What Does a Successful RPO Engagement Look Like?

When it comes to RPO, there’s a healthy and expectant “what have you done for me lately?” mentality. Not only does this drive accountability but it also fuels deliberate actions, innovation, continuous improvement and careful measurement.

And, as the profile of RPO consumers has continued to evolve and diversify — recruitment outsourcing is no longer just for big, global enterprise buyers — expectations have also naturally shifted.

Despite today’s competitive candidate market and a near 50-year low in unemployment, filling jobs with good, retainable people remains the primary objective of any successful RPO program. Additionally, however, RPO consumers are asking their providers, “What are you doing to improve our brand in the job market?” And,“How are you helping us attract passive talent?” More than that, they want their RPO partner to help them better understand their employees — what motivates them, what their career paths could look like, and what expectations they have for their employers.

Key Performance Indicators of a Successful RPO Engagement

We recommend examining a wide range of metrics to most accurately assess the performance and the quality of any RPO program we implement. Examples include time-to-hire, user satisfaction — of both hiring managers and candidates — aged positions, submit-to-interview ratio, diversity and retention.

By looking at conversion ratios, like present to interview, interview to offer and offer to accept, as well as efficiency metrics, like the time it takes from when a position is opened to when it gets posted, and quality metrics, like full year retention, we get a complete picture of the overall health of the RPO program. We also track and report on fall-out rates, source of candidates and new hires, the time each step in the recruiting process takes, agency spend, 90-day retention, and we analyze and report on recruiter productivity to gauge quality levels and service.


Below are eight example KPIs we use to define and measure a successful RPO engagement. For context, we start each of our engagements with a minimum of 24 “core” KPIs that are completely customized for each client.

8 Example KPIs:

  1. Posting a Job: 30% of completed job posting views result in an application
  2. Sourcing Resumes: 90% of suggested resumes are accepted for a phone interview
  3. Conducting Phone Screens: 60% of candidates pass prescreening
  4. Resume Feedback: 80% of resumes are accepted by hiring managers for scheduling
  5. Scheduling: 90% occurrence rate of scheduled interviews
  6. Feedback: 60% of first round interviews are a “yes” for next step
  7. Verbal Offer: 65% accept on the spot and 90% accept eventually
  8. Onboarding: 95% of candidates show up for their first day

It is critically important to appropriately customize the metrics and the reporting methodology of the program to most closely reflect what’s important to your organization, and to determine what will constitute a win.

Pre-implementation steps to RPO success should be taken to tee up the program across the organization – so that everyone knows what to expect, what their role is in the program and what will be measured. But the key is to remember everything can and should be tailored. Bolting on another organization’s program or using a template will never solve the recruiting challenges you have. Be aspirational but also be focused. Things like workforce planning, internal mobility and career mapping are important but they also extend beyond recruiting. Include your RPO partner in these talent-related discussions, but always know that their number one job is to fill positions with the right people for you.

In a recent quarterly business review, I asked a client, “What’s on your wish list? What do you want to get done?” He responded with, “I’d love to be able to understand our organizational health and retention better.”

There’s an element of this that’s tied to recruiting, but the answer also includes a variety of other factors. For example, people managers single-handedly play a vital role in retention – just think how often you see a story like this one about how employees don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers. How someone manages the talent a provider has worked so hard to find has less to do with recruiting itself and more to do with having good, inspiring people to manage them.

Career opportunity is another big reason why employees decide to leave. Trust, compensation and job security are a few of the other leading contributors of retention and job satisfaction. But ultimately, these are not challenges your RPO provider can directly solve for you. These are more systemic than just recruiting.

Recruiting is getting talent in the door, and that’s why you should partner with an RPO provider; what happens after the fact, and what gets people to stay, is where you come in.


Mike Vecchio

Mike Vecchio
Mike Vecchio is executive director, client services, at Sevenstep.

Mike Vecchio

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