Harsh? Perhaps. But let me explain. One, if I just titled it RPOs, no one would read it, and I am too narcissistic to allow that to happen. And 2 (or B for those who prefer diversity), I truly believe that the RPO business model is antithetical to professional recruiting. For those of you who may not be aware of what an RPO is, let me explain, or cut and paste from Wikipedia, whichever you prefer:
Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a form of business process outsourcing (BPO) where an employer outsources or transfers all or part of its recruitment activities to an external service provider.
So, theoretically an RPO is a good idea if a company wants to run lean on the HR side and remove HR from the place it really has no business being - Recruiting.
Companies downsized their Recruiting staff during the beginning of the Recession, forgetting (because most companies have no concept of what Recruiters actually do) that once business began to grow again, they'd need a pipeline of candidates to help them fulfill their growing business needs. So now many companies have been caught sans pants, needing to hire en masse and quickly
Enter the RPO. "We'll do it all for you, just sign an agreement with us for X thousands of dollars, and we will manage it all for you." Company X thinks this is a great idea and signs a contract. "Fools! Now we have you!", cackles the RPO malevolently whilst twisting the pointy ends of its waxed mustache.
The problem is, RPO's are basically a retained search firm that has no obligation to actually really DO anything. I'm sure there are SLAs that might be less useless, but I haven't heard of them. The RPO then hires tons of Recruiters, and people that call themselves Recruiters, and puts them in positions variously labled Staffing Consultants, or Account Managers, or Oompa Loompas. The title is irrelevant. What these people do is interact with Hiring Managers and 'oversee the process' by posting the jobs, updating the ATS, etc. They don't actually recruit. They don't have time, Usually they're buried under massive req loads immediately.
Then the position is sent to a "Recruiter" for sourcing and pre-screening. But here's the really dirty little secret. The Recruiters are outsourced to Latin America or Asia with a few US Recruiters to fill out the roster. They have little or no experience in the industry they're recruiting for, and are paid peanuts. The Recruiters source and pre-screen and then forward the candidates to the Oompa Loompa, who then without pre-screening them themselves, forwards them to the Hiring Manager.
I call this McRecruiting. One size fits all low skill manpower intensive sweat shop recruiting that severs the link between a Hiring Manager and the Recruiter and the candidate. There is no "Full Cycle Recruiting". The client receives very little value for the money they've poured into the RPO. A true Recruiting Professional needs to be in touch with both sides of the equation, and familiar with the industry they're recruiting for.
The process employed by an RPO serves to cheapen the title of Recruiter and bastardizes our profession. If you needed a doctor, would you explain your symptoms to a Medical Billing person who then relays your case to someone in Uzbekistan, who then gives their diagnosis to the Biller, who then tells you what you need to take to get better? If you said yes, congratulations, you're an idiot.
RPO's over-promise and under-deliver and the companies that hire them then have an even worse concept of Recruiters. They are a cancer, but one that can be cured with early detection.