What is RPO?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is when an employer engages a specialist 3rd-party service provider to manage some or all of their talent acquisition process.

What are the benefits of RPO?

Some of the key benefits of RPO are:

• Increased quality of hires

  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced time to hire
  • Flexibility of team
  • Increased Management Information
  • Process efficiency
  • Industry insights
  • Improved hiring manager and candidate experience
  • Talent Pooling

What are the downsides of RPO?

Some of the potential downsides can be:


  • Cultural Fit.  It is critical that both the values and objectives of employer (client) and 3rd party service provider (RPO) are aligned.  In order to create the most effective and efficient process, an understanding of the client’s business culture is key to its success.  Failure to achieve this can lead to a mismatch of candidates to open roles, poor hiring manager and candidate experience, and a failure to achieve the expected outcomes.
  • Lack of Control.  Outsourcing such a key element of a company’s Talent strategy can require a real leap of faith.  Not having full visibility of what’s going on means that setting up the right level of management information is key to its success.  Whilst the outsourced team may ‘look and feel’ like employees of the client, they are actually working for the outsourced partner who will set their own set of objectives and targets to be met.
  • Perceived threat to HR team.  There may be occasions when members of the employer (client) HR team feel threatened by outsourcing such a valuable service to a 3rd party provider.  This can often be countered by collaboratively defining the services to be outsourced, which typically results in the HR team being able to work more effectively in their own specialist areas.

Are there different types of RPO?

Yes.  Outsourced recruitment solutions can be delivered in a number of different ways, including:

•  Enterprise RPO, also know as End to End RPO or Full Service RPO. Enterprise RPO services will see the outsourcing partner manage the       entire recruitment process from start to finish.  As this type of RPO is typically used by organizations who need continuous support with       their overall processes, Enterprise RPO partnerships often last over two years.

  • Project RPO, also know as On-demand RPO.  Project RPO is an agile and flexible alternative designed for companies not looking for a lengthy outsourcing partnership commitment.  Project RPO can serve as a pilot for a lengthier end-to-end RPO solution.  The implementation of Project RPO is considerably shorter than for Enterprise RPO.
  • Hybrid RPO, also know as Staff Augmentation model tends to be a blend of on-site and offsite outsourced recruitment services.  It can also be used to complement an existing in-house Talent Acquisition team by outsourcing certain parts of the recruitment process but retaining other aspects in-house.  An example of this is when candidate sourcing is delivered by the outsourced partner but the hiring process is managed by an employee of the client.
  • Contingent Workforce Solutions focus on the attraction and management of an organisation’s non-permanent workers.  This can include Managed Service Programs (MSP), Statement of Work (SoW), Direct Payroll and Vendor Management Solutions (VMS).

What do RPO companies cost?

The actual cost of outsourcing your recruitment process depends on many factors including volume of hires, type of hires and the type of RPO model you are looking to implement.  The majority of outsourced recruitment partners will offer the below pricing models, dependent of the size and scale of the solution.

  • Management Fee.  Tends to be a fixed amount or %’age of total cost that is billed each month.
  • Cost per Hire (CPH).  A fixed fee or %’age that is billed for each hire made within a particular period, usually monthly.
  • Management Fee + CPH.  A blend of both fees that tends to allow greater flexibility if hiring volumes are uncertain.
  • Shortlist Fee or Cost per Slate.  An agreed fee payable on the provision of a list of suitable and qualified candidates.
  • Cost per transaction.  These fees are typically charged at different stages of the outsourced recruitment process e.g candidate screening, candidate interview or management of internal applicants.

Which RPO partner is right for our business?

The global RPO market size is projected to reach $21.69bn by 2027.  That growth is significant compared to the recorded market size of $7.23bn in 2020 (CAGR of 17.0%).  

Selecting the right RPO partner for your company out of such a hugely competitive market can be daunting however, a good place to start is by asking the right questions.  Here’s an example of some of the questions that will help you assess some of the capabilities and characteristics of a solutions provider before jumping to a decision:

  • Can the RPO provider address the challenges in your recruitment infrastructure?
  • Can they guide you into choosing a suitable RPO business model?
  • Do they support the RPO model that your business requires?
  • Are they capable of coming up with customised talent sourcing and acquisition strategies on demand?
  • Are they capable of meeting your timeline?
  • Do they offer scalable and flexible options?
  • Do they have access to a large talent pool?
  • Do their values align with that of your company and your goals?
  • Are they familiar with the requirements of your industry?
  • Do they have a reputation for reducing their clients’ turnover rates? How are their own turnover rates?
  • How do they intend to maintain constant communication with your hiring manager and other members of your internal team?
  • Apart from recruitment, what other value-enhancing solutions can they bring to the table?

How can The RPO Consultancy help?

Having lived and breathed the RPO industry since its early inception in the mid-90’s, we’ve been actively involved in the evolution of outsourced recruitment solutions from the pre-digital era to the modern day.  Our knowledge and experience of the local and international RPO marketplace, combined with our independent and impartial approach, positions us perfectly to advise and support companies that are either currently working with an outsourced partner or a considering starting their RPO journey.  If you’re in any doubt, please feel free to contact us for a chat about your situation or requirements.