Are organizations backing away from the traditional three-year RPO format?
If you follow the world of RPO, you may have noticed an interesting trend. According to the Everest Group’s annual report on the industry, the average deal length has been dropping, and for the first time since Recruitment Process Outsourcing emerged as a tool in the talent acquisition leader’s tool belt, it’s approaching just two years. Today buyers seem to be heading away from the traditional three year format.

What’s going on? Without context, these numbers may seem startling—it may look like talent acquisition is moving away from RPO as we understand it. But having worked in this field for the last 12 years, I see this shift as something to celebrate: the beginning of the next evolution of an industry that’s been pivoting since its inception.

A Short History of RPO

To figure out what’s happening, let’s take a look at some history—starting with the birth of RPO.

Somewhere shortly after the dotcom bubble, recruitment budgets tightened, and Recruitment Process Outsourcing solutions started to take shape. The economy was reeling and corporate leaders were looking for ways to pivot from costly in-house recruitment programs and agency spending to strategic, scalable, and quality focused partnerships. That budget pressure—combined with improving ATS technology and online recruiting tools—provided the perfect soil.

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