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Role of the Client from the Inside Looking Out

About 4 months ago I decided to take the leap and move from a Corporate Recruitment Director role working as a client and champion of RPO to being a member of the RPO provider itself.  Having been in an RPO relationship for 5 years, I thought I had a strong knowledge of RPO and how they delivered to the client. After my initial orientation, there have been two interesting surprises:  the vast number of resources that it takes to deliver to a client and the role of the client.

As a Recruitment Director, intuitively you know that it takes a large team of highly skilled professionals to scout and land the very best talent for your organization and you’ve probably moved to an RPO provider because you either couldn’t manage the scale, didn’t have the skill set, or couldn’t afford the cost of an in-house team. What I never realized was the sheer size of the resources that an RPO puts behind an account to deliver. In–house,  I had a couple of recruiters who were good at sourcing candidates, with RPO, we have access to over 100 sourcers who share best practices and new ideas daily on how to search the vast web of information to find that one needle in the haystack.  Additionally, when someone went on vacation or on leave, there was the usual scramble to make sure that the back-up was prepared, in RPO, resources are cross-trained so regardless of leave or workload, there is always a resource providing seamless service. Most importantly, there are a multitude of recruiters who truly want a career in recruitment vs the individual who is passing through recruitment on a career path to higher role in HR.  RPO is so much more than just a replacement for your in-house team.

The other difference I have found is the role of the client in RPO.  The most successful RPO relationships are those that are partnership relationships vs vendor relationships.  While that may seem obvious, I’ve been surprised how often that’s not the case.  To maximize partnership success, clients should consider:

Accountability: Accept as much accountability for the success of the RPO as the RPO provider does.  Let’s face it; you will only be successful in your role, if the RPO is successful.

Invest in the relationship: Be highly engaged in the implementation process, accurately assess the degree of resistance and create a change management plan and provide a solid orientation for your RPO recruiters. RPO providers don’t live within your organization, so it’s vital to teach them what it is like to work in your company.

Champion the RPO:  Recruitment is hard and the business is always vocal on the quality of the candidates and the recruitment process. It’s vital that Hiring Managers provide feedback on these things. A common thing I’ve heard repeatedly over the last four months is the lack of feedback from the Manager or the Manager’s unavailability to interview.  It’s up to you as the client to teach the organization of the value of candidate relationship management.

On-going Discussions: Keep the channels of communication open between yourself, your team, the Account Manager and the Recruiters. Focus on solutions instead of placing blame and resist threats to call the Senior Leadership of the RPO.  Recruiters are not always as committed to being on accounts where clients are quick to judge.  They take ownership for their mistakes, but they like the praise as well.  Celebrate the wins and resolve the issues.

With the unique opportunity to deliver on both sides of the spectrum, I’ve certainly come to a deeper appreciation of RPO and what it takes both from a client and provider to maximize success. By gaining a better understanding of each other, we can continue to build better partnerships and better outcomes.

March 7, 2012 at 9:26 am Leave a comment


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