• Recruitment Solutions

    • Recruitment Solutions

      At Hueman, we realize that every person and organization is unique. We learn what makes your business unique and then build you a perfect recruitment solution.

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      • Recruitment Process Outsourcing
        With our RPO solutions, we can manage your entire recruitment process, even onboarding, freeing up your HR team to focus on their core responsibilities.
        We have qualified and trained recruiters ready to supplement and support your hiring needs.
        Often referred to as permanent placement, we can help with your on-demand hiring needs.
        Grow your business through employment brand and digital talent marketing solutions.
  • Industries

    • Industries We Serve

      For more than 27 years, we have been providing recruitment solutions to organizations across various industries.

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      • Healthcare RPO
        Our talent solutions can help hospitals and healthcare systems with staffing shortages and more.
      • Life Sciences RPO
        Don't let delays in acquiring the right life sciences talent impede your research and drug development.
      • Retail RPO
        We help the retail industry find skilled customer service professionals to propel your business forward.
      • Manufacturing RPO
        Our strategic partnership allows us to tackle the complexities of manufacturing talent acquisition head-on.
      • Consumer Goods RPO
        The success of the consumer goods industry hinges on the right product and the right people in the right roles.
      • Professional Services RPO
        Attracting qualified professionals for service roles can be challenging. We can help!
      • Hospitality RPO
        We help businesses in the hospitality industry find skilled, customer-focused talent to meet their talent needs.
  • About

    • About Us

      At Hueman, our story is about creating positive, people-centric experiences—and we write a new chapter every day.

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      • Our Story
        Our company’s story began in 1996 when our Founder, Dwight Cooper, launched a small recruitment firm in his spare bedroom in Jacksonville, Florida.
        Our awards and recognitions reflect our core values, passion, and commitment to our mission.
  • Resources

    • RPO Resources Hub

      Check out our guides, blog posts, tools, and success stories to improve your recruitment efforts. We're sure you'll find something valuable. Explore today!

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What’s the Difference Between RPO and Recruitment?

Published March 29, 2023
Explaining the difference between RPO and staffing agencies


"How is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) different from traditional recruitment?" We get this question all the time—in fact, it’s usually the first question we’re asked. The short answer is that RPO partners and recruitment agencies have very different recruiting strategies based on their service offerings, how they find talent, and how they charge for their services. The long answer? Well, let’s start by defining each service:

What is a recruitment agency?

The primary role of a recruitment agency is to match employers to employees. They recruit under the recruitment firm's brand, and their fees are contingent on the firm placing employees for their client.

This means that instead of (or in addition to) using an employee referral program or an online job posting, businesses can hire an agency to find the candidates they seek. When the agency finds the qualified fit for the job, and the business hires the candidate, the hiring agency gets compensated. Thus, recruiters are motivated to hire quickly and efficiently and move on to the next job.

At the end of the day, job openings are filled quickly because different recruitment agencies are trying to beat each other out to find a candidate for their job. While this is an effective recruitment option for some businesses, it's not necessarily a long-term solution for businesses looking to hire quality candidates who will stay in the organization for the long run.

Key Characteristics of Recruitment Agencies

  1. Focus on Permanent Placements: Recruitment agencies typically specialize in finding candidates for permanent or direct-hire positions within organizations. They are more focused on helping businesses fill long-term roles.

  2. Specialized Expertise: Many recruitment agencies specialize in specific industries, job sectors, or job functions. This specialization allows them to have a deep understanding of the skills and qualifications required for particular roles.

  3. Fee Structure: Recruitment agencies usually charge a fee based on a percentage of the candidate's first-year salary or a flat fee for successful placements. This fee is paid by the hiring company.

What are Staffing Agencies?

Staffing agencies, also known as temp agencies or temporary staffing firms, primarily focus on providing businesses with temporary or contract employees to fill short-term positions. In many cases, the staffing agency becomes the official employer of the temporary workers, handling payroll, benefits, and other HR-related functions.

These agencies can help organizations manage fluctuations in their workforce needs, whether due to seasonal demands, special projects, or temporary absences. 

Key Characteristics of Staffing Agencies

  1. Focus on Temporary or Contract Placements: Staffing agencies, also known as temp agencies or temporary staffing firms, specialize in providing businesses with temporary or contract employees. They often focus on meeting short-term staffing needs.

  2. Quick Turnaround: Staffing agencies are known for their ability to provide qualified candidates on short notice. This quick turnaround is valuable for organizations dealing with immediate staffing requirements.

  3. Employer of Record: In many cases, the staffing agency becomes the official employer of the temporary workers. The agency handles payroll, benefits, and other HR-related functions, reducing administrative burdens for the hiring organization.

What is recruitment process outsourcing (RPO)?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is a form of business process outsourcing where an employer transfers all or part of its recruitment processes to a recruitment agency. An RPO partner’s responsibilities can include sourcing, recruiting, marketing, screening, selection, offer management, interview preparation and scheduling, due diligence, pre-hire paperwork, and onboarding. Additionally, an RPO partner may recruit under your brand, using their own dedicated recruitment team and custom strategies, or they may assume your company's staff, technology, methodologies, and reporting.

More than simply recruiting for an open position, an RPO agency works closely with your organization to define recruitment needs, assess current processes, and pinpoint areas of improvement. Based on the unique factors of each company, they customize solutions, service level agreements, and success metrics to create a tailored strategy. 

Key Characteristics of RPO

  1. End-to-End Recruitment Services: RPO providers offer comprehensive recruitment services, including candidate sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding.

  2. Scalability and Flexibility: Solutions offered by RPO providers are scalable, allowing organizations to adjust their recruitment efforts based on changing business needs.

  3. Customized Solutions: RPO providers tailor their services to meet the unique requirements and goals of the client, providing a more personalized approach to recruitment.

What are the Main differences between Traditional Recruitment agencies and RPO providers? 

Level of Accountability:

  • Recruitment/staffing agencies: act as external partners who work alongside the client's internal HR team. The client remains in control over the final decision-making process and management of selected candidates. 
  • RPO: Form strategic and integrated partnerships with their partners and assume a higher level of responsibility for recruitment results.

Scope of Services:

  • Recruitment/staffing agencies: Offer a transactional approach, focusing on specific roles or projects. Services typically Primarily include sourcing, screening, and presenting a shortlist of qualified candidates.
  • RPO: Offer customized and scalable recruitment solutions that can cover all or some of the recruitment life cycle from workforce planning to onboarding. RPO agencies can also support other talent acquisition-related goals such as DEI hiring, decreasing turnover, and recession-proofing your recruitment

Cost Structure:

  • Recruitment/staffing agencies: Typically charge a fee based on a percentage of the candidate's first-year salary or a flat fee for successful placements.
  • RPO: Usually charges a flat fee based on the scope and complexity of services. This fee encompasses all recruitment-related expenses.

Make the right choice for your business

While recruitment agencies, staffing agencies, and RPO providers all play critical roles in the talent acquisition process, they serve distinct purposes and cater to different aspects of workforce management. Understanding the differences between these entities is essential for businesses seeking to optimize their recruitment strategies and find the best-fit talent for their organizational needs.

  • Topics: 
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing