Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing where a service provider assumes ownership of the recruitment process, acting as "a company’s internal recruitment function for a portion or all of its jobs" (according to Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association).

Annemarie Viljoen-Griffiths, MD of Fastfwd Recruitment & Consulting, writes that more and more companies are moving many of their recruitment functions online, a trend that has changed the recruitment landscape irreversibly. Through online recruitment technology, recruitment processes are streamlined and standardised, costs are reduced , and the net for potential candidates is cast wide without the geographical, cultural and time zone restraints that traditionally limited a candidate pool. Jobs are available immediately, on a variety of websites, and candidates have access 24×7, making it very easy for careerseekers to apply.
Companies that utilise online recruitment technology report that they receive more applications per vacancy than they did 10 years ago. However, they also report that the quality and fit of those candidates has decreased.
To combat these problems of dealing with high volumes of unsuitable applicants, portions of the recruitment process have been automated, to reduce the administrative burden on recruiters. Ironically, it seems recruiters are spending even more time administering these online recruitment processes.
Recruitment process administration is not a core function of human resources and does not add value. This part of the recruitment process can easily be outsourced to a third-party service provider.
An RPO focuses on recruitment and has the expertise to help you attract the right talent, improve your time to hire, increase the quality of the candidate pool and reduce recruitment cost.
How does this work?
* Streamline the recruitment process: In order to attract the right people to your company, you need a strong employer brand. An RPO will work to improve your recruitment process, delivering a consistent message to applicants and ensuring you have a fast and responsive recruitment process, something that is essential in delivering a positive experience to careerseekers. You will be sure that applicants will always be communicated with regarding their progress, and that there will be no more "if you haven’t heard from us in 30 days, consider yourself unsuccessful" messages.
* Build your employer brand: Your RPO is an extension of your organisation, and is always in the market looking for ways to improve your employer brand and getting you the best candidates. Your RPO should understand your target audience and should therefore be able to advise you on ways to advertise your company, and on the message you should deliver. An RPO can put together your whole value proposition and sourcing strategy.
* Reduce costs: RPO’s change fixed costs into variable costs that changes with the level of recruitment activity. Instead of paying salaries and overheads for in-house recruiters, you only pay per transaction. When recruitment activity is down, you don’t have to get rid of internal resources, and will still have access to recruitment specialists.
RPO is not a magic wand that will solve all your recruitment problems: it can only succeed if you have a well-defined sourcing strategy, and if you treat the RPO provider as part of your team, involve them in strategy and make sure they get the opportunity to assimilate your culture and values.
An RPO can also not solve your recruitment problems if your company is perceived negatively by potential employees, as this will first require improving your employer brand and image in the market place.
If you have effective hiring processes, and want your HR team to focus on more value adding aspects of their work, or you simply do not have the necessary recruitment resources in-house, then you will benefit from utilising the services of an RPO consultant.