One RPO Doesn’t Fit All

466691939When you’re hiring an RPO, what factors should you consider as you choose a firm that is right for you? As someone who has overseen many RPO solution implementations, I get asked this question pretty often. I find that many companies aren’t aware of the various questions to ask and issues to look at when they’re seeking a great match for their hiring needs.

There is, of course, an RFP process, but what you ask and how you ask it are as important as the answers you receive. You have to be willing to look beyond the scripted answers that these RPOs have as “stock” and find out the root of the information and if it truly is the core of the RPO or just an answer to propel them forward in the process.

In order to ask the right questions you have to know what the problem is you are trying to solve. The first thing to do is to gain a clear understanding of what role you anticipate the RPO will have. Do you need a short-term rescue to help cover a hiring surge or a long-term partner who will collaborate on a multi-generational plan with your team? As you explore your needs, examine your company’s management style. Is it command and control? Or team-driven? You want an RPO firm that can adapt to and integrate with your management style. Deciding these factors will also help you determine the level of services you need. Do you only need screening? Screening and sourcing? Or all seven steps of recruitment and hiring? Some RPO firms charge you a full rate no matter what level of services you require, while some charge a la carte.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Global Directory of RPO Providers

As you evaluate RPO firms, here are key questions to explore:

  1. Do you want a vendor or a partner? Do you want a low touch, high volume, just show up with the data relationship or do you want to feel as if your RPO teammates are sitting next to you and collaborating and troubleshooting with your team?
  2. Does the RPO seem as if they will fit your culture? Are they telling you that everything has to change? Are they communicating well with you? Do you feel included in the decision making process and design of the relationship? You should feel that you have a say in what is going on, and respected as the expert in your company. This should become an extension of what is good in the current set up and a solution to what is not working in TA delivery. How will you help the RPO integrate? What stakeholders will they need to know about, meet and win over to be successful? Are you able to help and how?
  3. Is the RPO the right size? Depending on what your needs are, do they have the capacity to scale? If you are starting off with minimal workloads now, but your company expands in two years, will the RPO have the capacity to scale to meet your needs or will you need to look for another firm?
  4. Do they have experts for your hiring initiatives? Many companies need specialists in college recruitment, diversity, veteran hiring, and compliance – the RPO firm should demonstrate that they have experience and focused expertise in these areas. You should be able to ask for data, examples and potential strategies and they should have answers pretty quickly. If not, ask them for references on this.
  5. Are they transparent? Your RPO should welcome you to visit, call or check in at any time so that you can see how things truly work and to demonstrate that they are transparent with you. It’s a good idea to make a point to visit and spend time onsite with the RPO as you will pick up on things you won’t notice otherwise, and get a feel for their culture.
  6. How will they ensure that performance expectations are met? A solid reporting and benchmarking process needs to be built into the design with metrics that ties your hiring to your core business objectives. Make sure what is measured will drive the right results and behaviors, and not just what is easily attainable. Regular reporting cadences and open dialogue about changing needs should also be part of the relationship.

These questions will help guide you to a successful partnership. As you spend time getting to know the RPO staff, confirm responses to your questions throughout the firm from various people. Also, speak to their client references to confirm what the actual experience has been like. An RPO firm that is right for your company will provide solutions (not problems!) and will come with an attitude of service, dedication to your success and respect for your time and processes.

MORE: Why compliance really matters in RPO

Emily Gordon

Emily Gordon
Emily Gordon is strategic director of Seven Step. She has built and implemented multiple national delivery centers while working with one of the largest global staffing and sourcing providers and has acquired a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.

Emily Gordon

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