For the past few weeks I’ve been writing about candidate personas and job advertisements, all the while circling the idea of your Employer Brand. Today, I’ll unpack that a little bit and explore why your employer brand is critical to your ability to hire and retain exceptional employees.
Who even are you?
When we talk about your brand, we’re not just referring to what your marketing department has cooked up. Your consumer brand (how you’re perceived by the buyers of your product) is a component of your employer brand, but it’s not the end of it. Simplified, your employer brand is a combination of deliberate brand actions and the way in which you are perceived by current and potential employees.
With so much focus lately on software and automation in the recruiting process, it’s easy for companies to neglect this elusive but vital aspect of talent acquisition. When you fail to actively manage and define your employer brand, other people define it for you. Disgruntled employees, unqualified job seekers, your competition. These are the people who will define your brand if you don’t take ownership of it first.
75% of candidates will be exposed to your employer brand before interviewing. With a simple Google search, anyone now has access to a great deal of information about you including your own website, rating and review sites, content from your competitors, public financials, and press releases. This means it’s harder than ever to hide your flaws and more important than ever to promote your advantages.
Components of your employer brand
- Your Employer Mission Statement
- Your company’s brand materials (website, landing pages, ad campaigns, physical media)
- Your company’s ratings and reviews on external sites
- How your current employees feel about your company
- How potential employees perceive your company
You’ll notice right away that we have two important components of an employer brand that aren’t always in agreement with each other, your perceived and your actual employee experience. Most employers put the most work into the perceived employee experience, often concocting job ad campaigns that aren’t consistent with the true employee experience. (For a perfect example of this, compare the ads for jobs at a fast food restaurant to the actual experience of the average employee). The result is an inconsistency that ultimately impacts your ability to attract and retain the best employees. Current employees may see your latest job ad and think the company cares more about attracting new talent than nurturing the old, while new employees may feel misled when the reality doesn’t match the brochure. By understanding that your employer brand is not just what you say and do but how employees perceive your brand, you’ll be empowered to build a positive employer brand consistent with the experience of your employees.
Managing your employer brand
Just like a consumer brand, your employer brand can make or break your company and just like a consumer brand, there’s a lot that’s out of your control. Your job is to manage what you can control and try to minimize potential damage from the things you can’t.
Employer Mission Statement. Chances are your company has a mission statement and list of values, likely posted on the About page of your website. What many companies don’t have is an Employer Mission Statement – a statement of goals and values as they relate to the employee experience. An Employer Mission Statement is the critical first step in defining and managing your employer brand. Within this mission statement you’ll articulate not only what is unique about your company, but also the skills and talent needed to accomplish your objectives.
Interview your employees. Conduct formal research into understanding how your company is perceived by your current employees as well as your ideal Candidate Persona. Identify your top performers and find out what makes them love working for you and what they need from the company in order to achieve their own goals. Use your top talent as a guide when creating Candidate Personas in order to align your brand with the talent you want to attract.
Research the competition. Use internal or external assets (consultants or recruiters) to conduct research into your competitors with an eye to how you’re positioned relative to them. You might have better benefits or a more supportive culture, but no one will ever know unless you tell them. Identify weak spots in your competitors’ employer brands and position your company as the industry leader.
Define an employee value proposition. Your EVP should clearly and compellingly articulate the value and benefits of your company over the competition. Remember that employee experience is a huge part of what defines your brand. Be intentional rather than accidental. That is, deliberately define what the ideal employee experience should be. Implement it. Articulate it.
Craft a brand marketing strategy. Align all the components of your employer brand to effectively attract your ideal talent. Your career page, job board ads, and social media presence should all be consistent with your defined employer brand. Articulate your value proposition to current employees to improve retention. Use research to uncover where improvements could be made.
Align your employer brand and consumer brand. Work with your marketing department to share ideas and coordinate marketing strategies. How do your employer brand and consumer brand intersect? How can they be used to reinforce each other?
Align HR, management, and brand. How are your management practices impacting your employer brand? Work with HR, hiring managers, and supervisors to ensure your employee experience is consistent with your employee value proposition.
Use data to make improvements. Metrics may include quality of hire, brand awareness, employee satisfaction, employee referrals or other metrics. Data can help us understand where we are failing and where we are succeeding.
Is your employer brand a dud? If your company’s employer brand is boring as all get out, I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything in this article that caught your eye? Anything you might like to try at your company? Leave your comments below!