RPO: What It Is, and How It's Used in Recruitment

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Bruna Vasconcelos
Bruna Vasconcelos
Head of People
RPO: What It Is, and How It's Used in Recruitment

Table of Contents

Learn more about the RPO model and see if it's the right option for your hiring needs to be fulfilled, and whether this is right for your company's team.
Published on
March 24, 2023
Updated on
October 10, 2023

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 niche, outsource HR functions, and locate new workers.

Read on to learn more about what is RPO in recruitment and how it's used.

What Is RPO?

What does RPO stand for in business? RPO is a long-term transfer of all or part of a company's recruitment process to an external RPO provider. A subtype of business process outsourcing (BPO), RPO can help you hire qualified candidates with minimal involvement from in-house human resources (HR) staff or recruitment agencies.

RPO services vary depending on the company or plan you choose for your company. They may assume or use their own staff, technology, methodologies, or reporting. Most RPOs, however, primarily use their own staff to attract, screen, interview, vet, and onboard talent.

Difference Between RPOs 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

What Are the Various RPO Models?

There are several types of RPO models. The five main types are:

End-to-End RPO

The RPO provider handles everything related to recruitment, from attracting prospective hires to performing exit interviews. Organizations usually hire end-to-end RPOs for a year or longer.

Project RPO

The RPO provider handles all or most of the same processes that an end-to-end RPO company would, but for a shorter period. Companies usually use project RPOs for several months.

Recruiter on Demand (ROD)

In this model, the RPO in recruiting handles recruitment for an extremely short service or project. The flexibility of this model helps businesses quickly locate workers for smaller tasks. For example, you can use ROD if you only need a quality assurance expert to proofread and edit your codebase for a week.

Contingent ROD

Contingency ROD is when a business hires a recruiting contract recruiter or agency to locate candidates for an open position. The recruitment contractor or agency only receives payment if the organization hires the candidate they find.

Selective RPO

The RPO in recruiting only handles one or several recruitment processes for a company. For instance, it may only handle candidate testing or recruitment marketing. Companies that use this model typically already have expertise in some aspects of recruitment.

What is RPO in Recruitment

To start filling open positions with RPO recruiting, all you have to do is write a job description detailing the skills, experiences, and personality traits you're looking for.

You can then pick a suitable RPO provider, sign a contract with the RPO provider, and tell the RPO team what you're looking for. The RPO team will then find, screen, test, and assess suitable candidates on your behalf.

Why Should I Use an RPO?

Now that you know the meaning of RPO recruitment, let's explore why you may want to use an RPO provider.

To Fill a Specific Niche

Companies often use RPO recruitment for talent acquisition in highly competitive or specialized niches like machine learning.

That's because RPO staff often have specialized skills and experiences that in-house staff often don't have, making it easier for them to hire top-notch staff. For instance, RPO staff may have in-depth knowledge of machine learning trends. They may also know how to write machine learning programs, which means they can vet potential hires more effectively and efficiently. In contrast, in-house HR personnel often lack technical skills and experiences like machine learning. As such, they have a harder time evaluating prospective hires' skills and experiences.

Your Company Lacks HR Expertise

If your company's HR department lacks hiring expertise, an RPO provider can help you fill in the gaps.

Specifically, they can help you attract, hire, vet, onboard, and manage hires. They can also help you measure metrics like manager satisfaction and hiring costs to optimize your recruitment process.

Your Organization Is Expanding

If your company is opening a new location or expanding its scope, RPO recruiting can help you locate new workers. This gives you more time to focus on improving your business and selling your brand.

RPO Benefits and Disadvantages

Outsourcing recruitment and other HR functions to RPO companies provide many benefits. However, as with all things, RPO providers have several drawbacks. Here's a breakdown of some advantages and disadvantages of using RPO.

RPO Benefits

  • Improved candidate experience: RPOs have customized hiring processes that ensure potential hires won't have anything negative to say about your business.
  • Scalability: RPOs in recruiting have the tools and knowledge to forecast whether your company will retract or expand over time. Providers can also utilize these predictions to scale your staff for unexpected events.
  • Give you more time to run your business: RPO firms handle time-consuming processes like training, interviewing, testing, and marketing so you can focus on running your business.
  • Reduced competition and time-to-hire: RPO recruitment often faces less competition than in-house HR personnel and hiring agencies. Instead of competing with other agencies and companies for candidates on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, RPO recruiting typically locates candidates through their own pre-vetted talent pools. Since all the professionals in their talent pools have already been thoroughly vetted for their skills and experience, RPOs can easily find the best pick for you in just a few hours or days.
  • Impressive HR technology: RPO companies provide access to hot HR technology for streamlining your recruitment process, including automated marketing systems and artificial intelligence (AI) sourcing tools. They are also caught up with the latest and most effective hiring and recruitment strategies.

Disadvantages of RPO

  • Culture clash: Unlike in-house HR personnel, RPO providers are not part of your company. As a result, they may not understand your company culture, which means they may find workers who don't have the right personalities and priorities to fit in with your team.
  • Loss of control: If you partner wither an RPO provider, you lose some control over the recruitment process. If you choose the wrong RPO, this can lead to hiring unsuitable candidates. Accordingly, it's important to thoroughly research potential RPO providers. That way, you can reap the benefits of RPO recruitment without any risks.

How To Pick the Right RPO

If using an RPO provider sounds like the right choice, ask the following questions to pick the best RPO for your company or project.

  • Who founded your company, and who are your investors? Find out who runs the RPO and who its investors are. Consider choosing another company if most of the provider's investors are venture capitalists. Businesses that heavily rely on venture capital often place their own interests ahead of their clients'.
  • What are your areas of expertise? Does the RPO have the knowledge and experience to hire first-class workers in your niche or industry?
  • What tools do you use to attract, source, vet, hire, and onboard employees? Does the RPO use state-of-the-art tools to hire and manage employees? If their tools are similar to those used by your in-house staff, consider choosing another company.
  • What are your rates? Learn how the RPO charges fees and whether it's affordable for you. You should also ask if there are hidden fees for foreign exchange and value-added tax (VAT) charges.
  • May I see the portfolios and resumes of your HR professionals? This will show you the depth and breadth of your RPO's recruitment experience and expertise.
  • Have you worked with companies like mine before? How was the experience? Always look for a company that has worked for businesses like yours.
  • Do you hire, train, and manage your own employees? If not, how do you choose your outsourcing partners? Ideally, the RPO should hire, train, and manage its own employees. If not, ask how the RPO provider chooses its outsourcing partners. What standards do they use to vet and hire third-party partners? Is the RPO responsible for its partners' decisions and mistakes?

RPO Recruiting with Revelo

Finding RPO recruiting solutions can be an uphill battle, especially if you've never recruited through a third party before.

That's where Revelo comes in. As Latin America's premier tech talent marketplace, we can help you source, hire, and handle information technology professionals on one platform. We will also provide access to a talent pool that has been rigorously pre-vetted for English proficiency, skills, and knowledge.

Fill out this form today to learn more about our services.

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