Having a poor employer brand can mean your company loses out on hiring the very best talent. But what exactly is an ‘employer brand’?
And what can organisations do to ensure prospective employees see their company in the very best light?
In this article we discuss eight things you can do to make you more attractive as an employer.
Q. What is an ‘employer brand’?
Put simply, an employer brand is a company’s reputation as an employer. It’s important to note it is not the company’s actual quality as an employer but how it is perceived as an employer.
In some cases there can be a huge disparity been reality and perception.
The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) defines an employer brand more specifically as ‘a set of attributes and qualities, often intangible, that makes an organisation distinctive, promises a particular kind of employment experience, and appeals to those people who will thrive and perform best in its culture’.
Q. Why is it important to have a good employer brand?
Hiring the best people for your organisation can be a very competitive business. Low unemployment, more frequent job switching and greater transferable skills have only served to exacerbate this.
You need to stand out. A positive, high impact employer brand will make it easier for you to attract the best candidates.
It will also help with employee retention.
Q. And if you don’t have a positive employer brand?
Before applying, most candidates now go online to research an organisation. They want to learn about your company and its working culture.
Whether it’s Glassdoor, LinkedIn or other social media platforms, prospective employees now have access to lots of information about what it’s like to work for a company.
If negative reviews outweigh positive reviews the chances are candidates will be less inclined to apply for a position. Or, at the very best, they will want their reservations addressed during the recruitment process.
Q. How do you know whether you have a good or a bad employer brand?
In addition to external ratings and reviews on the likes of Glassdoor, internal measures can be a very accurate way of assessing your employer brand.
Qualitative feedback from staff surveys and exit interviews provide excellent channels for establishing the strength of your employer brand, as well as offering invaluable prompts on how to make improvements.
Quantitative data from absenteeism rates and staff turnover are also very strong indicators of the health or otherwise of your working culture.
Comparing data across multiple years also highlights direction of travel and whether corporate initiatives are having a positive effect.
A Crucial Alliance
The lines between marketing and recruitment are blurring more than ever. The digital world has helped create and extend this overlap.
Both are essential to building a strong employer brand. Forward-thinking employers, and their HR and recruitment partners, are now utilising some of the best aspects of marketing to attract the top talent to their organisations.
Given this, we’ll look at how to improve your employer brand under two main headings: marketing and recruitment.
Marketing and your employer brand
First, we’ll look at three ways in which marketing can help boost your employer brand.
1. Learn from your competitors
Research what your peer group is doing in way of employer branding.
Analyse corporate websites, profile pages, social media channels and review platforms. In doing so, you will identify gaps in your own employer brand while generating a host of ideas on how to improve it.
Once you’ve learned and implemented all you can from your peer group, get ambitious.
Research companies who you see as market leaders in employer branding – they don’t have to be in the same sector – and strive to match or even surpass their innovations.
2. Engage online
LinkedIn and Glassdoor have revolutionised how candidates find and research jobs.
Online reviews from employees and candidates are now ubiquitous. You can’t control what other people’s perception of your company is, but you can influence it.
Whether it’s your own website, a LinkedIn career page or your Glassdoor profile page, use authentic imagery of real employees rather than stock photographs.
Make sure they reflect the diversity of your organisation. Encourage feedback from employees and upload quotes and case studies showcasing what it’s like to work at your company.
It’s almost inevitable you’ll get one or two negative comments online but including authentic and positive testimonials from other employees will bring balance to your employer brand.
3. Project reality
If you want to have a great employer brand you really need to be a great employer in the first place.
Your employer brand should reflect what it’s actually like to work in your organisation. It should not be an ideal or an ambition.
In today’s highly-connected digital world, any disparity between the two will be quickly identified and shared on social media, whether it’s from employees or candidates.
As a consequence, your employer brand should be aligned with your company values. Modern candidates place great store in the values organisations espouse.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities are also a great way to attract high calibre candidates. Research highlights how important these can be to millennials in their job search.
Recruitment and your employer brand
Now we’ll look at five ways good recruitment practices can strengthen your employer brand.
4. Design and manage your recruitment process from a candidate’s perspective
Create a positive, consistent and fair candidate journey. Make it as smooth and organised as possible.
Communicate at every stage and ensure it’s transparent from the start. An efficient hiring process is a quick hiring process.
If the process becomes lengthy and cumbersome you seriously risk losing the best applicants to leaner, more agile competitors.
You can read more about reducing your time to hire here.
5. Get buy-in from all stakeholders in the process
There is little use in designing a fantastic recruitment process for candidates if HR, the hiring manager, recruitment agencies or anyone else involved in the process is not committed to it.
Communicate clearly to all stakeholders what the process looks like, what it is trying to achieve, and the minimum standards required to make it a positive experience for candidates. Then commit to it.
6. Tell an engaging story about the role and company
Within the job advert and during the interview process tell a compelling story about the company, the role and type of person you are looking for.
Do not ‘oversell’ these aspects but clearly articulate the history of the company to date, the development of the relevant team or department and the part the job plays in the success of the company.
Lay out the challenges and opportunities of the role and skills, experience and working style you are looking for. But don’t just focus on what you need.
Emphasise what the candidate will gain if successful. Promote benefits, culture and experience.
7. Treat all applicants as customers
Some applicants might not be the right fit for a current vacancy but may have the skills and experience for future roles.
Some applicants may be existing or potential customers. A bad candidate experience could put them off your company and its products and services for life.
All applicants are likely to share views with others on their interaction with your company, whether this is through word-of-mouth with friends and family or online. They will have a view. Work hard to ensure it’s a positive one.
Make all applicants – whether suitable or unsuitable – feel valued.
8. Respond to every single application
If you’re a small company and you don’t get inundated with applications, individual and bespoke responses can be a great way to engage with candidates.
If you are dealing with roles with higher volumes of applicants still aim to respond individually but use templates to save time, customising them slightly for that personal touch.
Larger corporates may have to set up automated responses. This approach can be fine as long as you don’t use overly corporate and formal language.
Make it real and authentic. Explain why it’s an automated response. Just because it’s a prepared response that might be going out to more than one candidate it doesn’t have to be fake.
It should be one human responding to another. Communicate accordingly.
You can find out more about the importance of candidate feedback here.
Mind the gap
At the end of the day, perhaps the most damaging thing for your company’s recruiting prospects is a significant disconnect between your employer brand and the actual candidate experience.
A brand which proactively positions itself as a modern, forward-thinking, progressive and inclusive employer but treats applicants poorly through the recruitment process will severely damage its ability to attract real talent.
Such a disparity will sow seeds of discontent among candidates, encourage them to share their experience with the world and perhaps turn them away from your company permanently.
It is always better to under promise and over deliver than to paint a picture which does not mirror reality.