Our little blog has covered many aspects of employer branding over the past two years, from building the business case to measuring and evaluating results – and many stages in between. So, it seemed more than a little helpful to tie it all together in to an end to end process.

Whether you specialise in resourcing, recruitment or talent – or are coming at it with a marketing perspective, we think you’ll find this useful. Your employer brand will be one of the most important statements your organisation will make in attracting, engaging and retaining your people. Here’s how to make it happen…

1. Get sign-off and build your team

Building an employer brand may make perfect sense to many, but this also has to be bought into by those who are signing off the project and the budget. To get them on your side, it helps to put a powerful business case. We wrote a whole blog on positioning the value of a strong employer brand – and gave a business case elevator pitch for your HR Director that went something like this …

“Our employer brand is effectively our reputation as an employer. Whether candidates decide to join us – or someone else – is often down to their view of us and what it’s like to work here. So, building a more attractive employee proposition will help us bring in more of the right people – and help us keep the great people we already have.”

Now, that’s a pretty powerful argument, wouldn’t you agree? But who’s going to build it?

There are many stakeholders in a successful employer brand. It has traditionally ‘sat’ within recruitment, but it touches many other parts of the organisation such as marketing, IT, compliance. Then there are your external partners – that could be an agency (we know a great little one), an ATS provider, a video specialist, perhaps a social media strategist. It can be a big team and you may well be spending some time together – we know!

Tip: Start by building your business case, talk to marketing, your resourcing team, your agency – and get everyone on board and their roles defined at the outset.

2. Do your research

Would a marketing team launch a new product without first researching the target market and what they might want from this product? No, of course they wouldn’t. An employer brand should be no different. That’s why we recommend you start by understanding where your existing brand sits with your internal and external audience – and what your target audience is looking for …

For example, what might candidates want from a career with you, and what do they think a career with you might be like? What do they like about working for you – is it what you expected, does it sound unique in any way? What are they saying on social media? We might even suggest a focus group of target employees.

And what about your internal audience, what are their views of the good and the bad – and what do they make of the external findings? Finally, what are you going to build on – what are the current stats on time to hire, cost to hire, sourcing channels, turnover rates, etc?

Tip: Whatever role you do, think like a marketer. Get to know your target market and build a baseline of data on which to build.

3. Develop your Employer Proposition (EVP)

The research will have identified what is demonstrably good, and ideally different about working for you. Undoubtedly, you’ll also uncover areas for improvement or consideration too. Overall, you’ll have real confidence that you’ve captured the opinions of your employees and an external view of your target audience.

The process will ensure that you can agree on your employer proposition and all aspects are fully and accurately represented. And, just like any well-planned product offering, it will provide the research-based foundation for the creative development of your employer brand.

We’ve covered the research and building an employer proposition in more depth in our posts ‘Building an employer brand your candidates will want to buy’ and ‘A little guide to your proposition, your brand and your marketing‘.

Tip: Your employer proposition underpins the process that develops the core creative message of your employer brand. Don’t make any assumptions at this stage, it will only come back to bite you where it hurts later.

4. Develop meaningful marketing

The secret to successful employer or recruitment marketing comes from delivering a compelling creative message to the right people – at the right time, in the right place and on the right media. It’s a message that will be articulated through your careers website, social media activity, and advertising. All of which will raise awareness of your brand and help attract more informed talent.

So, how do you get started?

If you haven’t started working with an agency (they may have already helped you carry out research and developed your proposition) then now is the time to – or at least have a chat. Naturally, as an employer branding agency we would say this – it’s what we do (and we love our portfolio of work), but in the interests of impartiality, there are other creative routes you can take and your marketing team might have the resources in-house.

Whatever you decide, the creative output must look and feel like you, which is why involving your existing people for feedback is a good idea. If you show them concepts and they don’t recognise the business (or fall about laughing) it’s not a good sign.

We’ve recently covered two areas very relevant to the creative output of employer branding. The use of film and video is becoming more and more popular as a form of content that shows what it’s like to work for an employer. We’ve also gone into more depth on the need for authenticity in your employer brand.

Tip: You marketing will need to articulate your employer brand across all platforms. A creative partner experienced in employer branding will be able to help with this. It must be authentic to you and believed by your existing people.

5. Build your careers website

Your careers website is probably going to be the first place that a job seeker is going to come into contact with your employer brand. So it needs to make a strong, positive first impression – as well as meeting the needs of your prospective candidates. There’s lot that goes into a careers website and, if you are in an HR role, you’ll be working with an extended team that will probably include marketing, IT, an ATS provider and a creative agency too. That’s why you’ll want to create a good brief.

Writing a brief is a very handy process to clarify your thoughts and create something all stakeholders can sign-off on. If you’ve done your thinking about your employer proposition, you’ll be able to include a steer on your messaging and you may even have a creative approach in place.

We’ve written this article on planning and briefing your careers website but, in brief you should include your values as an organisation, what you are there to achieve, why people will want to work for you and your target audience itself, their likely values and motivations.

Tip: Your careers website should sit at the centre of all your recruitment activity where the candidate is your customer. So, just like any other website, think about what would make the customer take the next step – and write a comprehensive brief. Your web designer will love you for it.

6. Plug it all into Google

You might be delighted with how your new employer brand has translated to your shiny new careers website, but if Google doesn’t know it’s there, your careers website (and the roles on it), is not going to get found.

Fortunately, Google is very helpful when it comes to this. It publishes directions so that you can set-up job postings to be better found in Google searches, leading to the posts having increased chances of discovery and conversion.

And then there’s being set-up for Google’s own job search experience, Google for Jobs – there’s a few things to do for that too. And what about the way your postings and website content is written? Again, there are things you can do that will have a huge impact on how they are found.

We’ve covered all of this and more in our post ‘Making sure Google can find your careers website and vacancies’ and we also have a handy ebook, specifically about Google for Jobs.

Tip: You can’t just switch on your careers site and think that your employer brand will be out there for all the world to see. But if your careers site has been properly indexed with well written pages, well-structured job postings (and clear job titles), is set up for Google for Jobs, is mobile friendly and loads quickly – Google will take a shine to it.

7. Establish your social media strategy

Social media is where your audience are talking and it’s where trust and engagement is built. But you can’t join the conversation unless you’re in the same place as your audience. That’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – places where, as an employer, its relatively low cost to be. But, it’s not only where your audience are, it’s where your audience shares what they want others to know about.

What’s more, social networks offer reach and they attract passive candidates. It’s highly likely that the network of your employees and friends is much bigger than yours as an employer. So, you can’t afford to miss out of social media for sharing all the best parts of your employer brand.

We’ve covered social media with two articles ‘How social media will support your employer brand‘ and, for those doubters in your organisation, the ‘The business case for using social media for employer branding’.

Tip: If your content is engaging and authentic, your employees will want to share it. So make it easy with share buttons and fast loading video. And don’t be one of those organisations that try to control their employees’ social media – it won’t work.  What’s more it may demotivate and kill off the engagement that’s such a powerful recruiting message.

8. Consider the candidate experience – they talk!

You don’t want to do all this work, developing your employer brand and careers website, attracting exactly the kind of people you need, only to lose them because their experience of being your candidate stinks. But it happens. The line manager who sits on CVs for six weeks, the poorly conducted interview and even the unbelievable practice of (still) not getting back to unsuccessful candidates.

All of these are guaranteed to pour a bucket of cold water over your employer brand. If the reality doesn’t match the promise, the candidate will spot it a mile off and call you out on it. There was a time when poor recruitment could be kept in-house, but that was before social media and, in particular Glassdoor and Indeed.

Think about your own relationship with a brand you like and what they do to keep you engaged. It goes way beyond the first touch – and the candidate experience is no different.

Tip: Break your processes down, see where there are any risks to a positive experience and ask candidates for their thoughts too – they’ll be pleased to tell you and it could be very valuable feedback.

9. Measure and evaluate

You’ve defined and developed your proposition, meaningful marketing, new careers website, social media strategy, candidate experience – that’s a lot of effort and cost. So how effective has it all been? What works, what impact has it made?

You’ll need to know this, so you can get the budget to keep developing your employer brand. And if your HR Director asks “so how effective is our employer brand, where have we improved, what are the cost and time savings in our hiring as a result?” It would be nice to know. So, it’s time to get analytical, but, with so many ways of measuring so many different things, where do you start

We think you should look at improvements in the recruitment process – such as time to hire, your channel effectiveness, the costs, applicant completion rate, etc. But we also believe it’s good to measure what your candidates and your internal customers – and even your hiring managers – feel too.

We’ve written a guide with ten metrics that will make you a measurement expert in no time. Check out this article on ‘Recruitment metrics. What you should be recording, how and why‘ And this on ‘Measuring your employer brand‘.

Tip: Often the best place to start is to ask, “What information do you need?” If you did your research at the start of your employer branding project, you’ll have captured baseline data on what on time to hire, cost to hire, sourcing channels, turnover rates. So you’ll be able to look again and report on not only what they are now – but show the improvements.

10. Decide what awards to enter

Why not think big? If you’ve done all the hard work and can demonstrate your employer brand development is clearly delivering (and you’ll have all the metrics to prove it), there are a number of industry awards you should consider. Share and celebrate your best practice with your peers.

The development of the employer brand is also a big commitment – and requires a lot of trust from the client. So when a resourcing manager has put their case to their board and seen it deliver a genuine benefit to their business, we think that they deserve their moment in the spotlight too.

So, what awards are there?

Let’s start with the RAD Awards, championing the very best of recruitment communications and celebrating “talented people, innovative ideas and brave clients”. We often consider these the Oscars of the recruitment communications. Glitz, glamour and the admiration of your agency peers.

We also really like the Recruitment Marketing Awards. Why? Well there are two rounds of judging. The first is by employer branding and marketing professionals. This develops the short-list and is often similar to the RAD Awards. But the second round is by human resources and recruitment professionals who often see things that the agency folk don’t. A little more worthy. A little more British. The BAFTAs of our industry.

Personally, we’re big fans of the FIRM Awards. Celebrating excellence, innovation and best practice within in-house recruitment. For in-house recruitment professionals, voted by in-house recruitment professionals. The Writer’s Guild Awards.

Finally, the Employer Brand Management Awards is focused purely on the definition of your employer proposition and how you develop and manage your employer brand. It has quick become considered a real benchmark of a company’s employer brand management process. The Larry’s (Olivier Awards) of our industry, maybe?

Here’s our take on the importance of awards – for clients and agencies alike.

Tip: Entering an award is a great way to raise the profile of your organisation and your employer brand development work amongst your peers. Submitting the entry can take time so ask your agency to help, they’ll know what to say and which awards you should go for. Good luck!

In conclusion

Developing and managing your employer brand is one of the most important and high-profile decisions your organisation will take. That might sound like a grand statement but not if you consider that the employer brand attracts and retains talent so has a direct impact on productivity and shareholder value. And where would any organisation be without the people they need?

That’s why the process deserves as much careful planning as any other aspect of brand development – and this checklist has been written to give you all the main pointers although there’s a lot more involved in the detail. Which is where we can help.

Personally, we believe that an effective and award-winning employer brand comes from the combination of a bunch of talented people who all want to deliver something special, a great creative approach and a brave and ambitious client. And if we can have some fun delivering it, all the better.

We’ll help you develop and manage your employer brand

We are That Little Agency, we help employers tell their story and we do this by developing award-winning employer brands and careers websites. All designed to help you deliver measurable results.

If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around defining your employer value proposition, developing your employer brand or any aspect of your talent attraction strategy just drop us a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a biscuit.