The RPO: A foreign company’s best asset when expanding rapidly into the US

Newly established US offices of foreign-based companies operate with minimal oversight and sometimes even less support. While modern communications – such as video conferencing, instant messaging and constant connectivity through smart phones  —  have made the problem somewhat less daunting, difficulties remain.

If your US business has the good fortune to be rapidly expanding the challenge is how to staff the new operation in order to minimize costs while effectively penetrating the US market in the early stage of the new endeavor. The problem is that hiring practices and the employment laws in the US are often very different from those of the enterprise’s home country and the  company has neither the bandwidth nor the expertise to hiring quickly and in volume.

Many foreign companies turn to Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPOs) organizations in order to assist them with hiring for a large number of positions as their expansion needs ramp up. An RPO can be invaluable not only in managing the recruitment and hiring process for permanent positions but can help with seasonal personnel needs as well. A good RPO can enable a positive recruitment experience for candidates applying for employment at your company thereby enhancing the desirability of your company as an employer in the US.

What is an RPO?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), refers to the process by which a company outsources part or all of its recruitment  activities. These can include job postings, sourcing, screening, interview scheduling and logistics, offer execution, compliance reporting and HRIS (human resources information systems) data entry. RPO is a viable option for companies that are short on local market  knowledge or functional recruiting expertise. By outsourcing recruitment to the in-country operation, the home office can focus on the hiring strategy and management of the local tactics.

In many cases, RPO partners can leverage economies of scale in order to reduce the cost  of hiring for a position. They can utilize large contracts with job boards that individual companies often cannot afford. Utilizing a team of experienced, professional recruiters can increase the quality of hire and the speed with which l open positions are filled.

An RPO partner can also help satisfy seasonal or cyclical hiring needs, and ramp your staff up or down with greater cost predictability. For instance, an international publishing and event production company with events in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta could use RPO services to expand and contract staff quickly.

One aspect that  companies often neglect is that of employee engagement. A candidate’s experience applying and interviewing for a job at your organization has a direct impact on the employment brand. A dedicated RPO partner can focus on ensuring a positive experience for candidates. Alternatively, an RPO partner can conduct a confidential search when anonymity during the recruitment process is a requirement.

Consider RPO an ongoing process

Some foreign employers deploy RPO even more broadly as an ongoing cycle of processes related to attracting, sourcing, recruiting, and hiring employees within an organization. This includes elements of employment branding, outreach, networking, and relationship building with potential candidate communities (e.g. colleges, associations, social networks) to continually build and enhance the talent pool for an organization. By defining it as an on-going cycle, it introduces the concept that the processes are connected and interrelated, rather than isolated events. As a result, those involved in talent acquisition and management take a holistic  view of how candidates find and interact with the newly established foreign company, how the company engages them, and what makes the company a desirable employer.

If your recently established US operation is experiencing success and needs a number of new staff to meet rapid expansion needs on a continuing basis take a look at RPO as a potential solution. Once your initial needs are met you may wish to sustain a relationship with an RPO as a part of your HR solution so that management may continue to focus on core business processes, revenue generation and business success.


Robert Weis LRBob is the founder and CEO of CFOs2GO and a practicing CFO. He established CFOs2GO in 1986 to address the growing need of companies to engage expert financial talent without incurring the burden of full-time employees. If you would like to speak with Bob, please use the Comments section to make a request.

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