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Scalability & Quality of Hire: Clients Identify Areas Where RPO Vendors Need to Improve

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NelsonHall recently published its 2016 Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) market analysis and NEAT vendor assessment, as part of which we interviewed the clients of 19 RPO vendors to ascertain satisfaction levels across a range of RPO service criteria. And while we found that RPO is largely meeting or exceeding client expectations, there are a few areas that fall short of expectations and should be the focus of attention for RPO vendors.

We interviewed RPO vendor clients in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, looking at over 50 specific RPO service criteria. In each case, we ascertained importance and satisfaction levels, plus a measure of future importance. Below is a small selection of potential benefits from RPO showing the levels of importance and satisfaction for each.

Areas where vendors are under performing against client expectations are scalability, quality of hire, and hiring manager satisfaction.

Scalability: the biggest challenge for RPO vendors

While client satisfaction with scalability is high at 80%, it still falls 10% short of the importance placed on this performance measure. Our latest research identifies scalability and agility to meet business demands as the top driver for companies outsourcing recruitment today, and this has become the biggest challenge for RPO vendors. Comments from vendor clients included:

“That was one of the compelling reasons to outsource”

“Great job for effort, but only a good job for delivery”

“They are able to scale down well, but not able to scale up fast enough”

“There is an inability to bring in the right resources when scaling up”

Quality of hire & hiring manager satisfaction: could do better

Quality of hire also falls into the ‘could do better’ category, with clients pointing to issues such as:

  • Need for improved quality in the selection process
  • Poor cultural fit of candidates
  • Lack of metrics to demonstrate quality of hire.

Similarly for improved hiring manager satisfaction, where clients asserted that vendors need to:

  • Be more proactive
  • Provide more of a high-touch and relationship focus
  • Be more realistic and manage expectations better
  • Make better use of data related to available talent to hire.   

Doing well, keep it up, and even more please

Vendors are exceeding client expectations by a healthy margin in the areas of support for new regions/countries/languages, predictive analytics, diversity, candidate retention, and employer branding. However, the increased levels of importance placed on future service delivery make these the main areas where vendors need to maintain momentum and look to deliver even more in the future.

In addition, while improved candidate experience and ability to tie results to business outcomes are meeting current expectations, future importance shows a 10% increase in both cases, while the future importance of reduced time to hire and reduced cost of recruitment both show an 8% increase. These too are areas where vendors need to continue improving.

In summary, client satisfaction with RPO across a range of service criteria is holding up well, and exceeding expectations handsomely in some cases. However, there is never a good time for sitting on laurels, and future client expectations demand that vendors redouble their efforts to satisfy clients across the board. Meanwhile, addressing those areas showing a significant delta between expectation and performance must be the priority for RPO vendors.


NelsonHall’s NEAT comparative vendor assessments look in detail at vendors’ ‘ability to deliver immediate benefit’ to their clients, and their ‘ability to meet future client requirements, and assist strategic sourcing managers in assessing vendor capability while cutting the time and cost associated with their sourcing projects.

The RPO NEAT shows how 19 RPO vendors are positioned overall in terms of their ability to deliver RPO services, as well as within three distinct market segments (i.e. areas of focus designed to meet specific recruitment requirements): these are Candidate Focus, Talent Management Focus, and Global/Multi-Country Focus. The NEAT online tool also enables buy-side organizations to input their own weightings and tailor the RPO dataset to their specific requirements across over 50 individual vendor evaluation criteria. In this way, sourcing managers can configure the NEAT evaluations in accordance with their own priorities and business requirements for service offerings, delivery capability, customer presence, benefits achieved, and other criteria.

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