The Difference Between RPO, Contingent, CPR (Customized Project Recruiting) and Executive Search: Which Search Firm is Right for You?

Is your company looking to add employees this year and do you have questions about the many different options within the search firm market?

CHROs and human resource professionals taxed with consistently maintaining, optimizing and expanding their talent supply chain may find themselves having to consider whether outsourcing recruitment to an outside agency is a viable solution. Successful collaboration with an outside search firm begins with choosing the firm that makes the most sense for your company’s individual staffing needs.

When does an RPO firm make sense compared to a contingent recruiting agency? How does Customized Project Recruiting and executive search fit in?

First, let’s define the search firm market –

RPO – Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. RPOs typically search large volume, hourly employees and are best used when sourcing lower level positions. Options for RPO companies include Cielo (formerly pinstripe) and PeopleScout.

Contingent Search is most often industry-specific recruitment where a fee is due only upon successful candidate placement. This can be effective with highly specialized positions and is a notable option for the tech sector and for placement for salaries between $50K to $150K.  A good example of an established tech contingent firm is Techcruit. Please note contingent firm placements usually come with shorter placement guarantees, 90 days on average.

CPR is Customized Project Recruiting, a proprietary process introduced to the market in 2013 by Tri-Search that has become so successful it is beginning to carve out its own niche in the marketplace. Customized Project Recruiting is a blend between executive search and RPO. Companies using CPR gain the targeted recruitment of passive candidates that they would get from a high level executive search firm with the metrics and reporting that they would receive from an RPO. This helps companies acquire better candidates quicker and at a lower cost. CPR is best used for companies looking to hire between 5-100 candidates with salaries ranging from $50K to $250K. Tri-Search is the only search firm utilizing this innovative new process at this time.

Executive Search is a specialized recruitment service that finds top level candidates for senior, executive or other highly specialized positions for clients. These firms typically charge retainers and get paid all fees regardless of filling the position. Detailed metrics and reporting accompany high quality, passive candidates when using an executive search firm, such as Morgan Samuels.

In sum: If you’re looking to hire a tech specialty position within a niche market, a Contingent Firm might work best.  If you’re looking to hire 1,000 lower salaried or hourly employees (such as staffing a new call center) RPO would be your first call. If you’re looking to hire a key C-level executive, a retained Executive Search Firm (such as Morgan Samuels) would be your answer. If you’re looking to hire 5-100 employees of all different levels, then the CPR approach would work best (Tri-Search.)  Where RPO is typically an all or nothing approach, CPR offers flexibility and partners well with clients to work on individual staffing needs. Also take note that contingency firms are more likely showing their candidates to other companies at the same time where Executive Search and CPR won’t be.  

Hopefully this information helps to provide details on the ever expanding and always changing search firm landscape for you as your company continues to grow. If you’d like to learn more about the search landscape, click here.

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Comment by Elizabeth Trcka on March 27, 2017 at 2:13pm

Interesting and informative read.  There are RPO's that also provide support similar to a CPR, based on the definition that you provided.  Our company, Skywalk Group, is an example of an RPO that not only supports the massive hiring that is needed for larger corporations, but also niche or specific hiring that companies need based on 5 - 200 placements a year, whether in multiple or a central location.  It is an exciting time to be part of the recruiting industry, as the landscape of recruiting support is changing!   

Comment by Tri-Search on March 27, 2017 at 2:51pm

Agreed, thanks for the comment Elizabeth!


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