We wrapped up 2013 taking a look at some of the trends that are currently afoot in the world of Recruitment Process Outsourcing. You can read the entire 2013 RPO trends post here, but to summarize, this coming year will be marked by greater sophistication in the recruitment process outsourcing buying process and a push towards evaluating discrete segments of possible RPO services rather than large full blown single provider engagements. Hidden in this movement is an underlying desire for consumers of recruitment process outsourcing services to dramatically transform the nature of how they are ‘going to market’ with their employment brand. In other words, the shifts being witnessed in RPO today are not only indicative of a maturing service marketplace, but also of the changing nature of how many organizations are treating the manner in which they strategically plan and then manage their employment needs.
Now to be clear, it is unlikely that large scale high volume recruitment process outsourcing engagements will ever disappear. Large multi-national companies that have high volume need, and where the majority of the demand is very similar in nature (think multi-national off shored or on shored call centers), will continue to seek out a method that allows them to outsource the entire contextual operational necessity of sourcing and recruiting this volume as demand dictates. However, the RPO marketplace is much larger than this particular type of engagement. Moreover, the global economic recession that continues to see tepid recovery and more frequently experiences heart stopping situations that threaten to put recovery in reverse, has left the art and science of recruiting in ruins. In 2009, we speculated that the great recession (it wasn’t even called that back then) would dramatically change the nature of the workforce and how it was managed. This transformation not only happened, rebuilding recruiting infrastructure along the way has helped to drive these recent RPO trends such as services segmentation or co-sourcing a recruitment process outsourcing opportunity to multiple vendors with an expectation that they work collaboratively.
What is now coming into focus is that these trends and changes in the way RPO services are evaluated and deployed, is that many companies seek not just operational efficiency but radical change in the manner in which they ‘sell’ their employment into the candidate marketplace. What is currently being sought after is dramatic disruption in the recruiting practice. Disruption is a term that is more frequently associated with technology or products (think vinyl records vs. compact discs and then compact discs to mp3 players), but disruption is absolutely applicable in services as well and consumers of recruitment process outsourcing services are hungry for a disruptive approach to their needs. (NOTE: this is a great piece on disruption and how to survive it if it is happening in your market),
Let’s examine the nature of what disruption in this space might mean. Traditional RPO is often categorized more closely with the more familiar business process outsourcing (BPO) or multi-process outsourcing. Terms that grew up in the 2000s and allowed large software companies to provide service oriented software solutions enabling companies to completely outsource the management of some portion of their operational day to day conveniently running on the vendor’s software. However, as the RPO demands mature, it looks less like generic tactical outsourcing of a specific function and more like an exercise in market development and strategic marketplace penetration. Today, many considering partnering with recruitment process outsourcing providers are intimately aware of what is referred to as the candidate marketplace, the categorization of individuals that would automatically fit as a profile candidate for potential employment with an organization. In addition to this the advent of open digital social communication platforms, (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), has mitigated the reach of traditional candidate marketplace outreach. But not only has the nature of the digital process of identifying candidates been changed by digital social communications, the way in which this marketplace perceives employers have also shifted. From entry-level recent college graduates to top-level executives, candidates will be doing as much ‘reference checking’ on the potential employers as the employer is doing on them.
This all results in an urgent need for companies to take inventory of the way they are perceived in their target candidate marketplace, how they are performing and evaluating the strategy they probably don’t even have in place to aggressively communicate their employment message into this market. As this need is examined, many organizations come to the same conclusion, “we’ve never done this before, we have no idea how to do this, we don’t have the staff to do it, and we fear that our competitors will figure it out first which will really make our recruiting a challenge”. Examining their current infrastructure, these companies will quickly identify components of their operation that are in place to handle some of the approach they believe they need to take, but they will also uncover more complex unknowns.
The analysis is typically broken into 5 categories (1) processes currently in place (2) processes that don’t exist (3) technology currently in place (4) Strategic candidate marketplace development (5) Roles, responsibilities and level of effort to effectively capture targeted candidate marketplace. This moves the company out of not knowing what they don’t know to a state of knowing what they don’t know. It is a daunting moment for many because this list of unknowns is big and not at all familiar. The company understands that their traditional methods for sourcing and recruiting are antiquated, yet they do not have the hands on experience on how they themselves should handle this disruption that has been forced upon them. Therefore, they seek help, and that help is typically delivered by recruitment process outsourcing providers.
Disruption is a big component of what is driving today’s RPO trends.