The Difference Between a Contingent Staffing Agency and an RPO

Is your company considering the option to outsource some of their recruiting needs? Are you a job seeker that has been contacted by a third party recruiter and don’t know who you’d actually be an employee of? Are you confused about the difference between contingency staffing and retained recruiters/recruitment process outsourcing (RPO)? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve worked in recruitment roles for both contingency staffing and RPO throughout my talent acquisition career. One of the common issues I’ve seen in regard to this is the fact that companies or candidates are not educated about the difference between the two. So, let me try to shed some light today.

Contingency agencies, also known as staffing agencies or temporary placement agencies, are typically used when a company has a job opening that needs to be filled quickly. In some instances, it is used for a one-off situation or for a position that has a low volume of needs but are hard to fill. In other instances, they are used because the client has a huge number of positions to fill and their needs needed to be filled, like, yesterday. Contingency agencies are usually very fast paced because they’re not only in competition with the internal HR/recruitment department at the client’s organization, but they’re also in competition with other recruiting firms that are trying to get their candidates to the client first. The reason for this rapidness and pressure?: these agencies only can charge a fee if the client decides to bring their candidate on-board.

Retained recruiters or RPOs usually have an exclusive contract with their client and the client typically pays an upfront fee (whether a candidate is hired or not). The retained/RPO recruiters and clients formulate a plan about what type of candidates they need, how to go about finding the candidates, and determine what candidates fit the profile. It can be considered a strategic partnership. Very often, the retained recruiters present several qualified candidates to the client on a continuous basis to help build a pipeline and also increase their interview flow. These types of companies are typically utilized by larger companies with many positions to fill or by companies that have a specific need that is hard to find.

Personally, I love working for an RPO. Although we still have goals to meet on a weekly basis, there isn’t as much pressure as there was at a contingency firm. Additionally, I feel like I’m able to provide better service to both my clients and my candidates because of the relationship I build with the recruiting department at the client. I understand the company better and I know what their needs are. I’m able to relay information to the candidates to help them get a better understanding of whether or not this is a job or company that fits with what they’re looking for. Additionally, I can take the time to find better candidates for my clients because I don’t have to worry about beating out other agencies. But, of course, that’s just my personal preference. Both are extremely good options depending on what your company needs are.

For more information, feel free to read this article on UnderCover Recruiter.

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3 thoughts on “The Difference Between a Contingent Staffing Agency and an RPO

  1. Pingback: Clearing the Misconceptions about Recruiters | The Social HR Connection

  2. I have worked previously in an agency setting and I can say I absolutely prefer working for an RPO! I’m able to provide a much higher level of service and love being able to integrate myself into the company culture by working more closely with contacts at the organization.

  3. Pingback: The Difference Between a Contingent Staffing Ag...

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