RPO: Vendor or Partner?

RPO:  Do you want a VENDOR or a PARTNER?

There is so much movement in the RPO space and some of you may be saying.. RP WHAT? Recruitment Process Outsourcing has been around for a few decades, but recently what was once a controversial concept seems to have beaten the perception held by skeptics that thought that “outsourcing” was a bad thing, or that it would just go away.

Several Higher profile acquisitions are beginning to make RPO a way of doing business that is not only effective but also competitive. IBM and SAP have acquired companies to serve as their RPO arm, but just remember bigger is not always better.

When you hire an RPO firm, they need to be a fit for YOUR culture. Often the first experience any new hire will have with your brand and hiring experience will be in the hands of the RPO firm you partner with.  So ask yourselves, do you want a VENDOR or a PARTNER?


First off you have to decide WHY RPO?

I have a hint, its not always cheaper… but it should always be more effective.

When thinking about the cost of hire often times RPO services are not always cheaper… where you get your money’s worth is in reducing the time vacancies are open, because the cost of vacancy can cripple you, and it’s a silent bill that accrues interest and fees at an alarming rate.  You need to increase deficiencies and remove barriers, while increasing candidate experience and brand awareness where


What are some of the benefits of working with an RPO?

  1. Specialize in the process of hiring
  2. Strong efficiencies based on bulk process
  3. Reporting, Data, and Analytics
  4. Stabilized costs

What can be some of the areas that could be an issue?

  1. Getting both sides to agree on how to best represent the culture, while adhering to process
  2. Change isn’t easy but it is necessary, if you don’t have a willingness to change, it won’t be any better
  3. The RPO firm only worries if it is able to hit SLAs and KPIs and think that is enough. You need them to explain the data, be proactive and forecast not just react
  4. Lack of flexibility / one size fits all approach. The process will work, but there will always be nuances that need tweaks to make it your own
  5. Duplicate Efforts, internal partners don’t adhere to process and continue to duplicate efforts.

How do I know if I have the right Partner?

  1. SPEND TIME at the delivery center
  2. Be open to the expertise they have to offer, but really involve ALL key stakeholders in decisions around process and change
  3. Give it a chance to work
  4. Check References
  5. Remember a partnership takes two … both sides have to work at the relationship
  6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I wouldn’t hire you as my recruiter…and neither would you!

Have you ever gotten the call from a friend because you are a recruiter and they need a job? As the conversation unfolds and you hear the woes of the market, the reason the current job has wronged them, and all the other reasons the work world is not kind to them. Admit it, in the back of your mind you are thinking… NO WAY is this person getting a new job anytime soon. They have to change their mindset.   

Why then do we exude the same behaviors and expect to be that GO TO person for our clients and great candidates?

Attitude:  When looking for a job, really anything good for that matter. attitude is everything. Positive attracts positive.

  1. As a recruiter are you positive with your clients and candidates?
  2. Do you think the next call could be a hire?
  3. Do you attract and teach that a great attitude is key in getting your next position?

No Excuses: When finding a reason for leaving or not being successful in a current position we as recruiters don’t want excuses we want to know how you will win in your next role and why we should bet on you.

  1. Would you bet on you? Or do you make excuses about pay rate, location; skills needed and in what combination as reasons you may not win in this search?
  2. Do you find reasons to turn no into yes, or do you find a reason to move to the next more winnable challenge
  3. Solutions not problems are what we all want to hear from someone. Do you get creative and find a way to win? OR do you just concentrate on the issues at hand.


Somebody will fill that position! Why won’t it be you? We coach candidates to ask for the job at the end of the interview, to show interest, to leave no question unanswered. Are we willing to do the same thing?

  1. Don’t give up
  2. Ask one more question
  3. Don’t assume you have done all you can…. Ask for feedback?
  4. Just make it happen. Set a goal, and go after it. Someone will fill that spot.

What Summer Camp taught me about being a Recruiter:

When I was a kid I spent my summers at camp in Northern Michigan. I loved it, and made lifetime friends there. What I didn’t know is that it would shape me into the recruiter I am today.
If you ever went away for camp you had the preparation of packing, making sure to include just the right items. This was very hard for a teenage girl, guessing what people from all over the country would think were cool clothes, the right music etc. So you would try to prepare by talking to last year’s friends and gathering insight from them, the counselors that were already there and faith in your ability to not only survive the prior summer, but to excel. You also had someone helping remind you of the basics… your parent or handy check list from a counselor.
1. My parents would talk to me before hand about making friends, having fun, what to do to be kind to others, how to get in touch with them in case of an emergency and even send me with a few extra dollars and preaddressed letters home. So how does this prep translate into candidate prep?
As a recruiter we ask questions so we can prepare our candidate.
• We ask questions of ourselves. Of others. Sometimes things look obvious but there’s often much more happening beneath the surface. It is our job as recruiters to find out what each candidate needs “to pack”, and we gather that from our clients by talking about what it is like to be a member of their group, who the cool kids are in the cabin, and why.
• We also prepare them to interview and cover the basics like a counselor. Send interview prep check lists, practice with them, ask them what they are concerned about in their interviewing techniques and make sure when they get off the bus they are ready to have fun and win the assignment. We even tell them to call us anytime, and remind them we are there for them in case they need anything at all.

2. As each summer began, we would all have ideas of what we wanted to accomplish. Not unlike many of our careers, things change, opportunities arise and the path can become unclear. As a counselor, it was our job to remind kids to find the little wins in each day and to help them define their own success (not ours) and go after it.
As a recruiter we understand that if you want success for yourself or for others you need to know what it looks like and that it’s often different for each person.
• If we continually go after transactional recruiting vs. a positive candidate experience we never truly help anyone find success, including ourselves. Being a guide is important, but mutually agreeing on a goal and achieving it is the win/win in recruiting we all strive for.
• Know that there are usually different paths that will lead to the same place. Once you know where it is you or someone else wants to go your job isn’t to figure out the BEST path to get there but the RIGHT path for person traveling it.

3. I swam across a lake… more than once. As a counselor and lifeguard it was my job to make sure that each kid that tried to swim that 2+ mile swim in very cold water. Often, I would jump in, and swim with them. I didn’t allow them to quit, and often taught them they could do more than they ever thought they could, it always taught me more about what I could do as well.
Raise the bar higher. People feel their most driven when someone believes that they can do more than they thought was possible. They also feel their most proud when they reach that bar.
Recruiting is not for the selfish. You have to be willing to jump in the cold water and push someone, turning their doubt into a victory. It is that candidate that has the skills, and the heart, but fears the change. OR the candidate that has been laid off and lacks the confidence to push through another interview. JUMP IN THE WATER and guide them to the win.