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How to choose your Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider

How to choose your Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider

Here are 3 key steps to help you select the right RPO provider for your business.

The effectiveness of your recruitment efforts depends on several components, such as the processes that are in place, different techniques used in these processes, the people involved and the technology.

All these elements are interdependent and so your recruitment is only as strong as its weakest component.

That also refers to an RPO - in order to be effective, your RPO provider should offer a healthy combination of the above elements. When searching for or considering engaging in an RPO partnership, it’s essential to evaluate your potential partner in terms of the areas listed above.

However, the process of selecting the right partner is much more complex than that; it's a big decision for your organisation. The guidelines below will help you prepare for and assess potential RPO providers in the most effective way.

Current state of affairs

In order to receive the service that you need, you will have to fully understand your hiring requirements that brought you to the point of researching RPO as a solution in the first place.

It is recommended that you carry out an internal audit to fully understand the current state of your recruitment processes prior to formally submitting a request for proposal (RFP).

  • Which parts of your process would you like to see working more efficiently?
  • What are the elements that are lacking?
  • What is it that in your view is not working the way it should be and why?

Your potential provider will ask you to clarify what your current processes are, what resources you have available, and who are the main stakeholders involved, so be prepared to answer those questions.

There are also several questions you can ask yourself in preparation for choosing the right supplier:

  1. Over the course of the last 12 to 24 months, how many new employees did you hire?
  2. Where were these roles based? What was salary range for each? What was the discipline or specialisation of each position?
  3. Is your hiring dependent on seasonality? Do you notice any spikes in hiring within certain periods?
  4. What is your average annual turnover?
  5. What do your hiring managers currently think of your hiring process? Is there anything that you know of that they would like to see changed?
  6. What about your candidates experience, your employer brand and EVP - are you expecting to see any improvements to these areas?

Answering these questions will help you to build a better understanding of what it is you’re looking to achieve through your work with an RPO provider. You will then be in a better position to ask specific information and quickly filter out potential partners based on their capacity to meet your specific requirements.

Narrow down the search

Once you fully understand the current state of your recruitment, you should be able to precisely define your requirements. Based on those, you will be able to quickly identify potential partners that could be the best fit for your business.

There are five different categories you can use as a basis for filtering out potential vendors:

  • Industry niche - you might want to hire people of a very specific profile and if so, it may be your preference to work with a company that has experience and a deep understanding of the market in which your company operates.
  • Location - you may decide to work with a partner who can support your recruitment operations across different locations; this will automatically eliminate any potential partners who do not have the capacity to work in those locations.
  • Scalability - if your organisation experiences fluctuations in the area of hiring, you may choose to work with providers who offer flexible services allowing you to ramp-up or scale-down your RPO depending on seasonal needs.
  • Quality vs price - your reason for engaging with an RPO partnership might simply be a need to reduce the time and manage the cost of your hiring efforts; on the other hand, the improvement of your employer branding or your general processes might be your main priority. Depending on what's most important to you, you can quickly narrow down your search by excluding providers who don’t offer certain specialisations.
  • Type of RPO - this is related to the quality and prices, however, it goes beyond these two aspects; perhaps you require support with a specific project such as setting up operations in a new location or maybe you are just looking for a company that can look after hiring of your contractors - there are numerous different variations of RPO. Depending on your needs, you should be able to quickly separate the companies that can meet your requirements from those that don’t offer the services you’re looking for based on the different types of RPO services they offer.

Rather than providing a pre-designed RPO solution, we build unique solutions for each client. As a result, no two RPO programmes that we deliver are ever the same.

When researching different providers, you may wish to consider how much flexibility you may need for your organisation.

Experience and track record

When choosing an RPO provider, it’s crucial to look for a partner who can meet your specific requirements and understand your business, culture and industry.

In order to assess whether the company meets the discussed criteria, make sure to ask some of the questions below:

  • What services do they offer - ask for examples of specific programs and projects that could show you in practice how different services work.
  • What size of company do they typically work with - ask for specific names and examples of clients.
  • What industries do they operate in - would they be familiar with or have experience with recruitment in your niche?

Make sure you ask for references and if you can, speak to some of these to get a better understanding of the capability of the potential provider.

Finally, request for information on the vendor’s formal issue escalation process. In RPO, as in any other type of business project or initiative, certain challenges and issues may arise. An experienced vendor will have a formal identification, escalation and resolution process in place.

Final thoughts...

There are numerous different types of RPO providers that can vary in their flexibility, location, specialisation or even the type of services they offer.

When looking for the right partner for your company, make sure to ask for the basic information and then go a level deeper to get a strong understanding of the vendor. Watch out for elements such as their experience, capacity, culture and their way of working. Your goal here should be to learn as much as you can about the company before you sign the contract.

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