An Objective Look, Part 1: Cons of RPO Staffing

While Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) programs often yield their desired results, some projects don’t go as planned.

This is the fear of all companies when considering new hiring options.

We are going to take an unbiased look at some of the disadvantages of Recruitment Process Outsourcing services.  In all honesty, this was a tough blog to write.

It’s no secret that I am a big proponent of using the RPO staffing model.  However, in conducting research for this blog, I had to really place myself entirely in the shoes of the hiring company.  I needed to look through the eyes of a hiring manager who has had a really bad experience with RPO before, who was lied to, neglected or even pressured.  It was definitely uncomfortable albeit refreshing at the same time.  

The below Top 5 Disadvantages to the RPO staffing model are a summary of the entire list I compiled.  They included the items that would seem to have the most severe impact or consequence.  

Related: Are there guarantees in RPO?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing is not a one-dimensional thing that is exactly the same from one project to another.  It’s malleable and unique to the provider. 

So are the results and therefore, the potential for it all to go wrong. 



#1 Fear of the Unknown

This one covers a lot of situations that could potentially occur and do in hiring businesses’ nightmares. 

Fear of the new and unfamiliar process that may or may not work.  Fear of giving up control over the recruiting process.  Fear the RPO Provider will not represent your company brand well.  Fear there will not be enough candidates submitted.  Fear the candidates they do submit are sub-par.  Fear there will not be anyone submitted at all.  Fear of wasting time, money and energy on something that could turn out badly.  Oh, and who can forget about all the horror stories of staffing companies overselling their abilities. 

#2 Sticker Shock

At first, when you look at the overall cost of RPO services a wave of sticker shock can hit you followed by immediate thoughts of, “you want how much for what?!”  As an employer, you should ask the RPO Service Provider to break down the cost for you per individual hire.  This will give you a more clear view of the true cost-per-hire of their services.  For companies who are used to contingent agreements, this little trick can be particularly helpful and eye-opening.  One of the purposes of RPO agreements is to lower the cost-per-hire.  If the percentage cost-per-hire they are proposing is anywhere near what you have been paying for contingent searches, run very far and very fast. 


Photo of the results from our research into the negative side of RPO staffing.

#3 Going All In

While we at Empowered Partnerships LLC do pride ourselves on our ability to start developing activity quickly in our RPO projects, you simply cannot build the perfect RPO program in a day.  All RPO companies will have an established process and practice they use to be successful.  However, there are always kinks in the chain that must be worked out and sometimes reassessments need to happen for things to move forward.  

In order for companies to minimize their risk, is to be highly selective with the RPO Provider they choose to partner with.  Look for providers who have expertise in your particular industry or niche, consider the cost as compared to their competitors, examine the companies they have worked with in the past, ask thoughtful questions about the type of positions they have worked on to gauge their understanding of that space, etc.  If done correctly, this will be a true partnership and ensuring your working with the right partner is critical to success. 

#4 Pressure to Hire Poor Quality Over No One

If I were a company looking at using RPO services to hire, this is what I would be worried about the most. 

The pressure to hire someone of poor or lesser quality over no one at all sounds like a terrible place to be.  Its easy to see how after paying the monthly retainer, you might feel obligated to hire some of lesser quality people because your already financially committed.  On the other hand, this can be easily overcome with clear and consistent communication around the type of professional and personality you are looking to hire from the very first time you meet up to the moment someone is hired into the role(s).  This means communication must come from both sides, the employer and the RPO Provider.  

#5 No Guarantee of Hire

Yep, it can happen.  There are RPO Providers out there that do not offer any kind of a guarantee with their agreements.  This is also something that is common in more souring-only type agreements, where the RPO Provider is not involved in the process once the candidate has been submitted over to the hiring company.  The obvious reason there is that the staffing company has no control or influence over that portion of the process and is, therefore, not liable if candidates fall out of the process. 


In summary, do your own research.  Hiring companies need to be highly scrutinizing when it comes to who they choose to work with and keep a lazer focus on uncovering who is not just ‘talking the talk.’ 

Ask questions and listen to what is not being said, as much as what is.  Be wary of any RPO Provider who makes promises early on in the process.  Remember, you want them to be doing as much research on you (and therefore their ability to deliver on your account) as you are looking into them (and their ability to deliver on your account).  

Companies looking to hire mental or behavioral health professionals in 2019 are being met with new challenges they have not faced before.  A highly candidate-driven market combined with a low supply of qualified candidates too small and too slow-growing to keep up with the increasing demand for them.  Compounded by a constant new company and culture branding, the emergence of social recruitment, new AI recruiting trends, and all the other new and fashionable ways companies are just trying to stay competitive in hiring.  It easy to get caught up, spend too much money, and be left with your head spinning. 

Empowered Partnerships LLC is looking to slow that spinning, get a hold of the hiring challenges you are facing, and start building a solution-based focus.  We are an RPO Service Provider 100% dedicated to mental and behavioral health hiring. 

If you are looking to hire any number of mental or behavioral health professionals in 2021, I want to talk to you!

Contact me to schedule a consultation

Ashley Lane Boyle

Empowered Partnerships LLC




Empowered Partnerships LLC provides direct-hire, temporary, contract, and contract-to-hire personnel for employers from coast to coast.  We have a wide variety of skilled specialty staff ready to work for you. 

No matter if you are looking for temporary/contract workers, contract-to-hire personnel, direct hire staff, direct sourcing support, retained recruitment assistance, or recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) services, we offer many different options to help employers hire and continue to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about temporary, and contractor staffing options, please contact us at or view more information about our services on our Employer’s Staffing Services page.