What Is An RPO: Challenges, Strategies, and Insights

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Bruna Vasconcelos
Bruna Vasconcelos
Head of People

Table of Contents

Learn how to navigate common obstacles, implement effective solutions, and gain a competitive edge in talent acquisition through informed RPO practices.
Published on
March 24, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is when an employer outsources the responsibility of recruiting potential job candidates to a third-party service. You can use the RPO model to fill a specific As the recruitment landscape evolves, RPO stands out as a strategic solution for organizations attempting to streamline their hiring processes, access the best talent, and focus on core business functions. By understanding and addressing the challenges in RPO implementation and adopting a strategic approach to its incorporation, companies significantly enhance their recruitment efficacy and overall business performance. 

Often, RPO is a strategic ally in overall talent acquisition strategy. This article delves into the challenges of RPO and implementation strategies, revealing RPO’s multifaceted role in driving organizational success.

What is RPO?

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. An RPO provider may offer its own staff, technology, methodologies, and reporting to find suitable candidates for the hiring company. 

Unlike traditional recruitment agencies that focus on filling specific positions, RPO providers often assume ownership of the design and management of the recruitment process. This comprehensive approach to hiring means RPO providers often engage in a deeper analysis of the company's workforce needs, employer branding, and future talent pipeline, ensuring they attract and retain high-quality candidates.

The distinctiveness of RPO lies in its holistic approach to recruitment, embedding the RPO provider deeply into the company's talent acquisition function. This ranges from handling the company's end-to-end recruitment or specific elements of the process, such as candidate sourcing, screening, or onboarding. By doing so, RPOs bring a level of expertise, efficiency, and scalability that significantly improves hiring quality, reduces time to hire, and leads to cost savings for the company.

Featured Article: Recruitment Process Outsourcing: The Overall Guide

Difference Between an RPO and Recruitment Agency

Many people refer to RPOs and recruitment agencies interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Here's an outline of the differences between RPOs and recruitment agencies:



Recruitment Agencies


Comprehensive solutions that span the hiring process

Only limited to recruitment


Use state-of-the-art tech and data-driven processes to locate relevant talent

Tend to use more rudimentary tools

Quality of hires

Higher quality; focus on sourcing quality candidates with adequate skills and experience to meet your job requirements over the long term

Lower quality; focus on short-term hiring needs


Cheaper since most RPOs operate under service-level agreements (SLAs) and charge fixed sums

More expensive since they often charge 25 to 30 percent of each hire's compensation package

Challenges in RPO Implementation

While RPO provides a valuable service to companies, several obstacles often arise when outsourcing an entire business function. Depending on the scope of a company’s RPO, a certain amount of control is typically given up to allow an RPO provider to operate. For example, a company may outsource the entire end-to-end recruiting process to a provider, or in some cases, just the talent sourcing portion. 

Regardless of the scope, the following implementation challenges will likely affect most companies in some capacity: 

  • Integration with existing systems: Implementing RPO requires seamless integration with the company's existing HR and recruitment systems. The challenge lies in ensuring that the RPO provider's methods and technology align with the organization's internal processes without causing disruptions.
  • Maintaining company culture: While RPOs bring in their expertise, there is a perpetual challenge in ensuring the candidates sourced and hired align with the company's culture and values. This requires a deep understanding and clear communication of the company's mission to the RPO provider.
  • Managing change: Introducing an RPO model into an organization's recruitment process is always a significant change. Resistance or employee engagement issues may arise from internal recruitment teams and hiring managers accustomed to traditional hiring practices. Managing this change becomes critical, requiring clear communication and demonstration of the value added by RPO.
  • Data security and compliance: Outsourcing recruitment means sharing sensitive company and candidate information with a third party. Ensuring the RPO provider adheres to strict cyber security and compliance regulations is paramount.

Often, clear communication and adherence to contracted services provide a strong countermeasure to these issues. When partnering with an RPO provider, establish clear and regular communication and the exact scope of work needed before relinquishing any control over any talent acquisition activities.

RPO Strategies

Integrating an RPO solution into an organization's talent acquisition strategy can significantly enhance its recruitment efficacy and overall business performance. However, a successful RPO implementation goes beyond selecting a provider—it requires a meticulous strategy, thoughtful planning, and a collaborative partnership between the organization and the RPO provider. 

The objective is not only to streamline the recruitment process but also to ensure that it aligns with the company's long-term goals, culture, and operational needs.

Clear Objectives and Scope

Begin with a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with RPO. Define your goals, the scope of services required, and the aspects of recruitment you wish to outsource—such as sourcing, assessments, interviewing, or others. Whether it's full-service, hybrid, or project RPO, a well-defined scope sets a clear direction for both the organization and the provider.

Choosing the Right RPO Provider

The choice of RPO provider should be strategic and in line with long-term talent acquisition and retention goals. Evaluate potential providers based on their experience in your industry, understanding of your company culture, technological prowess, and track record of success in similar roles or industries. The right fit is crucial for a successful partnership and the right recruitment solutions for your team.

Collaborative Transition

A successful transition is imperative to successful RPO implementation. In-house human resources teams should work closely with the provider to ensure a smooth transition, focusing on system integration, knowledge transfer, and setting up clear roles and responsibilities. A collaborative approach will mitigate risks and foster a positive start to the partnership.

As the partnership progresses, be sure to revisit the original scope of work and determine if there is any unnecessary scope creep or a need to scale provider services. Scalability becomes a key factor in an RPO partnership as an organization grows and changes occur in the market.

Continuous Communication and Feedback

Establish regular communication channels with your RPO provider. This ensures ongoing alignment with the company's needs and provides a mechanism to address any concerns or adjustments promptly. Regular feedback loops are essential to refine processes and maintain a successful partnership.

Performance Metrics and Analytics

Define and agree upon key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics to measure the success of the RPO initiative. Measuring time to hire, cost per hire, and turnover statistics will not only provide insight into your organization, but also the efficacy of the RPO provider. These metrics should be reviewed regularly to ensure that the RPO is delivering the desired staffing outcomes and to identify areas for improvement.

The key to successful RPO implementation means understanding the unique needs of your organization, selecting the right RPO partner, and engaging in a collaborative and communicative relationship throughout the process. By focusing on these strategic areas, organizations ensure a smooth transition to RPO, optimize each step of the hiring process, and achieve a competitive advantage in talent acquisition.

RPO Insights and Forecasting

The future of RPO is poised to be influenced by several evolving trends and technological advancements, shaping it into a more strategic, data-driven, and flexible function. As the demand for talent grows and a more global approach to talent acquisition is pursued by top companies, RPO is expected to change in response.

Technology Integration

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics are expected to revolutionize RPO. These technologies will enable more sophisticated candidate sourcing and screening processes, improve the candidate experience, and provide predictive insights into hiring needs. Automation will streamline repetitive tasks, allowing RPO providers to focus more on strategic roles and decision-making.

Focus on Candidate Experience

As competition for top talent intensifies, RPOs will need to prioritize both the active and passive candidate experience to attract and engage the best candidates. This involves personalized communication, seamless application processes, and using employer branding strategies effectively. RPOs will continue to leverage technology to create more candidate-centric recruitment processes.

Data-Driven Decisions

RPO providers will continue to use data insights to make informed decisions about sourcing strategies, assess the effectiveness of different recruitment channels, predict future hiring needs, and measure performance against industry benchmarks. This approach will lead to more strategic hiring and better alignment with organizational goals.

Global Talent Pools

The rise of remote work and the globalization of the workforce will encourage RPO providers to tap into global talent pools. RPOs will not only help find the best candidates regardless of location, but also navigate the complexities of cross-border hiring—including compliance with local laws, culture integration, and different time zones.

Value-Add Services

RPOs will likely expand their offerings beyond traditional recruitment to include a broader range of value-adding services such as employer branding, talent community management, diversity and inclusion strategies, and workforce planning. These services will help organizations build a more robust talent acquisition strategy that is both agile and future-proof.

Customization and Flexibility

Future RPO solutions will be highly customizable to meet the unique needs of each organization. Providers will offer more flexible models that scale up or down based on the client's changing needs, whether it's handling peak hiring periods or managing specific parts of the recruitment process.

Sustainability and Ethical Hiring

As organizations become more conscious of their social and environmental impact, RPOs must incorporate sustainable and ethical hiring practices. This includes promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, implementing unbiased recruitment technologies, and ensuring ethical use of candidate data.

The future of RPO will be driven by technological innovation, a focus on candidate experience, and strategic alignment with business goals. RPO providers who adapt to these changes and continue to offer flexible, value-added services will remain strong partners in helping organizations navigate the complex and evolving landscape of talent acquisition.

Hire Top Software Developers With Revelo

The core of RPO is a strong partnership between the provider and the hiring organization. As the hiring process becomes more complex, more global, and more competitive, it’s essential to choose a partner who is adaptable and communicative throughout all aspects of the hiring pipeline.

Revelo offers access to a vetted, global talent pool of top software developers who have the expertise and practical experience to quickly contribute to your organizational goals. After choosing the right developers for your team, Revelo offers ongoing assistance in administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits administration, local compliance, and taxes—allowing you to focus on core business functions.

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