Companies get one shot at a first impression. To make it count, they need an employer brand that rises above the noise. Your employer brand is that opportunity to hook potential job candidates and show them the who, what, when, where and why of your organization.
Employer branding reflects your reputation with job seekers and should align with your mission, values and goals. Learn how to develop an effective employer brand strategy.
What Is an Employer Brand?
An employer brand is the image and perception that potential employees and the public have of your organization. This is more than your tagline, logo or other surface-level traits. Employer brand includes candidate perception of your values and culture. Candidates also want to know how you’re different from competitors and how you’ll help their careers advance. An effective employer brand will attract top candidates who want to be a part of your organization and see how you can help their careers.
What Are the Challenges of Building an Employer Brand?
Every organization has a perception of what it’s like, but does that perception match your organization’s culture and actions? Do job candidates see what you see? Even if you have built an effective employer brand, you need to maintain it over time.
One of the foundational challenges in building an employer brand is identifying your target audience. Without this understanding, you’ll try to attract candidates who aren’t interested or are a poor match — all while ignoring ideal potential hires.
As you’re developing your brand, two key challenges are securing resources and finding alignment. You might lack the budget or time to develop an elaborate branding and marketing strategy. Or there might be disagreement internally as to what your culture is and what kind of hires you’re trying to attract. Importantly, if you don’t have leadership buy-in, your employer branding efforts will fall short.
Even when employer branding efforts are successful, many organizations aren’t sure how to measure success. While metrics such as time to fill and recruiting costs can signal improved recruiting, can your team connect those outcomes to branding efforts?
And even if you do all of this right, the workforce is constantly changing. You will need to evolve your employer brand as your industry and organization change.
How to Create an Employer Brand Strategy
Whether you already have an employer brand strategy or are just getting started, here are six steps you can take to showcase your brand and attract talent.
Define Your Employer Brand
Start by identifying the values that accurately describe your brand. If you have values, how can you communicate them to potential employees? How does your brand differ from competitors? As you define your employer brand, make sure it evokes emotion from your target audience and entices them to learn more.
Research Your Target Audience
Who are you trying to hire? Why? By researching your target audience, you get a better understanding of the work they are looking to do, the kind of culture they seek and the benefits they value.
Look at how companies in your industry are communicating their brand to your audience. What do they do differently? Where’s the opportunity to do better than them?
Create Content to Communicate Your Brand
Content is key to a successful employer brand strategy. Focus on creating content that's engaging and generates curiosity.
Content creation is its own process. Use keyword research to see what topics your target audience is talking about. Create blog posts, videos and other content that's tailored to candidates’ interests and needs.
Publish on the channels where your job candidates are. Your company website is a powerful messaging platform, but don’t forget about your career site, job descriptions and social media channels. How you market your content is as important as the content you create.
Track the Results
After launching your employer brand, track and analyze performance through metrics that your team has agreed on. These metrics should illustrate your company reputation, whether you’re reaching the right people and whether your efforts encourage them to apply for jobs.
If you want to assess your employer brand, look at surveys and other direct feedback, both from candidates and your existing employees.
Focus on Employee Retention and Culture
Candidates want to work for a company that sees them as more than a number. How you treat your existing workforce affects whether they stay — and what they say about you to potential hires. When you cultivate a culture of trust and learning, you’re more likely to keep workers longer and generate employee referrals.
Improve the Hiring Process
Part of your employer brand is the candidate experience as they move through your hiring process. Is it easy to apply for a job? Do your applicant tracking system and hiring managers quickly and fairly move candidates through the recruitment life cycle?
When candidates feel that their time is respected and they’re treated fairly, they’re more likely to respect your employer brand — and even recommend you to other people.
Your employer brand is your public face, the living embodiment of your employer value proposition. When you put care into developing, communicating and maintaining your brand, you’ll hire better and keep those workers longer.