Talent Strategy: Contingent versus Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

Updated: Aug 2, 2018



As a business leader, there comes a point in time where you need to engage an agency to obtain the services or talent you need to sustain your business. Whether it’s a specific skillset you’re looking for, or a tight market, recruiting agencies can definitely be an avenue to help surface qualified candidates.

So now you know you need some outside help, what’s next?


The first thing most business owners consider when they think about agency help is the cost. In an ideal scenario, they’re looking for the lowest cost for the quickest turnaround to find qualified candidates. Sounds great right? What if I told you that, in most cases, a contingent search (paid upon hire) won’t accomplish this. Would that surprise you? In our experience, a contingent search, while still a viable option doesn’t always get business owners the type of attention on their job that they require to hire at the speed or even the cost their hoping.

With most agencies, there is a trickledown effect with the jobs that they are working on. RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing), easy/quick placements, and aging jobs can all take precedent over your job on day 1! Generally, the priority is placed on clients that are paying for a specific number of hours to be worked, or jobs that will fill quickly so they are paid. While your job will still get attention, it probably won’t get the undivided attention you’re looking for. When you opt into a contingent search, many times there will be many agencies “working” on your job with candidates they either already have engaged, or finding some of the low hanging fruit. So what happens when you have a “tough to fill job” or a continuous flow of positions coming through (probably why you’re looking for agency assistance in the first place) and you need results quickly? A great option for this is RPO!


Contrary to contingent searches where most of the attention is divided, RPO provides a model where a recruiter, or set of recruiters are solely dedicated to your job for a set number of hours each week. This means that not only are you receiving their undivided attention, they are also engaging new candidates in the market to supply you with qualified candidates. In addition to the sourcing and screening that goes into the process, you will have direct access to “your” recruiter/project manager on this job that are looking to work with you as a partner. What I mean by this is that they not only want to make a great hire, but consult with you on the absolute best fit for your business and the position. On an RPO search, the recruiter and project manager aren’t “external recruiters,” but an extension of your recruiting team! They will help you navigate your process through interviewing, scheduling, feedback and even the offer stage. This can be a huge asset and advantage for your business to have someone that understands the market, and has built that relationship with your business and the candidate.

While most decision makers may think, “I want to pay for the finished product (hired candidate), what happens if it takes too long?” Like I had mentioned earlier, in most cases RPO is actually cheaper than contingent. This comes down to engaging with a firm that you can trust, and has the best interest of your business in mind. In order for a business to be successful and be around for 20+ years (drawing on personal experience) it takes a great relationship with the businesses you partner with. So the next time you’re looking for assistance in hiring, be sure to see how RPO can help/impact your business!


Written by Philip Giuffre, Recruiting Consultant

The Panaro Group LLC

 N35 W23877 Highfield Court, Suite 110
Pewaukee WI 53072   

mmaclogo.png