What you need to know about employer branding

The strength of your employer brand can make a critical difference to the success of your resourcing strategy. This is because your brand can determine whether or not you are able to attract and retain the top talent across your business.

What is employer branding?

Employer branding is not just about your advertising, logo, stationery or website  – although all of these do make an important contribution.It is also, and more importantly, about the relationship between your stakeholders and your business. It is about how you communicate your company’s personality to existing and potential hires and it is an essential part of your positioning strategy.

Using your brand to attract staff

An organisation’s brand and reputation go a long way in attracting people. Therefore employers that have strong brand awareness will rely on it heavily to attract and retain staff. Emphasising your organisation’s culture, philosophy and vision in positioning communication will enable it to develop a strong employer brand and increase its attractiveness as a place to work.

Align your employer and customer brands

In order to attract the right people, you need your employer and customer positioning to be aligned with each other. When they are aligned, current and prospective employees will both receive similar messages about your organisation. When they are not aligned, they will receive different messages, which will weaken your brand in the marketplace.

Your employer brand must emphasise and cement the same values that are communicated through your external brand. This means that when a prospective employee approaches your organisation, they will be given the same consistent message at every touch point.

Make every impression count

While a jobseeker’s first impression of your organisation will determine their initial interest, this judgement will change over time.

So it is important to review every encounter that an individual might have with your brand. This will range from them seeing adverts and press releases to them receiving interview feedback on how they performed at interview. Every interaction should be consistent with the brand message and every point of communication should be in line with your positioning.

Check the consistency of your messaging before, during and after the application process. If you identify gaps, work with your recruitment partner as well as your HR and marketing functions to define your key touch points so that you deliver a consistent experience across all encounters.

Every step of the recruitment process will shape the impression that a potential employee has of your organisation and influence whether they accept or reject a job offer, or even whether they decide to apply in the first place. So it is important that the recruitment experience accurately reflects your brand and attracts and engages the right people.

Integrate your brand into recruitment activity

When you plan your recruitment activity, is essential that you work out how your brand fits into that activity. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Positioning of the role.A well-written job description can be an effective piece of viral marketing and get great visibility for your company. So don’t just focus on the technical requirements of the role; consider why potential applicants should leave their current position in order to work for you. What makes your role an attractive proposition compared withthose on offer in other companies?
  • Prepare to be researched. Potential applicants will want to find out more about your company before they apply for a role. That usually means a visit to your website. So, if your careers section is under-developed and uninformative, you are likely to lose a significant proportion of your target audience before your campaign even gets off the ground.
  • Use the application process to promote your brand.Make sure that you respond to every applicant who applied and provide closure, regardless of the outcome. If someone has made the effort to apply,the least that you can do is to let them know that you won’t be taking their application any further. Otherwise you could seem uncaring and impersonal. It doesn’t take much, but treating all candidates with courtesy and respect will go a long way towards enhancing your brand.

Make the interview a positive experience

The interview process enables you to become more personal, while giving you the opportunity to positively promote your brand. Ensurethat everyone who meets a candidate is able to convey a positive impression of your company. Impersonal gestures such as the interviewer turning up late, not being prepared for the interview, or being illinformed about the candidate can create a negative impression.

Get a good on-boarding process in place

Just because someone has decided to accept your job offer does not mean that you can forget about the promotion of your brand. New hires can get cold feet and, as a result, may change their mind about joining your company. Follow up the interview with a conversation with the new starter before their first day. This allows you to continue the relationship created during the hiring process, calm any nerves they may have, recognise whether they are having second thoughts, and take the opportunity to reinforce your brand. It also promotes you as a caring employer who values employees.

Ensure that your employees are good ambassadors

Employees can really benefit your brand but they can also potentially do it a lot of damage. There is no point investing in expensive marketing campaigns if your current employees don’t represent the brand correctly. They could alter the way in which the brand is perceived and even sabotage your marketing efforts. So, it is crucial that your employees understand and support your brand. Ultimately, they bring your brand to life and are its strongest advocates.

Engage management at all levels

True employee engagement will only happen if your brand is embedded into the culture of the organisation and is nurtured by management. The senior leadership team must lead by example if it is to successfully embed the brand’s vision and values throughout the business.

Don’t lose focus in difficult times

Effective branding relies on consistency of message and delivery so this should remain regardless of how your company is faring. In tough times, a strong brand is essential to cost-effective recruitment. It will help current employees to feel more secure and confident, which will also affect external perceptions of how the company is perceived.

Monitor progress

Finally, regularly monitor your progress. Find out what your employees, ex-employees and even applicants think about your brand and how it is perceived. This will allow you to see what is working, and what is not, and help you to tailor future recruitment campaigns so that they are more successful.