Why Recruitment Process Outsourcing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Editor’s Note: Dr. John Sullivan has been a provocateur and strategist in the field of human resources and talent management for over 30 years. His specialty is HR strategy and designing world class HR systems and tools for Fortune 200 firms, and he’s never been shy about telling it like it is.

That’s why TLNT asked him to share his thinking in a video series titled “$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” Look for these videos twice a week here at TLNT.

Today’s topic: The problems with RPO

When Dr. John gets asked what he thinks of RPO — recruitment process outsourcing — he offers up a typically blunt answer: “The reality is that it’s a fad pushed by consultants … pushed by RPO vendors, (and) I don’t recommend it except in limited cases … it has many more problems than results.”

Here’s why: business people, he points out, are always looking for a competitive advantage, but if both you and your competitors are using RPO, you can’t have a competitive advantage because your company is going to get the same kind of people that your competitors get.

He also says that RPO firms generally offer a “vanilla” approach, and really, that’s all they can offer because they are offering their services to a wide variety of customers. And, great recruiters don’t want to work for an RPO firm; they would rather than work in a corporate environment or for an outside recruiter.

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If cost is your driver and you are filling a lot of jobs, Dr. John says, you might be able to use RPO companies. But he adds, most RPO firms just don’t understand your culture, your agenda, your values, the keys to your company.

Recruiting, he believes, is a mission-critical function — and you don’t outsource a mission critical function, ever.

Did you miss the last segment of$#*!@ Dr. John Sullivan Says!” on “Is it Time for HR to DStart From Scratch?” You can see it here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.