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4 signs you've outgrown your RPO provider 

July 28, 2023

When was the last time you evaluated your recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution? The global RPO market was estimated to be worth $8.45 billion in 2022, research from Staffing Industry Analysts revealed. And with further growth expected in 2023, RPO clients need to understand the quality of their partnerships. While many RPO providers deliver on their promises, research shows too many organizations enter multiyear partnerships without knowing how to properly evaluate the value of what they’re getting. 

This article goes over the traits of a high-quality RPO partner — as well as signs for when it's time to consider new partnership opportunities. 

Sign #1: No continuous innovation 

Long-term success can be determined, in part, by a company's culture of innovation. In this fast-paced market, it's necessary. Perhaps your current RPO provider is slow to implement new technology your competitors are already using — or maybe they don’t factor in the total addressable market before sourcing. Either way, overlooking innovation isn’t feasible in today’s talent market. High-caliber RPO providers focus on defining and implementing continuous innovation.   

Actioning innovation takes many forms — it can include creating a talent community or supporting a newly implemented candidate relationship management (CRM) tool. Either way, it should be a customized approach to your unique business needs. 

Innovation is implemented intentionally to accomplish key business goals, such as: 

  • Creating more strategic business partnering 
  • Taking a long-term approach to human resources (HR) and talent acquisition (TA)  
  • Aligning talent processes with revenue generation 

An RPO provider should consult with you to understand and define what innovation means to your organization — anything less means you may have outgrown your current RPO provider’s capabilities. A proactive approach refuses complacency and sets your business up for success, whether you remain with your provider or depart following a contract.  

Sign #2: Lack of flexibility in approach 

According to NelsonHall's 2023 NEAT report, one of clients’ top requirements to meet future TA needs is the flexibility of their approach. Successful RPO providers understand global staffing shortages and have expanded delivery offerings to include end-to-end recruiting, HR services and on-demand programs at speed to improve recruitment metrics. This includes consulting services to expedite hiring and improve the candidate experience. Without an adaptable approach to service delivery, companies will fall short in their hiring transformation journey. 

The perceived hassle of switching providers should not outweigh inadequate results. Quality RPO partners prioritize advisory, flexible service offerings and adaptability in their models to achieve your company’s hiring goals. So, whether you want tech automation, improved recruitment marketing or on-demand services, weigh your options to see if your current RPO provider is unable to exercise flexibility in its services. You hired a partner to help you enhance your TA function, so make sure they’re still delivering on that promise. 

Read more: 4 promises RPO providers must keep

Sign #3: Lack of scalability  

All businesses have times of increased need, such as the launch of a new product or service or a global growth initiative. Seasonal operations, such as retail businesses or hospitality, for example, experience periods of rapid growth where the major focus is on hiring. One of the components of a successful partnership is an RPO's ability to scale resources with hiring volume fluctuations when and where it's needed. This is an essential part of a long-term talent strategy — especially during times of economic uncertainty. Ask yourself whether this is a standard in your current partnership; it can help you determine if your current RPO provider is still compatible with your needs. 

While RPO engagements provide dedicated resources to your account, there should also be a utility bench of skilled recruitment professionals who are trained and prepared to supplement your team at times of immediate need. This eliminates the necessary ramp-up time when dealing with a spike in hiring, which improves time-to-fill and leads to higher quality of hire. In addition, to support your ability to scale, RPO providers often promise strategic process design, ATS improvement, labor market research, hiring manager training and various HR technologies. 

Sign #4: No data and analytics to tell your story 

89% of buyers surveyed indicated they use data and analytics services from RPO vendors. 
Source: NelsonHall 

Having the right data to support your recruitment decisions provides full transparency, accountability and peace of mind that you’re on the path toward improvement. RPO providers understand this and will bring a team of business analysts who will integrate an analytics program that precisely informs your current processes and performance and guide your company toward becoming a best-in-class TA program. Your RPO provider should be working to help you leverage internal and external data to support all talent and business decisions.  

For example, knowing how long a job stays open is still important, however, truly understanding the entire candidate experience and its impact on your business is even more critical. Review sites and social media make it easy for candidates to share their candidate experience story. Companies can no longer afford a poor candidate experience, as it has an exponential impact.

Read more: 5 ways to optimize your ATS for a better candidate experience  

Ultimately, HR metrics and recruitment analytics are the foundation for change. Great stories can be told based on data. As you weigh the performance of your RPO provider or evaluate potential partners, make sure you’re being told, precisely, the story behind the data. This narrative will carry on through your organization and can even ignite future innovation. 

Make an informed decision for the future 

Weighing your current RPO’s value and whether you should switch partners is a major decision that affects key business outcomes. Take time to review your TA function and hiring goals and compare them to these signs. This should help lead you to determine whether you stay with your current RPO provider or compare other providers’ capabilities. With an ever-evolving market, you deserve the best RPO partner that will lead proactively and with a total talent approach to achieve your organizational goals. 

4 promises RPO providers must keep
Our whitepaper provides a look at the current RPO market, what providers promise and what clients seek most from their partners.
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About Craig Sweeney

As executive vice president, global strategic talent solutions, Craig leads WilsonHCG's growth strategy and new partnership cultivation across the globe. Alongside the trusted consultants at WilsonHCG, he builds market-leading, scalable and customisable RPO solutions. Craig's relationships span all industry verticals and geographies with expertise in technology, business services, financial services, engineering, manufacturing, retail, and media.