Talking Talent: Talent at the Speed of RPO

One of the biggest make-or-break factors in today’s talent market is simple, but difficult to execute—speed. In a talent market where job postings outnumber job-seekers and future uncertainty still plagues employers, speed can be the deciding factor in whether your organization has enough workers, as well as the best talent and the ability to respond to changing market conditions.  

When I talk about speed, I’m talking about it on two fronts: On one level, employers need to remain nimble. During the last two years, we’ve learned that the world can change drastically at a moment’s notice; as a talent leader, that means you need to be able to scale your team up and down. Can you respond to a hiring spike to keep up with demand? Can you handle seasonal hiring? If you can’t respond and flex your team quickly, you’ll struggle to hire enough candidates and your business will suffer.  

But, there’s more to it than that. There are three key factors that applicants have more of today than they’ve ever had before: Options, options and more options. They have options in the type of work they do, options in the level of compensation they receive and options regarding their work/life balance. Consequently, if you can’t bring a candidate through your recruitment process quickly enough, you’ll lose them to another one of their options.  

All of this is compounded by the fact that recruiters are in short supply. As SHRM reports, many recruiters changed careers after the cutbacks in 2020. Now, job postings for recruiters have tripled, and there aren’t enough candidates to fill the open roles. So, how can talent leaders meet candidate expectations? In this article, I’ll explain how the right talent solution can help you become more nimble and streamline your recruitment process. 

Challenge: Remaining Nimble Amid Uncertainty  

Whether it’s for planned busy seasons or unanticipated shifts in the market, you may need to scale your talent acquisition operations up or down—and fast. At first, you may think that this can be handled internally, but high turnover and a shortage of recruiters makes it difficult. And, although pulling in employees from other areas of the business for extra support during a busy period can be tempting, it then leaves shortages elsewhere in the organization. Plus, those workers may not have the skills or background to effectively recruit new employees.  

How RPO Can Help: Scalable Support 

Fortunately, you can get around this hurdle by looking for a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner that can blend seamlessly with your organization. Specifically, an experienced provider can add or reduce the number of recruiters on your team to meet your changing needs. For instance, as you approach your busy season, recruiter numbers can increase to ensure they’re fluent in your business so that candidates never know the difference. Then, when your hiring volume decreases, those recruiters can move to a different project; you don’t have to worry about hiring additional recruiters or keeping additional staff busy during slower periods.  

How RPO Can Help: Automation Technology  

You can also use technology to streamline the process for your talent acquisition team. By doing so, you’ll be able to automate the time-consuming, repetitive tasks that add little value for candidates, but require significant recruiter time. Moreover, this also allows your recruiters to fill more roles quickly, making it easier for them to handle the increased volume of a busy period. Essentially, while you may still need to scale your team to some degree, the right technology can make these shifts less dramatic.  

An RPO provider can also help you find the right technology solution for you. In particular, tools like automated sourcing can take some of the load off of your sourcing team by identifying qualified candidates within minutes. Likewise, automated recruitment marketing tools can reduce the amount of time recruiters spend crafting emails to reach out to candidates. And, virtual, on-demand interviews save recruiters time by removing the phone tag just to schedule an interview; instead, the recruiter and hiring manager can screen candidate responses at their convenience. Finally, analytics tools can help you ensure that you’re using your resources most effectively. PeopleScout’s proprietary talent technology, AffinixTM, is one example that can meet these needs.  

How RPO Can Help: Smaller Scale Solutions 

It can be scary to enter into a full-cycle RPO partnership in today’s market, but that doesn’t have to be a deterrent. Solutions like project-based RPO—which we call Recruiter On-Demand—can provide targeted, short-term support for all or part of your hiring process. This can also include technology solutions. What’s more, a project-based RPO can also be implemented more quickly than a traditional RPO program, thereby making it even easier for your team to scale up to meet your hiring needs.  

Challenge: Speeding up the Candidate Experience 

Candidates are in the driver’s seat in this job market, and that’s likely going to continue for quite some time. For example, in the past, job-seekers would be willing to wait for a call back or an interview; a strong employer brand made candidates more tolerant of a slow process. But, today, speed is of the essence. Now, candidates are looking to control the timeline—and, if they can’t, they’ll find another opportunity easily and quickly: They can take a gig job. They can take their transferable skills to another industry. They can work for your competitor. Even new grads are in high demand, with many in the U.S. receiving multiple offers or offers months before graduating, according to NPR.  

How RPO Can Help: Candidate Experience Best Practices 

To compete in this market, you need to adjust your process to make it fast and able to provide a better experience for candidates. If you’re struggling to do this internally, look for an RPO provider with the right expertise; look for a partner with both experience in your industry, as well as across industries. While every industry is unique, you can often benefit from knowledge of other sectors and geographies.  

You probably already have good data about your talent acquisition program, but perhaps you lack the expertise to interpret that data and identify areas to improve. If so, choose a partner that’s focused on the entire process—from sourcing through every stage of recruitment to the first 30 or 60 days a new hire is on the job. With that background, they’ll be able to review every step and identify the most influential areas for improvement. For instance: Where are candidates experiencing friction? Is it on your careers site? Completing your application? Scheduling interviews? Waiting on your team to process excess paperwork? Your RPO provider should be able to identify which challenges you’re facing and implement targeted interventions.  

How RPO Can Help: Speedy Technology Solutions 

An RPO provider’s technology solutions can also add speed. If you spend a lot of time interviewing candidates, consider whether those interviews accurately indicate whether the candidate will be successful. If not, you may be able to replace part of a drawn-out interview process with a more effective assessment.  

As an example, a short, mobile-first application can bring more candidates into your funnel. Next, a text or SMS interview can move candidates on to the next steps quickly. Finally, on-demand interviews and interview self-scheduling don’t just help your team work more efficiently; they also help candidates move through the process faster and give them a sense of control. 

Taking the First Step 

Overall, an RPO provider gives you what you need: More resources. At PeopleScout, we can engage our global teams for 24/7 support. For example, recruiters can review résumés or on-demand interviews overnight so that your team has a prescreened slate of candidates waiting when they start work in the morning. Your RPO provider can also take on administrative steps, like background screenings or drug tests. All of this makes you faster and more nimble.  

Taking the first step toward working with an RPO provider can be intimidating. But, if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s the need to be flexible in finding different solutions to new challenges. You can’t get anywhere quickly if you let things stay the same.