Many industries are returning to their pre-COVID recruiting levels. However, now that the workforce has found itself liberated of the need to live within commuting distance of a physical office, the number of potential applicants for companies is now huge - but so is the competition for the best talent. We take a look at how employer branding can help your company to stand out.
Isn’t this a job for HR?
Because HR typically owns talent acquisition and employee engagement, employer branding has traditionally remained within the purview of HR. However, this is changing. Recently, more progressive companies have discovered that the same communication and relationship building skills and understanding of the marketplace can easily transfer to employer branding. This means that marketing now often takes on a leading role in this area.
Why is employer branding even necessary? Because millennials are the largest generation in the labour force. They are educated and expect more from life than their parents. They are not prepared to stay in jobs for life, but they do expect brands and companies to provide them with good quality, interesting and attractive jobs. They have a strong sense of purpose and expect their employer to treat them well and with respect.
This is where your employer brand comes in. Through your employer brand you define your employer reputation and tell the world why your company is a great place to work. An employer brand must be established before you begin marketing any positions to prospective candidates (commonly known as recruitment marketing). The strategies to attract new candidates should be constantly evolving, whereas your employer brand should remain the same, based on your company’s core values, vision and mission.
When it comes to attracting the right talent, a strong corporate or consumer brand is a good start. It is important for letting potential recruits know that you exist. But the reality is, it says nothing about you as an employer or whether your company is a good place to work. There are many examples of strong corporate brands which are successful but offer bad experiences to recruits in the workplace. These are regularly unmasked on career sites like kununu.com and glassdoor.de.
How to develop a great employer brand
Developing a great employer brand doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a period of introspection and research, a commitment on your USP as an employer followed by an appropriate operational strategy where these messages are communicated.
- Do your research to understand how your company is viewed as an employer, and where the gaps might be. Internal surveys with current and former employees can help with this, also external focus groups with target talent audiences and industry experts. Don’t be afraid to benchmark your company against competitors too - not only could you pick up useful ideas, you will get a good picture of where you stand when good recruits make their choices.
- Work with HR to improve areas such as training and development, compensation and benefits, advancement opportunities and company culture. If your company starts doing something right in these areas, shout about it! Staff are looking for more than a monthly salary. They want to work for an organisation that supports them holistically.
- Compile an Employee Value Proposition based on initial research and your employee offer which includes key supporting messages, as well as employer brand and tone of voice guidelines. Use this document to define your content strategy and your recruitment marketing.
- Turn colleagues into brand champs. Candidates don’t believe brands but they do believe employees. Make your employees a crucial part of your talent brand content strategy. Interview staff who are willing to authentically articulate their company journey in either a simple blog or informal video. Give your employees something to brag about to their networks.
- Engage with your employer brand online by interacting with your company’s content and commenting on social posts. If your company gets it wrong or receives a bad employee review, commit to reviewing the experience. This shows the company’s humble side and a willingness to learn.
- Be authentic and show the human side of the company. Share real-life videos and images of yourself at work, your colleagues (with permission) and everyday life working for your company.
Google is one of our favourite employer branding examples from the last few years (and Google receives 3,000 resumes a year so they must be doing something right). In 2013 they released “The internship”, their own Hollywood production about what it is like to work at Google. For companies without a Google-style Hollywood budget, an ironic stylised movie trailer for social media can have a similar effect - and funny content has the potential to go viral.
In 2016 the Heineken “Go Places” employer branding campaign" focused on the size of Heineken as a company, its international locations, and the opportunities these offered for new staff in terms of training and advancement potential. According to Marketing Week, Heineken saw a 56% increase in applications during its 2016 campaign.
Why continued measurement of the brand is vital
A regular health check of your employer brand will help to confirm whether your campaign is on the right track.
The following metrics will assist in this:
- Do candidates fit the company culture? Do candidates understand the employer brand? Do they embody company values in their own lives and experience? This can be checked at interview.
- Are your employees proud of the brand they have helped to build? Do they play an active role in recruitment marketing campaigns, blogs, recruitment videos and more?
- Have your employee referrals increased as a result?
- How do candidates and new hires rate the employer branding and recruitment campaign?
- How do your alumni perform later in their careers with other companies?