Protecting Your Employment Brand When Outsourcing Your Recruiting

by Carrie Kolar

Outsourcing your recruitment process to an RPO provider has many advantages, but what does it mean to your employment brand? Should candidates know who the employer is during the sourcing and recruiting process? 

According to the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, in a pure recruitment process outsourcing relationship, the RPO provider must represent the brand of the employer. Why is this important and how does this work? Patty Van Leer Silbert of Newton Talent shares her perspective and insight into the critical role that RPO providers play in representing and promoting their client’s employment brand.

Understanding the Brand

The employer brand is an essential aspect of any talent acquisition strategy. Candidates should be clear on who they’re working for when they apply for a job, otherwise you’re risking a bad cultural fit. According to Silbert, “it’s critical for any RPO provider to understand and maintain a client’s employer brand when both sourcing and recruiting talent.” To understand a company’s brand in a way that will allow their RPO partner to represent it effectively, Silbert recommends spending time “with either the marketing or the company’s employer branding team to understand the company’s brand attributes and value propositions.”

“...it’s critical for any RPO provider to understand and maintain a client’s employer brand when both sourcing and recruiting talent.”

Representing the Client

Ideally, when the RPO provider represents a client, candidates should have no reason to suspect that the recruiter is a third party. “The relationship candidates build in the hiring process should be with the company’s brand and recruiting team,” says Silbert. She points out that communications between recruiters and candidates generate more confidence when the recruiter uses all of the trappings of the client brands, such as a client email address.

“The relationship candidates build in the hiring process should be with the company’s brand and recruiting team.”

Communicating with Candidates

One area where the RPO team can provide significant value to the client’s employment brand is in candidate communications. Often, in-house personnel are too overwhelmed with other duties to communicate with and guide candidates through each stage of the recruiting process. Partnering with an RPO provider allows communication with candidates to be more consistent. RPO also helps make communications more personal rather than transactional, building a relationship with the candidates that enhances the client’s employment brand.

For best results with client communications, Silbert recommends taking a “three R” approach to communication. This involves “having every communication help build the relationship, constantly reflecting the value of the position for the candidate, and rejecting any action or communication that lessens the brand experience.”

“...having every communication help build the relationship, constantly reflecting the value of the position for the candidate, and rejecting any action or communication that lessens the brand experience.”

The employment brand is one of the most valuable assets an organization has in connecting with and recruiting top candidates. Trusting employment brands to a third party for an RPO engagement can feel risky, but good RPO vendors know the importance of the client’s brand and will take pains to represent it in a way that reflects well on the client organization.

To make the most of the engagement, companies should be an active participant in the recruitment process outsourcing implementation. According to Silbert, “companies must carefully select, qualify, contract with, and manage their outsourcing partners to make sure quality does not deteriorate.” She further points out that effective employment brand representation can require “adequate transition periods as well as effective cross-training between companies.” However, when the relationship is managed correctly, the RPO provider will ensure that even if a candidate doesn’t get a job with an organization, “they still walk away from the engagement with a good impression of [your] organization’s brand and the candidate experience.”

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