After long consideration, you have decided to engage in a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partnership.

There were probably a few events or challenges that pushed your company to decide an RPO was the best next course of action. A highly candidate-driven market, rapidly emerging recruitment technologies, or a lack of internal resources could all be catalysts for enlisting the help of an RPO.

No matter the reason, implementation is probably the next looming hurdle.

While we can assure you the right partnership will benefit your talent acquisition team (and budget), this quick 5-step process will help you plan for RPO success while training your recruiters for amazingly improved efficiency.

1 – Lead with strategic discovery

The right RPO partnership will be able to integrate into your organization even if you’re not exactly aware of all the gaps that need filling or processes that need updating. However, for the most effective partnership, your organization should do a little self-reflection.

Even better, the introspection might prove invaluable even when evaluating RPO prospects.

When starting self-discovery, consider questions like:

  • What are your obvious recruitment gaps?
  • What challenges are creating obstacles?
  • What industry-specific knowledge is required to successfully source and hire talent?
  • Have your recruiters mentioned specific and recurring challenges in their process?
  • What processes or strategies are working time and time again? What isn’t?
  • Do you have any resources that will help the RPO team better understand your brand or candidate experience?
  • What are your non-negotiables?

Bottom line: RPO partnerships should integrate into your organization’s established company values and culture. This groundwork ensures that happens by granting your recruiting team the chance to provide input. It’s also a great time to consider specific strategies behind previously used tactics.

2 – Find missed opportunities

This is quite possibly one of the most beneficial parts of partnering with an RPO. Even a well-established and successful recruitment team suffers from missed opportunities.

The list of potential oversights can include anything from overlooking passive candidate engagement practices to underdeveloping the applicant/candidate experience. In either and all cases, these missed opportunities can mean big repercussions for talent acquisition.

Invite your RPO partner to look into each process as it stands, and don’t hide perceived blemishes. It might not be fun to explain things like diversity or inclusion problems, but that is the most surefire way to collaborate on solutions.

The RPO will uncover the issues and obstacles anyway. It can be difficult to remember that though you are outsourcing the process, you aren’t losing the security of an internal program. Optimal recruiter efficiency starts with an honest dive into your recruitment problems.

Bottom line: Outsourcing doesn’t mean a loss of internal security, and hiding problems is doing your team a disservice. Recruiter efficiency depends on critical reviews of your process, so hiding blemishes will only prolong a successful recruitment strategy development. Plus, a good RPO is going to find the skeletons anyway.

3 – Focus on connections, not spending

First and foremost, companies turn to RPO providers for saving resources and boosting the budget.

GEM Recruiting AI

Recruiters are often the first point of contact for your company in the eyes of job seekers and candidates. Unfortunately, the little things and countless administrative tasks can leave your recruitment team and hiring managers more than a little overwhelmed.

Applications may go unreviewed or unanswered, interviews might be unorganized and the candidate experience suffers. With the small, time consuming tasks taken care of, your recruitment team can focus on building a healthy process and friendly experience.

Maybe you won’t hire every interested applicant, but you will give every applicant the time and attention they deserve, ultimately supporting a positive employer brand.

In addition, recruitment budgeting houses a lot of variables. Within a year, recruiting needs might fluctuate so greatly that mispredicting busy seasons may be one of the most costly mistakes made. RPO allows companies the room needed to overcome the unpredictable and scale without expensive repercussions.

Bottom line: RPO provides support to your existing recruitment resources, opportunity for better attention to candidates and scalability. This reallocation will grant more time to develop those long standing processes and strategies that will improve your company’s talent acquisition. If independence and a totally internal recruiting process is your future plan, this support will grant the freedom to work toward that.

4 – Capitalize on development

As mentioned, the RPO provider will lower or eliminate some of the time-consuming and menial tasks usually bogging your recruiting team down. However, there is additional value in the advice and best practices insight your provider can offer.

RPO providers know the market, helping you to correctly and efficiently fill vacancies with the right compensation.

More importantly, they have insight into what each specific candidate pool expects and demands, as well as the latest on where the market or industry is heading. They will use that knowledge in combination with your culture to guide your resources and training in a way that either supports a long-term partnership, or develops an in-house approach you can manage independently in the future.

Bottom line: From specialized market and industry knowledge to an expertise in traditional and emerging recruitment trends, using an RPO means having access to a powerful resource.

5 – Remain open minded about your RPO

Whether it’s a recommendation for new technology and tools or a new approach to employer branding communication, your RPO partner might have a few wave-creating suggestions.

The process could leave your recruitment team a little uncomfortable, but disruption and innovation are what lead to better strategies and efficiency. With clearly explained goals and non-negotiables, these ideas should still be aligned to your organization and might solve long standing challenges.

Bottom Line: Don’t be afraid of change. An RPO might be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but once all the dust settles, your company should be left with a more efficient, budget-friendly recruitment strategy that finds the right hires. Do be sure to explain the RPO process and goals with your established in-house recruitment team so there is no confusion on their importance.

What are your experiences with RPO? Was your team left with ah-ha moments or a laundry list of horror stories? Tell us all about it on our Twitter or Facebook.


Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. He has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. Prior to Founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a Sourcer with Yahoo’s internal Executive Recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. Previous to Yahoo, Chris was an Associate in the Menlo Park, California office with Heidrick & Struggles, where he recruited for software, hardware, professional services, and semiconductor clients. Before Heidrick & Struggles, Chris worked in the Retail Practice of TMP Worldwide in Atlanta, Georgia. While with TMP Worldwide, he worked on CEO, General Merchandise Manager, and various VP and Buyer level searches. You can follow him on Twitter @cmurdock or connect with him on LinkedIn.