPO provider, you also access:

  • Talent sourcing best practices and skills
  • Technology consultation and upgrades
  • Passive candidate engagement
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Industry-specific hiring expertise
  • Specialized focus on diversity or veteran recruiting

When reviewing potential RPO providers, make sure they are able to provide you with value-added services that will optimize and streamline each phase of the recruiting process.

3. Recruitment Process Outsourcing Can Improve Your Cost-Per-Hire

Every day a role goes unfilled, your organization loses productivity, which can lead to losses in revenue and profits. What’s more, inefficiencies in your organization’s hiring processes can result in lost revenue and more man-hours spent recruiting. And, if your organization hires the wrong person, you’ll spend even more time and money recruiting and training a replacement for the bad hire.

By streamlining and optimizing recruitment processes, improving the time-to-hire and retention rates, RPO providers can increase your recruiting return on investment and deliver real cost savings to your bottom line.

On top of improving time-to-hire and employee retention, an RPO provider can flex to meet your requirements. Your organization can scale the amount of work your RPO provider performs to match your needs and recruiting budget. When you have an increased demand for talent, an RPO provider can promptly increase their scale to accommodate your needs. Of course, this also works the other way around as well: when there is less demand, you can scale down, saving on recruitment spend and avoiding layoffs during low demand periods.

4. Recruitment Process Outsourcing Can Amplify Your Employer Brand

Your employer brand is an integral part of attracting talent to your organization as well as bolstering loyalty amongst your current employees. When properly developed, an employer brand engages the candidate’s mind and imagination and creates a sense of urgency or excitement about applying to an organization. So, when you engage an outside organization for recruitment services, you need to feel confident that your employer brand is in good hands.


An RPO provider can help you amplify your employer brand by leveraging your established employer brand in targeted recruitment marketing campaigns. Utilizing job postings, social media posts, your career site and email campaigns, your RPO provider will carry your carefully crafted employer brand to candidates, providing them with compelling reason apply to your open positions.

If your organization is looking to develop an employer brand from scratch or update your current one, your RPO provider can provide you with employer branding services to complement your recruitment strategy ranging from creative support to full-scale employer value propositions (EVP) development.

By taking a consultative and measured approach to the development of your employer brand, your RPO provider will arm you with the tools you need to increase applications, attract the right candidates and boost employee retention rates.


If your organization is looking to develop an employer brand from scratch or update your current one, your RPO provider can provide you with employer branding services to complement your recruitment strategy ranging from creative support to full-scale employer value propositions (EVP) development.

By taking a consultative and measured approach to the development of your employer brand, your RPO provider will arm you with the tools you need to increase applications, attract the right candidates and boost employee retention rates.

The Keys to RPO Success

The most important key to successfully engaging an RPO provider for services is to have a clear understanding of what your organization is trying to achieve. Then, you can choose an RPO provider that best meets your needs.

One thing to keep in mind on your RPO journey: RPO engagements are not only about outsourcing your recruiting, they are also about finding the best partner to help manage the people, process, technology and strategy of your talent acquisition function.

There is no single best option, only the option that best aligns with your organizational needs. To determine if RPO is right for your organization, take an audit of what your organization’s specific recruitment and sourcing challenges are and if you have the internal capabilities to overcome your challenges.

Want to learn more about RPO? Listen to our Podcast