Of course you’ll know what recruitment process outsourcing – RPO – is (a bit like Ronseal – it does what it says on the tin – the outsourcing of the recruitment process to another organisation) but did you realise that RPO has been around for 40 years now?

In that timeframe a considerable amount has changed and the field is now much more complex than it ever has been. After all, think what’s changed in your life in the past 40 years. Grey hairs will have developed or fallen out altogether; children will have passed through education; and, in fact, many of you won’t even have been born.

So what does the future hold for this service?

Quality over cost – Initially RPO was seen as a way of helping businesses to save money by outsourcing to a firm with the specialist capabilities to hire the people required. However, the ‘War for Talent’ is back (if it ever really went away) and the recruitment landscape is considerably different to what it once was. Businesses now recognise the true value of getting the right people on board and are now willing to pay that little bit more for a valuable hire. Quality, not just cost, is now of critical significance because quality is what gives business a competitive advantage.

Employer brand and RPO unite – The growth of social media and indeed all forms of immediate communication have meant that a firm’s employer brand has never been more important. As a result, companies that utilise RPO will also increasingly pass the management of the employer brand over as well. Modern professionals, particularly the so-called ‘Millennials’ are increasingly opting to select positions because of the strength of an employer brand, even over factors as seemingly critical as salary and career development, for example. And it makes no sense whatsoever to not let the RPO have management of the brand. After all, they’re overseeing everything else. It may not be easy to let go, but it has to be done.

All firms great and small – RPO used to be almost exclusively the preserve of major corporate firms. However this is changing and in the future we can expect to see more smaller and medium sized organisations recognise the value of outsourcing their recruitment process to secure the right talent.  The entire field has become considerably more adaptable and bespoke than it ever was in the past and firms are already able to develop packages that are tailored to smaller organisations with different needs. In the future, as more firms recognise the value of these services there are likely to be an increased number of options on the table for SMEs.

Rise of the partial RPO – There has always been partial RPO, but historically this has generally been designated by job role or location. Companies would employ firms to find a new department of developers, for example, or staff for a new international office. However, in the coming years parts of the hiring process will be outsourced, rather than the entire package. This means that organisations may turn to RPOs to pool talent, or to conduct psychometric tests with potential hires, for example.  Instead of being presented with a ‘one size fits all’ approach, organisations will be able to choose solutions that exactly fit their needs and goals.

Data is key – You’re probably getting a bit sick of hearing ‘data’ being bandied about all over the place, but it’s big business in the modern world. Companies have so many points of contact with consumers through the internet, social media and mobile platforms, to name a few, that they’re able to acquire vast stacks of data and the hiring field is no different. This trend is already well underway but in the future firms will become increasingly reliant on these data stacks to make key hiring decisions. RPOs will be able to offer in-depth models that can map out factors as seemingly subjective as how long an employee will stay at an organisation for or how successful they may or may not be once on board. This will provide a more effective method of measuring the return on investment on RPO hiring decisions and also means that it’s no longer just the duty of the RPO to get ‘bums on seats’, they are also now responsible for their ongoing retention and success at the business.

We will be running some client events on the topic of workforce and predictive analytics so if you are interested please contact Natalie Mills on [email protected]

What other ways do you think the field of RPO will change in the future?

Iain Blair is managing director of Rethink Talent Management