5 questions to ask yourself before you outsource an initiative.

Imagine that. Did you ever think a RPO company would try to talk anyone out of RPO? But after working through hundreds of outsourcing engagements over the last 14 years, I would rather see you make the right decision upfront and enter into successful RPO partnerships, than enter into an ill-conceived relationship and tarnish your sentiment of RPO in general. RPO can be the perfect solution in many, but not all, situations. But when RPO goes bad it goes really bad. Since recruitment is closely intertwined with company production, employee morale, and the candidate market as a whole, the positive (or negative) impact to an organization can be significant.

Before launching a search for a RPO provider, you’ll want to have a complete understanding of your internal objectives, requirements, and expectations. This will place you in a better position first to decide whether or not RPO is the best option. Then, you will have the data needed to choose the best provider to reach those goals and the metrics required to measure status, results and success.

Here are five questions that my clients (and prospective clients) are asking to determine their best course of action:

1. What do I want to accomplish?

This is probably the most difficult question because the answer may be much broader than just hiring staff. The answer is often masked by the short term URGENT need to meet quickly growing open headcounts. When there’s pressure to staff, you think about RPO. It’s like grocery shopping when you are hungry — you won’t necessarily make the most nutritious purchasing decisions based on your immediate need to eat. Think beyond “Just-in-Time Hiring” to determine your true, long-term organizational needs. Take this opportunity to figure out what you need to move into a more proactive approach that will scale up or down based on organizational change. It sure beats panic mode.

2.  What are my internal strengths and weaknesses?

Review your recruiting continuum, then force yourself to stack rank the stages. Start with what your organization does best through where you feel you are least effective. From there, review your strengths and weaknesses relative to each stage. For example, in the Interviewing stage you may do an excellent job of getting candidates through the initial interview, but the process of moving them through subsequent interviews is much slower than you would like, causing unnecessary candidate attrition. Now that you’ve listed strengths and weaknesses, look at the components of your recruitment process that require improvement. Of those components, are there any pieces that must remain internal or can they be enhanced by the most efficient internal or external means available?

3.    Should I just do this myself?

Sometimes a major hiring initiative can be overwhelming. It seems like there won’t be any way that your current organization can handle the increased workload. Take a few minutes to do some calculations on the hiring volume, timeframe, and resources available. Once you break a project down to the least common denominators, you may find that you can take on the incremental workload or at least speak quantitatively to management about priorities that will need to shift. If you can’t or don’t want to absorb all of the work, there may be an alternative to consider before RPO. For a single project, it may make sense to add a few contractors to help make it through the hiring crunch. Just be careful. If the initiative is large enough that additional staff or contractors are needed to train and manage the recruitment contractors, RPO or at least a ‘project RPO’ may be a better alternative after all.

4.    What are my RPO objectives?

If I haven’t talked you out of RPO by now, there’s a good chance that this option is worth considering. Your overall goals won’t change but now you need to define the specific results and the metrics required to track results. Think beyond the standard metrics of candidate quantity, time to hire, and cost per hire. What staffing level do you want to maintain? When you have a totally efficient recruitment program—which the right RPO partnership will provide – your accomplishments can be much more profound than you may think. Perhaps your turnover rate really can be reduced, so in a perfect world what would turnover look like? How can your candidate quality really increase? What does the top 10% of candidates look like? What attributes will you look for in your ideal candidates? The right RPO program will assure you achieve both short term and long term objectives—many not currently considered feasible.

5.    What will my department look like after RPO is implemented?

This question is similar to asking, “What will success look like?” When the RPO program is successful, how will you know your goals are achieved? Here are some general ideas. Maybe you will end up with a leaner organization that operates more effectively for a lower cost. Maybe your team will be more focused on other critical business initiatives. You may be better aligned with other business priorities that help drive revenue, profits, and customer satisfaction. And finally, you may enjoy a more prominent and strategic position within your organization due to your ability to inject metrics and ROI into your initiatives.

I hope that lightening doesn’t strike me down, but RPO is not the best solution for every hiring challenge. When you take the time upfront to document what you want to accomplish, compare all possible solutions, and still decide RPO is a route well worth considering, your approach to finding and implementing the best solution will be much clearer and more informed – and much more likely to succeed. If you do go through this exercise, please let me know how things turn out. I will share feedback in future blogs.

You are what you measure.

-Christine