Everything You Need to Know About RPO

Your guide to Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

What is RPO?

Defining Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruitment Process Outsourcing, better known as RPO, is one of the Human Resources Outsourcing industry’s fastest growing segments.

Companies with high-volume or enterprise-wide hiring needs seeking to outsource all or a portion of their recruitment process often turn to an RPO provider to streamline their hiring costs, decrease time-to-fill, or improve candidate quality. As a trusted expert, your RPO partner provides talent acquisition consulting that encompasses analysis, strategy, and execution.

For process-driven, metrics-oriented organizations, RPO providers offer an efficient, measurable solution to high-volume talent acquisition programs. In addition to improved candidate pools and recruitment processes, you may also experience significant savings on recruitment marketing expenses and placement fees, among others.

Who Should Use an RPO?

companies to use RPO

Mid-sized to large companies experiencing high growth

Ongoing recruitment needs across functions, locations, or enterprises

High-volume recruitment needs, such as sales or customer service

Need a standardized, centralized recruitment process


Key Services and Functions of RPO Companies

RPO consultation and strategy

Consultation and Strategy

recruitment process optimization

Recruitment Process Optimization

talent market research and forecasting

Talent Market Research and Forecasting

talent pipeline development

Talent Pipeline Development

employer branding and sourcing

Employer Branding and Sourcing

screening and interviewing

Screening and Interviewing

interview scheduling

Interview Scheduling

post-offer management

Post-Offer Management

onboarding and post-hire

Onboarding and Post-Hire

technology integration

Technology Integration

reporting, metrics, and insights

Reporting, Metrics, and Insights



RPO Flowchart

RPO flowchart and process overview

Why Should I Work with an RPO Company?

For high-growth companies, RPO offers levels of partnership and consultation well beyond staffing. To be truly effective, your RPO provider must become a virtual extension of your company’s HR department—which offers you valuable savings in resources and creates a transparent candidate experience.

You should consider working with an RPO company if any of these sound like you.

  • Not enough/not the right recruiting resources
  • Need best practices in functional areas to recruit the best talent – e.g., sales
  • Recruiting costs are difficult to predict/out of control
  • Talent pools are stagnant or lack key skill sets
  • Recruiting is decentralized and unfocused

RPO Benefits

Augment recruitment teams

  • Recruiting resources that scale up or down based on needs
  • RPO teams that seamlessly integrate with your HR organization
  • On-demand resources that are available when you need them

Streamline your recruitment costs

  • Predictable cost structures for acquiring talent
  • Volume-driven pricing
  • Improved processes decrease cost-per-hire over time

Drive process efficiency and facilitate continuous process improvement

  • Detailed process mapping before, during, and after implementation
  • Measure every activity within the process
  • Understanding gaps and opportunities

Build strong talent pipelines

  • High-volume focus
  • Multiplatform sourcing strategies
  • Ongoing candidate outreach nurturing future pipelines

Improve candidate quality

  • Targeted approach to candidate profiling
  • Proactive candidate sourcing strategies
  • In-depth interest validation and screening

Optimize the candidate experience

  • Human-to-human conversations with candidates
  • Eliminate unnecessary and lengthy processes
  • Employer branding and outreach throughout the candidate lifecycle

Understand the business impact

  • Visibility into real-time data and analytics
  • Actionable insights designed to improve the hiring process
  • Measurable ROI on long-term recruitment investment

Bottom Line: What RPO Can Do for You

For the life of the RPO relationship, your provider strives toward continuous improvement in process efficiency. A robust RPO program will adjust to increasing or decreasing hiring demands, using only the resources necessary—effectively decreasing or eliminating waste.

High-Volume Recruitment

RPO is particularly suited to companies with ongoing, high-volume recruitment needs.

  • Hundreds to thousands of hires within specific functional areas
  • Entry to mid-level roles
  • Company seeking predictable hiring costs
  • Process-driven approach to high-volume pipeline development
  • Integrated technology to support high-volume recruitment functions
  • Systematic candidate outreach to build passive talent pools
  • Humanized recruitment process to foster a strong candidate experience

How is RPO Different from Using a Staffing Firm

While staffing firms source, qualify, and fill open positions, they do not provide the scope of service that an RPO might, because they typically do not fill a high volume of open positions. Executive search firms, similarly, do not focus on high-volume roles. Instead, an executive search partner is better suited to strategic positions at the management level and above.

RPO vs. Staffing Firms

Benefits RPO Executive Search Staffing
Proactive Talent Pools
Proactive Talent Pools
High-volume recruitment
High-volume recruitment
Process improvements
Process improvements
Cost Savings
Cost Savings
Insights and analytics
Insights and analytics
Improved candidate quality
Improved candidate quality
Lower time-to-fill
Lower time-to-fill
Scalable resources
Scalable resources
Elevated candidate experience
Elevated candidate experience
Employer branding
Employer branding
Compliance support
Compliance support
Strategic roles
Strategic roles

Ready to Explore the Benefits of RPO?
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Types of RPO Models

Enterprise RPO

Enterprise RPO

Best suited to companies seeking to outsource all needs across a job function or the enterprise over a sustained timeframe.

project based rpo

Project RPO

Best suited to fulfill short-term recruitment needs, such as opening a facility or ramping up a specific function. May include recruiter on-demand models for additional flexibility and workforce augmentation.

RPO Costs and Fee Structures

While staffing firms often charge a percentage of the new hire’s estimated annual salary, an RPO estimates pricing not only on volume of hires but also on increased process efficiencies.

Here are some of the most common cost components within any program.


  • Monthly management fee: provides funding for a dedicated team
  • Open fees: invoiced upon approving a requisition
  • Close fees: invoiced upon placing a candidate
  • Implementation fees: based on project scope, training, and timelines

Engagements are supported by service level agreements and statements of work which outline metrics, project deliverables, and governance models. Metrics may include a target number of hires, conversion ratios, time-to-fill, among others.

See how an RPO firm could help improve your hiring costs

Ten Simple Questions to Ask Yourself Before Outsourcing

An RPO provider will partner with you to build a process that achieves your hiring goals. By gathering just some of the information below, you can have a more productive first conversation with an RPO company.

  1. Why is your company hiring?
  2. What positions are you considering outsourcing?
  3. How many positions are you looking to fill?
  4. When do you need all your hires in place?
  5. What does your compensation structure look like?
  6. What is your current strategy for pipelining and sourcing talent?
  7. What are the stages within your recruitment process?
  8. What are your conversion rates, including scheduled interviews to actual interviews and interviews to offers?
  9. What does recruitment cost today?
  10. How does technology integrate with your process?

Ready to Explore RPO?

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Further RPO Resources

Three Key Ways RPO Services Improve the Candidate Experience

In today’s highly competitive hiring market, the human touch is essential to executing a successful recruitment process.

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Find the Right RPO Recruitment Model for Your Company

The right RPO model can strongly influence the overall reach and success of your recruitment program.

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How to Measure the Performance of Your RPO Services

For companies implementing RPO services, continuous improvement within talent acquisition and recruitment is the goal. In our experience, the best way to improve is to set appropriate benchmarks and measure results.

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Ten Steps to Selecting an RPO Services Partner

Partnering with RPO companies can simplify complex recruitment processes, refine candidate profiles, extend your reach, and augment talent pools, among many other benefits.

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Making Sure Your RPO Services Partner Can Scale to Meet Your Demand

When matched with the right RPO services, your firm can realize significant cost-efficiencies, the most immediate improvement being reduced cost-per-hire.

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When Should You Consider RPO Services?

Is it becoming increasingly difficult to fill positions at your firm? Are your job postings not getting the right quality, speed and volume of responses? Do you have a high employee turnover rate or large seasonal staff requirements? Is your […]

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