War for top talent as never been fiercer. In order to attract AND retain highly engaged employees, companies must focus on their culture and employee experience as a differentiator to remain competitive.
We talk a lot about work/life integration instead of the old-school work/life balance. Well, the same applies to branding. Product brand and employer brand are intertwined, integrated, simply because one is the reflection of the other (and your brand is either authentic or “fabricated”).
Consumers don’t trust product brands that push too aggressively and don’t resonate with their beliefs. Guess what? Candidates don’t trust companies that promote themselves too aggressively (“yeah! We are the best”) and don’t show empathy.
As consumers, employees, candidates, we now rely heavily on peer reviews. If you want to buy a product on Amazon, you look at consumer reviews. If you pick a movie on Amazon or Netflix, you rely on viewers’ feedback and algorithm-driven recommendations. If you interview for a job, you look at Glassdoor reviews.
Our interactions and engagement with brands are not just motivated by perception, they’re motivated by authenticity.
If you’re new to the idea of employer branding, here are 5 tips to help you develop and enhance your employer brand.
Tip #1: focus on the people
I know it sounds like a trivial statement, but companies often look at brand engagement from their own lens. “Buy from us because we’re the best”, or “work for us because we’re the best”. There’s no such thing anymore as buying a product from a company or working for a company. The relationship between the brand and the consumer/candidate/employee must be mutually beneficial.
The relationship is not about the transaction, it’s about the experience. You buy an experience with a brand when you use a product. You engage in an experience with an employer when you start a new job. In other words you work with a company (not for).
Simon Sinek said it best in his immensely popular TED Talk: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Surprisingly, most companies have forgotten — or never knew — their actual reason for being.
What this all means is that you’ve got to focus on the candidate journey, understand candidates’ motivations and pain points when they look for a job (or even when they are hunted down by recruiters).
Talk to candidates (a sample of 16-20 is enough for good qualitative data), listen to them, understand what THEY want to hear FROM you (not what YOU THINK they want to hear). Once you identify their motivations and pain points, you can start mapping out the candidate experience.
What candidates tell you in the discovery process will inform what stories and content you want to create/share that will resonate with them.
Tip #2: define your employee value proposition
Consumers buy into a brand experience because they have a clear understanding of the brand promise. If you want your employer brand to be a magnet for top talent, you must articulate clearly what your value proposition is to potential employees. In other words, your EVP (Employee Value Proposition).
Your EVP must be aligned with your mission and core values. An EVP highlights the competitive strengths of a position within your company that separates it from other roles and similar roles offered by your competitors. In other words, the EVP answers the potential employee’s question, “Why should I apply for this job — what’s in it for me?”
Tip #3: turn your employees into brand ambassadors
Consumers have more trust in peer reviews than in promotional content coming for brands. Successful consumer brands have created armies of ambassadors to spread the word and to share their own experiences buying or using a product, from celebrities to the lambda consumer.
There is a reason why sites such as Glassdoor or Indeed are so popular: candidates can see what employees really think about their employers, and whether there is a discrepancy between employee reviews and the conventional corporate narrative.
You must turn your (engaged) employees into brand ambassadors. Your employees should be encouraged to spread the word about your company as they are the ones who interact with your brand the most intimately. When employees start talking and chatting about your company on social media, they share a perspective native to humans which people tend to gravitate to naturally.
As user generated content has become the norm to develop consumer-brand trust, employee generated content is becoming the norm to develop employer-brand trust.
Tip #4: never stop engaging with your talent pool
As a consumer brand, you don’t want to upset or disappoint your customers to the point of turning them away from you. The same applies to prospective candidates.
You can argue that they may get disappointed or even upset if they don’t get selected for a position they had applied for. But the way you manage the process of rejecting is equally important as the way you manage the process of interviewing them. Often times, companies make the mistake of burning the bridge with candidates who are not selected, thinking of them as now “disposable” because they “didn’t make the cut”.
Think of your talent pool (including candidates who were not selected previously for a position) as a network you want to nurture and continue to engage with. Give them the option to “cut the cord” on their own terms (not yours), or to stay connected with your employer brand. If you have a compelling EVP, an engaging and people-focused culture, probabilities are high they will want to stay connected, even if they didn’t make it in the first place.
In marketing terms, the goal is to move prospective candidates down the funnel by identifying specific conversion points through the 4 main stages of the application (prior to being interviewed): employer brand awareness, employment consideration, job interest, and resume/profile submission.
There are many ways to distribute the content to candidates: your company’s social media channels, a candidate newsletter, your Employer Brand Ambassadors’ network and social channels, job fairs, etc.
When it comes to attracting talent, many companies spend a fortune on outbound tactics, such as posting jobs on ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn-type platforms or paying insane fees to headhunters. Often times, the picture depicted to candidates resembles more to Alice in Wonderland than what it really is.
After a few weeks in your company, new hires eventually find out that Wonderland doesn’t exist. That’s when they start being disengaged. What if you built a powerful company culture that would promote itself without all the artificial fluff?
If you still rely on outbound marketing to generate leads, you don’t understand the process. If you rely mostly on inbound marketing tactics to generate leads, then you get the point.
Here are some examples:
Instead of working so hard to push your message and jobs in front of job seekers who may or may not be interested in your company, invest your time and money on an inbound marketing strategy that creates a magnet for your ideal job candidates.
Tip #5: measure, measure, measure
The key with any marketing campaign, whether it is Product marketing or Employer Brand marketing, is to measure how (in)effective the campaign is.
For your website’s career page, who much traffic do you generate? Where do visitors come from? Who are they? Which content candidates interact with, or don’t? How many organic applications or candidate newsletter sign-ups do you get monthly?
For your candidate newsletter, you can’t just focus on open/click rate. The newsletter must contain specific “call-to-actions” (CTAs) with well-defined conversion points to measure the level of engagement. How many opt-outs to do get?
For social posts, how many impressions/views/likes/shares do you get? What’s the conversion rate for each of your CTA?
When you look at the candidate funnel, what you really want to measure is the quantity of candidates vs. the quality of candidates. And also how quick you are able to convert vetted/qualified candidates at the bottom of the funnel into hires.
These are just a few examples. Your metrics and conversion points should be tailored to your needs.
Additional eX Podcast resources:
– The Role Of Employment Brand Management In Your Organization.
– Employee Experience, Employer Branding And Diversity In A Global Company.
– Lessons From GE’s Biggest Employer Brand’s Challenge.
– Be Your Company’s Culture Champion.
– How do you win the war on talent? Tips from Bryan Chaney at Indeed.
– Here are the 4 key elements to build an Employer Brand that attracts & retains Talent.
– How to bring a consumer brand mindset to your HR function.
– How to build a global award-winning talent brand & social media team.