Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is defined by the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association as “a form of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider.”
The problem with a definition, especially one with a range such as this (see: “employer transfers all or part of its recruitment process”), is that it still leaves massive amounts of room for interpretation. “Part of the recruitment process” could mean as small as sourcing, or something as large as the entire process except for the onboarding.
Because of this wide range in how you can define RPO, it sometimes gets a bad rap. In reality, there’s two sides to the RPO definition: true blue full RPO, and then the dark space of that vague range in the definition. It’s here that FauxPO is born.
Essentially, FauxPO is a catchy little term for incomplete RPO. It’s a trap for many companies looking to outsource their recruiting process because they hear RPO and think they’re getting the full deal. Instead, what happens many times is this, as described by Kinetix’s CEO Shannon Russo:
“Service providers sell what they call RPO, and clients buy it. The service providers will have a recruiting team that may not be that great, and they’re really just sourcing, doing a sort-of screening, what they call labeling a candidate as qualified and interested, and then they throw the candidates over the fence to the clients.”
The end result of a client/provider relationship like this takes the provider down to a vendor level, with them providing not much more than lists of candidates to the client.
So how is RPO different?
With a deeper look at what the lackluster side of RPO is, Shannon defines full-service RPO, like Kinetix provides:
“It’s taking over the process—the whole process—for the client, as the client. To a candidate, we want to look one in the same as the client. We want to help improve the client’s employer brand by creating a great candidate experience throughout the whole process, and really try to improve that process. It starts as far back as sourcing and screening and selection, all the way through background checks and reference checks, and to the finish line where they are on payroll. It’s managing that process and delivering on all steps of that process.”
Just comparing these two distinct definitions by length gives you an impression of the difference between them. Full-service, or full-cycle, RPO is all about building a relationship with the client for the benefit of them as well as their candidates. The goal is not to shove as many candidates as possible towards them, it’s to fix the holes in their processes, while making what they have better.
When looking at full-cycle RPO, it’s why Kinetix doesn’t see ourselves or even pitch ourselves as a vendor to clients—we are partners in the business of recruiting and provide services that go above and beyond what FauxPO companies are selling. This comes through with handholding clients and giving them deep insight into what we know works and what doesn’t, as well as taking on the identity of the client when speaking with candidates.
But don’t take our word for it. As Shannon says, many clients express awe at what true RPO can do:
“A lot of clients, when they make this decision will say ‘Why didn’t I make this decision before? Why didn’t I do this sooner?’ Or, we’ll have clients who have their backs against a wall, which is unfortunate, but we come in and they’re blown away by what we can do.”
So, while it’s true that RPO’s basic definition can have many different variations and levels of service, there’s only one true way to do RPO in its fullest sense of the phrase—being a partner to clients and helping them build their process, not just their candidate database.