When it comes to your company’s brand, you probably know it pretty well—what it is, where you fit within your industry, and how you define your brand strategy. But what about your employer brand? Just as marketing is a different animal from recruitment marketing, so, too, are company branding and employer branding. Employer branding is how you’re perceived as an employer, not necessarily as a company or product/service provider. Employer branding may not seem like as big of a priority, but if you’re hoping to meet aggressive growth or employee retention goals, it’s a pretty big deal.
First thing’s first: what is your employer brand? It’s the image you project to the talent pool. It’s everything that makes you stand out in a crowd of potential hiring companies. With recruiting and hiring growing ever more competitive, an employer brand is a tool you can deploy to make sure you’re attracting the top talent and not losing out on great candidates because of misperceptions—or worse, lack of distinction.
With growth as a high priority for most HR departments, employer brand strategy is one of the hot topics this year. Before you start, there are questions you should ask yourself:
- What makes your company different from the others in your field?
- Why would someone want to work for your company?
- What is the perception that potential employees have of your company as an employer?
- What do former employees say about your company, either in exit interviews or online?
- How many of your current employees (percentage-wise) would recommend your company as a great place to work?
And if you don’t yet know the answers to these questions, or feel like the answers could be more positive, don’t worry—it’s never too late to build (or fix) your employer branding. There’s a serious upside to putting time and resources behind shoring up your employer brand—companies with more positive brands get double the applications (more talent!) and tend to spend less money per hire. By some estimates, companies trying to overcome iffy reputations end up spending 10% more per hire. Times have changed. The rise of social media has made companies a great deal more transparent. People are far more likely to trust a company based on what its employees have to say than on its recruitment advertising. This means that talent attraction relies far more heavily on employee engagement and advocacy.
Stand for something, and project your message clearly
Look at your company’s “About Us” page or your mission statement. Try to read it with fresh eyes, like you haven’t been seeing it since the day you started new employee orientation. Is the message clear? What are the values expressed? Is it short and to the point, or is it paragraphs of jargon and corporate-speak? The most successful companies have clear, understandable missions that appeal to customers and employees alike. For example, remember when Google’s motto was “Don’t be evil”? Your mission statement doesn’t have to be an edgy soundbite, but anyone poking around your company website should have a clear, immediate understanding of what you do and what you value.
Embrace the community
Words like “community” and “inclusivity” are hot right now, because they make people feel like they could join the team. For all of your outward-facing resources (website, job descriptions, recruitment events, your careers/applications page), make sure you’re emphasizing how much your company values and nurtures community.
Listen to the chatter
On social media, it can be easy to dismiss negative reviews or comments as the work of chronic malcontents or disgruntled ex-employees. Instead, really listen to what’s being said on sites like Glassdoor or Twitter. The ex with an axe to grind may have overblown criticism, but the problem is that once it’s out there, it’s out there—and it’s on you to counteract that message for when an Awesome Candidate starts researching your company and plugs your company name into Glassdoor. If you see recurring themes in the critical reviews, think about what you can do to improve that experience for current employees. And if possible, engage the reviews themselves—positive or negative. Having a direct response that essentially says, “We hear you! Thanks for the feedback!” can go a long way to mitigate even the crankiest feedback.
Be proactive about letting them know your worth
Don’t wait until candidates get in for an interview to start hammering your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Your EVP is the combination of policies, programs, and benefits that you offer to those who join your team. Make sure your EVP is clear at every stage a candidate sees your name and brand, from your website all the way through to the job offer.
Your team is already working hard to support your company’s outward-facing brand. It’s time to take that same level of energy and expertise and put it into your employer branding as well.