My dad is a bit of a character. Always enthusiastically telling stories, and occasionally even stretching the truth a bit. But what I’ve come to realize is that he doesn’t exaggerate just to be boastful, it’s because he might not fully understand something.

When it comes to what kind of work I do – a manager in Solution Design at a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider – he’s not alone. There are a lot of people who don’t really get the concept of RPO, and even I didn’t fully grasp what it meant when I started in the industry seven years ago. So I thought I should try to come up with a simple way I could explain it, one that would work for my dad, your dad, and anyone else who might want to know.

Let’s say that RPO is a lot like … getting a haircut.

  • You probably could cut your own hair, save some money and maybe do an OK job. But most people choose to pay an expert to cut their hair. In the same way, companies certainly can have their own talent acquisition (TA) departments and do all right. Those who realize that being experts in Pharma, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Engineering, etc., doesn’t necessarily extend to talent acquisition, find success by seeking out RPO partners like Cielo to become their TA function, and fill positions with highly qualified candidates.
  • You may have a comb, a scissors, maybe a razor at home, but a hairstylist has every tool you could possibly imagine to get your hair cut the way you want. And they continue investing in new tools as they become available. Companies might invest in a new Applicant Tracking System, or some other TA technology, but they typically don’t have the access, budget or experience to determine what new technologies should be used to deliver the right outcomes.
  • It’s easy to find videos online that show how to cut your own hair, and maybe you learn a few tips or tricks. A good hairstylist, however, attends conferences, obtains certifications, and is continuously learning to stay ahead of the new styles and trends in the fashion industry. In the same way, RPO partners are continuously training on the latest sourcing strategies, how best to connect with Hiring Mangers, and how to negotiate pay and streamline processes.
  • Once you find a good hairstylist, you begin to trust them more, and eventually may even think of them as a friend. They understand you and your needs as well as how receptive you might be to new hairstyles or colors. They become someone you can talk to about anything, and you trust the advice they give. A good RPO partnership operates the same way. You may initially see the agreement as purely professional, but eventually, you view those you work with as your trusted advisors, problem solvers, and confidants.

I encourage anyone reading this who is interested in RPO to do two things:

  1. Do your research on who has the best client satisfaction ratings. Look for an RPO to be the expert, with all the right tools, training and experience to be your trusted partner.
  2. Have a look at and submit a request to talk to one of our experts about a custom solution to fit your needs.
    And if you ever have to explain to someone why a company should use an RPO, maybe it's time to get a haircut.

Want more easy ways to explain RPO? Try "Cielo's Definitive Guide to Recruitment Process Outsourcing" and “A Beginner’s Guide to What Makes RPO Different.”


Posted by Bosko Vujatovic, Manager, Solution Design. Connect with him on LinkedIn.