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Employer Branding – why it’s important

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Employer Branding – the core things you need to know

If you read lots of Recruitment and HR blogs you’ll see lots of ideas on how to brand your organisation to be attractive to candidates and the world in general. Whilst there are endless things you can do, there are some core principles you need to ensure are part of your thinking.

No Assumptions

We all know the saying, my parents said it, their parents said it, I can (break my own rule and) assume that you’ve heard it before. Assume = “making an ass out of u and me”. Your employment brand will not be something that you can just take from your company’s core values or mission statements and just broadcast over all mediums.

Here is my definition of “employer brand”: Your employer brand is how your brand is perceived by the market place, your current employees and your prospective employees as a place to work.

People will have a perception of your organisation, it will be formed rightly or wrongly from a number of factors.  Check Glassdoor.com or Whirlpool forums

That message is pretty hard for some companies to take, as it isn’t something that is carefully crafted by marketing teams and smooth PR departments.  That stuff is just nice polished spin, something to catch the eye and entice. The genuine employment branding is reality.

You can spend millions on marketing and branding, selling your organisation as the best place in the world to work, somewhere you can build your dreams, have flexibility, be rewarded and respected, have the table tennis tables, unlimited leave, paid lunches, massage therapists on call and even a “bring your pet to work day” etc etc etc. But, if the reality is different, if that dream becomes a nightmare or is even slightly tarnished by what really goes on behind closed doors, your idea of your employment brand is dead! (well diminished anyway)

In these days of Social Media, it does not take much for a bad word to get around or even a slightly not so good word can be spread at the speed of a key stroke.  The sad truth of it is that bad news travels faster than good news.

You need to face the reality of what it really is like to work in your organisation. At ALL levels. Some ideas to throw around:

  • Talk to your staff, ask them what they like and don’t like
  • Use exit interviews or talk to alumni
  • Ask candidates as to why they applied or what they’ve heard

If there are unideal/less than satisfactory things in a role, point them out, for example:

  • The workload is high at the moment
  • Expectations are huge
  • There will be excessive travel
  • Deadlines are tough.

Set these expectations up front. Authenticity is key.

Don’t sell the stuff you don’t have. If it isn’t a fun place to work, where there is lots of potential for professional growth. DON’T sell those points! Just because it sounds good, make sure it’s real.

Here is the kicker. This brand is not always what the management team wants it to be. Be prepared for that, but you do need to start at the top before you start to disseminate this campaign.

Get executive buy in.

Everything is easier this way. It’s not too hard a sell, if in doubt resort to the tried and true “everyone is doing it” reasoning. Ask them their idea is to what “their” brand. Get their reasoning, then start working down the chain.

Take your time in crafting the message, don’t rush, but keep it real. If you lack the authenticity, it will bite you in the (well you know what)

Once this is done, then the fun bit starts.

Engage your people in the distribution of the message, let’s call them (as a number of other people do) “Brand Ambassadors”. Brand Ambassadors/Company advocates are a great thing and will be some of your best weapons in your success. Your staff are your best brand ambassadors. Target the mediums to distribute the message and be consistent.

Some target mediums

  • Job descriptions
  • Job ads
  • Company website
  • LinkedIn Corporate pages
  • Twitter pages
  • Facebook pages
  • Corporate videos
  • Blogs
  • Slideshare pages
  • Live the message
  • Even the annual report
  • Get your Recruiters on board to live and spread the message, do as they say and treat applicants with respect in a structured and transparent process.

Measure and adjust

This is a hard thing to do. My tip here is to talk to your marketers, they will have a way to measure these things, it’s what they do.
If things aren’t working, adjust and change. Be flexible, don’t put your head in the sand, iterate and re-iterate until you have it right.

Be Brave

Be brave in your messaging, be brave in your conviction, be brave in changing if it isn’t working. Branding is an interesting and fun exercise to go through, but it will definitely be worth it to your hiring organisation.