Tips on RPO Selection: Why Choosing an Experienced Vendor is Vital

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Companies that use the services of an RPO partner are around 40 percent more likely to establish an effective talent pipeline for their open positions.

This is what Zachary Chertok at Aberdeen Group reveals in his report, Recruitment Process Outsourcing: A Lifeline in the War for Top Talent. The report also found that RPO customers are 17 percent likelier than non-RPO customers to end up with a top-quality workforce.

Add to that the results from a 2017 Mercer Global Talent Trends Study, in which 69 percent of executives believe talent scarcity is the most crucial challenge to overcome.

It’s tough to find the right talent, but RPO vendors can help achieve this. However, recruitment is more than just a numbers game. In this post — a follow-up to our last post on tips for choosing an RPO vendor — we argue that selecting the right vendor is key and give some insight in how to choose the best.

Ultimately, it comes down to an RPO with a solid track record and experienced team.

Cut the Time to Hire

Time is valuable to all businesses, and it’s worth trying to save as much of it as possible.

Katie Barr at Resourcing Insight writes that having an experienced and reliable RPO partner can shorten hiring windows through their “highly structured and centralised” approach. Indeed, speed is a major advantage throughout the process. RPOs can rapidly contract and expand resources depending on the market.

Part of this time-saving capability is due to having a loaded pipeline. Kevin Duffy, at Kelly OCG, writes that employers partnering with an experienced RPO will realize a number of benefits. A reliable RPO with a proven track record often has a broader and often global talent pool.

But the RPO partner, while learning what the client organization needs, also understands what candidates in the market want. This makes the talent acquisition strategy more customized and effective.

An experienced RPO partner also has in-depth knowledge of streamlining recruitment processes, and can establish a contingent and scalable workforce.

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RPO Vendors Within Budget

Organizations want RPO partners that work fast, but that can also save them money. Lamees Abourahma, at the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, says a good RPO vendor will work within a budget and deliver quality cost-effectively and efficiently.

While the relationship between company and vendor is set to be positive, assuming the contract is worked on judiciously, Abourahma suggests leaving space for an initial transitional period of between one and three months.

This is the time needed for even an experienced RPO partner to get up to speed with the workings of an organization, “work out kinks in the process, and implement any new technology.”

This period is also vital for the RPO partner and HR team to develop a working relationship.

RPO Partners Are Up to Date With Industry Changes

Yvonne McAteer and Tim Proehm, at Kelly OCG, argue that a generation ago talent acquisition worked differently than it does today. Most industries weren’t struggling to fill positions then, and technology played a much smaller role in the hiring process.

The recruitment process was much more straightforward with recruiters posting job ads, perusing resumes and selecting the best candidates for a series of interviews. RPOs, therefore,  were tactical over the long term to decrease hiring costs for the employer.

These days, the evolved RPO is agile, creative and candidate-focused. It is outcome-based and uses technology to boost the candidate experience. Just consider how AI, chatbots and advanced automation are becoming crucial to improving the hiring process for candidates and recruiters alike.

The truth for most companies is that no matter how skilled their HR departments are, they are slowed down by duties other than hiring. This means they are not at the forefront of industry changes and technological innovations.

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Agency, In-House Team and RPO Vendors Have Different Skills

We mentioned how in-house teams and HR departments do not always have the necessary resources available to deal with hiring quality candidates. But there are differences in skills and advantages between in-house teams, staffing agencies and, of course, RPO partners.

Jason Collings at Quarsh says a good agency supplier will not necessarily be a good outsourcer, as the skills sets are not the same. This is why choosing an RPO partner with experience is key. There needs to be a proven track record of improving processes and optimizing returns. A skilled vendor that hires experts in their fields is the difference between finding the best candidates with long-term successes and not.

A skilled RPO partner can proactively source candidates and deliver processes and systems to improve recruitment standards. Expert RPO will provide all of this with a “laser focus” on clients’ needs and, if they are good, won’t “even ask you to exclude the best of your agency suppliers, giving you the best of both worlds,” Collins argues.

For Mitch Sullivan, at Hitched, the reason for choosing an RPO partners comes down to strategy. In his opinion, outsourcing can lead to a more effective means of hiring the best talent.

This is something with which Eyal Katz, at Connecteam, agrees. He argues that the best RPO partners get the job done right. Obviously, this boils down to experience and deep knowledge of recruiting. But it is also dependent on having expertise on matching the right candidate to the right role.

It doesn’t sound all that different from an in-house team, right? The difference, Katz argues, is that the RPO partner is judged solely on how well the new employees work out, how quickly they are hired and how much money is saved when doing it.

An RPO partner with an experienced team understands the latest must-have skills and, unlike an in-house team, is there to hire and hire only. They are not cutting into HR duties the company still needs to perform when hiring other candidates.

On top of that, a good RPO partner takes the time and effort to understand whether a recruit will thrive in the work environment in a way that an in-house team cannot.

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Trust the Outsourcing Relationship and Reap the RPO Rewards

Outsourcing is not a decision to be taken lightly. This is certainly something that Karen Piercy, a Philadelphia-based partner with Mercer, notes. She says that handing over responsibilities to an RPO partner can be a “huge change” that often brings with it a sense of lost control.

While the magnitude of change is largely dependent on the type of outsourcing contract chosen, an experienced RPO partner, Piercy argues, will help navigate these feelings of uncertainty.

Whether an RPO partner is selected on a project basis or for end-to-end or segment arrangements, the more experienced and knowledgeable it is, the better the hiring results will be.

Catherine Park at Social Talent suggests that by selecting the best vendor, organizations will reap the rewards of expertise and ensured long-term profits. The outsourcing relationship is deeply dependent on quality communication and honed strategy and processes. The experts know how to do this well.

Doing it well is something Sahil Dhamija, writing at LinkedIn, also stresses. RPO, when done effectively, is often one of the most successful hiring strategies. It is able to deliver greatly improved performance compared to in-house solutions.

The “doing it well” part is important. That is why choosing an RPO partner with experience and proven skills is key. The wrong choice can result in a vendor that does “little more than coordinate agency response or put a consultant on site, offering their client first refusal of candidates on their database,” Dhamija argues.

The right choice of partner, however, can mean a proactive strategy to source candidates from a deep pipeline. It also means, as an organization, you will get access to proven processes, methods and technological systems to enhance the quality of new hires.

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