With the unemployment rate dropping significantly in 2019, it’s safe to say it’s a candidates’ market. Now, both active and passive candidates can pick and choose the jobs they even bother to apply for...if they don’t join the gig economy instead. In the war for talent, building a strong employer brand is more important than ever to attract, nurture, and convert these skilled people.
Technology and social media influence the way candidates learn about prospective employers and transform traditional recruiting. No longer are candidates satisfied by a well-crafted job post or a career site that touts great benefits and perks. Now, the world is inundated with accessible information that people turn to before making decisions. In the talent acquisition space, we impact decisions by how we accurately and enticingly present our jobs, cultures, teams, and offerings.
Whether you’re hiring two people or 2,000, your employer brand both attracts new talent and retains your current employees. At first, building a well-rounded employer brand can seem overwhelming. There are many channels available to build your presence, different ways to speak about what you offer, and a lot of expectations set through review sites like Glassdoor. From social media and advertising to events and swag, there are several ways your brand can extend. But before you get to that point, you need to establish the foundation. To get started, here are some employer branding tips to help you strategize.
Research your competitors and talent markets.
To get a pulse on where you should first focus your efforts, check out what your competitors are doing. Research direct competitors and general competitors in your specific talent market. Look at their career pages and social presence. See how they’re talking to candidates and what information they’re sharing. Identify the events, job boards, advertising, and content they’re investing in.
More importantly, see how the market is responding. Did they put out a flashy video that hasn’t gotten much of a response? Or did one of their employee spotlight blogs go viral? Document these important details so you can see if there are common themes.
Identify market trends.
After you’ve gathered competitor and market data, dissect the information. Is there a common overlap? Are there untapped areas where you can get in front of candidates with limited competition? Did you notice if most of the competitors are leveraging specific platforms rather than others? Did you observe a common theme in their copy and voice?
Figuring this out lets you see where to focus first and also uncovers how you can differentiate yourself from the crowd. It's great to see what engages candidates, but you want to make sure whatever you create is unique to you so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of buzzwords and trendy posts. Basically, this is permission to not jump on the bandwagon of everything you see. Pick the things that feel true to your company.
Evaluate your current brand.
Even if you haven’t started building your employer brand, there’s a chance you still have some elements already established. First, start internally. Do you have an (informal or formal) employee value proposition? What’s commonly shared during interviews? How does your company talk about culture during new hire orientation? How do your employees describe working there?
Then, look externally. Check out your corporate marketing messaging to see how your company is positioned. See if people are leaving reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Review your job descriptions and career site. Check if the voice found on these career-focused channels is consistent and that you’re sharing content regularly.
Establish your brand and get feedback.
Once you’ve gathered trends and research, consider your story. Identify what you’re promoting, how you’ll talk about your company, what you offer employees, and why people would choose your company instead of someplace else. Get clear on how you illustrate your company culture and the details of your employee value proposition.
After you pull together a solid draft, bring in a focus group of employees. Include people from all levels, roles, and tenure (don't forget leadership and founders!). Get your people's impressions and make sure what you're claiming is true across the board. If possible, borrow the language they use when talking about your company. Using your people's voices can make your messaging feel more authentic, welcoming, inspiring, and relatable.
Build your collaboration team.
If it’s up to you and you alone to get this brand going, it’s important to tap champions throughout the company to turn to. For example, work with your marketing and creative services teams for visual assets and copy. Rely on your hiring managers to ensure you’re representing their team right in spotlight pieces. Look to the field marketers to help you prep for events. There are a lot of moving parts. Leveraging support can help you in the long run. Not to mention, these people can save you a lot of headaches and wasted time. They’re the experts in their roles, so you’ll reap the benefits by establishing those strong relationships at the start.
Activate your brand.
Don’t be the company who thinks they can just slap their EVP on their career site, share a blog here or there, and call it a day. You need to get discovered by potential candidates for them to even see the brand you develop. To get it out there, think of your recruitment marketing strategy.
Creating your messaging is great, but you have to get it in front of people. Think back to what your competitors were leveraging for their branding, consider the channels you have available to you, and build your marketing plan from there.
During this process, be sure to consider what's realistic for your bandwidth. It's easy to get sucked in by all the great advice about employer branding, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything all at once. It's better to start slow and build the marketing strategy to support your brand more mindfully, even if it means only building a presence on one platform or only sharing content once a week. Consistency and quality is the name of the game, so make sure you keep that in mind as you plan your recruitment marketing strategy. Don't burn yourself out before you even get started and don't present lackluster content to your candidates.
Measure, reassess, and plan more strategic initiatives.
Do this regularly. Make sure you know what’s important to you. Are you looking to establish general awareness, or are you focusing on increasing website traffic and applications? Do you want to target more quality applicants to cut down the time to fill open roles? Do you want to be recognized as a great place to work for specific programs or benefits?
Figure out your goals (if you haven't already) and create a dashboard where you can track analytics regularly. Pay attention to trends to understand what's working and what isn't. Then, readjust your plan if needed or lean into the activities that are working. Talent markets and marketing in general change fast, making it essential to reassess your strategy. Don't be afraid to A/B test different options! It can be surprising to see what really attracts people to your brand.
Note: it takes time to identify trends, so don’t make a rash decision after a couple of months. Take a few months to get the start of a baseline and make little tweaks from there. After a while, you’ll likely notice seasonality ebbs and flows or major events such as your company launching a new product or impacts on the economy affecting your numbers too. Adding notes with those unexpected spikes and dips can allow you to make better decisions when you’re doing your assessments.
Rome wasn't built in a day and, trust me, neither will your employer brand. The likelihood of you going viral overnight is slim, but don't get discouraged. Figure out the purpose of the brand and then identify key goals that tie to that and your recruiting needs.
Building an employer brand and showcasing your company culture can be a lot of fun. Creatively highlighting your company takes a lot of work, but once you get into the groove, you'll have more chances to expand upon your initiatives. Be organized, keep an eye on trends, and stay consistent and you'll be up and running in no time.
Need help with employer branding? Let's work together. Learn more about Harlow Creative Co. here.
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