/ RPO / Talent Consultancy

RPO or In-House? The Right Route for You

In the context of Brexit, Covid-19, and increasing automation, the paradigm shift for HR has moved to skills. Specifically developing, retaining, and redeploying. But what impact has this had on new skills acquisition and the conundrum of insourcing vs. outsourcing

It's commonplace for HR to centralise recruitment in order to standardise fees, limit supplier numbers, create consistent processes and reduce the risk of rogue behaviour from hiring managers. 

However, when internal HR resources are spread too thin (HR professionals can spend as much as 50% of their week on recruitment during growth periods), and agency spend continues to remain high, with key positions unfilled, HR reaches a fork in the road: dedicated RPO or dedicated internal recruitment.

Undoubtedly, internal recruitment teams bring certain benefits. Suppliers become more motivated as they receive greater levels of communication. Candidates experience a greater level of focus. There may also be investment in a recruitment system, although invariably this will be an applicant tracking system bolted on to the existing HRIS. Cookie cutter roles begin to be filled directly, making a dent in the agency spend. Over time, the business will see the difference between a HR generalist and a recruitment business partner. But what if none of this happens? Your recruitment strategy is running to stand still and the journey becomes longer.

A 2019 study by Aberdeen Research (1) found that companies who are considered "Best-in-Class are taking note that their short-term needs are not feeding into their long-term goals for talent retention and goals alignment. In fact, they are three times more likely than all others to be implementing new strategies that link candidate hiring profiles into broader performance management. For 51% of Best-in-Class firms, this strategy evolution has been directly guided, influenced, and facilitated by their partnership with an RPO". 

RPO builds and establishes a talent pipeline full of candidates of various skillsets and is essential to creating a proactive hiring strategy, resulting in reduced cost and better time-to-hire results. It also brings new quantitative and qualitative metrics into the fold. And where most internal marketing resource focuses on the consumer brand, RPO prioritises your employer brand to enhance the candidate experience.

In essence, RPO drives your recruitment infrastructure forward at a reduced cost, in less time, with less disruption and less resource.

So why are some HR leaders reticent to take this route? Perhaps it’s in the term ‘outsourcing’. Does it convey that you’re not in control? That accountability falls through the cracks?

In fact, it’s more likely to be because the RPO landscape is dominated by providers whose business model, infrastructure and success is predicated on the need for high-volume work. The influence of Procurement teams cannot be ignored either, where demand for greater value without increased cost means the quality and flexibility of the service diminishes. Of course, that’s only one side of the coin.

RPO isn’t like traditional outsourcing, nor does it remove the accountability for talent acquisition from HR. True RPO providers completely immerse their on-site and near-site teams in your culture, values and mission, working with your organisation to approach recruitment in a collaborative manner. They partner with businesses to transform the attraction, selection, onboarding, and candidate experience in a strategic and future-proof way. RPO uses smart and scalable technology to track talent pipelines, measure performance and identify future stars. And when matched with real technical expertise, it can build your brand and improve candidate reach. 


(1) Chertok, Z. (2019) RPO Improves Long-Range Talent Placement. Aberdeen Blog, 1st July. Available here