Recruiting and marketing may be two separate fields, but in today’s digital world, the lines between these practice areas have become increasingly blurred.
The recruiting landscape is highly candidate-driven and competitive for recruiters, who have been fighting tooth and nail to capture the candidates’ interest. As a result, the strategies recruiters use to source candidates often resemble the tactics used by marketers to attract customers.
What do they have in common? A focus on branding.
Optimizing your employer brand can have a direct effect on your ability to attract and retain top talent. Here’s how.
What is an Employer Brand?
An employer brand refers to a company’s identity and reputation as an employer. This doesn’t just depend on the facts about your company, but on the general perception of your company as an employer. Basically, your employer brand is how the talent pool perceives your company as a place to work. The ultimate goal of refining your brand is to attract and retain high-quality talent that will stay and help grow your organization.
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
If you want to attract top talent, take a look at your employer brand and how you can improve it:
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:
- Do your employees feel your benefits program is satisfactory?
- Do they want more open communication with leadership?
- Do they have a clear picture of the growth potential?
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
Content is king for recruiting. Candidates use a range of sources to inform their understanding of your brand, and content is critical to their decision-making process.
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.
Here are some key tips to develop better content to support your employer brand:
First, consult your candidate personas
To build a strong employer brand, your candidate-facing content must resonate with your ideal candidates. Here’s where candidate personas come in.
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
Modern job seekers want to work for employers that mirror their own values. For this reason, we recommend clearly defining the core values of your company and promoting them throughout your content.
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
It’s critical to build your employer brand on social media if you want your ideal candidates to find you.
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.
Companies often think they have a strong employer brand, but really they have no clue. Measuring it is all about tracking important recruiting metrics, which include:
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.
Employee turnover is fluid and unpredictable, but retention rates can be a key indicator of the quality of your employer brand.
Source of hire
Track the source of each hire to understand which channels your hires are coming from most (and least). This metric will help you identify your top channels and determine where you should focus your efforts.
A strong employer brand requires a healthy culture and happy employees, so you should be measuring employee satisfaction across all teams and departments. Anonymous surveys are a great way to let employees provide honest feedback about their experiences without fear of repercussions.
Building an Employer Brand Brings in Top Talent
It’s no longer enough for companies to post jobs and hope the right candidates come to them. Businesses must prove they are worthy employers — and to do so, they must make their employer brand an ongoing priority.
Remember: honesty is the most important element of your employer brand. The best branding can’t make up for a lackluster culture or unsatisfied employees. Don’t try to make your company seem like an amazing place to work — strive to actually make it an amazing place to work for your current employees. If you can do that, a big part of your branding will take care of itself.