Project RPOs Are Helping Companies Address Current Hiring Struggles

Every organization is going through some type of talent acquisition transformation today, and many are heading into this shift under-resourced. Indeed, 40% of companies have downsized their recruiting teams in 2020. And so the theme of doing more with less is acutely apparent today. 

As hiring ramps up and talent remains scarce, businesses need support to compete and enable growth. And so to help achieve short-term goals and prepare for the future, 30% of companies are turning to project-based recruitment process outsourcing (Project RPO), according to a new report by Aptitude Research. 

Project RPO is an agile alternative that gives organizations the resources and expertise their in-house teams need to rise to changing business demands — but with the flexibility to outsource on a project-by-project basis (as opposed to committing to a lengthy RPO engagement). As such, TA and HR leaders are leveraging Project RPO as a cost-efficient solution that they can rapidly deploy.

Project RPO vs Traditional RPO

Project RPO differs from traditional, full-service RPO in a number of ways, primarily in the key drivers and length of engagement. 

A traditional RPO engagement often lasts more than two years as companies look for continuous support with both tactical and strategic recruitment. Project RPO, on the other hand, is most commonly under six months — and for 73% of companies, such engagements last fewer than six weeks. 

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Additionally, traditional RPO is an option for companies looking to support complex, long-term talent acquisition strategies, while Project RPO offers more flexibility to support distinct and immediate needs. 

Solving Current Challenges

Aptitude Research found that companies investing in Project RPO today as a means to support objectives around the following:

  • Facing a hiring surge. After a year of uncertainty, many companies are experiencing a hiring surge in the face of business re-opening and rebounding. Many of these organizations are posting new positions, but are still operating with limited resources or recruiters on staff. Additionally, many individuals are still not ready or eager to return to the workforce. 
  • Reducing time to fill. Every company is looking for greater efficiency in their hiring process. As demand grows, they can no longer afford to wait 40 to 50 days to fill a position. Empty positions mean less capacity, productivity, and revenue. Recruiting teams are feeling extra pressure now to improve overall efficiency and productivity, and numerous employers are looking to reduce time-to-fill to days instead of months. And sure enough, 75% of companies state that they filled 75% of their positions in under 30 days via RPO.
  • Expanding into new markets. Over the past year, the pandemic pushed organizations to operate in entirely new ways, sometimes creating new lines of business. Some companies are expanding into new markets where they may not have operational expertise or recruiters to support growth. Project RPO can provide deep domain expertise in both geographies and industries to support emerging business objectives.
  • Experiencing high-growth goals. Companies have shifted their business priorities over the past year. Many organizations are growing rapidly and doubling in size over the next year, and these companies must fill positions quickly. Project RPO can address high-growth goals by helping them scale quickly in the short-term.

Top Project RPO Considerations

For companies looking to invest in Project RPO, below are a few considerations:

  • Align with business objectives. Unlike other areas of TA investment, Project RPO is a direct solution for immediate business goals and challenges. Companies that can align their talent and business goals will be better equipped to use Project RPO resources to their full value. Start with a distinct objective in mind and understand the clear roles your specialist resources will own. 
  • Look for partners. Even for a short-term investment, expertise and partnership are critical in any RPO investment. Employers should look for a provider that understands their target audience and has deep domain expertise across all areas of talent acquisition, as well as some key sectors. Such a partner should have a broader network to draw upon for recruiting resources and stronger processes to tap into talent pools and hire quickly. 
  • Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Understanding and defining success early in the process will help bring greater benefits from a Project RPO investment. KPIs may include efficiency (time to fill, productivity, conversion), experience (candidate, hiring manager, recruiter), and effectiveness (quality applicants, quality hires, diversity). Companies should work with providers to clearly establish and reevaluate KPIs and service-level agreements. 

Madeline Laurano is the founder of Aptitude Research. Her primary focus over the last 12+ years has been on the talent management market, specializing in talent acquisition. Her work helps companies both validate and reevaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. 

Prior, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media, and Brandon Hall Group. She is co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.

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