Creating and Marketing an Employment Brand to Attract Talent

Aug 20, 2014

serviceWe all know that recruiting is about connecting with candidates on multiple levels: practical, emotional, and aspirational. Employment branding and marketing can make a big contribution toward that. Today many recruiting organizations still see “recruitment marketing” as optimizing their job board strategy. But there is so much more that can be done with a true employment branding strategy. Getting this right will help you stand out in your market, generate pipelines more easily, and most importantly of all attract the top talent in your industry.

To define your employment brand, consider these factors:

  • A brand is a promise — in this case a promise to candidates. Your promise should reflect the best of your company, and appeal to candidates who fit the values and aspirations of the company.
  • As important, the promise should still be grounded in reality. Failure to do so can create a poor candidate fit and early attrition. So be bold, but don’t write checks you cannot cash.
  • The employment brand must be work well with the company’s overall brand position. For example, if you are a retail organization that is all about great customer service, then your employment brand should focus on appealing to people who have a passion for customer service and the operational excellence that underpins it.
  • Most people want their work to be about more than money and benefits (though those are prerequisites). Show them the possibilities of that in your branding. Create an emotional connection. Having a bold aspiration as a company, a big mission and vision that connects to human needs and how your organization contributes to the world — that’s a powerful way to give candidates an understanding of what they’d be buying into, and a sense of the potential of this career move.
  • Don’t follow the herd. The industries we are in tend to define how we are seen, unless we make a conscious effort otherwise. If you have essentially the same employment brand position as the other major players in your industry, then it’s like putting on a grey suit and walking into an Audit conference — you are very unlikely to get noticed. Be bold in your position, figure out what is unique and special about your organization, and use that to differentiate yourselves … and take a leaf from Virgin’s brand book … put on a red suit. If there isn’t anything unique or special, then that’s a bigger conversation with leadership about what you stand for and the future of your company.

Communicating and Living Up to Your Promise

–     Invest early, prior to a public launch, to prepare your organization to live up to your brand promise:

  • Partner with the wider HR organization and business leaders to think through the employee life cycle. Check if the experiences along the way are consistent with the brand. The manager-employee relationship is the fulcrum of much of the employee experience, so manager competency training is a particularly strong point to focus on.
  • Everyday employees can be your most powerful advocates. They’re living examples of your brand when they display how great their job, culture, and work environment is to others. Humans find people like themselves to be the most credible source of information and will believe your employees over any number of advertisements. That’s another reason why your employee experience must match up with your brand promise.

–        The whole candidate experience, including for those who aren’t hired, should be on-brand:

  • Look for and eliminate any areas in the candidate journey that create dissonance with the brand promise — for example, if part of your brand promise is that you are on the cutting edge of technology then you really need a slick feeling application system and your careers website had better be top notch.
  • Recruiters are the initial and critical face of the company. Train them so they can explain your brand, describe what it means to them, and understand how their actions can contribute to or undermine it.
  • Ensure hiring managers and interviewers know how to represent the brand to candidates. Build it into interviewer training and interview packs.

–        Communicating your employment brand promise can be done through many channels: online, print, radio, out of home, industry events and speaker platforms, PR, awards, etc, and of course through the candidate experience. PR and speaking platforms are generally lower cost and can have a huge impact if trusted voices pick up and amplify your message. Paid advertising has a broad reach and you have direct control of the message and medium.

–        The most effective projection of the employment brand comes from multi-layered efforts that create multiple touch-points with the potential candidate. They see a billboard on their way to work, see a banner pop up online, read about an award in an industry forum, talk to an employee at a summer BBQ — and then they get a call from a recruiter and are primed to have the conversation.

–        Get guerilla about your marketing tactics — look for innovative ways to cut-through the background noise. Place ads on the travel routes where your target talent currently work; rent out a nearby restaurant and invite people for free food and to hear a noteworthy speaker on an industry-relevant topic; support causes that appeal to your target talent demographic; etc. The only limit is your imagination.

Building a valuable employment brand is an investment, but it can be scaled from small efforts up to national campaigns depending on your needs and resources. Tthe payoff is worth the effort in quality and interest of candidates.

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