What is Recruiting Process Outsourcing (RPO)?

Recruiting Process Outsourcing (RPO) is an example of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) where a business entity (e.g. public, private, non-profit/non-governmental, public service, etc.) outsources its administrative recruiting support processes to a third party provider.

Generally, an external RPO service will be an integrated as part of the overall talent acquisition supply chain in one of the following two ways:

  • A white-labeled function that uses the brand, logo and image of the client organization.
  • A third-party, separately branded staffing solution with a separate identity.

An RPO service provider can supply its own staff if the client organization does not have the resources; or, the RPO service provider may acquire the client organization’s existing staff (sometimes, referred to as “re-badging”). The technology, processes, procedures and reporting methodologies can also be provided by the RPO service provider or acquired from the client (sometimes referred to as, “Lift and Shift”.

There are benefits and risks in both scenarios. In either case, an RPO solution provider should be able to accommodate the needed customization to ensure an outstanding and consistent candidate experience. RPO is distinctly different from traditional staffing, contingent or retained search services; because, the RPO solution provider is accountable for the design, delivery and results of the recruitment process. Generally, the more control the client organization has over the technology, methods, processes, continuous improvement, etc., the less accountable the RPO solution provider is for results.


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