3 Key Perspectives When Considering Project RPO

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For first-time RPO buyers, pursuing project engagements is common and quite logical. Some will look to this type of solution because there is a finite need for recruiting that is short term in nature. Other companies do so because they want to test the value of the RPO model on a smaller scale with the assumption that it can/will expand into other TA needs.

Regardless of the reason, project hiring can be an excellent way to help internal TA departments by providing project-based support for:

  • Time bound recruiting needs to fill certain roles that are either seasonal, cyclical or event-based.
  • LOB-specific recruiting needs to tackle difficult Talent Aquisition challenges within a certain hard-to-fill job profile or geography -OR- other time/resource intensive TA challenges
  • On-demand recruiting needs to manage overflow of requisitions.

But while project-based hiringRPO may be focused on a confined area of need, it’s still critically important to get it right. Companies certainly need to think carefully through the focus of the scope of work (the what) and their process to execute in partnership with the RPO provider (the how). However, the most important question to get to is the “WHY” In other words, what is this TA leader’s real motive and reason to outsource this particular project? The biggest mistake companies can make is to marginalize this question of “why”. And with smaller/shorter RPO engagements, sometimes the deeper penetration of the business case is just not considered heavily enough. A good RPO provider should be treating this pursuit with similar depth and discovery as they would with a multi-year, end-to end, and large scale engagement.

Here are a few things for buyers to consider when making this decision…

  1. Don’t Confuse the WHAT with the WHY
    “We need to fill 100 short-term call center roles,” is not a WHY, it’s a WHAT. Make sure to step backwards and consider exactly why you can’t absorb this TA work currently. Is it a lack of recruitment resources? And if so, is it your inability or disinterest in acquiring these resources to do this work? Or is it a lack of demonstrated in-house recruitment expertise in this hiring profile or geography? Or is it a time sensitive motive where the work needs to be completed much faster than your current team can do it themselves? Or is there a demonstrated weakness in a particular process function relating to this group of hires? This “why” rationale is very important for both the client and RPO provider to understand so that the right provider can be selected and this new provider can more directly help address the underlying deficiency in TA with strategic recommendations.
  2. Factor This Why Into the Provider Selection
    Don’t just base your provider selection on a direct match of capabilities such as geography, volume, industry, and recruiting area expertise. You will likely find that there will typically be a handful of RPO providers who can all demonstrate competence in your scope of work. Push past this and share with providers the exact reasons your current internal TA team cannot handle the work. This list will likely reveal strategic TA deficiencies in scalability, efficiency, skills development or retention that you may have. Evaluate providers on their specific ability to help you solve that overarching problem and ask them to demonstrate where they have excelled in these areas.
  3. Peek into the Crystal Ball
    When hiring an RPO provider for Project-based hiring / RPO, it’s best not to take a completely “wait and see” attitude regarding future expansion. Understandably this happens quite a bit with first generation buyers who are not sure yet of the value. But rather than take an overly hesitant and short-term perspective regarding growth of the engagement, a bit of measured optimism can actually be very beneficial. Assume the engagement will go well and then ask yourself what else you would outsource next to the provider. Having this thought out upfront will not only allow you to move faster in expanding scope when/if the time comes, it may also have a direct impact on your decision on who you select.

In summary, just because your RPO Project hiring engagement is smaller or shorter, doesn’t mean the diligence involved in the decision and planning should be sacrificed.

Read on to learn more about how Sevenstep helped one of the largest e-commerce brands in the world tackle the daunting challenge of hiring tech talent with a customized project engagement.


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