Harsh? Perhaps. But let me explain. One, if I just titled it RPOs, no one would read it, and I am too narcissistic to allow that to happen. And 2 (or B for those who prefer diversity), I truly believe that the RPO business model is antithetical to professional recruiting. For those of you who may not be aware of what an RPO is, let me explain, or cut and paste from Wikipedia, whichever you prefer:

Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a form of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer outsources or transfers all or part of its recruitment activities to an external service provider.

So, theoretically an RPO is a good idea if a company wants to run lean on the HR side and remove HR from the place it really has no business being - Recruiting.


Companies downsized their Recruiting staff during the beginning of the Recession, forgetting (because most companies have no concept of what Recruiters actually do) that once business began to grow again, they'd need a pipeline of candidates to help them fulfill their growing business needs. So now many companies have been caught sans pants, needing to hire en masse and quickly


Enter the RPO. "We'll do it all for you, just sign an agreement with us for X thousands of dollars, and we will manage it all for you." Company X thinks this is a great idea and signs a contract. "Fools! Now we have you!", cackles the RPO malevolently whilst twisting the pointy ends of its waxed mustache.


The problem is, RPO's are basically a retained search firm that has no obligation to actually really DO anything. I'm sure there are SLAs that might be less useless, but I haven't heard of them. The RPO then hires tons of Recruiters, and people that call themselves Recruiters, and puts them in positions variously labled Staffing Consultants, or Account Managers, or Oompa Loompas. The title is irrelevant. What these people do is interact with Hiring Managers and 'oversee the process' by posting the jobs, updating the ATS, etc. They don't actually recruit. They don't have time, Usually they're buried under massive req loads immediately.


Then the position is sent to a "Recruiter" for sourcing and pre-screening. But here's the really dirty little secret. The Recruiters are outsourced to Latin America or Asia with a few US Recruiters to fill out the roster. They have little or no experience in the industry they're recruiting for, and are paid peanuts. The Recruiters source and pre-screen and then forward the candidates to the Oompa Loompa, who then without pre-screening them themselves, forwards them to the Hiring Manager.


I call this McRecruiting. One size fits all low skill manpower intensive sweat shop recruiting that severs the link between a Hiring Manager and the Recruiter and the candidate. There is no "Full Cycle Recruiting". The client receives very little value for the money they've poured into the RPO. A true Recruiting Professional needs to be in touch with both sides of the equation, and familiar with the industry they're recruiting for.


The process employed by an RPO serves to cheapen the title of Recruiter and bastardizes our profession. If you needed a doctor, would you explain your symptoms to a Medical Billing person who then relays your case to someone in Uzbekistan, who then gives their diagnosis to the Biller, who then tells you what you need to take to get better? If you said yes, congratulations, you're an idiot.


RPO's over-promise and under-deliver and the companies that hire them then have an even worse concept of Recruiters. They are a cancer, but one that can be cured with early detection.






Views: 1351

Comment by Phil McCraken on January 25, 2012 at 4:02pm

Kate, if one changes one's beliefs to conform to the need for work within and industry one does not believe to be right, one could be considered a prostitute. Just saying.

Comment by Bill Ward on January 25, 2012 at 6:42pm

I appreciate that Phil. Here's an analogy for ya...you're like that comedian that goes on stage and bombs and can't figure out why the audience doesn't get his hilarious observations. Face it, your post BOMBED.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 26, 2012 at 1:52am
Phil, are you for rent. I have been looking for a poo flinging pissed off monkey to fling poo at people who crud up the site posting promos for their sites, links to their latest webinar and use the status update like a twitter stream. I'm really busy right now so if you are available for retained poo flinging I will trade some RPO hating with you for some poo flinging.
Comment by Valentino Martinez on January 26, 2012 at 3:23am

The truth from a pissed off monkey that's been pissed on...is still the truth.  Or is it just pissed-off-monkey truth?

I can sympathize and empathize...having had rabid moments myself.

Comment by Phil McCraken on January 26, 2012 at 9:52am

Sandra, your wish is my command. Ad hominem attacks from the audience! I live for people making assumptions! Brian, I drive a truck very similar to Fred Sanford. Bum bum bum BA dum, bum bum ba da da da da.

Bill, I forsee the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  Valentino, thank you. And that is the kewlest name in the world. Valentino. A hard name to live up to, I salute you.

Comment by Les Rosen on January 26, 2012 at 2:13pm

 Very interesting.  Are there any metrics out there as to the effectiveness of using RPO?  Not just cost, but also in terms of the quality of hire and time to fulfillment?  Any metrics as to what percentage of employers have turned to an RPO solution?   

Comment by Phil McCraken on January 26, 2012 at 2:23pm

Probably. But, my rant is more about the Recruiting profession, as opposed to RPO metrics. I submit that McDonald's can feed more people faster than Outback Steak House, but that doesn't make McDonald's a top choice of gourmands.

Comment by Linda Ferrante on January 26, 2012 at 3:02pm

Interesting article, and interesting responses.  Right off the bat, I'm aligned with Sandra.....a blog is an opinion of something experienced, on whatever level, by someone.  And then they write about it.

From my own personal experience, I worked with an RPO one time.  Or rather, I lost business to them and sat back and watched them not only not fill the position, but continue with the premise that candidates were difficult to find (this was back a few years).  When push came to shove (time was running out), the client came back to me and said can you PLEASE fill these positions for us?! 

So this client not only paid the fee of the RPO, but paid my fee as well.  And I did fill their positions. I realize it is one example, but is my only personal experience with an RPO.

Entertaining reading, at the least.  Thought provoking, from both sides, at best.  Good job, 'Phil'......   :)


Comment by Phil McCraken on January 26, 2012 at 3:24pm

Thank you Linda. Honestly, I had no idea so many people were so emotionally attached to RPOs. Some of the responses sound like the retorts made by the subject of an intervention. The first step is to admit that you have a problem. The second step is....it escapes me. I haven't taken the first step.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on January 26, 2012 at 4:00pm

I truly don't know enough about RPOs and have never worked with/against one so I have no opinion... other than as the writer of blogs that have stirred the pot I have thoroughly enjoyed the post AND the comments :)


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