rpo vs in-house recruitment

RPO vs. In-House Recruitment: Your Guide to Choosing the Best Hiring Solution

Explore the benefits and challenges of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and in-house recruitment and how to decide between these recruitment models.

RPO vs. In-House Recruitment: Your Guide to Choosing the Best Hiring Solution


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Businesses often wrestle with the question: Should we build an internal hiring team or outsource the recruitment process? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, weighing up RPO vs. in-house recruitment can guide you toward the right choice.

We’ll delve into the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and in-house recruitment, providing a comprehensive guide to help you shape your talent acquisition strategy.

Defining RPO and In-House Recruitment

RPO vs In-house recruitment graphic, two different city one orange and one blue

When you need to fill open positions, your options aren’t limited to a single recruitment method. You can conduct recruitment internally with an internal recruitment team, engage with a recruitment or staffing agency, or outsource the process to an RPO provider. Your hiring needs, budget, and long-term strategy will influence the choice of recruitment method. So, how do these methods differ?

The primary differences between internal recruitment and RPO include the candidate sourcing approach, the extent of investment in the entire recruitment process, and the depth of recruitment expertise available to the company. On one hand, RPO offers a solution that’s scalable and strategic. On the other hand, in-house recruitment provides a hands-on, personalized approach to hiring. Let’s examine these two methods more closely.

What is RPO?

Recruitment process outsourcing, or RPO, is a type of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to an external service provider. An RPO provider can utilize its resources or take on the company’s staff, technology, methods, and reporting systems.

RPO differs significantly from services like staffing companies and contingent or retained search providers. This is because RPO takes on the responsibility of not only designing and managing the recruitment process but also guaranteeing the outcomes.

What is in-house recruitment?

Unlike RPO, an in-house recruitment model leverages your internal resources for candidate sourcing, interviewing, and hiring. An internal hiring team, usually part of the HR department, takes full ownership of the hiring process. 

Comparing the Benefits of RPO and In-House Recruitment

Choosing between RPO and in-house recruitment goes beyond their definitions. It’s important to compare the benefits of each approach. While RPO offers scalability, flexibility, and efficient resource utilization, in-house recruitment provides access to internal expertise and a thorough understanding of the company and its culture.

Both methods have unique advantages that can be leveraged based on your business needs. Let’s explore the benefits of each approach.

The advantages of RPO

RPO has several advantages:


RPO is flexible and can scale up or down as per your hiring needs. This means that no matter the size of the company or the number of vacant positions, an RPO provider can usually tailor its services to meet your specific demands at any given time.

Specialized expertise

RPO providers have in-depth industry knowledge. They possess a deep understanding of the recruitment industry and have access to advanced tools and technologies, which can significantly improve the quality of candidates and streamline your hiring process.

Cost savings and efficiency

Working with an RPO provider can lead to cost savings and improved efficiency. By outsourcing recruitment, you can save on the costs of maintaining an in-house recruitment team, such as salaries, training, and software subscriptions.

In addition, RPO providers often have streamlined processes and technologies that can make the recruitment process more efficient, further reducing costs (for example, by reducing time to hire and increasing retention).

Responsibility for results

RPO providers take responsibility for results, easing the burden on your HR team. This means that your team can focus on core business operations while the RPO provider ensures that the recruitment process is successful. They are accountable for meeting the agreed-upon hiring goals and can be held to specific performance metrics.

In-house recruiter going over the contract with a newly hired employee

The strengths of keeping recruitment in-house

In-house recruitment offers several advantages in terms of controlling the hiring process. It allows the company to:

Establish and manage a talent pool

An in-house team allows your company to establish and manage its talent pool, ensuring a consistent supply of qualified candidates. This pool can be continuously updated and refined, providing a valuable resource for current and future hiring needs.

Remove reliance on external agencies

With in-house recruitment, you can reduce or eliminate your reliance on external agencies. This means that you have more control over the recruitment process and can tailor it to your specific needs.

Promote improved cooperation with Hiring Managers

In-house recruitment promotes improved cooperation with hiring managers, facilitating a more efficient and effective hiring process. This close collaboration allows for a better understanding of the roles to be filled and the skills and qualities needed in potential candidates.

Have complete oversight of the entire process

In-house recruitment provides you with complete oversight of the entire hiring process, ensuring that it aligns with your company’s goals and objectives. This means that you can ensure that every step of the process, from job posting to candidate selection, is conducted in a manner that reflects your company’s values and meets its needs.

Assess candidate-culture alignment

In-house recruiters can assess how well suitable candidates align with your company’s culture and long-term objectives, ensuring a good fit. This assessment can go beyond skills and experience, taking into account a candidate’s values, personality, and potential for growth.

Delivering a personalized candidate experience

In-house recruitment delivers a personalized candidate experience that mirrors your company’s brand and values, enhancing the company’s reputation and attractiveness to potential hires. This can include a welcoming and informative recruitment process, clear communication, and constructive feedback.

Analyzing the Drawbacks: Challenges of RPO and In-House Recruiting

As you consider your recruitment options, it’s crucial to understand the potential challenges associated with both RPO and in-house recruitment. Here are three main challenges you might face with each:

Challenges with RPO

Loss of control

With RPO, you’re entrusting your recruitment process to an external agency. While this can free up time and resources, it also means you have less control over the process, which may not always align with your company’s specific needs or culture.

Quality of candidates

While RPO providers have access to a wide talent pool, the quality of candidates may not always meet your expectations. The RPO provider’s understanding of your company’s needs and culture may not be as nuanced as your own, potentially leading to less-than-ideal matches.


While RPO can lead to cost savings in some areas, such as reducing the need for an in-house team, it can also be an expensive service, particularly if the provider’s recruitment strategies don’t result in successful hires.

Challenges with in-house recruitment

Resource intensive

Conducting recruitment in-house can be resource intensive. Your team will need to manage the entire process, from job postings to interviews to onboarding. This can take a significant amount of time and energy, particularly for smaller businesses.

Limited reach

Your in-house team’s network and resources may be limited compared to an RPO provider. This could potentially limit your access to the best candidates, especially for highly specialized roles.

Lack of expertise

Unless you have experienced recruiters on your team, your in-house recruitment may lack the expertise needed to attract top talent and navigate the complexities of the hiring process. This could lead to less effective recruitment strategies and potentially costly hiring mistakes.

Business shaking hands with an RPO employee

Choosing What’s Best for Your Business: How To Decide Between RPO or In-House Recruitment

The ultimate decision between RPO and in-house recruitment hinges on which method best aligns with your business goals and strategy. Include the following steps in your decision-making process:

Determine your hiring requirements

Begin by identifying your company’s recruitment needs. This should include the number of positions you need to fill, the nature of these positions, and the expected recruitment volume in the future.

By assessing your hiring requirements, you can clearly understand what your company needs in terms of talent. This could range from entry-level positions to executive roles. Consider the skills, qualifications, and experience required for each role.

In addition, it’s important to consider the timeline for filling these positions. Do you need to fill these roles immediately, or is there some flexibility in your hiring schedule? This information will be crucial in deciding whether to opt for RPO or in-house recruitment.

Assess your in-house capabilities

Evaluate your company’s existing ability to handle recruitment. Do you have an internal team that can effectively manage the recruitment process? Or would it be more beneficial to outsource this task to an RPO provider?

This assessment should consider the size of your current HR team, their expertise in recruitment, the workload they are already managing, and their familiarity with the latest recruitment technologies and strategies. Understanding these factors will help you determine if your current team is equipped to handle the recruitment process or if an external RPO provider could offer a more efficient and effective solution.

Scrutinize your budget

Cost is a critical consideration in the decision-making process. Understand both methods’ costs and determine which is within your budget. This involves thoroughly analyzing your financial resources and forecasting the potential expenses that may arise with each recruitment method.

RPO services can be priced using various models, including:

  • Recurring monthly fees
  • Cost per slate
  • Fixed monthly and cost per hire
  • Cost per hire 

As for in-house recruitment, the standard expenses, as per benchmarking data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), can average nearly $4,700 per hire—but it’s estimated that often the true cost can be much higher. This encompasses administrative overheads and other concealed overhead costs that can impact a company’s financial well-being. 

It’s not just about the immediate costs but also the long-term financial implications. For instance, while RPO might seem more expensive upfront, it could lead to cost savings in the long run due to the efficiency and specialized knowledge that the provider brings.

Similarly, while in-house recruitment might seem cost-effective initially, the expenses related to training, software subscriptions, and potential hiring mistakes can add up over time. Therefore, a clear and comprehensive financial plan is essential to make an informed decision.

Reflect on your company’s culture

Your recruitment method should be consistent with your company culture. If your company values maintaining control over the process and close collaboration with hiring managers, in-house recruitment might be the best fit. 

On the other hand, if your company prefers a hands-off approach, values scalability and expertise, and is comfortable with delegating recruitment tasks to an external provider, RPO might be the better choice.

It’s crucial to remember that your recruitment method is an extension of your company’s identity. It’s not just about filling roles; it’s about bringing in individuals who will contribute to and enrich your company culture. The recruitment process is often a candidate’s first interaction with your company, so it should reflect the values and ethos that your company stands for.

Whether you choose in-house recruitment or RPO, it’s important to ensure that your chosen method aligns with and supports your company’s culture. This will help ensure a cohesive and effective recruitment process that attracts the right individuals to your company.

Final Thoughts

Both RPO and in-house recruitment have unique benefits that cater to different business needs. RPO offers flexibility, specialized expertise, cost savings, and a hands-off approach, allowing you to focus on your core operations. On the other hand, in-house recruitment offers you complete control over the process, a personalized candidate experience, and the ability to establish and manage your own talent pool.

Your choice between these two methods should align with your company’s specific needs and strategic objectives. If you’re experiencing rapid growth or high-volume hiring needs, RPO might be the most beneficial. However, if you want to maintain high control over the hiring process and deliver a personalized candidate experience that mirrors your brand and values, in-house recruitment might be a better fit.

Your next steps would be to analyze your current recruitment strategy, consider the benefits of each approach, and decide which one is best for you. Whether you choose RPO or in-house recruitment, continuous optimization of your approach is essential. Set clear goals, maintain open communication, and always strive for improvement.

Whether you’re considering RPO or in-house recruitment, Near can handle all your hiring needs. We specialize in sourcing top talent from Latin America in under 21 days with a team of dedicated recruiters.

Get the best of both worlds—the scalability of RPO and the personalization of in-house recruitment. Ready to elevate your talent acquisition strategy? Claim your free remote recruiting consultation today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can RPO handle bulk hiring?

Yes, RPO is often used for bulk hiring. The scalability of RPO allows it to efficiently handle high-volume recruitment needs, making it a popular choice for businesses undergoing rapid growth or seasonal fluctuations.

What are other alternatives to RPO?

Aside from in-house recruitment, other alternatives to RPO to consider include contingent recruitment, on-demand recruiting, or staffing agencies. Each method has its unique advantages and challenges.

For a more detailed comparison between RPO and these alternatives, we invite you to read our in-depth articles on RPO vs. contingent recruitment, RPO vs. on-demand recruiting, and RPO vs. staffting agencies.

Is RPO suitable for small businesses?

Yes, RPO can be beneficial for small businesses as well as large. While RPO is often associated with large-scale hiring needs, its flexibility and scalability make it a viable option for small businesses. They can benefit from the specialized expertise, efficient processes, and cost savings that RPO provides, without the need for a large in-house recruitment team.

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