A Guide to Employer Branding for Recruitment Agencies

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Imagine this scenario. You work for an organization that makes money by recruiting for businesses, yet strangely enough, you find it difficult to attract talent to your own business. Got that problem? Let’s learn how to combat this.

We speak to Christina Knock, the Brand & Digital Marketing Manager for Cox Purtell, a boutique recruitment agency in Sydney to learn how she activated cost-effective employee branding to attract talent on a global scale.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

What’s Cox Purtell?

We’re a generalist agency. Our biggest area is business support, so PAs, EAs and receptionists, and some other specialist divisions like insurance, finance, and marketing.

What’s your culture like?

The culture is pretty work hard, play hard. Everybody has a great sense of humour and we have lots of fun in the office, but when there’s work to be done everyone really gets their head down. We get the best of both worlds really – we’re able to reap the benefits of a fun atmosphere as well as the business success that follows hard work.

What internal talent challenges are you faced with?

You’d think it would be easy for recruiters to find recruiters right!? It’s actually pretty difficult. So much so that there are specialist agencies known in the industry as Rec2Recs who find recruiters for companies and agencies because it can be a hard role to fill. There is a huge talent shortage in Australia. Agency recruitment is a sales based role, often these roles have a notoriously high turnover rate which can have a negative impact on your culture and employer brand.

So, we found ourselves at a point where we were spending huge amounts of money on Rec2Recs, doubled with pretty high churn, therefore internal hiring was becoming a huge cost to the business. So it was my job to build and communicate our employer brand to save money by sourcing recruiters directly, and also allow us to hire better, and by hiring better I mean attracting people more closely aligned with our culture, which would also reduce turnover.

What’s your best source of hire?

We’ve run two major employer branding campaigns – Perks at Work and Make the Move.

  • In both of these campaigns, Facebook has been our best source of hire. LinkedIn also shouldn’t be overlooked for us in particular because every single recruiter is on there but Facebook is definitely our number one.
  • I think our success on Facebook, and Instagram is partly due to the nature and style of our campaigns. Perks at Work is silly and tongue in cheek – it’s almost a parody of an employer branding campaign. Conversely, our Make the Move campaign is aimed at attracting recruiters from overseas, showcasing the lifestyle and feeling of working in Sydney for Cox Purtell.
  • The content we put on Facebook is in line with what people would expect to see in their feed from their friends. This is intentional – our employer branding posts mimics user-generated content so that people can imagine themselves working for us because it looks like something their friends would post. I’ve found were able to get more referrals from people when we leverage their networks in this way, we’ve actually hired four people from the US just last year from this, so we’re getting extra reach and we’re not paying anything for that.

A Friday visitor of the fluffy variety ? #yoquierotacobell #LifeAtCP #PerksAtWork

A post shared by Cox Purtell (@coxpurtell) on


How would you define your people promise?

We’re a friendly, family-owned recruitment business. There’s about 20 of us and we’ve got a really fun and flexible culture.

We broke this down in our Perks at Work campaign where we came up with 10 reasons you’d want to work for Cox Purtell, each represented by an image of one of our staff members:

  1. A personalized training program
  2. Access to LinkedIn Recruiter
  3. Six weeks annual leave instead four weeks
  4. A supportive team culture
  5. A generous commission structure
  6. Flexible working conditions
  7. A bright open-plan office with harbor views
  8. A consultant referral scheme ($5,000 incentive)
  9. Paid day off on your birthday
  10. Sponsorship opportunities for eligible staff.

How do you communicate and activate this?

Something we’ve learned is that employee branding is incredibly powerful. Leveraging your own employees and their networks have been the key to our success in this space. Authenticity is key, which I communicated in an article I wrote for the Undercover Recruiter: 5 Ways to Get an Award-Winning Employer Brand on a Budget. Here are few quick ways:

  • Make sure you address the business’s needs.
  • Scope out competitors. More-so talent competitors, to see if there are any gaps and opportunities for Cox Purtell.
  • Keep it real, and keep it alive. Making sure your reminding people of your campaigns.

Can you just describe the vibe in these videos?

So I’ve had a look at other companies, and a lot of them had the same sort of idea. ‘Are you sick of the rain? Then come work for us at the harbor’. Stuff like that. It’s all well and good but none of them went any deeper than that. So I was listening to Flume one day, and I had this idea that people love film clips because it makes people actually feel things. I wanted it to be aspirational for people wanting to move to Sydney and working for our company.

We don’t have big budgets for our projects but I don’t think that hurts us at all if anything it allows our personality to resonate as we aren’t pushing out these seamless, high-quality productions.

In order to get it in front of people, you do need to spend some money. So we used LinkedIn, bought a landing page and sponsored that out to recruiters in the US, and also Facebook.

Any hard lessons you can you share with us?

I think you need to ensure the image you project is realistic.

  • In our office, we have a lot of fun and I make sure to inject humor into our employer brand but it’s not all bean bags and table tennis. I see a lot of companies advertising their perks in this way and it’s great but I think companies need to demonstrate that they can provide a deeper purpose and meaning behind the work.
  • This can be done by communicating your values and concentrating on the why – What is the team working towards and why are they doing it?

What results have you got from your employer brand?

We’ve been pretty successful in the awards space for candidate care and candidate engagement over the last few years.

This year we’ve really seen our employer branding come together. Here’s a list of some the achievements from our efforts:

  • Global Recruiter Best Use of Social Media (2017) – Finalist
  • Global Recruiter Best Marketing Campaign (2017) – Finalist
  • Australian HR Awards Best Recruitment Campaign – Finalist
  • RI Recruitment Brand of the Year (2017) – Winner
  • RI Best Recruitment Marketing Campaign (2017) – Finalist
  • RCSA Excellence in Candidate Care Award (2016) – Winner
  • SEEK Excellence in Candidate Engagement Award (2016) – Runner Up

These awards are really important for us as an SME it’s great for brand awareness – We’re not a Hays or a Randstad so we need to go the extra mile to get our name out there. Aside from awards, we reduced our cost per hire by about 85% and we’ve seen a huge improvement in our retention because we’re hiring more of the right people through our own channels.

What companies inspire you and whats next for your employer brand?

  • I love the work GE has been doing, I know you spoke with Shaunda recently. I’ve also been watching Atlassian, Ernst & Young and PwC who are doing an awesome job at bringing their employee stories to life.
  • I think for us it’s going to continue to evolve. Employer brand should never be static. It’s always going to be evolving as your staff change, and also in response to changes in the market – what candidates want from their jobs and how they consume content. These things are always changing so you need to allow flexibility for that.

Connect with Christina Knock or Twitter.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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