Choosing the Right RPO Provider for Your Business

So you have decided to outsource your recruitment function to a third party specialist. Now the hard part. How do you work out which RPO provider is right for your business?

Step 1Understand the Business Need

The first step is to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of your hiring needs by ensuring you have answers to these questions:

  • How many roles have been recruited in the past 1-2 years and how does this break down by geography, role specialization and salary band?
  • When are these hires occurring throughout the year and where are the peaks or troughs?
  • Is there turnover in the first 12 months and, if yes, where and why?
  • What do Hiring Managers want to change, improve, stop or start? Do they expect any changes in hiring volumes or type of roles to be recruited over the coming 1- 3 years?

Step 2 – Identify your Key Requirements

Based on a comprehensive understanding of your business needs, identify the factors that will be most critical for success or at least rank order your criteria upfront. This will save time down the track debating which provider represents the best “fit” for your business.

A) Industry Niche

You may come to the conclusion that the RPO provider has to understand your industry sector and show evidence of working with a company of your size, sector and caliber. Check the success and complexity of the provider’s past work. A reputable provider with experience shares case studies freely. Ask questions only someone with first-hand knowledge of your industry would understand.

B) Geographical Capability

If you know your business is geographically diverse today or is about to expand into different countries, then choosing a partner that understands the complexities of a particular country or region may become more important than other factors. Particularly when servicing emerging markets in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America where complexity is high, you need a partner who knows the region and has worked there before. Check their current clients and where they are being serviced currently.

C) Service Breadth

If your preference is to deal with one partner who can do everything? Employer branding, search, sourcing, psychometric assessment, references and background checking, offer management and technology? Dealing with one partner who can bring it all together for you is attractive, saving you time and ensuring your solution can be deployed quickly and with less complexity. Most importantly check how and where these services have been deployed and what outcomes have been achieved as a result?

D) Scalability

If you know your business is prone to unpredictable growth, seasonality in hiring or is embarking on major growth initiatives, then choosing a partner who can scale up quickly is key. Again case studies are critical here to determine whether the supplier has done this or just thinks they can.

E) Price

Maybe your organization operates in an extremely high volume and low margin industry. In order for you to be competitive with the clients you service, you need a really low cost provider. When it is only about price, the decision is quite straight forward.

F) Quality

Maybe your organization prides itself on the quality of people employed or maybe your aspire to improve quality of hire due to unprecedented turnover in particular areas. A reputable RPO provider who focuses on quality of hire can share case studies where they have helped clients increase retention and change the profile of people they are bring into the organization.

G) Amicable Character and Values Alignment

Perhaps the most underrated factor when choosing RPO Partners is character. Do you believe the service provider “gets” you, your company and culture? Do you enjoy working with the provider? Is she/he easy to approach about issues and does she/he echo the values and goals of your company? If so, it provides a great foundation for team work and regardless of the challenges ahead, you will be confident you can address them together.

Step 3 – Choose your Preferred RPO Provider

Some clients are tempted to invite everyone to tender. They look very wide but compromise on depth and waste quite a bit of time in the process. The best processes I have seen involve a smaller, hand picked group of potential suppliers, a short tender document and a weighting of the selection process on presentation, discussion and validation. Validation can come from speaking with referees, conducting site visits and meeting members of the team that will be involved and tify the factors that will be most critical for success. These are the factors you need to ensure your partner demonstrates and some of these are listed below:

Validation can come from speaking with referees, conducting site visits and meeting members of the team that will be involved in the solution. Spending as much face time with your potential suppliers as possible will not only help you determine whether they meet your key selection criteria, it will more importantly give you a better sense of who you feel most comfortable with on a values and relationship level. A solution that is not anchored by these two fundamental qualities will never be successful.

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