Employer brand marketing is crucial for recruiting and retaining top talent.
Trying to lure top talent to your company? In a hot economy, it’s a jobseeker’s market, and qualified candidates often have a handful of strong offers to choose from.
And even once you’ve hired a rock star, it can be a challenge to keep her from jumping ship to a new position.Getting to the top of your ideal candidate’s wishlist takes more than a glamorous office and generous benefits package, although those certainly don’t hurt.
Beyond the basics, it’s important to put in place a strong recruitment marketing program that will educate and inspire top talent about your company’s employee value proposition, helping draw them to your brand even before they’ve graduated from a degree program, and making your recruiters’ job much easier.
In this article, we’ll share how to create a winning employer branding strategy for better talent attraction and retention.
Most marketers think of branding in terms of appealing to their prospective customers. They’ll spend six or seven figures on research to determine the right color palette, iconography, logo, and imagery, and content to build a brand that resonates with their target market. And there’s no question that all of that is important—but it’s just as essential to focus on the other side of your branding efforts: employer branding.
Employer branding is more likely to be owned by Human Resources or Talent Acquisition than Marketing (though they may partner up here), and the goal here is to build the brand of your team culture. You want to ensure that jobseekers and employees have a strong positive connection with your brand and recognize your values. Recruitment-focused marketing efforts are a core part of your employer branding efforts, but it’s also important to build a plan that continually engages with existing employees and encourages them to advocate for your brand.
Employer branding encompasses a variety of communication types, including:
Regardless of the medium you take, employer branding is based around presenting a strong employee value proposition that showcases your values as an organization.
Building a strong reputation ties closely to recruiting economics: LinkedIn found that companies with a strong employer brand were able to cut their per-hire cost in half, and reduce turnover among current employees by 28%.
Building a stellar brand reputation is also crucial to getting the best talent for your team. Three-quarters of job candidates spend time researching an organization before applying for a job, and a negative first impression could keep strong applicants from even considering your company.
Along with aiding talent acquisition, employer branding helps you reduce turnover. You need to focus on keeping your current employees engaged with your company and motivated to continue with your company for the long term. Highly engaged current employees can even aid your recruiting efforts, drawing their own talented peers to your company without the need to invest in recruiting efforts. Conversely, a bad reputation means that you’ll need to work much harder to overcome your poor reviews, and you may lose your best job candidates to other companies that have built a strong employer brand.
So how do you begin building a strong employer brand? Here’s where to start.
Before you can focus on improving your employer brand, you need a baseline. If there’s very little insight about you as an employer available on the web, that’s an easy place to start from.
If there’s some damaging information out there, it could be a little trickier—but that’s when it’s even more essential to invest in building a positive employer brand as a form of reputation management. Here’s a cheat sheet for determining how your company’s reputation measures up:
Take all of these details into account and take note of your baseline metrics, which you can measure against as you build and execute an employer branding strategy. These may vary based on your goals, but can include elements such as:
Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of your current brand sentiment, it’s time to look at ways to improve your market presence. My agency often helps clients build their content marketing strategies for their target buyers, and building an employer brand strategy takes a very similar approach—but rather than targeting buyers, you’re targeting talent. And they’re not just committing to a purchase; they’re committing to joining your team. That requires an intensely thoughtful approach to understanding who your audience is and how you can engage with them.
The Australian company Atlassian, which owns project management, communication, and software development products including Jira, Trello, Confluence, Hipchat, and others, is competing for the same top talent as larger companies like Google and Apple, and despite their smaller size, they’re often winning—because they have invested in building a truly extraordinary employee value proposition, and showcasing it in their employer branding initiatives.
We’ve worked with the Atlassian team on a number of their employer branding marketing initiatives, and what’s immediately clear is how strongly the entire team embraces their company values. Every piece of content the Talent Brand team develops focuses on showcasing how these values enhance the company culture and create a vibrant, welcoming work environment that offers limitless opportunities for career growth.
Atlassian has also focused heavily on growing the diversity of their potential candidates: After realizing that fewer than 10% of their technical talent were female, the company set out to fix that problem by updating their website employer branding and job descriptions with more diverse and female-friendly imagery and language, and increasing female representation at technology conferences and events. Additionally, they changed their interviewing style, focusing on “values alignment” rather than “cultural fit,” which can often alienate potential candidates who come from different backgrounds than the majority of applicants, including women and people of color.
As a result of these shifts to their employer branding strategy, Atlassian was able to immediately increase the diversity of its incoming “Gradlassian” class, growing it to a ratio of 57% female. (You can see more of the data and tactics behind this fascinating initiative in their case study at HROS.)
Employer branding is about more than marketing: First, focus on building a business that values its employees and provides them with a set of core values and a strong company culture that they’ll embrace and actively evangelize. Then, learn from your employees what it is that makes your business a great place for them to work—and channel their enthusiasm and insights into your recruiting materials.
By building an authentic and strong employer brand, you’ll be able to effortlessly recruit top talent who actively want to work at your business, and keep your existing employees engaged and excited about their future at your company. Your company’s reputation will grow authentically through building a positive workplace—but taking the steps to build a strong employer brand will help you spread the word far beyond your brand’s immediate network, and engage with top talent from far and wide.
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