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​Top 10 things to think about when looking for an RPO partner

More than likely, you’ll know what Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is. If not, an RPO is when a company transfers all, or part, of its recruitment processes to an external provider to act as an extension to the company’s HR or resourcing function. With the growing need for talent, it comes as no surprise that demand for the service has accelerated.

What should you look for when considering an RPO? With an ever-growing number of options to choose from, we’ve compiled a list of ten important factors you should consider when looking for your go-to RPO partner.

1. Can we work together?

2. Is your RPO partner flexible?

3. How specialised is their experience?

4. Are they big or niche players?

5. Where do they operate?

6. What’s their track record?

7. Can they save you time with tools and automation?

8. Will they help you deliver great candidate experiences?

9. How much can you save when engaging an RPO provider?

10. Can they give you the stats and story?

1. Can we work together?

The best RPO partners make an active effort in getting to know how your business works. Engaging a recruitment partner means you’re employing someone to act as an extension to your internal team. They need to have a solid understanding of your business focusing on its values, culture, and brand.

You want to avoid partnering with an RPO provider that gives solutions without truly understanding your landscape, or who is unwilling to develop a custom solution with you. It’s called partnering after all and that’s what you should expect – a partnership.

2. Is your RPO partner flexible?

The benefit of engaging an RPO partner is to help you scale up and down when you need it. All businesses have times when there’s increased hiring demand. This could be when you have a new product or service launching, when you decide to invest in new tech, when you’re experiencing seasonal operational demands or if you’ve recently been hit with the worldwide post COVID phenomenon of the great Australian resignation and demand has increased to replace these staff members.

It’s vital your RPO provider doesn’t operate in a one-size fits all approach. They must adapt to what you need, such as quickly ramping up when your business needs it most and then easing off when you’ve got control.

3. How specialised is their experience?

Within a candidate favoured market, working with industry experts to help source talent for specialist roles (in your industry and region) is the key to success. While there are RPO providers who source for a broad range of roles, it’s better to work with specialists who can find you the best talent within their field of expertise. These providers should have a strong understanding of the marketplace including best practice, the challenges, and the competitive talent landscape.

For example, at Paxus, we don't believe in the 'jack of all trades, but master of none' approach. Instead, we focus purely on digital and tech talent. We’ve got high quality recruiters and subject matter experts who deliver great talent in roles such as business analysts, cloud engineers, software developers, and more.

4. Are they big or niche players?

RPO providers come in a variety of sizes. Some act as an extension to the services of a recruitment agency, while others operate independently. These different models both come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Partnering with a larger RPO provider could mean they operate with a cookie-cutter sourcing and engagement strategy. The solution you receive is the one they supply to all their clients - without consideration of your specific requirements. However, with size comes the benefit of global reach. This means they'd have the local experience and knowledge to work with you in a variety of locations and across all generalist roles as you grow your organisation globally.

A smaller organisation could be flexible and agile enough to offer a bespoke solution and really focus their efforts towards helping you achieve your talent acquisition targets in specialist disciplines and locations and with a more tailored solution. The potential downside here is that they may lack the global scale of a large RPO provider. In the end, it comes down to what you value most and which RPO partner can achieve this for you.

5. Where do they operate?

Just like with all businesses, it’s a good idea to check where the RPO partner you’re interested in operates. If you hire Australia-wide, you’re going to want to work with a provider that has experience within the Australian market. If you operate solely in Sydney, a provider with local expertise may better align with your needs. Whereas if your business has global footprint, it may be best to engage an RPO partner who can provide you with a global solution.

Additionally, the location of an RPO team may also be an important factor to consider. You may prefer a combination model of onsite, remote, and offshore support, or you may need the support from just one location. If your requirement is to have the RPO team in your office, then consultant location is paramount. However, several RPO providers have built centres of excellence hubs that support their onsite teams and are a great resource that can improve performance of your RPO. If your office works remotely then an onsite/offsite delivery model would work seamlessly.

6. What’s their track record?

You don’t want to partner with a company that has a bad reputation. But how bad is bad and where do you look to find this information?
Our recommendation is that you always compare a few RPO partners against each other. The first stop is generally visiting business listings on Google. While these reviews can help get an initial understanding of a business, be sure to bear in mind reviews are given 2-3 times more by customers who have had a bad experience.

After investigating their reviews, it’s a good idea to read their case studies online (or reach out to the business to get some). You can also reach out to the business with an expression of interest and ask for a capability document. This will give you an understanding on what projects they’ve worked on in the past and their delivery performance.

One final way to check if an RPO partner is the right one is to speak directly with one of their current or past clients. Here you get to question the client directly about their experience, which can be paramount in helping you make an informed decision.

7. Can they save you time with tools and automation?

Engaging an RPO provider gives you access to best practice tools, the latest technologies and industry experts. This all saves your team time and creates process efficiencies. Joel Broughton, Paxus Talent Solutions Manager, suggests you investigate if technology is included in the cost. “Some RPO partners exclude technology costings from their quote. So, we recommend always asking them to be upfront with what you’re paying for when engaging them as a provider”.
Question your RPO partner about what tools they use. Joel says “Your RPO provider should be able to recommend the best solution, at the best price, for your specific talent acquisition priorities. For this reason, it’s best to speak with those who are expert yet technology agnostic.”

Once you know the recommended tool, conduct further research to ensure its functionality meets your requirement and that it is complementary to your current processes. The expertise an RPO provider brings is meant to make your life easier. So, finding a partner that has tech and automation solutions which fit and enhance how you’re already working is the goal.

8. Will they help you deliver great candidate experiences?

As the war for talent ensues, so does the importance of delivering great candidate experiences. Employer brand reputations are fast becoming vital to attracting top talent. When you’re under pressure to deliver, the candidate experience can be negatively affected as you:

  • may lack the resources to stay on top of candidate communications, or

  • you may experience delays in progressing applications and end up losing talent to other employers.

When selecting an RPO partner you want them to seamlessly act as an extension to your recruitment team. In addition, they should act as an instigator for improving your candidate experience, allowing you to strengthen your employer brand.

9. How much can you save when engaging an RPO provider?

There are financial benefits that come with engaging an RPO provider, such as reduced cost per hire and advantages that come with bulk purchase agreements for job advertisements. Joel says, “A good RPO provider will spend the time to uncover the hidden costs in your in-house talent acquisition model and provide you with transparent pricing to ensure you’re always in control”.
It’s important you discuss the cost savings that come with any potential RPO partner you’re interested in early on, so you’re clear on what they can offer. Some organisations can only assist with larger volume RPOs, which require minimum fills per month to give you the cost savings you’re after. Whereas others can assist with lower quantities and still provide you with some reduced cost, enhanced delivery, or increased capability.

10. Can they give you the stats and story?

The great thing about recruitment is the abundance of metrics available. RPO partners understand the value in analysing your current business processes and performance to then take your company forward with the best possible talent acquisition program.

Key metrics are no longer only about time-to-fill or number of candidate applications. While those points are important, a higher weighting is placed on understanding the story behind the numbers - a wholistic view of the talent acquisition processes and candidate experience, regardless of if they were successful or unsuccessful.

Not all RPO providers are created equal. When making the key decision, be sure to take the time to compare organisations and service offerings and evaluate who would provide your organisation with the best outcomes. Ultimately, you want a partner that understands what you need and goes above and beyond to give it to you.

At Paxus, we're digital and tech specialists and have been delivering successful RPO programs for a broad range of clients. We take the time to understand exactly what you need, so we can source and secure the right talent, while building a robust employee brand. Visit RPO Solutions to learn more.

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