If you have considered — and perhaps discounted — RPO in the past, I would encourage you to take a second look.

Frame of reference. The International Labor Organization estimates the equivalent of 400 million jobs were lost in the second quarter as a result of Covid-19, with the largest reduction, down 18.3%, occurring in the Americas.

With a shaky economy, and a focus on reducing headcount as organizations look to right-size operations to align with income, now may seem a strange time to be procuring RPO, especially when forecasts are unpredictable. It is, after all, a service built entirely around the acquisition of talent.

Market conditions. Consider though, the challenge faced by HR and workforce leaders who have spent years building internal talent acquisition muscle, only to find that market conditions make retaining a large TA team a luxury they cannot afford. In this example, an enterprise-grade RPO solution can bring scalability, sector expertise and continuity, with the ability to flex delivery teams up and down in line with demand.

Think too, of the companies experiencing high growth, and needing the talent to match, but lacking the internal expertise, latest technology or processes to manage demand. In this case, a more project-based “on-demand” RPO solution may be the best fit. Even the world’s largest providers of RPO have invested heavily in agile, project-based services, including the recommendation and deployment of talent acquisition, engagement and assessment technology. In 2019, project RPO represented 34% of the global RPO market.

Mature industry. Size of the market aside, the term RPO itself can be a little off putting. With its references to “process” and “outsourcing” it doesn’t conjure images of brand advocacy and positive candidate experience. I contend, however, that the industry has matured beyond the term, and the best providers are offering the whole package; capable of acting as a seamless extension to an organization, while also leveraging tools and technology that have been tried and tested before deployment.

Today’s examples of RPO capability include:

  • Use of artificial intelligence for conversational engagement, skills analysis, removal of bias and talent matching.
  • Virtual assessment centers and career days that include gamification.
  • Programmatic tools to maximize advertising’s return on investment.
  • Total talent acquisition programs leveraging RPO best practices in the engagement of contingent talent.
  • Dedicated innovation teams scanning the market for emerging technology.
  • Use of predictive analytics to identify talent, predict quality of hire and address potential attrition.
  • Automation of the end-to-end recruitment cycle to manage high volumes and decrease time to hire.

Hiring may not be your number-one priority today, but whatever model you choose, make sure you are set up to attract and identify the best talent and provide a positive experience to the inevitably significant number of applicants.

CWS Council members interested in a more in-depth study of the global RPO market should read SIA’s Global RPO Landscape 2020, which will be published during the later part of September 2020.