Home > News & Insights > What is the difference between RPO and managed services?

What is the difference between RPO and managed services?

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and Managed Services are two distinct approaches to outsourcing various aspects of a company’s recruitment process, but they differ in their scope and focus.

Let’s begin with RPO and then we’ll jump into discussing Managed Services.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruitment Process Outsourcing, commonly known as RPO, is a strategic partnership between a company and an outsourced recruitment provider, where the provider takes responsibility for some or all aspects of the company’s recruitment process. There are several different types of RPO types depending on the clients needs but the primary focus of RPO is on talent acquisition and management. Here’s how RPO differs from Managed Services:

Talent acquisition focus

RPO is primarily concerned with attracting, sourcing, screening, and hiring the right candidates to fill open positions within the organisation. RPO providers specialize in identifying top talent, improving the recruitment process, and enhancing the candidate experience.

Long-term relationship

RPO engagements often involve long-term partnerships. RPO providers work closely with the client company to understand their culture, values, and specific hiring needs. This collaboration typically extends beyond individual hiring projects and aims to establish a continuous and effective talent pipeline.

Recruitment expertise

RPO providers have specialised knowledge and tools for finding and evaluating candidates. They use advanced recruitment technology, data analytics, and industry insights to optimise the hiring process.

Good for growth

RPO services are adaptable to the client’s fluctuating hiring needs. Whether it’s scaling up during periods of high demand or scaling down during quieter times, the RPO team can adjust their resources accordingly.

Cost efficient

RPO can help companies reduce recruitment costs by streamlining processes and improving the quality of hires. It’s a strategic solution for organisations looking to enhance their hiring effectiveness while managing costs.

Managed Services

Managed Services, on the other hand, is a broader outsourcing model that encompasses a wide range of functions, beyond recruitment. Here are the key distinctions:

Diverse services

Managed Services can encompass various non-core functions, facilities management, customer support, and more. It’s not limited to HR or recruitment-related activities.

Multi-function focus

While RPO specialises in talent acquisition and management, Managed Services may include a mix of functions. For instance, a mining-industry Managed Services provider could be responsible for getting a team on board for commissioning a new plant, to providing teams for shut-downs or expansion projects.

Varied duration

The contracts can vary in duration and may not always involve a long-term partnership. Some projects or services within Managed Services may be short-term or project specific.

Diverse expertise

Managed Services providers have expertise in their respective fields. For example, an IT Managed Services provider would have expertise in IT systems and infrastructure management.

Cost and efficiency

The goal is to improve efficiency and reduce costs in the areas outsourced. You can achieve this through economies of scale and specialised expertise.


In a nutshell, RPO is a specialised outsourcing model tailored for talent acquisition and management, often involving long-term partnerships and recruitment expertise.

Managed Services, on the other hand, encompasses a broader range of functions beyond HR and can be applied to various areas of an organisation, each with its own set of expertise and goals.

The choice between the two depends on your company’s specific needs and priorities.


Think you have what it takes to be a recruiter? Read our guide to becoming a successful RPO recruiter here.

Got a recruitment challenge, looking to fill a vacancy or even just want to have a chat?

Get in Touch