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07 November 2016

RPO – an intelligent way to organise your recruitment activities

By our blogger Mark Bassie

Recruitment Process Outsourcing; that’s what RPO stands for. At the moment, people in the Netherlands and Belgium are not very familiar with the RPO concept. It is only offered in around 15 companies in the two countries, but genuine growth has only been witnessed over the past couple of years. Definite figures are not available for the Netherlands and Belgium, but most RPO service providers say they only have a few dozen or so clients.

According to research by SIA in 2015, 35% of companies surveyed in America already worked with an RPO provider and 25% had plans to start doing so in the coming two years. However, we have not yet to see such figures on this side of the pond

What is RPO

RPO involves fully or partly outsourcing your recruitment processes to an external company, namely the RPO provider. In principle, outsourcing means an external company operates under the client’s name and decides how to recruit and select personnel who will by employed within the client’s organisation. And this is not just about defining a strategy for finding and retaining suitable talent, but also about how to effectively use appropriate tools, platforms and social media, and about creating a candidate experience and ensuring an appropriate onboarding process for candidates.

RPO is innovative because you hand over complete responsibility for all recruitment activities to an external company. This is a drastic step and most managers are initially reluctant to allow an external company to take control of talent recruitment. Nonetheless, using an RPO provider is accompanied by many benefits.
Because people here quickly became familiar with outsourcing and temporary-staff management via a Managed Service Provider (MSP), we also expect major growth in this area in the coming years. As talent becomes scarcer and continues to age, companies will have to decide whether they want to take part in ‘the War for Talent’ by themselves or outsource such activities to a specialist. The same also applies to uncertainty in the economy; companies sometimes have hundreds of jobs the one minute, but are forced sack hundreds of people the next minute. Do you manage this with in-house recruiters and HR managers or do you leave it experienced companies?

Other forms of RPO

Besides ‘comprehensive RPO’, we have also notice the emergence of other types of RPO. For example, partial outsourcing where e.g. candidates are only recruited within a particular (scarce) segment. In addition ‘Project RPO’ is also being offered, if e.g. specific candidates need to be recruited during a particular period.

RPO is thus about a lot more than just providing one or more interim recruiters. Interim recruiters are only provided to temporarily expand the client’s capacity, knowledge and expertise, and normally end up operating within already established processes. In this case, the client continues to be responsible for the recruitment process.

However, RPO can involve working with the client to re-design the recruitment process from start to finish, should this be necessary. An RPO provider is committed to the overall outcome. For instance, lower costs, an improvement in candidate quality, a better candidate experience and, of course, a much faster recruitment process. Specific KPI’s can be agreed with the RPO provider, thus allowing services and provisions to be effectively monitored.

Most RPO providers work anonymously under the client’s name, and often from the client’s offices. When learning about the client, the first thing candidates experience is the professional and specific recruitment process. This professional approach should not be underestimated and plays a major role in the candidate’s decision to work for the company.

In general, the RPO provider also decides which ICT system will be used in the recruitment process. And Carerix is one such system. Besides managing the application process, these systems now also offer functionality for finding candidates via integrated social media interfaces and managing talent pools. They also offer video software for initial interviews or presentations, reference validation or software for online assessments.

Which providers offer RPO services in the Netherlands?

There are 3 general categories:

  1. International providers
  2. Dutch specialists
  3. Dutch mixed providers


Ad 1 Well-known names include Hays, Randstad Sourceright, TAPFIN, Pontoon and Solvus. Besides RPO, such providers also offer MSP services. MSP stands for Managed Service Provider, where clients outsource all insourcing processes for temporary talent to a third party, namely the MSP. The MSP performs the same role as the RPO provider, but for external insourcing.
By combining RPO and MSP, these providers are able to offer Total Talent Acquisition, often at a worldwide scale. TTA is an integrated search for suitable talent, irrespective of the type of employment relationship – thus both permanent and flex contracts.
Ad 2 Specialists primarily involve Dutch companies that offer RPO as their only or main service. Some companies are also active in other European countries. Well-know names include Sterksen, ENHR solutions, Recruitin and Yoores.
Ad 3 Besides RPO, some RPO providers also offer other HR services, like mediation for HR managers and recruiters as well as support for defining and implementing HRM policy. Examples include Compagnon, People4Office and Tjellens.
All these providers of RPO are currently part of the first comparative survey organised by Flex-Beheer and its Belgian partner, The Flex Academy. This survey is aimed at offering potential clients (HR, Procurement and Management) an insight into who provides RPO, what they offer, which experience they have acquired and what sets them apart.

Survey report

The survey report will be published in January 2017. In anticipation of this, the website of Werf& will feature several in-depth articles about RPO, which have been written by various RPO providers or companies that support RPO, such as Carerix.