Your Employer Brand Happens With or Without You

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Nov 19, 2015

The ease of access to a vast amount of information is dramatically changing the talent market — it’s a “talent-sumer” world. Today’s candidates do more research, review, and consume more information and are ultimately better prepared in today’s market. Using your brand is one way to respond and differentiate your company in the market — and the first place to start. A few years ago at CDW, we realized our employer brand was happening with or without us — and the more proactive we were about it, the more successful we would be at attracting talent and achieving business objectives.

CDW is a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider to business, government, education, and healthcare organizations in North America and the United Kingdom. We have 8,200 coworkers and hire approximately more than 1,000 people per year. Since we don’t manufacture anything, our people, forgive the cliche are our strategic assets.

We are No. 253 on the Fortune 500 and No. 56 on Forbes’ America’s Best Employers, but given our B2B focus, it’s not uncommon that consumers and potential prospects have no idea who we are. Here are the steps we took to improve awareness and proactively shape CDW’s employer brand.

Building Our Employer Brand

Conduct an audit

As Glassdoor grew in popularity, we learned quickly that doing nothing was very risky for our brand. So first we conducted an audit by reviewing everything that was being posted. We also evaluated our presence on LinkedIn and Indeed. We gathered as much data and feedback as we could; if your company deploys engagement surveys, review the results — the feedback is invaluable.

We also applied for something called the CandE awards. We received a tremendous amount of insight about our overall employer brand and details about various stages of the candidate journey. We also created our own candidate surveys to better understand differences in feedback based on type of audience.

Encourage participation

When we observed people were commenting and reviewing CDW without encouragement, we suspected we could increase engagement if we proactively solicited reviews as well, from new hires to employees celebrating key service anniversaries.

We also conduct a mass annual solicitation, allowing coworkers to voice their opinions in an ongoing effort to better understand our coworkers. We anticipated our ratings would improve, but were surprised improvement occurred in every company category (culture & values, work/life balance, senior management, comp & benefits, and career opportunities). Plus, we had the unanticipated benefit of winning three Glassdoor awards! This credible, third-party recognition further promoted and reinforced our employment brand in the market.

Amplify the Employer Brand With Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment marketing focuses on the top of the funnel. It’s about delivering the right content at the right time to drive conversion of quality candidates from awareness to interest to consideration, driving better applicants and ultimately hires through the hiring process.

Notice I stressed quality. Focusing only on quantity is irresponsible and can lead to a poor candidate experience, wasted effort and resources from your team, and a negative impact to your employer brand.

Technology is critical to implementing and tracking your employer brand and recruitment marketing efforts. Once we had the infrastructure in place (we happen to use SmashFly and Taleo), we created our recruitment marketing strategy to start promoting our employer brand to build stronger relationships with candidates.

Content and personalization are key elements in amplifying our message. Here are two examples:


We hire approximately 500 inside sales account managers annually. In addition to creating more awareness, we also identified opportunities in our pipeline where we could increase candidate engagement and improve conversion of quality candidates throughout the selection process.

We created more than 25 pieces of collateral, which we shared with candidates at various phases: pre offer, post offer, and post start. We saw improvement in the percentage of offers accepted and both the number of offers reneged and candidates who no-showed on the first day declined.


We are committed to supporting the military community. Previously, we used traditional recruiting forums like career fairs to target veterans. However, feedback regarding career fairs from both employers and candidates is often negative. For the employer, there are high costs, lots of competition, and poor attendee quality. So we hosted a half-day career development session that included a company overview, meet-and-greet, panel discussion with our veteran employees, and mini career fair. We used our own talent community to identify potential attendees and promote the event personally. The cost was minimal, but more importantly, there was no competition and we were able to dedicate more time with quality, interested veteran attendees.

Hiring great talent is getting more competitive every day. How you differentiate your employer brand will determine your success in today’s talent market. Your brand is the catalyst; the basis for why candidates will follow you on Twitter, search for your career site, click a link to apply, and ultimately accept an offer. The question is: How are you proactively shaping your employment brand? If you don’t, candidates will craft it for you — good or bad.


image from Shutterstock

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