Want to know the secrets to making recruitment process outsourcing work for you? One industry leader shares his key lessons.
If outsourcing recruitment is one of those HR management methods you’ve been reading about but aren’t quite sure how to approach, rest assured knowing that you’re not alone. That recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is one of the fastest-growing HRO domains is a testament to the high level of interest harbored by HR leaders from companies of all sizes in myriad industries. It also means market penetration remains low, and many more like you are still on the fence.
To be sure, there are plenty of market data and case studies to confirm RPO’s effectiveness, so the uninitiated can look to those for guidance. At the same time, however, a number of deals have also failed, raising skepticism about whether RPO is effective for everyone. Either way, what are the keys to making it work?
According to Andrew Goldschmidt, vice president of customer service at RPO firm Kenexa, there are seven tenets to ensuring a successful engagement. As one of the largest providers in the marketplace—offering both its own technology backbone, as well as a comprehensive suite of services—Goldschmidt’s firm delivers services through a variety of engagements. Regardless of how clients are serviced, he said these seven tenets apply to all situations.
- Actively govern the relationship. He said buyers in the past have viewed RPO providers as just another vendor, albeit one with more internal control. They relinquished management of recruitment outcomes or the relationship to contract staff or hiring managers. “Successful RPOs have clear governance structures that raise visibility, accountability and impact of the partnership to the highest levels of leadership. Together, they look at trends, measure business impact, seek progressive levels of performance from one another and ultimately, engage with their partners beyond the transactional level,” Goldschmidt said, adding that the buyer must actively be engaged with governance efforts.
- Use metrics that count. While metrics are casually thrown around in recruitment these days, Goldschmidt said they are often grossly overused and under-defined. Many companies fail to address the most important questions: What do the metrics really mean, and how do we manage our business with them? He said it’s important to measure what really matters and stop producing metrics for the sake of it. Items such as open requisitions, hires-per-month, cost-per-hire, and time-to-fill serve some purpose, but do they truly have a tangible impact on the business?
- Approach the recruitment process outsourcing program holistically. Undoubtedly, RPO is being applied in far too many instances of talent acquisition. Phone screening and structured interviews do not constitute true RPO service. Market leaders offer solutions that affect a client’s entire talent lifecycle, from sourcing to onboarding. Further, they can deliver proactive data and research that affect outcomes.
- Avoid the sourcing trap. Effective sourcing is core to any RPO provider, and buyers should validate their vendors’ recruiting pedigree, Goldschmidt said. “Ensure they can objectively demonstrate their ability to attract and recruit top-tier—and certainly, passive—talent. This is one of the most commonly heard complaints of organizations that are not seeing the results they expected from RPO,” he said.
- Ascend the service hierarchy together. RPO early on focused on addressing pain points such as accuracy or timeliness as buyers shifted administration and interview logistics to the provider. These criteria remain fundamentals for RPO and are foundational for the entire spectrum of services. RPO providers need to be proactive by pooling for key talent segments, partnering on workforce planning, and aiding in the development of integration and expansion strategies.
- Two companies, one culture. Outsourced recruiting efforts should be consistent with the buyer’s overall culture and brand. While this seems intuitive, many fail to invest the time and energy on ensuring cultural alignment and understanding. Many RPOs have embedded their own talent in the client’s organization so that it is impossible to distinguish them from long-term employees, said Goldschmidt. He said provider staffers are given new employee orientation, key leadership messaging, newsletters, training, and line-of-sight to their impact on the businesses.
- Merge services and technology. As more companies demand single-source accountability, they are voicing a need for service to go hand-in-hand with technology and provide a simple interface that enables users to easily access data. Not all providers boast a robust competency in integrating both sides, but there are some who have perfected the balancing act.
As the RPO market continues to mature, it will have an equally profound impact on talent acquisition and management. Buyers and providers can leverage the lessons learned from pioneering deals to further ensure success.