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Recruiting new employees can be an extremely time-consuming and costly process, but you can cut down on these resources without sacrificing quality with recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). Unlike traditional outsourcing, RPO doesn’t necessarily mean handing over full control of your recruitment process to an outside firm and then calling it a day.

Instead, your company forms a partnership with a third-party recruiting company which you hire to handle specific services to improve your existing recruiting efforts. The outside company may take on tasks such as candidate research, screening, or mapping out an effective hiring process, all the while working to improve your overall recruiting methods and results. RPO is not a one-time, quick fix, but rather a strategy designed to help you hire the right talent and enhance your hiring process as a whole.

Companies ready for RPO are typically:

Experiencing high growth

Interested in reducing overhead recruiting costs

Adamant about preserving quality

Seeking a solution that works for the present and future

Looking to establish a long-term relationship with a trusted recruitment partner

Wanting to source and hire top talent without the exorbitant cost and time typically associated with locating high potentials.

If your company fits the parameters and is thinking about outsourcing recuiting, there are a number of questions you should ask to ensure you’re forming a partnership likely to endure for the long term.

Questions to Ask Yourself

The first round of questions consists of those you should ask internally throughout your organization. They focus on your reasons for seeking an RPO provider and help establish a framework for the specific type of company you’re looking for. These questions include:

  • Why are you looking to outsource? Reasons could range from ineffective hiring processes to having an overload of new hires to handle, with any number of other reasons in between.
  • What services are you looking to outsource, and what services do you want to keep in house (if any)? Maybe you’re good with an RPO company handling the candidate research but want to interview candidates yourself.
  • What aspects do you like and dislike about your current hiring process? Here you can get help strengthening the aspects you like and improving those you don't.
  • Are you seeking a short-term or long-term solution? Even though RPO is not considered a one-time, quick fix, it can be used for a short-term, specified time period, such as busy season or business expansion.
  • What is your budget for outsourcing? The answer to this question can help shape the responses to other questions, such as the number and level of services you plan to outsource and the time frame of the solution.

Questions to Ask Recruitment Firms

Once you’ve established your RPO guidelines and are ready to actively seek out and talk with recruitment firms, a second batch of questions can help pinpoint the RPO firm that best suits your company and its needs.

1. Do they have experience in your specific industry?

This question is important in general, but it’s essential if your industry has specific hiring qualifications or compliance requirements. RPO firms that have experience in your industry may have databases and relationships with agencies helpful for filling specialized roles.

2. What size companies do they recruit for?

Some RPO firms may be huge, with massive databases and contact lists. They may also have the desire to only work with companies that are equally as large. Other firms may have neither the desire nor resources to partner with large companies that are above their capacity. While smaller RPO companies may be ideal for some, you also want to consider hiring a company that is able to continue to provide potential candidates as your company grows.

3. What is their company culture?

Experience making hires in your industry is important, but even more important may be a cultural fit between your organization and the RPO provider. Here you can seek out RPO firms based on their experience working with companies similar to yours and with the type of employees that would fit well in your current company culture.

4. What is their recruitment process?

In addition to getting a rundown on their overall recruitment process, you’ll want to decide if you want your RPO partner to work on-site or remotely. Some companies choose to have an RPO team on-site early in the relationship, moving it off-site as the relationship grows. Asking about additional services is another wise move, particularly if you’re interested in services that are not part of the typical recruitment lineup.

5. How do they define success with clients?

In addition to ongoing sourcing, screening, and recruiting, many RPO firms will produce reports to show your ROI. Specific metrics included in reports can include items such as cost per hire, retention rates, time to fill positions, and productivity.

6. What is the average cost of the services? Monthly? Annually?

RPO providers may require long-term contracts up front, while others may be more adaptable and able to scale. Some may even offer a trial basis before you sign on the dotted line. Whatever type of quote you’re given, calculate the cost on a monthly and, if applicable, annual basis. When comparing costs among different RPO providers, look at the service costs as well as the overall value the provider can add to your company.

Whether you’re looking for an RPO company to pick up the slack for several months or work with you for several years, doing your research and asking the right questions can help you find the right partner for outsourcing recruiting. Finding the right RPO partner can save you time, hassles and costs, while securing solid new hires and building a mutually beneficial relationship for as long as you may need.

Reaching Further

Along with outsourcing the recruiting process, using behavioral and occupational assessments to supplement your hiring process will help you select engaged employees. To find out more about using Birkman for Talent Selection, click here. 

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