In this blog article, we will look closely at the concept of employer branding and consider what businesses need to know – from the benefits of employer branding to the ways to create an effective employer branding strategy.
What is employer branding?
Every company has an employer brand, whether or not they have purposely developed one! It’s how a company differentiates itself in the employment market to attract potential candidates to apply for its open jobs.
A powerful employer brand attracts top talent by showcasing the benefits, values and attributes that today’s job seekers are looking for. It’s a powerful reputational driver that helps businesses establish their credibility, attract the right people to work at their company, and drive it forward.
At heart, an employer brand connects with the business’s unique values and must be present consistently and authentically throughout the entire organisation, informing and aligning everything that the business does concerning its employees and workforce management. In that sense, employer branding also links intrinsically with employer engagement.
If you’re serious about succeeding in the modern market, you must be serious about building a strong employer brand!
Why is employer branding important?
Every organisation needs to know what its stakeholders think about it, from customers and employees to the media. Marketing has long involved using highly sophisticated techniques to attract, engage and convert customers within a target audience.
Today, employer branding uses similar marketing strategies for the recruitment market, describing the employer’s marketing offer in a way that appeals to potential employees and seeks to engage and convert them from job seekers into successful hires within the business. With the much-publicised ‘war for talent’ in full swing, the need for a clear and cohesive employer brand is more pressing than ever.
The power of a good employer brand
A strong company brand can deliver a number of key goals:
- It dramatically enhances and supports talent acquisition at all stages, from clarifying your unique employer value proposition (EVP) to developing a meaningful, rewarding employee engagement strategy that retains the best talent and attracts those desirable individuals into your business.
- It supports more sophisticated recruitment strategies, such as cyclical recruitment and talent pool management, with the aim of always having a ready pool of engaged and motivated candidates willing to apply for your jobs when they come online.
- Good employer branding creates advocates amongst your existing employees so that they do the heavy lifting for you when promoting your business as a great workplace.
- By defining your employee value proposition, you also help to boost motivation and morale within your existing employee base, setting clear expectations for how managers manage and how your culture is nurtured and developed.
How to build an employer branding strategy?
Building your employer brand takes time, rigour and effort. It’s not just a case of saying the right things on your corporate career page or developing a corporate social media recruiting strategy (although those things are important too) – it’s a fundamental strategic process that seeks to genuinely and wholly differentiate your organisation in the talent market.
Align your strategies
A good starting point is to understand your organisation’s overarching business strategy. This will include a section for talent, so you can devise a supporting employer brand development strategy to achieve those objectives. For example, there may be objectives to build a new specialist team, to lessen staff turnover, or reduce the cost of hire. Build detailed employer branding deliverables, assign owners and define recruitment KPIs so you can measure success meaningfully.
Assess your Employer Value Proposition
Work out what makes your organisation unique and attractive to talented individuals. This will help to define your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). It helps to engage your people in defining your business EVP because it must be true, authentic and unique. Without authenticity, it simply remains a series of buzzwords. Find out what your employees value about your business and why they work there.
Create target candidate personas
Marketers create customer personas to help target their tactics, and you must do the same with your target job applicants. Consider their likely traits, driving forces, motivations, locations and engagement hotspots. This will help you better to target your own recruitment activity for better results. You might develop different ideal candidate profiles for different departments or teams, but they should all fall under the overall company target persona.
Revise and optimise your recruitment process
Before marketing your company to potential applicants, review your recruitment process to ensure it is slick, efficient and optimised for a great experience.
Work through the different touch-points, check that regular and proactive communication is built into each stage and identify areas for improvement- before making them. A good ATS can be a huge help here to improve your recruitment process efficiency. There are also many other benefits of an ATS beyond efficiency gains.
It’s essential to get this stage right before you begin promoting your organisation as an employer to talented job seekers.
Work on your materials
This is usually a really exciting part!
Decide which channels you will use to distribute messages about your business. These will likely blend offline and online channels such as social media, recruitment events, employee brochure materials, business cards, recruitment fair stands and more.
Use your new EVP to craft consistent and compelling messages that will engage your target audience and coherently apply this new branding to your materials that tie them together. This will make your messaging more impactful and help to build your reputation in your target recruitment market. Talent sourcing strategy is a vital part of the success of your employer brand.
Unless your employer brand is conservative and corporate, try to avoid messaging and use of images that convey that message. Use authentic quotes and avoid stock images in your materials.
Fully resource your activity
A huge part of employer branding involves ongoing communication and engagement with warm candidates nurtured in pools for future job positions. This means ensuring you have enough resources to proactively communicate, engage and nurture relationships with these candidates under the umbrella of your business.
Engage your existing employees
It’s vital to bring your existing employees on board to act as champions of your business. In the same way that referral marketing wants, you may even include an incentive scheme for successfully bringing in the right new people to the business. Like tends to attract like, so your most talented employees will likely know other great people too. Ensure your people understand the new messaging, are clear about the values and see a clear benefit in acting as marketers to their own networks. This means treating your people well, creating a great culture with plenty of reward, flexibility and progression, and truly making your business a great place to work and thrive. This will also boost your internal recruitment success.
Remember to consider retention
Be sure to ‘close the loop’ by keeping a close eye on your retention too. Once you bring great hires into your business, you must ensure they stay. So measure your retention and look at your onboarding, management, development opportunities and other ‘sticky’ factors to keep great people in your business. Use employer surveys as a way to find out what people think and information from exit interviews. People have various reasons for moving on or leaving the company, but you don’t want that reason to be the clash between your presented and actual employer brand.
How to improve your employer brand?
Perhaps you already have a clear employer brand, but it’s not quite hitting the mark and gaining results. In this case, there are things you can do to re-energise your employer brand strategy.
Get expert help
Research suggests that up to 75% of businesses struggle to implement strategic plans. So if you’re not seeing clear results – because of internal leadership, communication or resource allocation difficulties- it is worth using an expert recruitment branding partner to help you reach your goals faster. External specialist help can be a valuable investment and speed up the process of hitting your objectives.
Invest more in your internal ambassadors
Up to 45% of your hires are likely to have been influenced by existing employees in one way or another. So really invest in your own team of ambassadors. Give them plenty of communication, provide an incentive to act as an ambassador, give them the tools that they need and celebrate success and efforts.
Use A/B testing
Use ‘either/or’ testing to assess different messages, channels and activities. This simple approach tests one variable simultaneously to determine which generates the best results. It’s a great way to help optimise your messaging and tactical delivery.
Employer branding is an essential business strategy for recruitment success in the highly competitive, challenging modern labour market. If you’re serious about reengineering your recruitment to achieve better gains, your employer brand must form a key part of this work. Even the best ATSs and recruitment processes cannot hope to succeed if the underpinning employer brand isn’t compelling, cohesive or targeted to appeal to your target applicants!