How Can RPO Improve Branding?

 Companies increasingly view candidates as customers and are turning to providers to ensure a high-touch treatment even for those who don’t make the cut.
By Gary Bragar
RPO specialists are providing more value-added services to their clients, and employment branding is one of the most rapidly emerging services.  Consider these statistics:

  • In 2007, 53 percent of the RPO providers helped clients with their brand development.
  • In 2009, 88 percent are helping clients with branding.

Why is this so important?  Quite simply, if you can improve company image, you can attract the best talent, which will improve the quality of hire and positively affect business results. Companies with a strong employer brand will hold an advantage as job seekers look for stability in a turbulent market. Hiring the right talent will result in higher retention of employees, thus lowering recruiting costs. And talent acquisition demand continues to be the top HR issue faced by organizations today and, next to cost, is the top driver why clients are outsourcing their recruitment function.
Consistent with the quality process, before you can improve a client’s brand, you need to understand what people think about it. The process used by providers to research client brand includes:

  • Conducting surveys and focus groups of recent college graduates, candidates, and recent hires on why they are looking at certain companies to work for. What do they think about this particular client company? Also examine the recruitment and on-boarding processes, making sure to include hiring managers and former employees in the survey;
  • Surveying of current and former employees to understand how to convey its image, why top performers stay, and what is important to keep them;
  • Ascertaining what client customers think about the brand and the competition;
  • Interviewing competitors about what they think of the client company, how their web site looks, and where they spend money improving their branding;
  • Conducting exit interviews;
  • Auditing job posting effectiveness; and
  • Auditing web site effectiveness, including how many candidates link to the career web site, how many pages are viewed, and when the candidate drops out.

Recommendations are then made to the client. Here are ways in which providers are helping with branding.

  • Marketing of recruitment campaigns;
  • Communicating the brand in advertising. That message needs to be communicated throughout the process;
  • Job posting design and enhancement;
  • Web site design and improvement of the client employment/career section;
  • Responding to candidates. Many companies don’t respond to candidates, yet everyone is a potential customer. Support includes developing branded scripts for recruiters. Outplacement service is provided by 32 percent of RPO providers, which can convey a positive image.

Vendors have also improved client web sites and the candidate application process, bringing consistency to the market, resulting in a better pipeline of candidates that really know what the company is like to work for.
One further thought before we look at an example.  As more Generation Y graduates enter the workforce, branding is even more important as they expect a tailored, candidate-focused application process and a strong emphasis on interaction. If they have a bad experience during the application process, not only will it tar the employer brand in their eyes, but thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook, their friends and family will soon know as well.
Let’s look at an example of how an RPO provider has improved employment brand for its client and results achieved. When Molson Coors Brewing Company took over Bass Brewers in the U.K., it acquired a well known U.K. beer, but Molson Coors was not a well known brand in the U.K. It decided to outsource its entire recruitment process, in the U.K. only, to Alexander Mann Solutions, and  manage recruitment while driving the new Molson Coors Employment Brand internally. The recruitment team would be placed onsite at its U.K. headquarters (See Figure 1).


Click here to view Figure 1.
This article includes analysis from the “Recruitment Process Outsourcing Market Analysis” May 2009 by NelsonHall.
Gary Bragar is the lead HR outsourcing analyst for NelsonHall’s HR outsourcing program. He can be reached at

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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