The Marketing Rules Podcast in Writing: Shannon Russo

Recruitment Process Outsourcing, or RPO, has been a staffing model for many years now, but the definition has been used to describe many recruitment tactics.

So what does RPO mean in 2022?

Joining James Whitelock this week is Shannon Russo founder at Kinetix. Shannon draws on her years of experience to discuss what RPO should look like in 2022.

The Episode Transcript:

Welcome back, everybody to the marketing rules podcast and it is my pleasure today. Be joined by Shannon Russo Shannon. I’m going to guess that a lot of our audience probably aren’t aware of you or your business. So um, ah because ah, as as you know as our pre preamble before we kind of go and I was explaining a little bit about kind of. Audiences of the podcast and we are a majority kind of u k kind of focus. We have a bit of representation in and in the us in other world. But as ah as a us business and the us business owner and a us business person. It would be great if you Shannon you could give us a little bit about your kind of background your journey ah in the har. Um recruitment space. Staffing as it’s sometimes kind of described over it in in the us um, and of what you do today and a little bit about um your business.
Shannon Russo
Absolutely and thanks for having me on this morning I really appreciate it. Jeans um, so I actually have been in the business for longer than I care to. Ah I’d belie my age if I keep going but um for a very long time. Um, suffice to say and I did start out at a staffing company that was endeavouring to um, form their way into being a full service kind of workforce solutions company. That’s the way they tagged it. Um, so that would include staffing it also included where we are where I am today which is rpo and I’ll come back to that and also included consulting but it was really this kind of full range right? Perm direct hire contracts right? everything in between and they were trying to kind of build this. Holistic model. So I I spent prior to the 1617 years at kinetics doing that and so really got to see a lot of different views on a global scale so we were a global business. So. It’s really good to see that and then I decided.
Um, you could say I kind of took my marbles and went home a little bit but I actually liquidated all of my retirement and formed the business that we’re talking about today kinetics by putting 3 little teeny recruitment and staffing businesses together. Um, back at the ah end of 2004 to form kinetics but with a vision that is the same vision and that was to be an rpo business a recruitment process outsourcing business as the primary focus um of the business. A little bit kind of on the periphery but really focused on that and my reason for that was while we did none of work in staffing and recruiting in a lot of those sections. What I perceived was that clients and certainly hiring managers. We didn’t really impact their process. We didn’t help them get. Better. We were better in order for them to get candidates more quickly if that makes sense and we got better and better at those kinds of things but they never got better and I saw recruitment outsourcing as a way to really help our clients get better if that makes sense.
Yeah, um, an RPO I mean you obviously when you started in 2004 ah, you were probably kind of at the leading edge of that now and it’s now much more of a term that we’re used to using are obviously. Ah, there are kind of some businesses you kind of love it. Some businesses that hate it. Some business feel is a bit of a threat some did they don’t kind of want to touch it with a barge bowl. Um, you know how do you see the kind of the rpo business as it sits in kind of 2022.
Shannon Russo
Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, because Rpo as you articulated really seems to mean so many things to so many people. Um, we have seen it be everything from recruiting staffing meaning I’m staffing recruiters. And, I charge you by the hour or week or something like that and that’s called RPO to Bulk Direct hire purchasing. That’s that’s actually um, in some ways a little closer. Um, and then everything in between.
That is called RPO our definition our traditional definition of recruitment outsourcing is we take a candidate from the very beginning in some cases the very top of the funnel awareness right? all the way through what I would call all the stages of the funnel. Onboarding and where we stop in onboarding So So not just sourcing screening selecting right interviews with hiring leaders calibration offer all the way to onboarding So We do that entire process as our clients. So The candidate does not know that it’s Kinetics. It’s very transparent to them. We hand off when we hand off in onboarding to h different parts of Hr. We’re handing off to our Hr partners. So. It’s a full process whereas like on a traditional search I might find screen. Throw em over the fence right? We’re on the other side all the way through as the client So That’s our definition and how that might be different than those other ones that I mentioned.
Yeah, yeah I mean I think is is I think the the term RPO is a bit of a catchall term and has ah has become a bit muddied over the years I know RPO businesses that you know select parts of that process that we just discussed and they call that RPO. Um. Ah, there are other businesses that only really want to work with the recruitment agencies and kind of take over doing part of their business. Um, it sounds like in your business you actually work with. Do you work with a dirt with a client directly. Ah or do you work with agencies as well.
Shannon Russo
Yes, no we work with the client directly and we are representing it. We have their email address. We are in their applicant tracking system because we are helping them to get better right? So we are putting more candidates into their database. We are trying to add processes to their database because typically they didn’t have a lot of those metrics in the middle. Um, and we’re trying to make them better really across all the stages and you’re right, There’s actually a lot of people who do sourcing and maybe maybe they look at them. They give them a smell test maybe, and that’s called RPO and then they deliver them to recruiters that are at the client if that makes sense or at the agency and that is not what we do. We jokingly call that Po because that’s sort of so important stuff though important right in that it’s sourcing and and um getting into the top of the funnel, from a recruiting standpoint, but not RPO.
Um, yeah I mean yeah, you articulate very well. Ah, kind of all the kind of the the differences. Um, and um, yeah, with regards to the ah the clients you work with. You know, do they do? they typically have someone like an in-house recruiter or in a hr team kind of that that you work with directly. Do you tend to just kind of take over that entire function. So like a you know a smaller business might not have none of that and they’re just gonna go Shannon we just have no idea how to kind of recruit. This is all we this is all on you.
Shannon Russo
Yes, um, so it depends is what I would say Um, however, we’re taking a part of the process for Kinetics which is different different than some of the big global RPOs. We are not trying to take over your entire process unless that’s something that you want and that’s not often what people want so you might even call us hybrid in that typically you. If you’re small, you may say you just take it All. We just had a client that’s actually global but in the Us they’re like we have None recruiters and they’re on a contract basis. Can you just do all of these recs? Yes, we can but that’s not typically what we’re trying to do if you’re a a larger enterprise, you have a larger footprint of how much you need to hire. We might be part of your team typically the hardest skills and by the way if that were me. That’s what I would do I would hire us to do the hardest stuff and then let my recruitment Team. Do the other skill sets and everyone knows if they know anything about recruiting that you kind of have this spectrum of what you need as a business and so I would segment those out and sort of just do those but then we’re bringing some of these best practices to your team with your team. We’re on the team and so. There’s some real leverage that we find where we can, kind of, share with each other talk about sourcing tools that we are using talk about the things that we are doing in the process reporting align the reporting. So Everybody’s getting tracked on the same thing typically when that happens we have a client. Um, right now that is doing that. Because their recruiters never did reporting right and not their fault. They didn’t have kind of the focus that we do and so we’re becoming that template if that makes sense and so again, we’re helping them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Um, so let’s get on to kind of you know, Really what we were going to to discuss there and we’ve we’ve we’ve touched it a little bit there but it’s it’s um, supporting clients kind of with that recruitment process and you know and if we put it into. A form that everyone will recognise which is the the funnel. Um, ah you know everyone out there of listening will be aware of sales funnels and and marketing funnels. But if we put the the recruit and process into a funnel as Well. It Very it quite neatly fits into that right? You know you’ve kind of got awareness. Ah you sit consideration and purchase. However, you want to kind of ah. Ah, kind of change those terms but talk us through this. So Let’s let’s start kind of at the top of the funnel. You know how do you know from your you know what’s your insight in how to kind of ah to kick off the the process.
Shannon Russo
That’s a great way to frame it. We talk consistently about the funnel and so that top awareness really very important for clients and people are starting to pay a lot more attention to it but but they don’t always think about it the way that I would say people on our side of the fence tend to think about it. Because what’s important about that funnel and your employer brand per se right? So ah, part of awareness is employer brand part of it is marketing the jobs right? You can actually separate those 2 but the unless you’re Uber. Or maybe not Uber anymore. But unless you are Google or Facebook or Apple or you know a very small list of companies. Even if you have a well-known brand on your business. Be. Improving your employer brand is of critical importance and so that top part of the funnel really is important and our focus from there is really about telling stories about what it’s like to work at your business. What is what is gonna end it with with a singular focus which is selling me without being salesy. By exposing me because most of the time those stories don’t get told so the way we think about it is telling those stories really is selling because if I’m a person that’s into whatever it is that you do I’m gonna be excited by seeing what that is and how I could fit into that and so we’re big fans at that top. Part of the funnel in really telling stories with a focus on what you do and the kinds of positions so that I can get a real vision of what it could be to work there. There obviously is the we’re a great place to work and all of that kind of that’s table stakes table stakes. These stories are sort of that next level view of that very top of the funnel does that make sense.
Yeah, and know completely. Um, and again ah prior to us kind of to start recording. We were talking about the kind of other touch points right? You’ve kind of got at that at that that stage so you know employer branding. That’s very much. Ah. You know the hub of that would be on your on your kind of website your career site but’s there’s a lot more going on and on in the in the outside world and the you know these so these we always talk about these None touch points and like you was like I’m not I think it’s slightly apocryphal I don’t know how how accurate that actually is but let’s just say there’s there’s there’s more than one touch point. So. You know how do we kind of then you know move that beyond the the career site and and spread that awareness.
Shannon Russo
Yes, absolutely well. The second part of that right? if you have the top part being that awareness that second part is literally the outreach part and a variety of models to do that right? People talk a lot about social and we leverage social a lot. Um. Really kind of sprinkling your information of what you do have available out there in a variety of forms because it could be just part of that story if you want to learn more come here. So It doesn’t just have to be I pushed my postings out everywhere but it really is doing that and then the second part is. I Need to find you. That’s a significant change from decades ago when everything was just getting people to come over the Transom now specifically in the harder skillsets right? So in the Healthcare space that would be nursing in the um technology space that would be cyber security Or. Development has always been part of the the stuff those are the kinds of things that you really need to flip it around and I need to come after you and try to expose you I need to go where you live groups or those types of things and I need to expose you and or ping you directly so big change there in that sort of top. Much more of a focus instead of just coming over the trance of just pulling right? fishing if you will. We’ve got to actually go spear fishing and come after you if that makes sense.
Yeah, yeah, so yeah, um, you know from a marketing perspective. We’re kind of we’re talking about a little bit of kind of ah out market and a little bit of inbound marketing. Basically you know where we you know the the end. The the goal is really to get people to come to us. That’s that’s what we’re trying to do so.
Shannon Russo
That’s right.
So we’re with our awareness campaigns. But you know as you said trying to pinpoint those ah specific kind of hard to find candidates who probably aren’t going to ah I going to come to you directly? Okay, so that’s that’s the kind of that’s that’s building out our awareness where do we go from there.
Shannon Russo
So yeah, so um, a lot of times you could have really good stuff that there at the top and then they come to a terrible career site. It takes you know 45 minutes for me to get through your application. Ah, please do not do that. Please do not do that? um. And I really make it hard for you to get to the next step. So We we would say make it simple. However, you want to do it make it where I can just upload my resume done somebody’s gonna contact me and you’re not a black hole right? So that very top part This is where the kind of where we spend a. Significant amount of our time because that’s where the touch starts to happen right? So if if you come in. However, you come in if I’ve reached out directly to you or if I’ve done any of the um things to kind of bring you to me I need to react immediately and try to move you into my processes. Quickly as Possible. So Black holes can no longer be part of the recruitment process and I think you know what I mean by that which is I apply to you I come to one of your things and you do not respond to me at All. That’s a complete fail.
Um, and um, what about if you are in a in a space that you either are you know you? you’re very Lucky. You’re going to swamp with candidates or you know you get a lot of kind of candidates. Maybe inappropriate candidates are kind of ah applying. How do you deal with volume in that situation. None.
Shannon Russo
Fortunately, and unfortunately it’s it’s doing the work right? People are like Ai can really help you. It can. But if I don’t know what the hiring and leader truly needs beyond the job description so Ai can do a great job of getting you. To the basics of what I’ll call minimum qualifications right? where they they have some of the things but you have to connect the dots with that specific function in that specific company. And trying to make it and and that’s where the magic happens when people say oh recruitment’s going away. We’re just going to do it all with machines. Not really because you have people on the other end and you really got to make that connection. So. The screening is more than just the minimum qualls those are important right? But you’re gonna be screening and you’re also selling them on why they might be a good fit for this opportunity so that from us the sales to a candidate to help them really understand why they might be fit assuming that they are and by the way as important if they are not a fit.
I should say, hey James it’s been great chatting with you, probably not a good fit so we’re not going to be moving forward I really appreciate it. Wish you the best if there’s any way that I can help you close it out. That’s a big mint that’s another miss right? The black holes one. That’s another piece.
Um, yeah, yeah I will. Yeah I tend to think that’s actually just as important as the people who kind of get through to next stage is is kind of creating that ah atmosphere of kind of authenticity and and trust by the way you deal with the people that don’t make it to the next stage as ah as well as the people that make it to the who do make it to the next stage I Think that’s. That’s just as important. Um, and it’s Interesting. You kind of um, ah touched on on technology there. But you know we you know the recruitment process Now you know there’s probably a bit of tech that will manage most of it. Um, and so where do where do your kind of thoughts sit on on The. Um, the kind of changing role of the recruiter in this recruitment in this new kind of recruitment process. Is it much more as a lot of kind of leading thinkers think it’s much more around down to those kind of soft skills and being that kind of and and freeing up them this person to do more time by having. You know, automating either side of what they can do or you know should they be much more involved with the entire process.
Shannon Russo
Yes, well what I would say is this I could answer that both ways truly by the way because I have some recruiters that really understand and they can kind of dive into the sourcing part and really make whatever AI that we are using in there. Such a variety today that we’re diving into and we continue to dive into kind of testing it out right and figuring out excuse me what some of the best ways are but some of my recruiters are really good at that and some of them are not and so.
As you think about that, there is there can be a place but it’s not an all or nothing and you shouldn’t have all your people um do that I’ll give you an example when we get clients. Um for smaller. Well actually for all of them. But for the smaller ones. It’s It’s really Apparent. We will rewrite their job descriptions. And let me be clear I do not have recruiters doing that you know why because they are terrible at it. Some of them could be passable but not and so what I would say is right? We’re an outsourcing business by the way Outsource What you can outsource what you are not better at and so if you think about it from a technology standpoint and a recruiting process. It really would be do the things where you can have the most impact on the process. Not the easiest if that makes sense and if there are repetitive things that you can do um you talked about where you had None and None of candidates coming over the Transom I think there’s a lot of people saying where can I have those jobs? Where are those? But here’s what I would tell you, you mentioned it if I’m not doing a good job of dispositioning. That’s a word that we use a lot but of dispositioning those candidates um or really kind of sending them on their way. Hey I’m moving you through the process or as importantly, hey this maybe isn’t the right fit. We’ve. Gone in a different direction. We’ve already felt the position. Whatever the whatever The reason is doesn’t matter that I’m communicating with you. Um, excuse me.
Ah, just for everybody listening that is that that’s Shanon I believe probably getting a little squeaky toy off of ah of of a pet of some kind I would I sound it it not like ah it’s right as you know as ah as a dog owner myself like I’ve been interrupted on numerous occasions by someone kind of you know, either kind of wanting attention or playing with toys next. So not a problem. So um, we were just it’s not a problem. We were just kind of finishing up on turn around the kind of the the soft skills that recruited needs and and the kind of the technical skills they may may not have and how they kind of deploy those and how they use those when within the recruitment kind of process.
Shannon Russo
Yes, so some of the recruiters are really better at um, doing some of those things and and those we would put on some teams to kind of leverage across all of our skill sets. But um. Some of them are not as good and they’re really just better at certain parts of the process talking to candidates screening them that kind of stuff and so we don’t blame you if that’s not who you are right? We just align what we’re doing so that you’re being utilized the best all of our recruiters are doing. Screening the last part of the sourcing. So I’ve got my candidates in the pool if you will and I’m going through those candidates and figuring it out and I’m dispositioning them both ways and then the ones that I think are the best I’m screening and I am if I still think they’re the best. I am submitting them so we do what we call a submittal process where we would write up a little bit on our notes what we like about the candidate that kind of stuff and then we’d pass them on to a hiring leader and then we’re going to work with that hiring leader to decide. Are they going to interview all of those people are they gonna only interview some of them. Um, get that scheduled. And then calibrate afterwards to figure out which who gets moved forward if it’s a multi-process Although today we would recommend less steps in your process. We’ll talk about speed I’m sure at some point and and moving them through the process.
Yeah, yeah, um, it give us a little bit of kind of ah insight into how that kind of how the interview process is now working in the Us S because obviously with our yeah UK audiences. We’re very much now working little bit of face-to-face but also a lot online. You know those kind of I know. And um, which has ah had numerous kind of effects a slight kind of democratization of where people can live and and work and and and and that how is that? What’s that like in the Us now I mean is that is it is kind of a similar kind of situation.
Shannon Russo
I would say that it is a similar kind of situation and that is you know we had clients we were trying for years to do video interviews and all of a sudden now. Everyone is comfortable doing video interviews. Um, we would tell you we think that has helped in some cases because we can get that initial face-to face done more quickly in other cases where the end result is going to be face- to face Sometimes we feel like people are putting extra steps in so that’s the only other caveat that I will tell you is now because this what you and I are doing is easier people just say well. That’s always the way. Well if the ultimate job is sitting with the team and being face-to-face you still need to do that and so in those cases we would actually coach because speed has become the other moniker at least in the United States you’ve got to. Make your process as effective as possible and we mean so faster while still getting what you need out of that process so we would say that don’t have extra video interview steps. Even though it’s a great way to do a None interview if that’s how you do it. If you don’t need them because what we would tell you is we do interviews video interviews but we’ll hire you this way if that’s the case you know Bob’s your uncle you are set if you will do that as you are face to face and you don’t have it’s it’s much more. Um, it’s much simpler I well simple is not the right word but it’s much more effective. You can schedule these much more quickly when people have the time now so we would say that that is the case The only thing is don’t we have seen people say well I’ll do a veneroo interview and then I’ll do a face-to-face and then I’ll do a panel interview or like oh no.
Yeah, um, and does that speed come through is that basically ah driven by the by the lack of candidates and a candidate shortage and wanted to get to candidate candidates faster than.
Shannon Russo
Need less not more so faster process.
Potentially so competitor or someone else or being ah instead of get them ah being offered your job as opposed to you know quicker than they can be offered someone else’s job.
Shannon Russo
I think it’s both really It actually is that you know generically the expectation is that dragging a process on means you are not interested and then I as a candidate I’m going to be interested. Somewhere else whether it’s a tight candidate market or not but it is doubled down now. But the second part I think that really is a change is that all of us you and I included have much more of an expectation of things happening faster. We we expect we get annoyed if our. Phone does not kind of run as fast as we want it to so if you translate that into the recruitment process. The expectation. The base expectation is that things should happen more quickly that the process should be more efficient and so I think it’s. That as well as the fact that you are absolutely right? If you don’t move quickly right? We early in my recruitment days I used to hear time kills all deals. It still does now maybe even more than ever and because I have so much access and people have so much access to me that could change during the process right? So whereas you used to think you could once I had you if you and I were talking that that was it but that’s not the case because you can go on Facebook tonight and be payed for an opportunity or any of the places that you might visit and so speed also matters. Because I need to stay connected with you and get you to the finish line so it really is a little bit of both and that baseline expectation in that it shouldn’t take as long right? Things so pixel.
So yeah, yeah, and and let’s kind of just kind of move towards the bottom of the kind of recruitment process funnel and ah tell me a little bit more about um, ah, kind of onboarding right? because let’s let’s assume we’ve we’ve we’ve gone through Awareness we’ve gone through kind of getting people to kind of ah apply. And had that they’ve had the job offer now. Um, you know you’ve mentioned very kind of very on in in the way that you kind of offer Rpo is that you know onboarding and that kind of continued touch points with with these ah with these placements is something that you you can do as Well. So. Talk me around that. Yeah.
Shannon Russo
Yes, so we stop in the onboarding process really wherever our clients want us to but but I would tell you that yeah and especially for folks that are in the recruitment business or that kind of stuff where they’re really at the very beginning part or the first half. Let’s say. That helping your clients get more effective at the last half so in the United States it’s things like doing background checks drug tests right? that that is also the case overseas that can’t take forever. You have to continue to communicate to a candidate and so that’s where we play a lot of role right, and offered you the job if it takes three weeks for the offer letter versus the the um us having a verbal It’s almost a nonstarter we had seen clients losing a huge percentage of their candidates right here you you did all this work all this work to get them all the way. To the finish line they said yes and then you dropped them? Yeah and you just put them in this grinder for the next some period of time and so even before that right this getting to the finish line. Right? You you’ve accepted the offer verbally but I haven’t given you your offer letter sign in the us. That’s a pretty important piece right? and you I haven’t gotten your background check done and our offer is contingent on back ground right? So if you’re that person I’m still not sure I’m at the finish line right? because. If it’s contingent on a background check I want to make sure everything’s gonna go good and so the effectiveness needs to follow through to those early stages and then we would say today more than ever now you need to start connecting me with my team connecting me with that right? pull me in continue to pull me in.
Um, yeah, yeah, um, ah Shannon. It’s been an absolute kind of ah pleasure talking to you today and it’s been fascinating here to kind of your insights into kind of how to kind of build an effective kind of recruitment process and and.
Shannon Russo
To get me all the way to the finish line to when I’m going to start.
Moving people down that kind of ah funnel. Um, but for now. Ah thank you very much.
Shannon Russo
Thank you so much for having me on I appreciate it.


Listen to Shannon’s episode here.

Connect with James here.

Connect with Shannon here. 

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