Building an Employer Brand
Low unemployment and growing retirement rates have generated a labor market that puts employers in stiff competition for skilled talent. For skilled occupations, particularly those that are technology or healthcare related, employers are increasingly finding themselves with the responsibility of convincing job seekers to apply.
However, many employers have been slow to adapt to the changing realities of post-recession recruiting and are at risk of falling behind the competition. In the modern labor market, one of the most potent but under-utilized tools in a company’s recruiting tool chest is their brand.
What is an Employer Brand?
Your brand as an employer is how both your employees and potential applicants view your company and its facets; how it conducts itself in the market, its growth trajectory, prestige, values, culture, stability, and so on. If you have defined and communicated your values and mission, it is more likely that you will gain the attention of applicants (both passive and active) who share those values.
Let’s use a start-up as an example. A typical start-up could be described as high risk and high reward, and usually needs flexible and ambitious people. In turn, the company should have a flexible and ambitious culture. If they expect the best of their employees’ time and energy, they should be willing to accommodate flexible work schedules and offer career growth in return. Values that can be communicated in their brand are thus: ambition, flexibility, and hard work.
In contrast, a larger, well established company may have different priorities. Growth is still important but so are stability and smooth operations; not every employee needs to be an ambitious go-getter. Both name recognition and established market presence are strengths that can be used by recruiters. Some potential values that a larger company could communicate are: stability, prestige, and long-term career growth.
Define Your Brand
Here are a few questions that can help build a foundation to work on:
- What do your employees like and dislike about working for you?
- What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
- What do your competitors offer that you don’t?
- What is the ideal versus typical career trajectory and lifespan at your company?
- What are the top reasons for turnover?
- Is your compensation competitive?
- What is your company’s mission?
- What values (both real and desired) are reflected in your company culture?
- Why should people want to work for you?
This could be an awkward or painful process, especially if turns out you have serious weaknesses in your company culture. It may be a difficult process as well, especially if employees may be nervous about how honest feedback might be received by management (surveys with anonymous responses can be useful in that case). However, discovering and fixing those weaknesses is key to having a successful recruiting strategy. Remember, your brand as an employer already exists, it’s up to you to successfully manage and grow it.
Promote Your Brand
Career Site: Ensure that your career site is easily found, navigable, and clearly displays both your open positions and how to start the application process. Utilize your career site to discuss your company’s values, goals, and mission. FAQs about what it’s like to work for you, and how your recruiting process works are a great tool to provide applicants with a more informed and transparent view of your organization.
Job Advertisements: Job descriptions are a vital first impression, so use them well. Write clear, realistic descriptions of responsibilities and requirements, as well as describing how the job fits into your overall company mission. Discussing compensation doesn’t hurt either. Click here for more tips on writing an effective job description.
Social Media: Social media can take time to build a following and see return on investment, but is worth keeping up with. Q&A sessions and glimpses into a “day in the life” of various positions throughout your company can drive engagement with potential applicants.
Employees: Satisfied employees are one of the best ambassadors available for your hiring strategy; they can provide an effective way to reach both active and passive candidates via word of mouth. In addition to referral programs, employee testimonials are easy ways to add value to your career site, social media, and job postings.
Here are a few metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your brand effort:
Number of applicants per posting: Are you getting more applicants for your open positions?
Quality of applicants: Are your hiring managers more satisfied with the candidates they interview?
Length of time to fill openings: Has the time it takes to fill a position decreased?
Retention of new hires: One third of new hires quit their job within six months. Has your turnover rate decreased?
Your first strategy may not get the results you want, but that doesn’t mean your efforts were wasted. Re-evaluate if you’re reflecting your company culture and values correctly. Ensure that you are not advertising what you want to be versus what you are. Too much of a disparity between real and imagined values & culture will create disillusionment or worse among your new hires and applicants. Employee feedback is a valuable resource, make use of it.