RPO vs. Staffing

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RPO vs. Staffing: Understanding the Key Differences and Business Advantages

Mariia Charushyna

Mariia Charushyna

Surely, we all want our business to be driven by the right talents.

As a result, various recruitment strategies have emerged to address this need, with Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and staffing being two popular approaches. 

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct recruitment models with their own unique characteristics and advantages. 

In this article, we will explore the key differences between RPO vs. staffing, define their meanings, and delve into the business benefits they offer.

What does RPO stand for?

RPO stands for Recruitment Process Outsourcing.

It is a strategic business partnership where an organization outsources some or all of its recruitment processes to an external service provider.

RPO providers specialize in managing the end-to-end recruitment cycle, leveraging their expertise, technology, and resources to attract, evaluate, and hire the most qualified candidates for their clients.

By engaging in RPO, companies can offload the time-consuming and resource-intensive aspects of recruitment to an experienced partner.

This allows organizations to focus on their core competencies while benefiting from the specialized knowledge and capabilities of the RPO provider.

RPO providers work closely with their clients to understand their unique talent needs, culture, and business objectives.

They develop tailored recruitment strategies to attract top-tier candidates who are the right fit for the organization.

RPO encompasses various recruitment activities, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, candidate assessment, background checks, and even onboarding. 

Moreover, RPO goes beyond the transactional aspects of recruitment. It emphasizes building long-term relationships, developing talent pipelines, and enhancing employer branding efforts to attract and retain high-quality candidates. 

RPO providers often employ advanced technologies and data-driven methodologies, which brings excellence to recruitment process. 

Want to learn how to become a successful RPO Recruiter? You really want to check out this article then. 

What is an example of staffing?

An example of staffing can be observed in situations where businesses require immediate workforce augmentation for short-term or temporary needs.

Staffing agencies play a crucial role in connecting companies with qualified candidates who can fulfill these specific requirements.

Here are a few examples of how staffing can be utilized:

Seasonal Staffing

Many industries experience seasonal fluctuations in demand, such as retail during the holiday season or hospitality during peak tourist periods.

In such cases, businesses may partner with staffing agencies to quickly hire temporary staff to handle increased workload and ensure smooth operations during busy periods.

Project-Based Staffing

Companies often undertake projects that require additional manpower for a limited duration.

These projects can range from IT system implementations, marketing campaigns, event management, or construction projects.

Staffing agencies can provide skilled individuals or teams to support these projects until their completion, ensuring specialized expertise is available without the need for long-term employment commitments.

Staff Absence Coverage

When regular staff members are on leave due to illness, maternity/paternity leave, or vacation, staffing agencies can assist businesses in finding temporary replacements. This ensures that daily operations continue without disruptions, minimizing the impact on productivity and workflow.

Temporary Staffing for Specialized Roles

Certain roles may require specialized skills or qualifications that are needed for a limited period.

For instance, a company may require the expertise of a graphic designer for a specific project or a certified accountant during tax season.

Staffing agencies can provide businesses with access to individuals who possess the necessary expertise and can seamlessly integrate into the organization for the required duration.

By partnering with staffing agencies, companies can efficiently address their short-term staffing needs without undergoing lengthy and resource-intensive recruitment processes.

Staffing solutions offer flexibility, allowing businesses to quickly adapt their workforce size to changing demands while maintaining productivity and operational efficiency.

Is RPO the same as staffing?

RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) and staffing, while they may share some similarities, are distinct recruitment models that cater to different organizational needs.

In short, RPO refers to the complete outsourcing of an organization’s recruitment process to a specialized provider, whereas staffing primarily focuses on short-term or temporary placements to fulfill immediate workforce needs.

Staffing, often facilitated through staffing agencies or temporary employment agencies, focuses on providing businesses with immediate access to qualified candidates for short-term or temporary roles.

These positions can be project-based, seasonal, or fill in for staff absences.

Staffing agencies typically have a pool of pre-screened candidates readily available to meet these specific needs.

Companies can quickly source and hire candidates through the staffing agency, saving time and effort on the recruitment process.

Staffing is an ideal solution for organizations requiring immediate workforce augmentation without the long-term commitment of permanent hires.

On the other hand, RPO is a more comprehensive and strategic approach to recruitment.

RPO involves outsourcing some or all of the recruitment processes to a specialized provider.

Instead of solely focusing on short-term staffing requirements, RPO providers partner with businesses to manage the entire recruitment lifecycle, from sourcing and screening to onboarding and even employer branding.

RPO is typically employed when organizations seek to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their talent acquisition strategies.

While staffing agencies primarily focus on quick placements for immediate needs, RPO providers take a holistic approach to talent acquisition.

RPO engagements are often longer-term and involve building strategic partnerships to optimize recruitment processes, enhance employer brand reputation, and align talent acquisition with overall business goals.

RPO providers bring expertise, technology, and resources to drive long-term talent acquisition success, often acting as an extension of the organization’s HR department.

So, what is the difference between staffing and RPO?

The fundamental difference lies in the breadth of services provided.

Staffing agencies typically offer immediate access to pre-screened candidates for temporary or contract roles, making it an efficient solution for quick staffing requirements.

On the other hand, RPO providers handle the entire recruitment lifecycle, from sourcing and screening to onboarding and even employer branding.

RPO is more comprehensive and strategic, aiming to build long-term talent pipelines and enhance the overall recruitment function.

Staffing and RPO represent two different approaches to recruitment, each with its own focus and objectives.

Understanding the key differences between these models is essential for businesses to make informed decisions regarding their talent acquisition strategies.

Staffing is primarily geared towards providing companies with immediate access to qualified candidates for short-term or temporary positions.

Staffing agencies maintain a pool of pre-screened candidates who are readily available to fill temporary roles as needed.

These positions can range from seasonal hires, project-based assignments, to covering staff absences or spikes in workload.

Staffing agencies streamline the hiring process by quickly matching the skills and qualifications of candidates with the specific requirements of the role.

This allows businesses to swiftly augment their workforce without the need for lengthy recruitment procedures.

On the other hand, RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) takes a more strategic and comprehensive approach to talent acquisition.

RPO providers partner with organizations to manage and optimize various aspects of the recruitment process.

This can include sourcing candidates, screening and assessing applicants, managing interviews, conducting background checks, and even assisting with onboarding.

RPO providers work closely with businesses to understand their unique needs, culture, and long-term talent goals.

By doing so, they can align recruitment strategies with the company’s overall objectives and employer brand.

Unlike staffing, which typically focuses on immediate and short-term placements, RPO engagements often involve long-term partnerships.

RPO providers become an extension of the organization’s HR department, working collaboratively to improve recruitment efficiency, reduce time-to-hire, and enhance the quality of hires.

RPO is characterized by its end-to-end approach, covering the entire recruitment lifecycle.

It emphasizes building strong talent pipelines, employer branding initiatives, and leveraging advanced technology and tools to attract, engage, and retain top-tier candidates.

What are the advantages of RPO for your business?

1. Enhanced Efficiency and Expertise

RPO providers possess specialized knowledge and advanced tools, enabling them to streamline the recruitment process and identify high-quality candidates more efficiently.

Their expertise in sourcing strategies, candidate assessment, and market insights can significantly improve the overall recruitment outcomes.

2. Scalability and Flexibility

RPO allows businesses to adapt their talent acquisition efforts to fluctuating demands.

Whether scaling up during expansion or downsizing during economic downturns, RPO providers can quickly adjust the recruitment volume, ensuring optimal resource allocation and cost-effectiveness.

3. Access to a Wider Talent Pool

RPO providers often have access to extensive networks, databases, and sourcing channels, enabling them to tap into a larger pool of qualified candidates.

This broader reach increases the chances of finding the right talent with the desired skills and experience.

4. Employer Branding and Candidate Experience

RPO providers work closely with organizations to enhance their employer brand, effectively positioning them as desirable employers in the market.

This focus on candidate experience and branding helps attract top-tier talent, improving recruitment success rates and long-term employee satisfaction.

What are the advantages of staffing for your business?

1. Quick Staffing Solutions

Staffing agencies excel at providing immediate staffing solutions for short-term or project-based needs.

They can swiftly identify suitable candidates, ensuring that businesses can respond promptly to sudden staffing requirements without sacrificing productivity.

2. Cost Savings

Staffing agencies can help businesses avoid the costs associated with traditional recruitment processes, such as advertising, candidate screening, and background checks.

By outsourcing these activities, companies can reduce hiring costs and allocate resources more efficiently.

3. Trial Periods and Flexibility

Staffing arrangements often come with trial periods, allowing businesses to evaluate candidates’ fit before committing to permanent employment.

This flexibility mitigates the risk of mismatched hires and enables companies to make more informed decisions.


In summary, while RPO and staffing share the common goal of acquiring talent, their approaches and benefits differ significantly.

 RPO offers a strategic and comprehensive recruitment solution, focusing on long-term talent acquisition, scalability, and employer branding. 

Staffing, on the other hand, is a quick and flexible option for immediate workforce needs. Understanding the distinctions between these two models empowers businesses to make informed decisions, align their recruitment strategies with organizational goals, and ultimately build a strong and capable workforce.

You might want to check out our article on difference between Agency or In-house Recruitment here.

As an RPO, Tribe provides you with fully embedded recruiters and sources who manage your end-to-end recruitment process. Curious to learn more? Book a call with us.

Mariia Charushyna

Mariia Charushyna

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