Bridge Insights

The Great Staffing Debate and why Recruitment Process Outsourcing may have the Answers

Jan 28, 2021

To keep or contract out? For some companies, it is quite literally the million-dollar question. For as long as companies have had employees, there has been a debate over the ownership of recruiting responsibilities and what recruitment structure yields the best results. The traditional school of thought is that the responsibilities of finding talent are owned by Human Resources. Others believe that hiring managers are better equipped to find talent for their department. In practice, most companies fall somewhere in the middle of these two spectrum extremes. The logic being that where one model may fall short, the other can support it.

Although compromising to a “hybrid” model may seem like a way to get the best of both worlds, the reality is, this school of thought inherently pits two critical staffing KPIs against one another: speed and talent quality. There is no such thing as a happy medium; the benefits to one KPI will always come at the expense of the other –especially when considering that hiring is only one of many hats team leaders and HR professionals have to wear.

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So, what is the solution?

Savvy business leaders who recognize this inherent structural flaw with internal hiring have turned to third-party staffing vendors for a solution. But there is something to be said for keeping a dedicated recruiter in your stable; an in-house, onsite talent acquisition team is the most effective talent solution. Unlike an HR Manager, their position’s singular focus, coupled with their specified recruiting experience, gives them the upper hand when it comes to finding talent.

Similarly, this in-house TA specialist works in-house, so they can experience your company’s culture first-hand, have a direct line of communication to your team leaders’ visions for ideal candidates, and apply those insights into their sourcing strategy in real-time. On paper, this model seems perfect, but unless you have a steady and sizable stream of open positions, it’s unlikely you will be able to justify having a TA specialist on your payroll.

With pros and cons to both in-house and outsourced recruiting models, it may seem like there is no win-win, but rather, a choice between the lesser of two evils. This is where the RPO staffing model comes in to play. Recruitment Process Outsourcing allows companies to implement as many TA professionals as they need without the fixed overhead of a full-time employee on your payroll.

With this model, it is not uncommon for companies to cut their recruiting costs in half. So, what is the catch, and how can third-party staffing firms afford to effectively offer their services at such a reduced rate? Is it too good to be true?

The fact is, unlike other recruitment models the structure of RPO recruiting does not inherently pit core KPIs against one another, and in doing so, creates synergies that reduce the overall operational costs associated with finding your team talent. It’s the same concept of buying in bulk, except your team will never be stuck with a surplus.

Here’s why it works:

A dedicated recruiter means quicker fill times

With an RPO program, you will have a dedicated recruiter(s) appointed to work only on your account.   These TAs step into the role of in-house TA.

In many cases, the integration is so seamless, even your internal staff will think they are an employee of your organization. In execution, they recruit for your team identically to how a TA on your payroll would, and this means faster fill times for your open positions.


What’s more, your TA’s recruiting expertise and resources are available without the financial commitment of an additional salary; on-demand RPO solutions are flexible, so the expert support you need is still accessibl2e to you at a moment’s notice. But because they are working for you on an as-needed basis, you’re not building losses into your overhead during the times throughout the year where there is a hiring hiatus or slowdown–helping, again, to increase your recruiting ROI.

Direct communication with hiring managers makes for a more efficient sourcing strategy.

By allowing your staffing consultant to work with the hiring managers directly, your team will be poised to easily build out ideal candidate profiles for each of your departments. In the same way an in-house TA would, having that direct, internal line of communication means real-time feedback on applicants and job position management. Having a clear short chain of communication means less loss of fidelity to the vision your hiring managers have for the future of their departments.


Managing the process from beginning to end helps eliminate recruiting roadblocks.

It is not uncommon for traditional methods of hiring to be slowed by a lack of timely communication between hiring manager and HR department.  At any given time, team leaders are spinning several plates; the recruiting delays caused by this become “baked in” to your average time to hire under the false premise that there is no better way to recruit.  Even if your current hiring timeline is “good enough”, the bottom line is that great talent does not wait for “good enough”; the ability to move on talent quickly is key in bringing top talent onto your team.


By giving ownership of recruiting responsibilities from order management through start date to an RPO TA, the delays in communication and various other causes of recruiting “red tape” become a thing of the past –giving your team the ability to use their time (and money) recruiting in more constructive ways.


Even though your TA Specialist(s) isn’t on your payroll, they are still working for you. When they source for your open positions, that data becomes yours. This means you can quickly and easily build up your talent pipeline for both present and future positions. Additionally, with RPO programs, this minimal time window of exclusivity incentivizes your RPO TA to find quality talent within that time frame. If your TA is not able to deliver your next hire within this initial time window, they are putting placement revenue at risk.

Not only does this model of hiring promote shorter times to hire, but it also does so in a way that keeps talent quality at top of mind. If your TA is not able to deliver your next hire within this initial time window, you can widen your purview to other recruiting resources, with minimal time lost.

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Profitability…for both parties

Although RPO recruitment models are priced at a lower rate than traditional staffing models, it does not impact the quality level nor the speed at which talent is delivered to your organization. In fact, it is the opposite. The increased efficiencies that RPO staffing models open up, allow staffing vendors to offer lower fees while still being profitable. This sophisticated solution creates a partnership between organization and staffing agency that is versatile and capable of scaling to any organizations’ needs –while allowing the core KPIs of staffing (time to fill, interview invitation rate, fill-rate, etc.) to work together in ways traditional staffing models do not.