RPO Scalability: The Key to Making RPO Fit Your Organization’s Ongoing Needs

Time to Read: 7.4 minutes

Updated: December 20, 2022

The time to fill a position currently takes organizations around 27 working days, and 47 percent of declined offers are due to candidates accepting other jobs during the timeframe.

To speed up processes, companies have increasingly come to see the value in outsourcing recruitment services to RPO vendors.

Currently, the global staffing market is pegged at $450 billion and, as Michael Overell, notes, RPO is a $3 to $4 billion industry growing at 10 percent per year.

While historically restricted to high-volume employers due to high costs of delivery, these days RPO partners deliver cost-effective value to SMEs.

The important consideration is that RPOs have evolved over the years and are able to provide clients with specialized recruitment services that are efficient, affordable and, ultimately, scalable to changing hiring needs.

We recently published some tips to keep in mind when choosing an RPO partner here and here. In this installment, we argue that one of the major considerations when choosing an RPO partner is scalability.

In times of growth or decline, high hiring intensity or slow progress, RPOs need to ramp up or scale down recruitment services to fit organizational requirements.

Red Flags When Choosing an RPO Vendor

As with selecting any vendor or partner, it is worth having a checklist in place to help when making the decision. Carrie Kolar, at RPOA, lists a number of red flags to watch out for. One such flag is when the RPO representative says, “Our team will be dedicated to your account 100% of the time.”

This should be cause for alarm or at least circumspection, Kolar argues. Part of what RPOs provide is scalability. They can scale up or down depending on a client’s needs. That means when some organizations are upscaling, they will be receiving more attention and resources. For those requiring down-scaling of services, fewer resources are required. Within this changing dynamic, RPO partners will need to shift their staff from one client to another.

This in itself is no need for concern. It is the nature of scalable solutions. However, just be aware that the RPO partner should not try to conceal this in the potentially false promise that all all of their attention will be given to a particular client all of the time.

“While your provider would ideally have a core group assigned to your project full-time to maintain quality and continuity along the implementation, dedicating 100% of the team 100% of the time is not feasible,” Kolar writes.

Another aspect tied to scalability is customizability. A good RPO partner will be able to identify an organization’s requirements and provide recruitment services that cater to them.

Indeed, it is this expert knowledge that has increased RPO’s popularity over the years. Jarrod Mollison, at Datum RPO, writes that RPO services provide welcome alternatives to traditional methods of agencies or in-house teams.

An RPO provider may offer end-to-end solution, taking on a client’s entire recruiting function or provide specific services, bolstering the in-house team. This can include candidate research, auditing, process mapping, technology consulting training and compliance.

Scalability is also an important aspect of the partnership. Mollison says a reliable RPO partner should be able to provide specialized services that are scalable to an organization’s needs. In order to achieve this, RPOs need to be aware of turnaround of temporary workers, market fluctuations, centralized rates, quality control and IT infrastructure.

RPOs Cater to Times of Rapid Growth and Seasonal Spikes

This awareness will help RPOs deliver services that meet clients’ hiring needs within a customized framework, according to Tom Valerius at The Source 2 Blog. In order to make this possible, RPOs need to offer scalable processes and services.

It’s important for an RPO to be able to act when an organization is growing and needs to ramp up hires quickly. However, what is also vital is for an RPO vendor to scale down when hiring needs are slow. This means a flexible approach is key. “It’s important to remember,” Valerius writes, “there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to RPO.”

RPO partners are vital for those times when recruitment needs to be altered to accommodate seasonal spikes and unexpected rapid growth, Andrew Greenberg writes at Contract Recruiter.

Not only does keeping recruitment in-house during these trying times place undue stress on the team, but it can also lead to hasty placements of candidates who may not be the most suitable.

RPO partners can better control the fluctuating recruiting demands of, and impact on, businesses. With dedicated staff, experienced recruiters, advanced recruiting technology and social recruiting methods, RPOs are well-equipped to deal with scalable hiring needs.

Additionally, small startups can reap the rewards of partnering with an RPO vendor. Consider how these new organizations won’t have the same resources as larger competitors in their industries. They can compete by outsourcing recruitment, as RPOs can find better candidates and place them quicker than the startups could do on their own.

When companies outsource recruiting, it’s usually to resolve specific needs such as rapid growth, hiring for short-term projects, saving money or reducing turnover. A good RPO partner can not only scale these services to fit demand, but it can also add the resources to find the best fits for roles.

Big or Small, RPOs Scale to Fit Any Organization

Quarsh director Lucy James notes how the old days of a job for life are long gone. The modern workforce moves rapidly, and organizations need recruitment strategies to match this.

Businesses of any size, James argues, must be able to “scale and adapt their employment offering and routes to the candidate market at a much greater pace than ever before, whilst understanding and incorporating the ever increasing number of technological developments in the labour market.”

RPOs present companies with a means of dealing with these changes in a cost-effective and largely stress-free way. The flexibility of scalable modern RPO services is an effective recruitment solution for SMEs especially, who benefit from the economies of scale that an RPO offers as well as the outsourcing partner’s knowledge and expertise.

Scalability is Top of the List

Scalability is such an important aspect of the RPO partnership that it registers as the major priority when choosing a vendor.

Gary Bragar at HRO Today lists the main reasons behind why companies outsource their recruitment processes. Improving talent acquisition performance results and quality of hires is an obvious motivator as is transforming and updating processes to find better candidates from a broader network at a lower cost.

Topping the list, however, are scalability and being able to meet changing business demands. Agility is an important capability in business and responsive, proactive talent acquisition grants organizations the nimbleness to adapt.

The ability to scale up recruitment to support growth has become a major challenge for internal talent acquisition teams. A stronger economy, increased demand for specialized positions, global expansion, seasonal hiring, and mergers and acquisitions all impact the need for scalable services.

The reality is that for most in-house teams, these demands, whether sudden or planned for, are too great to deal with on their own. This is why RPO partners can add value to the hiring process.

RPOs Grant Access to Technology

Better recruitment strategies are linked to global reach, writes Richard Jackson, COO at Hays. Jackson note how clients are well-served by partnering with RPOs that have worldwide clout. This provides a coordinated approach to recruitment.

However, another major advantage of employing RPO services is the access to recruitment technology. Using the latest tech means decisions can be made more accurately in a shorter space of time. It also helps with scaling services to fit organizational needs. As Jackson notes, outsourcing these concerns gives in-house hiring teams the space to focus resources elsewhere.

Further, Allie Kelly at HR Technologist argues that RPO partners can provide modern recruiting tools for smaller companies without the financial resources to bring it in house. This means that even single-person hiring departments or small teams can find scalable solutions to manage the many facets of recruiting.

Scalability is Just One Aspect of a Solid RPO Offering

Francis Padamadan at Financial Express says RPO players, with the clear communication of organizations with local expertise and experience, can provide accelerated speed of hire to the right scale. Padamadan is so enthusiastic, he writes that “RPO is the panacea.”

Breaking down RPO into four main categories — skill-based, project-based, consulting and end-to-end — Padamadan argues that RPO partners can help boost ROI.

Scalability is a notable concern, but it is just one aspect of many considerations when it comes to selecting an RPO partner. Important issues such as cost-reduction, access to technology and pipelines loaded with candidates of good cultural fits remain key.

An effective RPO partner will be able to provide all of these to meet an organization’s changing needs — and will have the flexibility to ramp up or scale down when circumstances demand.

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Shanil Kaderali

Shanil Kaderali is a strategic talent acquisition leader with global experience. He's managed and led recruitment functions at companies like Cisco Systems, Symantec, WellPoint, as well as having worked for several Baker's Dozen RPO winners.

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