Guidelines for Issuing an RPO RFP Questionnaire

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Whether your organization is looking to outsource all or part of its talent program, finding the right recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner is an important part of the decision process. As a potential buyer of RPO, how can you ensure that you select a provider with relevant industry experience, a thorough understanding of your talent objectives, and who can successfully support your talent needs?

What Can You Gain from an RPO RFP?

A request for proposal (RFP) allows you to evaluate multiple RPO providers in your search for the right partner. By inviting providers to participate in an RFP, you will gain an in-depth understanding of their solution offerings, industry experience, quality of service, technology capabilities, and cost models. An RFP will also give providers the opportunity to address stakeholder concerns and objectives surrounding RPO, and can therefore be beneficial to gaining leadership buy-in.

As part of their RFP response, leading RPO providers will lay out in writing what to expect in terms of service and quality. They should tie their service capabilities back to your business and talent goals. Here are a few things to keep in mind when constructing your RPO RFP.

Tips for A Seamless RFP Process

Planning Your RFP Process

Assess Your Needs and Define Your Project Scope

RPO offers many benefits, from sourcing quality talent, diverse candidate pools, scalability, improved employer branding, and access to sophisticated tech stacks—but which of these can your organization gain the most from? First, you’ll need to review your internal competencies, weaknesses, and hiring objectives as they relate to your decision to outsource your talent strategy. In other words, what is the purpose of outsourcing your talent program, and what do you hope to get out of an RPO partnership? Collaborate with your company’s leadership team and key stakeholders to determine components of your talent strategy that require improvement and/or outsourced support, then define your RPO project scope accordingly.

Project Scope: Information to Provide to Participating Vendors

Once the project scope has been finalized, you’ll need to develop a project scope document to submit to participating providers along with the RPO questionnaire. A project scope document communicates what you are looking to accomplish out of the RPO partnership and will give each vendor insight into your existing talent strategy and desired partnership outcomes. The project scope document should detail your organization’s current recruitment infrastructure and areas of weakness that require the support of an RPO provider. Additionally, it should outline all objectives for the establishment of an RPO relationship and detail metrics relevant to the engagement—be specific on the number of roles requiring support, role titles, hiring time frames, and desired process improvements. The project scope document should identify components of the talent cycle that the RPO provider will be responsible for, and those that your internal team will oversee.

Develop Your RFP Timeline

Once you have determined your project scope and are preparing to outline your RFP document, work with key stakeholders to develop a clear timeline for the RFP process. The timeline should make note of critical deadlines, project deliverables, and accountability at each stage of the RFP. Below is a sample timeline adapted from an RFP that LevelUP recently participated in. Submit this timeline along with your RFP questionnaire when inviting RPO vendors to participate.

RFP Sample Timeline

Creating the RFP Questionnaire

Develop Focused Questions That Relate Back to Your Project Goals

A well-structured RFP questionnaire will directly tie back into talent objectives and metrics determined in the planning stage. Including questions that relate back to your strategic business goals, such as process efficiency or digital transformation will ensure your RPO partner is aligned to your company's vision. For example, if one of your goals is to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization, you may want to include a section specific to DE&I with questions such as "How do you plan to achieve our diversity goals?" and "Identify operation metrics if any that you will use to support DEI goals."

Detail Your Evaluation Criteria

When issuing your RFP, consider attaching an overview of your process for evaluating finalists. This might consist of a list of minimum requirements, including minimum technological capabilities, minimum years of experience, languages supported, global reach, and prior industry experience. Organizations that plan to use a weighted scoring criterion, which assigns different values to various RPO capabilities (diversity, tech stack, process efficiencies, etc.), should also note high-priority areas within their talent infrastructure. This will allow you to draw out participating providers that have experience and prior success in supporting those areas. For example, if you emphasize that ability to hire at high volume is a core decision factor, then RPO vendors who have experience with high-volume recruitment would highlight this in their responses using case studies, high volume sourcing strategies, scaling capabilities, and so on.

Gated Content Banner Template

After Issuing the RFP Questionnaire

Engage with Providers During the RFP Process

Once the RFP has been issued, it is common for companies to invite each RPO vendor to submit written questions related to their RFP process, questionnaire, and talent goals, or to participate in a Q&A by phone. Typically, these questions will request further details not included in your initial RFP instructions and scope of work. Working with each RPO vendor to get them this information will enable them to put their best foot forward and demonstrate their ability to meet your talent goals.

A Well-Crafted RFP Will Land You the Right RPO Relationship

To make the most out of the RPO RFP process, detail your talent goals and selection criteria throughout your RFP overview and questionnaire. Making yourself available to provide more detail about your RFP process can also elicit more informative responses. While an RFP is intended to compare and evaluate RPO vendors, remember that each vendor will also be assessing your RFP for red flags. An unclear or poorly structured RFP may deter some RPO vendors from participating altogether, while a well-crafted one will attract the best providers.

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