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: 1324

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 26, 2012 at 10:28pm

Thanks Phil.  No need to add hominey, that's too corrny.  It's a non sequitor if they look like Groucho in a baseball cap. 

Just go for the act. 


Ok, RPO's suck buttermilk.  Does that pat your monkey..as Deiter used to say. 

Comment by Samantha Lacey on January 27, 2012 at 11:53am

Right, I just want to add my 2 cents (or pence, since I'm British). I appreciate that this is the perception of RPO to many people, but I think it's worth noting that those who outsource their resourcing consultants and CV sifters overseas are really in the minority. I can't think of a single British RPO that does that so I assume you are only talking about RPO in the USA. I should also state that the RPO I work for absolutely have to fill every vacancy as we work on a per placement model rather than a retainer. If we don't fill the vacancy we don't make any money and we have to use an agency. We hate doing that! We fill over 90% of our clients' vacancies without the use of agencies. All our resourcers and account managers are targeted on quality as well as vacancies filled and again, if we don't fill vacancies the resourcers and account managers don't get any money, so that's their incentive. I realise of course that I am responding to a man with a fictional name and picture who has written a post for controversy's sake, but I felt compelled to fight my corner. Happy Friday everyone! 

Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on January 27, 2012 at 12:13pm
Just for sake of balance. One of the UK operating and Europe wide active RPO's operate with a resource centre in Poland. Nothing bad about that and I shall refrain from commenting on the efficiency of this set up, only let anyone reading this know.
Comment by Brian C Hayes on February 12, 2012 at 8:43pm

Wow so much hot air and bravado in a forum full of recruiters who would have thunk it. Interesting points, you always get what you pay for.

Comment by Phil McCraken on February 13, 2012 at 1:14pm

Yes, it's very Sharks vs Jets I find.


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