Why is it Important to Have an Employer Branding Strategy?
Today’s candidates have access to a wealth of information about which jobs are available and which companies are hiring. The modern candidate will spend time researching both the job and the employer to identify which options are most appealing.
A strong employer branding strategy can be critical to your recruiting efforts. That said, a large portion of organizations haven’t invested in this area yet. A survey by iHire found that nearly 40% of U.S. companies do not have an employer branding strategy. This is a major oversight when it comes to creating awareness about your employer brand, and an opportunity for those who plan to capitalize on its power.
Your employer branding strategy dictates how candidates perceive your company, what they experience during the hiring process, and if hired, what happens to ensure they remain with your company. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that candidates understand your value proposition as an employer. In other words, they should clearly understand what your company can promise them in return for their commitment.
“An employer brand strategy starts with your employer value proposition. It defines the real experience of working for your company and articulates the shared expectations between employer and employee,” says Valerie Katz, director of employer brand and employee experience at ZoomInfo.
5 Steps to Improve Your Employer Brand
1. Analyze Your Company Culture
If you want candidates to perceive your company as a great place to work, it’s got to deliver. And a strong employer brand starts from within. It’s critical to remember that company culture is the factor that will likely have the most impact — positive or negative — on your employer brand.
In the past, a flashy career page and a few hand-picked testimonials could make any company look like a dream employer. But in today’s hyper-connected world of professional social networks like LinkedIn and employer review sites, word about your company culture travels fast. If your branding efforts promise an experience you don’t actually offer, candidates will figure it out quickly and do their best to warn others about what they experienced.
The best way to gauge the strength of your company culture is to speak directly with your employees. Get a read on how they feel about the subject. Whether through anonymous surveys or face-to-face meetings, find out what they love most about working at your company — and what they’d like to be different. Here are some questions to ask your team about your company culture:
Listening to your employees will not only help you identify weaknesses your company can improve upon, but will also identify strengths you should highlight as part of your employer brand.
2. Develop a Content Strategy to Promote Your Employer Brand
What is employer brand content?
Employer brand content represents the materials you build to inform the broader candidate pool about what it’s like to work at your company. The content you publish on job sites, professional social media networks, review sites, and your company website, as well as the content used in candidate outreach, should all work together to create a positive employer brand image.
Why is it important to have a strong employer brand content strategy?
To build a strong brand as an employer, you must craft a comprehensive, multi-channel content strategy to engage your target candidates. Although an ongoing content strategy is a time-consuming commitment that won’t show results immediately, it sets the tone for how your efforts will ultimately pay off in the long run.
First, consult your candidate personas
Profiles of potential candidates include a set of preferred characteristics like work history, skills, goals, employment preferences, and much more. They can help you personalize recruiting content for your ideal candidates.
For example: let’s say your ideal candidate for an entry-level marketing role values collaboration in their work environment. You can use this information to create a short video of your marketing team working together or a blog post that explains your values around working together within the organization.
Then, tell a story with your employer brand
The goal of your content strategy is to engage candidates on an emotional level. Captivating an audience through a story or narrative adds a personal element that differentiates your employer brand from others.
Through written and visual brand storytelling, talk about the journey of specific employees. These stories can help resonate with candidates, showing your company as a collection of real people rather than faceless workers.
Emphasize your company values
3. Establish an Employee Advocacy Program
Not all of your employees are recruiters, but they’re an integral part of the employer brand-building process. Consider offering incentives to employees who refer new hires, share content, and promote branded information.
Remember: employees who feel valued and appreciated will be more willing to advocate for your company. Recognize and reward your employees’ efforts and they’ll become valuable brand ambassadors.
4. Leverage Social Media
Most recruiters leverage platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post job listings, but that doesn’t contribute much to establishing your brand. Instead, your team can use social media to engage with candidates and share valuable content. Consider creating a separate profile for your recruiting efforts to distinguish your employer branding from your traditional marketing efforts.
5. Test and Measure Your Employer Brand
Improving your employer brand is an ongoing process and may seem hard to quantify. But much like marketers test and measure the success of their campaigns, recruiters should try and evaluate their strategies.
Reviews and ratings
Your company ratings on review sites such as Comparably or Glassdoor are extremely important as they are the first place many candidates go to learn about the quality of your employer brand. Track your ratings over time and identify common critiques that could indicate a larger problem within your company culture.
Download Our Employer Branding eBook
Step 1: Define Your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)
Best Practice: You may find it helpful to turn things around and instead start off by asking yourself: What does not define our company? What are some things we do not stand for?
Step 2: Create a Communication Plan
Too many companies stop at step one. They create their unique EVP, sink a lot of time into it and consider it a done deal. But, now is only the beginning of your journey! You need to communicate your EVP to the world.
To do this, you should take a closer look at your ‘talent target group’ and understand the contact points you have with them. You’ll need to have a deeper understanding of where this contact can take place:
Your EVP is a reflection of what makes your organisation special, but you may need to attune it to your target group. That will most likely come about in the communication channel that you use. With that in mind, make sure you are using channels that make sense for the talent you’re trying to reach.
Step 3: Implement Your Content Strategy
After you have outlined your corporate brand and defined the communication channels you are going to use, it is time to think about your marketing and content. Consider the following:
Best Practice: You should publish social media content regularly so that social media users will follow you on a long-term basis. An editorial calendar should help.
Step 4: Find and Recruit Employees
Now, it is time to harvest the fruits of your labour. In this step, your employer branding initiatives merge with your recruiting initiatives. Because your employer branding feeds directly into your recruitment process, it is now becoming the first point of contact with your company. If you impress at this stage, you will find yourself reaping the rewards.
Step 5: Retain Your Top Talent
You want the employees you recruit to stay at your company. The positive impression they got from the application process should be confirmed in their everyday working life. This means that you will need to constantly keep working on your employer brand.
11 Employer Branding Best Practices
Define Your Goals
Your brand and culture don’t have to be left to chance. You can define what you want your employer brand to be based on your mission, vision, and values. With a plan in place, curate the culture and brand you want to see in your organization.
Define your brand’s goals, including how you want candidates and employees to talk about your business. What sets apart your employee experience and employee value proposition (EVP) from those of your competitors? In what ways can your employer brand support your talent strategy? Determine the elements of your employer brand that are most important to prioritize.
Set Actionable Objectives
With clear priorities for your employer brand in mind, the next step is to set actionable objectives to help you achieve those goals. For each objective, write two or three key results — metrics indicating that you’ve achieved your objective.
An objective could be incorporating your values into job descriptions and performance reviews, for example, to create clearer accountability for behaviors that align with your values. A key result for this objective might be achieving a 25% increase in values-driven behavior throughout the daily course of work.
Use Social Media and SEO to Your Advantage
Your social media channels and content published on your careers site provide opportunities to communicate your brand to potential candidates. Content demonstrating employee life and the experience of working in specific roles conveys your brand and helps candidates decide whether your organization is a good fit.
It’s important that your representation of the employee experience on these channels be accurate and genuine. Misalignment between what candidates expect from the employee experience and what they encounter can break trust. This loss of trust detracts from your employer brand, reduces employee engagement, and potentially leads to higher turnover.
Identify Your Candidate Persona
The best candidates don’t just have the skills you need; they’re also aligned with your values and culture. Define what an ideal candidate who drives your culture forward looks like in terms of skills, behaviors, and aptitudes.
Spell out examples of values-driven behaviors in each role. Once you’ve identified your ideal candidate persona for each role, you can implement assessments to measure those factors in job seekers. Develop behavior-based interview questions to ascertain values alignment during the selection stage of the hiring process.
Audit How Your Brand Is Perceived
It’s important to see how your brand is perceived on the market. Public perceptions of your business as an employer are a significant part of your employer brand. They can either be a strategic talent acquisition tool or a liability to talent attraction strategy. Understanding what people are saying about your brand can provide direction for setting objectives for your employer branding strategy.
Job-review sites like Glassdoor and Fairygodboss are good places to see what current and former employees are saying about your brand. People share their real experiences on these sites, and employers have little control over what’s posted.
However, employers can monitor this content and quickly address any concerns raised by users. Once changes have been implemented, employers can respond to make users aware of how the situation has been handled.
Establish What Makes Your Brand Unique
No employer brand is the same, and your real value lies in your differences. Find those elements that set your brand apart, whether those include your values, your sense of employee camaraderie, or other aspects. These differentiators are among your brand’s biggest assets and selling points for job seekers.
Develop a marketing campaign to communicate these unique factors to candidates. Candidates who are strongly aligned with your brand — and those differentiators in particular — will be most invested in pursuing employment with your company. And those candidates whose values align with yours are more likely to stay engaged and employed with your company longer.
Streamline the Application Experience
Candidate experience is an important factor in employer branding. Your recruitment and employer brand isn’t just for employees: it’s also for candidates who don’t make the cut. Keep your hiring process simple, and prioritize communication with candidates about what’s going on with their application.
When you provide a good candidate experience, you leave a good impression on applicants — even those that don’t make the cut. Their experiences, and what they share with friends and family, contribute to how your employer brand is perceived on the market.
Invest in Your Employees’ Career and Well-Being
Taking care of your employees is crucial to building a positive employer brand. Prioritizing employee health demonstrates your commitment to the workforce, which sits well with employees, candidates, and consumers alike. Provide resources for your workforce’s physical and mental health, and survey employees before adding new benefits to determine what changes will have the biggest impact.
5 Great Employer Branding Examples
Canva’s careers site puts employee experience front and center with dynamic videos and images showcasing employees at work — and at play. The company emphasizes programs designed to support women in the workplace.
Microsoft puts purpose first with the slogan “Do what you love: Create the future you want” that greets visitors to the careers site. The technology company features employee voices and highlights their stories. The Microsoft careers page even integrates Glassdoor reviews to give candidates a transparent glimpse of life at the company.
SAP’s employer brand highlights opportunities for promotion and internal mobility. The brand emphasizes that each employee experienced a different journey to where they are, and those experiences are highly valued.
Equal Experts’s career site focuses on the benefits of the community and culture within the company. The page emphasizes inclusion and highlights employee stories from around the globe. The careers page links to the company’s values statement, appealing to candidates who share those values to apply.
Chipotle’s mission-oriented branding encourages candidates to apply and participate in its mission to “cultivate a better world.” The page highlights the benefits of working there, from free food to debt-free degrees — backed up by real statements from employees.