Why Recruitment Process Outsourcing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a provocateur and strategist in the field of human resources and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms, and he’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos twice a week here at TLNT.

Today’s topic: The problems with RPO

When Dr. John gets asked what he thinks of RPO — recruitment process outsourcing — he offers up a typically blunt answer: “The reality is that it’s a fad pushed by consultants … pushed by RPO vendors, (and) I don’t recommend it except in limited cases … it has many more problems than results.”

Here’s why: business people, he points out, are always looking for a competitive advantage, but if both you and your competitors are using RPO, you can’t have a competitive advantage because your company is going to get the same kind of people that your competitors get.

He also says that RPO firms generally offer a “vanilla” approach, and really, that’s all they can offer because they are offering their services to a wide variety of customers. And, great recruiters don’t want to work for an RPO firm; they would rather than work in a corporate environment or for an outside recruiter.

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If cost is your driver and you are filling a lot of jobs, Dr. John says, you might be able to use RPO companies. But he adds, most RPO firms just don’t understand your culture, your agenda, your values, the keys to your company.

Recruiting, he believes, is a mission-critical function — and you don’t outsource a mission critical function, ever.

Did you miss the last segment of$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” on “Is it Time for HR to DStart From Scratch?” You can see it here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


6 Comments on “Why Recruitment Process Outsourcing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

  1. Dr. John Sullivan is 100000% right on the money here – the RPO’s I have worked with can fill back office roles easily – your hard to fill – forget it. And any recruiter I have spoken with won’t work with them.

  2. Full disclosure: I provide RPO services for my company. That said, I want to share some of my insights from the field, as well as the perspectives of some recruiters I know, many of whom love working with an RPO firm. They feel that it’s focused and that there is more access to training, tools, processes and methodologies. Plus, many recruiters working for an RPO firm were able to weather the recent downturn while other corporations cut staff.

    Many companies that I’ve worked with in the past would have no recruiting infrastructure in place without an RPO program. And, I’ve worked with several companies that outpace their competition by being faster to market and that leverage the ability to grow the areas that they did not initially have the resources or expertise for without an RPO.

    It’s important to remember that not all RPO programs are created equal. In the end, an effective RPO program is about the relationship between the provider and the company. An RPO program that increases the quality and speed of delivery, handles unanticipated high volume staffing needs, provides consistent tracking and compliance and helps to maintain a strong employment brand is not just a vendor service, it’s a partnership that helps grow both companies and those involved with the program. http://blog.yoh.com/2010/03/recruitment-process-outsourcing-rpo-a-definition.html

  3. It is unfortunate that large sweeping statements about RPO are seen as acceptable. I myself have been part of this industry for quite some time in varying capacities. First there are many different types of services that come under the umbrella of RPO. Secondly, as Recruitment Leaders build their strategy and seek solutions that support variability, high complexity and budget constraints – different vendor enabled solutions become part of the answer.

    As a buyer the question is, can the provider deliver what I need? How can I effectively manage this initiative so it is successful? Am I willing to pay for what I need or are there financial constraints I must work with? What is that impact?

    The real question is, what part of RPO can be a benefit to your organization? Is your organization ready for this type of solution? How do you ensure success? Is it sourcing and screening? Is it recruitment administration? Is it scale up recruiting support? Is it college event planning? Is it Alumni management? What service are you seeking from an RPO?

    As RPO providers, “vanilla” is a starting point for every solution, not a destination. We start with a baseline and align to our clients needs. While the framework of any recruiting process is vanilla – it is the talent of the people, the scope of work and the ability to solve problems as a partner that makes any outsourced solution a success..

    For those of you who are in the camp that RPO doesn’t work – I challenge yourself to ask – What was it and why it failed?

  4. The continued economic insecurity is fuelling the upward trend in outsourced model and this seems to be particularly true for recruitment function and human resource outsourcing.

    Many companies, forced to slash overhead and generate more revenue from their primary products or services, now have a better understanding of what functions are core to their success and which are context.

    Payroll processing is context, for example, because it is a common and necessary function across all companies. No matter how well payroll is processed, it gives the company no competitive advantage. Similarly, hiring top-performers is core, but the process to find, recruit and manage the function is context. Companies use the same antiquated methods, job boards, applicant tracking systems and people. Outsourcing the Sourcing represents a departure from these traditional options, but finding, selecting and managing the right one for your company may be challenging.

    Outsourcing of the generalist functions, including payroll, benefits administration and employee relations, has considerable momentum today. The recruitment function, however, is now taking the lead

    Outsourcing the sourcing is a growing practice and defined as a specialized service that allows clients to outsource some or all of the recruitment function. In the Outsourcing the Sourcing function the provider leverages the combination of strategy, technology, resources and vendor management to improve the recruitment process. Operating as the client’s internal recruitment function and strategic partner

    At Fiddich Consulting we work closely with the client to improve the recruitment efficiencies of quality of hire, speed of delivery and cost containment. The end-to-end recruitment process for many companies encompasses more than just the sourcing and on boarding of resources. It consists of three key elements designed to build and sustain a robust talent pool. These are workforce planning, talent acquisition and engagement and ongoing talent management.

    Why Outsourcing the Sourcing?

    Organisations outsource recruitment and hiring practices for many different reasons. According to a recent Survey, three business priorities, they are:

    “Executing business strategy”, “reducing operating costs” and “recruiting, retaining and developing a great workforce”. All of these have shaped the needs and triggers for the adoption of Outsourced Sourcing Model

    Key Benefits of Fiddich Consulting Outsourced Sourcing Model

    Any evaluation of whether to outsource must begin with a clear understanding of the intended benefits and how the features of an outsourcing company will generate the benefit. This is important to ensure the benefits can be monitored and managed.

    To maximise the overall value of outsourcing, the cause and effect logic must constantly be applied. At Fiddich Consulting we provide features.

    Access to a wider talent

    One of the key drivers for outsourcing the recruitment process is to improve access to talent. An outsourcing provider should be able to demonstrate the ability to attract a larger pool of quality candidates for an organisation over their internal recruitment team. At Fiddich Consulting we have a comprehensive range of attraction channels which reach a wide pool of talent. This is due to the frequency we undertake talent acquisition for multiple clients and build comprehensive databases of active and passive candidates.

    Continues innovation and increased expertise

    Organisations looking to outsource their sourcing function often look for a provider to help them enhance their employment brand and value proposition as well as offer innovative talent acquisition and mobility strategies.

    The demographics of the general workforce are complex and a major impact to hiring top talent. There are currently different distinct generations working together making up a workforce that have a wide range of ideas and motivations. In addition, workforce demographics are constantly changing which can significantly impact talent acquisition and management success. Many organisations look to their sourcing providers to assist them in navigating this confusing and ever changing landscape by utilising their market insight and strategic recommendations to help them stay ahead of the curve.

    More details visit our RPO Whitepaper http://fiddichconsulting.com/uploads/Fiddich_Consulting_White_Paper_Outsourcing_the_Sourcing.pdf

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