Weighing The Costs And Benefits Of Outsourcing In The Cutthroat World Of Recruiting

The good news is hiring is up. The Labor Department reported 163,000 new jobs in July. That's the highest in several months. The economic recovery is still fragile, but some companies have avoided filling vacancies and launching new endeavors for so long that they have reached the point where they have to start filling slots.

For companies that are activating their recruiting, here's a suggestion: Recruitment Process Outsourcing. RPO companies do much more than search firms and employment agencies. An RPO provider becomes an integral part of a company's recruiting and hiring process, from job analysis to screening/selection to onboarding.

RPO is not limited to the just large corporations anymore; it's an attractive choice for mid-size companies, too. Let me ask you some questions about your company:

  • The competition out there for qualified candidates is hotter than ever. Does your company have in-house personnel with the chops to compete with the ninja recruiting skills your competitors are getting from RPO providers?
  • Recruiting today requires mastery of the Internet, social media, and other technologies. Do your in-house recruiters have that kind of expertise (or are they still confused by the difference between a status update and a tweet)?
  • Many companies have switched from "HR" to "TM": talent management. The change in terminology signifies the increased expectations we have of our talent management executives. How can your TM people deliver on all fronts when they can barely keep up with the time-consuming demands of recruiting?

At Best Practice Institute, I spend a lot of my time working with a group of 13 executives called the BPI Senior Executive Board. These are the top-talent management executives of 13 of the world's largest corporations. One of them is Zachary Misko, vice president of workforce strategy at KellyOCG, one of the largest global RPO providers. Zachary points out two obvious advantages of RPO: global reach and global capabilities. 


Many companies are doing business and seeking candidates all over the world. Recruiting in other locations presents obvious obstacles, including distance, culture and language. That's where RPO comes in.

For example, KellyOCG is handling recruitment for the February 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Hosting an Olympics is a massive undertaking; the budget for the Sochi games is about $18 billion. Russia contracted KellyOCG to hire more than a thousand full-time workers in management, communications, technology, and client services to run the Sochi Winter Games. It marks the first time a host country has outsourced the entire recruitment function for the internal hires required to run an Olympics event.


Recruiting today requires social media, blogging, career fairs, cold calling, and communicating with candidates. Recruiting has simply become too complicated and/or overwhelming for most in-house personnel to master all the tools and do an effective job.

"Posting a position on a job board doesn't make you a recruiter, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car," Zachary said.

Recruiting is what RPO companies do and know best. What makes the most sense for your company: keeping your recruiting in-house and competing with RPO experts, or turning to RPO to get the experts working for you?

Louis Carter is founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute and the author of several books, including Best Practices in Leadership Development. His latest book, Change Champions, is due out in October.