RPO & Staffing

The Need-to-Know on RPO

As the jobless recovery finally drops the less, companies are looking for new approaches to recruitment.

by Harry Feinberg

In the 1956 William Whyte Jr. classic The Organization Man, there was only one way to work: for the same company, forever. By 1991, when Paul Leinberger and Bruce Tucker wrote The New Individualists: The Generation After The Organization Man, the model had changed: rapidly changing markets forced individuals to have several careers over a lifetime. And by the time Bruce Tulgan wrote Winning The Talent Wars in 2001, labor markets had become, in his words, hightech, high-speed, knowledge-based and superfluid. Tulgan exhorted us to staff the work, not the jobs, create as many career paths as you have people, and, above all, outsource recruiting. If we ignore Tulgans advice, we do so at our own peril.

Re-engineering recruiting has been a corporate and government obsession since America got its first whiff of staffing shortages during the dot-com days. Employers had a temporary reprieve from the manpower drought during the most recent recession. But now the war for talent is rearing its ugly head again. And with the population leveling out and the economy continuing to expand, there is no end to the talent shortfalls in sight. Get ready for staffing scarcity for the rest of your HR career.

So how can an HR manager find good people in a rapidly changing market when the nature of the work and jobs are rapidly changing too? This issue of HRO Today focuses on the HRO response to this market phenomenon: recruitment process outsourcing, or RPO. At the April 2004 HRO World Conference, there were dozens of exhibiting companies with RPO solutions. Five different speakers talked about their experience. Kelloggs Cydney Kilduff, an outspoken booster of the RPO phenomenon, talked about how she partners with her provider to gain the bandwidth necessary to manage the changing nature of her work needs while filling the jobs.

But what is RPO? Isnt it just another one of our acronym-obsessed magazine labels for the same old thing? While we admit that we have a certain tendency to create an acronym for everything (anyone for a QLBQuick Lunch Break?), we insist that RPO is the new flavor of recruiting. Face facts, folks. In order to get the work done that needs to be done, you will continue to need people. But the job of recruiting is simply moving too fast to handle it all in-house. Dont try this at home; this is a job for professionals.

The technology and breadth of job-market coverage required today to handle the recruiting task is simply amazing. HRO Today has spoken with two multinational organizations (covering 500 geographic job markets) that have each catalogued more than 12,000 different types of worka number that is increasing by a rate of 1,000 per yearrequiring 10,000 different types of employee skillsets. To handle the recruiting needs of either of these organizations in-house would require a team of recruiters larger than most national armies. Consider the extreme case of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They had to hire 67,000 people in 9 months to be deployed in 429 airports at 1,750 departure points. Only by striking a comprehensive RPO partnership with CPS and Accenture HR Services, could the TSA have had a prayer of completing its mission.

RPO is a continuum of work-definition and jobfilling services that goes beyond the traditional filla- spec recruiting service. At the front end, it is helping define the work needs, translating those needs into requests for jobs, and designing a career path for each individual (a departure from the one-career-pathfits- all model). On the market side, RPO helps establish market rates for labor, market-by-market (a change from the employer-set wage rate model). In filling jobs, RPO goes beyond the traditional screen-and-pass-along model to psychological profiling and behavior-based interviewing methodologies. And in keeping jobs filled, RPO includes retention, reassignment, and replacementa step usually skipped by traditional recruiting firms.

RPO is the future of recruiting and staffing and an essential building block in any organizations HRO strategy. We are happy to feature it in this issue of HRO Today.

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RPO Users Weigh In

The first-hand pros and cons of recruitment process outsourcing.

by HROT Staff

We asked clients of RPO providers (Managers, Directors, and VPs of HR for a variety of companies) to tell us what they look for in a provider, and what they see as current recruitment trends. Here are their responses:


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