Why employer branding should be part of your RPO.

Most RPO companies refuse to talk about employer branding.


For many Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers, employer branding is a taboo subject. They would prefer to build their own relationships with candidates. In contrast to encouraging an organisation to reach out to candidates and build awareness directly through their own employer brand. The danger, of course, is that running branded campaigns will prove to be a cost-effective method of attracting candidates – and slowly reduce a client’s need for a full RPO solution.

The truth is, it’s time to start the conversation.

Recruitment is changing

The world of recruitment is changing and, over the last decade, RPO has been changing with it. Like it or not, RPO providers have seen a shift in how employers engage with their services.

For many clients, the days of traditional outsourcing are over. Many prefer to work with more agile providers who can offer a different type of solution that meets their needs. These can include needing to scale fast, downsizing unexpectedly, delivering just one part of the recruitment process or working in tandem with an existing in-house recruitment team to ramp up support in specialist areas.

As a result of increasingly diverse needs in a fast-changing market, RPO providers have to change to be more responsive. They have to think more creatively, adapt their services and evolve quickly into solutions providers rather than traditional outsourcers.

The emergence of the talent solution provider

Not all RPO providers have been able nor willing to adapt. This is because many still hold the belief that the traditional outsourcing model is the best way to preserve revenue. It’s a short-term view that will see slow-to-evolve providers struggle to survive as times and client expectations change.

RPO providers who are embracing new ways of partnering with clients are thriving. These are organisations that are looking beyond the traditional outsourced process model to help their clients change how they hire. This could be looking at opportunities to deploy new technology platforms. It could be implementing new costing structures to create more flexibility. Or it could be broadening services into areas such as talent intelligence, employer branding and talent attraction.

Why has this new type of RPO evolved? It is the desire to deliver great hires and be part of an organisation’s resourcing journey, rather than simply an arms-length recruiter. By building a wider range of services, talent solutions providers can work more efficiently with their clients. They are better equipped to understand their long-term resourcing plan and offer strategies as the market or client needs change. In this situation, this new RPO complements and augments the client’s internal recruitment teams, rather than replacing them.

How does employer branding fit in?

Employer branding, implemented as part of an RPO solution, can help employers reach passive candidates who are not actively job hunting. As well as providing the basis for reaching out to talent directly, your employer brand should also form the basis for your candidate experience. A recognisable employer brand, underpinned by consistent messaging, can take candidates on a journey. It can help take candidates on the journey from knowing nothing about your organisation through to onboarding, where they are ready to be a part of it.

Here are the 4 key reasons you should be talking to your RPO about employer branding:

#1 It will improve talent attraction & engagement

Building your employer brand runs deeper than just how it looks. A true employer brand will be substantiated by extensive internal and external research, so that you can understand:

  • What perception candidates have of your organisation.
  • What will motivate them to move jobs.
  • Why they would want to join you.
  • Why they would choose to stay and be a part of your future success.

With solid research as the foundation of your employer brand, you can clearly establish your market positioning and consistently communicate your go-to-market messaging. In short, you (and by extension, your recruiters and hiring managers) will know what to say to attract the right people.

#2 It will reduce your recruitment costs

If your organisation needs to increase its recruitment capabilities, then an RPO can be a cost-effective approach. At the same time, long-term RPO partnerships can easily become transactional and lose sight of new opportunities to continuously improve.

An effective employer brand strategy, delivered in alignment with your RPO goals and objectives, will help to drive continuous cost reduction. The key is to be able to fill hard-to-recruit openings in the short term; while building your employer brand and improving candidate attraction and retention in the longer term. If your RPO provider has the technology expertise to build talent communities and help you to keep the best candidates engaged, you’ll be ahead of the competition.

#3 It will enhance the candidate experience

An RPO partnership is often elevated by the quality of the candidate experience delivered. Too often, disengaged hiring managers, slow response times or a poor onboarding process result in the best candidates being lost to competitors who provide a better experience. Or to put it a different way, that poor candidate experience is damaging your employer brand.

Candidate experience and your employer brand are inextricably linked – and the primary reason why RPO and employer need to be a part of the same conversation. Now, more than ever, RPO organisations need to be able to understand how to build a brand that impacts positively on every stage of the candidate journey. Otherwise, they are in danger of losing the best candidates, damaging the brand still further and driving up cost-per-hire even more.

#4 It will improve retention

Candidates who join an organisation are more likely to stay and develop if that organisation keeps its promises. This is where building an employer brand that is authentic and aligned with your current employee experience is so important. Because what you tell candidates on the outside has to be in lockstep with what those same candidates will experience on the inside, once they step into their new role. Having a clear and authentic employer brand can streamline the recruitment process by allowing candidates to self select out of the process if your organisation isn’t the right fit for their individual goals. If someone wants 100% remote and that is not your philosophy, say it early and find those individuals who agree with your approach.

Once again, more transactional RPO providers may see increasing recruitment as the answer to problems with retention. But it is a short-term measure that does not lead to a long-term partnership.


Long-term transactional RPO contracts that are driven purely by numbers are no longer what most employers are looking for. Building a partnership approach that allows clients to leverage different services is key to a new kind of RPO.

Agile RPO providers that can offer services such as employer branding, and build them into a talent solution, are better positioned to deliver on what employers need in 2024. Those talent solutions, bringing into play a more diverse range of services are also, in turn, better positioned to deliver sustainable revenue for those RPO providers who are equipped to make the strategic change.