What is an MSP in recruitment?

Your Ultimate Guide to MSP Recruitment.

From basic definitions to renowned key benefits, discover everything you need to know about MSP recruiting - and find the perfect Flexible Workforce solution for your business.

Your journey to cheaper, faster, better contract recruitment starts here.

Considering an MSP? Get the full picture on how it stands to benefit your business.

Download our Ultimate Guide to MSP and find out exactly how you can reap the rewards of an outsourced recruitment solution.


First things first - what is an MSP in recruitment?

Great question! Short for Managed Service Programme or Managed Service Provider, an MSP is where you outsource some or all of your company’s contingent recruitment to an external provider.

You might have also heard the terms Contingent Workforce Management and Flexible Workforce Management being used, but these all mean the same thing.

With the right partner, an MSP solution can help your HR & Talent Acquisition teams drive lasting value to your business, making talent acquisition a real competitive advantage.

MSP agreements typically take one of four forms, depending on the volume of recruitment you’re looking to outsource:


on-demand recruiter rpo

Payroll Management

Managing the payroll for both full-time and contingent staff within one system can be a financial and legal nightmare.

If you’re looking to outsource this whilst remaining in complete control of your internal recruitment strategy, Payroll Management could be the right service for you.

project rpo

Master Vendor (MV)

This involves creating a list of 1st tier preferred suppliers to handle the majority of your recruitment requirements. These suppliers are given a lead time to fill these positions.

Any remaining vacancies are then given to a list of 2nd tier suppliers.  


modular rpo

Neutral Vendor (NV)

This is similar to a Master Vendor agreement, except there are no tiers. As a result, no one partner is given priority over another, and there are no lead times in place.
Roles are released to all agencies in your supply chain at the same time, which creates a highly competitive environment.

end to end rpo


If you have complex and ever-changing requirements, a Hybrid model could be your best bet.

With this approach, you can build an agile approach to ensure full delivery. For example, you can engage in an MV agreement within one geography, whilst adopting an NV for another.


Find your ideal talent acquisition strategy.

Book a free, no-obligation consultation with our industry-leading Workforce Solution Architects and we’ll help you hone in on the best contingent workforce solution for your business.

Book My Free Consultation Now

Is an MSP agreement the right fit for your business?  


Wondering if an MSP agreement is the right solution for your business? 

This isn’t always an easy decision to make.

Fortunately, there are 5 clear indicators that an MSP could be the right fit for your organisation: 

Top MSP indicators

  1. You’re struggling to handle demand and sustainably source talent
  2. Quality of service from your recruitment supply chain isn’t meeting expectations 
  3. Recruitment costs are too high - or worse, you don’t know what they are
  4. No access to data about the speed or quality of hires 
  5. You’re not creating a consistently positive recruitment & onboarding experience

Download Our Hiring Indicators Checklist

How will you benefit from an RPO?

An RPO can be a game-changer for your business, with many companies experiencing 3 clear benefits after moving away from ‘transactional’ recruitment in favour of a permanent workforce solution:


reduce time to hire

1. Greater compliance

Through education, shared focus and process re-engineering.

Read article - How a Managed Service Programme (MSP) for recruitment can increase compliance

lower cost per hire

2. Lower cost per hire

From volume spend discounts, improved brand image, and ongoing visibility of key cost metrics.

Read article - Reduce cost-per-hire with an MSP solution, here's how...

improved quality of hire

3. Improved visibility

Gain visibility on the location, cost and output of your contractor workforce

Read article - How to gain visibility on the location, cost and output of your contractor workforce

How do MSP agreements measure up against PSLs?

MSP solutions bring a number of business benefits that Preferred Supplier List models simply can’t offer. Here’s how our MSP solution measures up against the traditional PSL model:


  Preferred Supplier List (PSL) MSP


❌  There is no single party responsible for successful talent acquisition. Recruiters will prioritise the least path of resistance towards hitting targets


✅ Your MSP provider takes full responsibility for time, cost and quality of hire.
Supply chain management

❌ You’re left to juggle a hefty and disconnected supply chain that’s more focused on hitting their numbers than delivering quality candidates.


​​✅ Your MSP partner takes responsibility for supply chain management to deliver a seamless blend of quality, cost and speed.
Expert insight and consultancy

❌ PSL input stops at the point of submitting CVs.


✅ An MSP team will work with you to provide guidance on how to continually optimise your recruitment process.


Scalable delivery and commercials ❌ Your PSL suppliers aren’t bound by any loyalty. Scale down recruitment, and you run the risk of losing key talent to competitors.

✅  An MSP scales up and down in line with current recruitment requirements, meaning you pay for the service you receive, not more.


Regained time to focus on core business objectives ❌ Your in-house team still have to handle interviews and onboarding.

✅ Everything from sourcing to screening and onboarding is done for you.


Employer brand enhancement ❌ You’re left to manage your brand in-house and risk damage from being represented by multiple agencies.

✅ You contract one supplier that specialises in developing consistent, clear and compelling messaging to represent your employer brand and attract top talent


Value for money ❌ Agency fees are expensive - but more so is the hidden cost of your in-house teams’ time on managing recruitment.

✅ Costs are clear and transparent. MSP clients are rewarded with lower fees, which translate into significant cost savings.


Innovation and continuous improvement ❌Between suppliers who are motivated to provide a commoditised service and stretched in-house teams, innovation is hard to come by with a PSL model

✅ MSPs operate to industry best practice and share the latest learnings and optimisations from across the wider industry to bring you the latest tools, technology and thinking.


Considering an MSP? Get the full picture on how an MSP stands to benefit your business.

Download our Ultimate Guide to MSP and find out exactly how you can reap the rewards of an outsourced recruitment solution.

Yes, download my free guide now

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does an MSP mean giving up control of my recruitment?

Not at all - we encourage our clients to see MSP not as relinquishing control, but taking control. With an MSP agreement, you’ll have far greater visibility over your end-to-end talent acquisition process, which in turn translates to a firmer grasp on cost, speed and quality of hire.

Do I have to give up my existing in-house team?

Not at all! We can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like.

If you have an existing team, our MSP offering will perfectly complement your current output, helping to build on your team’s strengths and cover any missed areas of opportunity to give you an all-round, high performing talent acquisition solution.

Is an MSP more expensive than pay-as-you-go PSL recruitment?

The opposite couldn’t be more true. Contingent recruitment works on a fixed fee per placement, regardless of volume. Contrary to this, MSP agreements offer volume-based discounts, which translate to immediate cost savings.

With MSP, you get a fully customised talent acquisition solution, at a lower, transparent cost compared to the hidden fees of traditional PSL recruitment.  the traditional contingent recruitment model.

How long does an MSP take to implement?

Every client is different, but you should factor in a period of 3-6 months to be fully operational.

However, if you anticipate significant demand and need a solution sooner, we can work with you to set up our service much faster.

Interested in MSP recruitment but not sure if it’s the right fit?

Our expert Workforce Solution Architects are here to help. Book a free, no-obligation consultation call now and we’ll present the perfect solution for your business needs.

Book a call