RPO vs on-demand recruiting

RPO vs. On-Demand Recruiting: Which Hiring Model Is Right for You?

Explore the differences between RPO and on-demand recruiting and what factors to consider to find the best fit for your hiring needs.

RPO vs. On-Demand Recruiting: Which Hiring Model Is Right for You?


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In a world where talent is a critical differentiator, the right recruitment strategy can be a game changer. RPO and on-demand recruiting—two popular recruitment models— provide distinct advantages for talent acquisition.

But which one is the right fit for your organization?

If you’ve been weighing up RPO vs. on-demand recruiting but aren’t sure what each has to offer, don’t worry! We’re here to help. We’ll break down the differences between the two. 

By diving into the key aspects of these two popular recruitment strategies, we aim to provide you with the necessary insights to make an informed decision that aligns with your company’s specific needs and goals.

What Is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)?

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is when you hand over the reins of your entire recruitment process to an external firm that specializes in recruitment.

It’s not just about hiring. It’s much more than that. With RPO, you’re getting a comprehensive service that covers everything from sourcing and recruiting specialists to consulting for your in-house recruiting teams. It’s like having a team of experts on your side, guiding you through the complex world of talent acquisition

RPO is about thinking ahead. It’s a long-term strategy that puts a lot of emphasis on employer branding and the experience of the candidate.

Some of the key advantages of RPO include:

  • Cost-efficiency: Outsourcing the recruitment process can reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining an in-house recruitment team. This includes savings on advertising, technology, and other recruitment-related expenses.
  • Improved quality of hires: RPO providers utilize their expertise and resources to find the best talent in the market. They have access to a wide network of candidates and use advanced screening methods to ensure the quality of hires.
  • Enhanced employer branding: RPO providers work toward improving your employer brand, making your company more attractive to potential candidates. This can increase the number of high-quality applicants for your vacancies.
  • Reduced time to hire: With their efficient processes and dedicated teams, RPO providers can significantly reduce the time it takes to fill a vacancy, thereby minimizing productivity loss.
  • Compliance and risk management: RPO providers are knowledgeable about employment laws and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential legal issues.
  • Market intelligence: With their finger on labor market trends, RPO providers can offer valuable insights and advice to help you make informed recruitment decisions.
  • Ability to focus on core functions: Outsourcing the recruitment process allows your HR team to focus on other core areas of human resources, such as employee engagement, training and development, and strategic planning.

RPO can be a game changer for companies looking to improve their recruitment process, attract top talent, and gain a competitive edge in the market. However, the benefits of RPO are not one-size-fits-all and can vary depending on your organization's specific needs and circumstances.

recruiter shaking hands with a candidate

What Is On-Demand Recruiting?

On the other side, on-demand recruiting offers a short-term, flexible solution for urgent hiring needs, providing immediate support and access to experienced recruiters. This model is especially advantageous when your organization encounters sudden spikes in hiring needs or needs to quickly fill essential positions with the help of a contingency or executive recruiter.

Some key advantages of working with an on-demand recruitment agency include:

  • Flexibility and speed: On-demand recruiters can quickly step in and fill positions as and when needed, making them ideal for urgent hiring needs.
  • Extensive professional networks: These agencies have access to extensive networks of professional contacts, aiding in finding the right talent for your organization.
  • Specialization in sourcing top talent: On-demand recruiters specialize in identifying and attracting top-notch candidates, ensuring the best possible talent for your open positions.
  • Comprehensive recruitment process management: From sourcing and screening candidates to conducting interviews and negotiating offers, some on-demand recruiting agencies can handle the entire recruitment process, saving you valuable time and resources.
  • Cost-effective: Most on-demand recruiting agencies work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they successfully fill a position. This makes them a cost-effective solution, especially for small to medium-sized businesses or companies with fluctuating hiring needs.

Comparing RPO and On-Demand Recruiting

While RPO and on-demand recruitment both present unique benefits, they exhibit significant differences in certain areas. The primary distinction lies in the nature of the relationship and the level of support.

Long-term partnership vs. immediate support

Working with an RPO provider isn’t a temporary arrangement for a few weeks or months but a sustained alliance. They become integral to your team, working with you to enhance and streamline processes.

This relationship goes beyond merely filling job vacancies. It’s about developing bespoke strategies and fine-tuning your recruitment processes to align seamlessly with your long-term business objectives. With an RPO provider, you’re investing in a partnership that’s committed to your company’s growth and success over the long haul.

On the other hand, on-demand recruitment firms provide immediate support by deploying experienced recruiters who can swiftly respond to your hiring needs. You get access to a pool of qualified candidates, allowing your organization to fill vacant positions quickly and efficiently when needed. 

For example, you might use an on-demand recruitment firm for a hard-to-fill position. But after that position is filled, you have no ongoing relationship with them until you need their assistance again in the future. 

Comprehensive solutions vs. targeted assistance

Both RPO providers and on-demand recruitment firms help organizations identify, attract, and hire qualified candidates. They also both offer expertise in recruitment strategies, market trends, and compliance requirements. However, the level and nature of assistance they provide over and above finding qualified candidates differs.

RPO providers offer more than just efficient recruitment. They become part of your HR team, handling everything from job profiling to onboarding new hires. They also help enhance employer branding and manage recruitment technology.

Their goal is to improve the quality of hires, reduce time to hire, and increase cost efficiencies. Their long-term and strategic approach focuses on your company’s overall business objectives.

On-demand recruitment firms, on the other hand, focus on sourcing and screening candidates quickly. They are ideal for immediate, high-volume, or specialized hiring needs. However, as their services are primarily reactionary, they don’t typically offer support with long-term planning or employer branding strategies.

business owner thinking deeply which hiring model to choose

Deciding Between RPO and On-Demand Recruitment

Choosing between RPO and on-demand recruiting isn’t a matter of a one-size-fits-all solution. It necessitates a strategic approach that evaluates your internal recruitment team, growth objectives, and ROI.

Assess your in-house recruitment team 

Evaluate your in-house team’s existing capabilities and constraints. This plays a vital role in determining whether you need a comprehensive RPO solution versus the immediate, adaptable support offered by on-demand recruiting.

Several talent acquisition metrics can be used to evaluate the efficiency of your current recruitment team, including:

  • Time to hire
  • Cost per hire
  • Qualified candidates per opening
  • Performance of candidate sourcing channels
  • Offer acceptance rate

Analyzing these metrics will provide insights into the overall success and effectiveness of your recruitment efforts and help pinpoint where you need help.

Evaluate organizational goals

When deciding between RPO and on-demand recruiting, it’s crucial to consider your organization’s growth goals to ensure you have the right talent to drive your business forward.

If your company is in a phase of rapid expansion or plans to grow significantly in the future, you might benefit more from an RPO model. This is because RPO can provide a more strategic, long-term approach to recruitment, helping you build a strong talent pipeline for the future.

On the other hand, if your organization’s growth is more unpredictable or you often need to fill roles quickly and on short notice, on-demand recruiting might be a better fit. This model offers more flexibility and can provide immediate support for urgent hiring needs.

Analyze cost implications and return on investment

When choosing between RPO and on-demand recruitment, you must consider the financial implications and the return on your investment. It’s not just about the upfront cost, but also the value these services bring to your organization in the long run.

Firstly, consider the cost per hire. With RPO, you often pay a flat fee for the service, which can result in a lower cost per hire—however, some RPO providers also include a fee per hire on top of a base flat fee. On-demand recruiting, on the other hand, typically charges a fee per candidate placed, which could be a more cost-effective solution if you only have a few roles to fill.

Secondly, think about the time to hire. A lengthy recruitment process can be costly in terms of lost productivity and potential business opportunities. RPO providers often have a quicker time to hire due to their extensive resources and expertise, which can provide a significant return on investment.

However, on-demand recruiters can have an edge when it comes to quickly finding talent in specialized areas, for example, software development. This is due to their ability to quickly tap into their vast network of professionals and their expertise in identifying the specific skills and qualifications needed for specialized roles, filling these crucial roles without delay. 

Lastly, consider the quality of hire. Poor hiring decisions can be costly, resulting in lower productivity, higher turnover, and the need for rehiring. Both RPO and on-demand recruitment firms specialize in finding high-quality candidates, but the strategic, long-term focus of RPO may result in better quality hires in the long run.

Remember, the best choice depends on your specific needs and circumstances. It’s about finding the balance between cost and value, and choosing the service that offers the best return on investment for your organization.

two men hands in the air to high five, ready to work together

Combining the Power of RPO and On-Demand Recruiting

In the complex world of talent acquisition, sometimes, the most effective approach is a combination of multiple recruitment models. Yes, harnessing the power of both RPO and on-demand recruiting is entirely possible—and often beneficial.

With its comprehensive, strategic, and long-term approach, RPO is excellent for building robust talent pipelines and enhancing employer branding. On the other hand, on-demand recruiting, with its flexibility and speed, is perfect for addressing immediate hiring needs and filling vacancies quickly.

By mixing these two methods, you can create a flexible recruitment system that captures the benefits of both. This approach allows for strategic talent planning and enhances employer branding through RPO while also ensuring the agility to quickly scale up or down and fill urgent roles through on-demand recruiting.

In essence, combining the power of RPO and on-demand recruiting enables you to build a robust, strategic, and flexible talent acquisition function that can effectively respond to long-term and immediate hiring needs.

Final Thoughts

Both RPO and on-demand recruiting offer unique benefits, each suited to different needs and circumstances. RPO provides a holistic, long-term approach to talent acquisition, focusing beyond finding quality candidates to enhancing employer branding and the candidate experience.

On the other hand, on-demand recruiting provides immediate support for urgent hiring needs, offering scalability and speed.

The choice between the two depends on the capabilities and resources of your internal recruitment teams, organizational goals, cost, and potential ROI. And it may be that a blend of the two is what will work best for you.

Whether you’re considering RPO or on-demand recruiting, Near can offer a tailored end-to-end solution to get you the talent you need in under 21 days. 

We are committed to helping you build a strong, diverse, and top-performing team that fits your company’s culture and objectives.

Discover how you can save 30–70% on salary costs by hiring top talent from Latin America—without sacrificing quality or overstretching your HR team. Book your free consultation with us today and transform your recruiting process!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do RPO and on-demand recruiting impact internal HR teams?

RPO can significantly lift burdens on internal HR teams by outsourcing recruitment processes. This strategy lets your internal team focus on strategic initiatives and other core HR functions. It provides an efficient solution to manage the recruitment process without overloading existing resources. 

On-demand recruiting provides support without the need for a permanent expansion of your HR department. This model is particularly beneficial when there is a sudden surge in hiring needs, as it allows you to scale up recruitment efforts temporarily without incurring the long-term costs associated with hiring additional permanent staff.

On-demand recruiters can quickly step in and handle the increased workload, ensuring hiring needs are met promptly and efficiently. Once the hiring surge subsides, you can easily scale back the use of the on-demand recruitment agency, making this a flexible and cost-effective solution for managing fluctuating hiring needs.

What are the best practices for implementing RPO or engaging in on-demand recruiting?

Clear communication, setting realistic goals, establishing strong partnerships, and regular evaluation of outcomes are essential for successful implementation in both models.

What are the alternatives to RPO and on-demand recruiting?

There are several alternatives to RPO and on-demand recruiting, including: 

  • Traditional in-house recruiting: Your HR department manages the entire recruitment process. This approach allows for complete control over the hiring process but can be resource-intensive.
  • Contingency recruiting: A recruitment agency is paid only when they successfully fill a position. This can be a cost-effective solution for companies with less frequent hiring needs.
  • Retained search: A recruitment agency is paid a retainer to conduct a thorough search for high-level positions. This approach ensures a dedicated effort to fill senior roles but can be more expensive.
  • Staffing agencies: These agencies have a wide network of candidates and can provide temporary, contract, or permanent staff to fill various roles in your organization.

Is on-demand recruitment the same as on-demand RPO?

This is a common question, and it’s important to understand the distinction. While they share similarities, they are not exactly the same. 

As we’ve covered, on-demand recruitment refers to using recruitment services as and when needed, typically to fill immediate or unexpected vacancies. It’s a flexible, short-term solution that can be scaled up or down based on your hiring needs. 

On the other hand, on-demand RPO, also known as project RPO, is a type of RPO that is used for specific projects or for a defined period. Unlike traditional RPO, which typically involves a long-term strategic partnership, on-demand RPO is used on a project basis or to deal with sudden spikes in recruitment needs.

So, while both involve flexibility and are used to address immediate hiring needs, the scope and nature of services provided can differ.

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