Recruitment process outsourcing: 10 popular myths busted
Adam Barratt

3 minutes

Recruitment process outsourcing: 10 popular myths busted

For those who need to recruit regularly or at scale (or both), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) can be a smart solution. But thanks to a number of myths and misconceptions, it can be hard to sort fact from fiction when weighing up the pros and cons of an RPO solution.

So, what are the disadvantages of RPO compared to other workforce solutions? Is RPO really a cost effective approach? And isn’t RPO just another name for MSP?

Let’s debunk 10 of the most common RPO myths.

‘We’ll lose control and visibility over our recruitment’

Thanks to advanced VMS and applicant tracking technology, today’s recruitment process outsourcing solutions enable businesses to retain full visibility and control of the recruitment process - while still enjoying all the benefits that working with an external specialist brings.

When you have multiple business units managing multiple recruitment suppliers, it becomes a real challenge to keep track of spend, resources and performance. An RPO partnership removes this logistical and administrative burden, and provides real-time data so you can make informed decisions about your workforce.

‘RPO is an expensive recruitment solution’

Finding talent is a time-consuming process, even for the best talent acquisition and HR professionals. This is especially the case when recruiting at volume or for hard-to-fill roles. Every day a vacancy stays open means higher costs and lower productivity. 

RPO providers are typically measured on time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, and quality-of-hire. A huge part of their job is to ensure that vacancies don’t remain open for months at a time. With RPO, you get the right person, quickly, and at a better value than the DIY alternative.

‘RPO means we have to outsource ALL of our recruitment’

There’s no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to recruitment process outsourcing. With businesses now able to choose between end-to-end RPO, project RPO, or on-demand RPO to best suit their needs, they can ‘pick and mix’ from the full suite of services on offer.

This means an RPO contract doesn’t have to be all-encompassing or long-term. On-demand RPO provides hiring managers and internal recruitment teams with all the benefits of ‘traditional RPO’, but on a short-term basis. It is a completely viable model for urgent hiring needs.

We once helped a customer in the life and pensions industry who suddenly needed hundreds of new staff across 10 UK locations following a successful contract win. The initial project was for 400 vacancies within a year; we filled 500 positions within nine months.

‘RPO delivers quantity but not quality’

There is a misconception that RPOs simply sift CVs and send you a shortlist. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you engage an RPO you benefit from the provider’s relationships and talent pipelines, as well as the specialist market insights they can offer.

An RPO provider’s main purpose is to ensure that your business gets the best hires, even in markets that are notoriously difficult. You should get a dedicated relationship manager who will work with both your sourcing teams and hiring community. They’ll ensure that the talent attraction strategy and employer value proposition (EVP) for each programme is designed to appeal to, and engage with, the very best candidates around.

‘We’ll need expensive new technology to implement RPO’

For internal talent acquisition teams, recruitment process outsourcing transfers all or part of the hiring process to staffing experts with the knowledge and experience to implement recruitment campaigns that would be impossible to handle internally.

Most of the technology behind RPO is actually quite commonplace and straightforward. And even if you don’t have the necessary systems in place already, most RPO providers have built the latest talent technology into their service offering. So whether your business is high-tech, low-tech or no-tech, you can still fully embrace RPO.

‘RPO is just another name for MSP’

An RPO solution and a managed service programme (MSP) are both examples of outsourced recruitment solutions, and they offer many of the same cost-saving and efficiency benefits. But there are important differences between MSP and RPO.

The biggest difference is that an RPO provider embeds a talent acquisition team onsite within your business. With MSP, this doesn’t usually happen (although here at Guidant we do put our people onsite for customer MSP programmes).

The other big difference between MSP and RPO is that MSP is traditionally about hiring contingent workers while RPO is usually concerned with permanent staff. Although…

‘RPO is just for hiring permanent employees’

Contrary to popular belief, RPO is not only for permanent hiring. Contingent RPO takes all the benefits of the best permanent RPO solutions - such as employer branding, EVP, and technology implementation - and uses them within a contingent programme.

Crucially, with a contingent RPO solution, you get a direct sourcing team who are solely dedicated to finding non-permanent talent for your business. This gives you access to recruitment experts singularly committed to your organisation’s success.

‘RPO is only about reacting, not planning ahead’

To be prepared to respond to changing demands and the evolving global market, employers need to develop strategic talent pools - a task that an RPO is well-placed to deliver. The best RPO providers ensure your business has the people it needs today, while simultaneously planning for future talent needs behind the scenes.

They do this through building brand awareness and a strong EVP alongside sustainable pipelines and working talent pools, packed with former employees, silver and bronze medallists, contingent talent and others who have expressed an interest in joining you.

‘RPO will dilute our culture and employer brand’

Not all businesses have the in-house expertise to create an engaging employer value proposition. By providing them with a dedicated team of brand advocates, an RPO solution helps many employers strengthen and enhance, rather than dilute, their culture and values.

The best RPO providers help businesses define their value to potential candidates. With experts solely devoted to EVP creation and employer brand strategists within their ranks, they are able to market a business to candidates - even in traditionally challenging sectors.

‘RPO only works well for large enterprises’

It’s true that RPO solutions were, in the early days, more commonly used in large organisations. But over recent years, more medium-sized businesses are discovering the benefits of RPO solutions - as are smaller firms that are experiencing rapid growth.

Depending on the dynamics of your business and what you want to achieve with outsourcing, engaging an RPO can add real value - particularly for any business that hires staff on a fairly regular basis, or is enjoying a growth spurt.

Could RPO be right for you? Let’s discuss

If you’re looking for a workforce solution that offers flexibility, speed, quality and cost-efficiency, some form of RPO solution could well be the answer.

We’ve won awards for our on-site RPO solutions, and we’d be happy to discuss ways we can support you too. Contact us to start a conversation about your needs.


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