Employer branding

 
As the war for talent increases, savvy employers are learning how to capitalise on the strength of their brand in order to attract top candidates.
In this guide, we’ll explain how the wider perception of your organisation can impact recruitment and retention, advise you on how to tailor your approach to different audiences, and demonstrate the ways in which existing employees can be used to strengthen your overall reputation. 

Play to your strengths

It’s true to say that employers with a strong brand presence in the marketplace rely on it heavily to attract potential employees. Clearly, brand reputation works harder for major employers; reflected in the fact that less high profile employers can find the recruitment process more difficult. But an enviable brand reputation can be built if you know how to appeal to candidates.

Smaller firms may not be able to compete with large companies in fiscal terms, but they may be able to offer a defined career path to secure the best talent; just make sure that if you’re relying on this tact, you explain what can be expected from the organisation to help an employee’s development. After all, whilst a strong brand may attract top candidates, the career opportunities it can offer are of equal importance. 

Know your audience

Successful businesses know how to adapt their employer brand to appeal to different target audiences; taking into account different values, ambitions and cultural backgrounds. What makes a graduate tick is unlikely to excite an experienced worker in the midst of their career, so speaking the right language is key.
Think about the sort of person that you’re trying to attract, what they will be looking for in terms of their career, and how your company’s vision can align with their immediate and long-term ambitions. 

Every impression counts

While a jobseeker’s first impression of your organisation will determine their immediate interest in you, this judgement is continually changing. Each brush with your brand influences a person’s perception of you, so the process of building a favourable employer brand actually begins far earlier than the recruitment process itself.

Address this by reviewing every encounter an individual might have with your brand – from calling your helpline as a customer, to receiving interview feedback as a jobseeker. Identify where your brand may be falling down before, during and after the application process; and work with your recruitment partner, HR department and marketing functions to create a favourable experience at every stage. 

Align your employer and customer brands

Both your employer brand and your external customer brand strategies need to be aligned if they are to reflect a consistent message and attract the right people. The bigger the organisation, the more people will have already formed an opinion of it, so it’s essential that the two are not working against each other. For current and prospective employees to receive the same messages about your brand – messages that will hopefully become synonymous with your organisation – the two strategies must compliment one another. 

Your recruitment process should reflect your brand

Every step of the recruitment process will shape the impression that a potential employee has of your organisation; influencing them to either accept or reject a job offer. It’s therefore vital that the experience reflects your brand in an accurate and positive light, and in turn attracts and engages the right people.

You should consider:

  • Where you advertise a role and by which methods?
  • How easy it is for people to apply?
  • How you intend to respond to applicants?
  • The number of interview stages?
  • Where your interviews will be conducted?
  • How you will deal with both rejections and the final offer?
  • How you plan to stay in contact with the new recruit until their start date?

Employees are your best ambassadors

It’s vital that your people support your brand, as they can act as your strongest advocates. Your employees should understand exactly what your brand stands for and what you are trying to achieve, so make sure your vision is fully communicated, understood and embedded internally before taking your brand to market.

Be sure to focus just as much attention on internal buy-in as you would on your external marketing. There’s no point spending millions on marketing campaigns, only for a customer or potential employee to interact with an existing employee who doesn’t represent – or understand - the brand.

However, true employee engagement will only happen if the brand is embedded into the culture of the organisation and nurtured by management; so be sure to involve seniors at every level. 

Don’t lose focus in difficult times

An effective employer brand strategy focuses on long-term objectives and is built upon a clear understanding of who you want to attract and retain. The consistency of this message – and its delivery - shouldn’t be affected by a weak economic climate.

In fact, a strong employer brand with consistent messaging is even more essential during tough times, as it can help to make employees feel more secure. The confidence and support of your employees – and your reputation amongst prospective employees – will play a major factor in your organisation’s future. 

Consistency

When a customer, supplier or potential employee interacts with your organisation, they should see a consistent brand - from marketing and sales through to delivery and finance. When attracting candidates, the visual identity and tone used throughout your campaigns needs to be ‘on brand’.

In order to achieve this level of consistency, everybody that’s involved in the attraction and recruitment process must fully understand the message that is being portrayed, why it’s important, and what it means to the business and potential employees. 

Monitor progress

Finally - but perhaps most importantly – it’s vital to regularly monitor your company’s progress. Find out what your employees and ex-employees think, as their feedback is crucial in making sure that you’re on the right track. And don’t ignore negative feedback: you must commit to acting on the results if you are to protect your brand identity.

It’s a good idea to conduct anonymous research – such as a confidential questionnaire - as this is your best chance of achieving absolute honesty. Consider asking ex-employees why they left and current employees what they would change, whether they’d recommend you as an employer to friends, and how long they plan on staying with the company.