We’ve written many articles on what employer branding is and how to develop one authentic to each organisation. And yet it’s often confusion around what employer branding isn’t that can seriously hinder your ability to attract and retain good people. Part of this comes from the fact that our thinking and approach is continuously evolving. So maybe, it’s time to debunk some of those myths that can set your employer branding off on the wrong track. Together, let’s prick a few taboos and tweak the nipples of a few misconceptions. And understand that ‘there’s no such thing as…’
… ‘creating’ an employer brand
You can research, develop, promote and nurture your employer brand, but you can’t decide whether or not you have one. If you have employees, you have an employer brand. Your employer brand is what your employees (existing and past) think about what it’s like to work for you. And it’s also about the perception candidates have about working for you. In both instances, it’s not what you think – it’s what they think.
Although we tend to think of the creative aspects of employer branding as the brand, the reality is that if you did absolutely nothing, you’d still have an employer brand – albeit one perhaps covered in tumbleweed. Just like any brand, your employer brand needs ongoing management and a little love. It’s continuously evolving, driven by candidate and employee experiences – and it needs to reflect that.
So, you have an employer brand whether you like it or not. But isn’t all this nurturing going to be expensive? Isn’t employer branding only for the organisations with big budgets? No, that’s another myth. With social media, a blogging platform on the careers site and employees engaged in sharing their stories, recruiters have many affordable tools to take their brand to their target audience – just like other marketers can.
… a single employer proposition
You might think you’ve identified a powerful employer proposition that sits across your business – but it won’t mean the same thing to your sales team, R&D lab, reception or the leadership team. Your employer proposition is the answer to the question: why would somebody work here as opposed to somewhere else? And this answer will be different depending on who you ask within the business – and which country they might be in for global businesses.
As we covered in our article ‘Understanding your employer proposition. A practical approach’, there can be a bit of a perception that there’s such a thing as a single proposition. Instead, there there is a set of universal truths/pillars experienced by everyone in the organisation. The goal should be to identify these and to understand which pillars matter most to the key employment groups.
So, how do you do that? By using pillars that are far more useful than an over arching single proposition that risks being too broad and meaningless. Proposition pillars should be about motives and feelings instead of benefits and rewards. The most important thing is how these messages sit with the different target audiences within a business. These can then be used in customised and targeted marketing messages rather than a single employer proposition which can be too broad.
… a finished careers website
We build careers websites and we always have a wry smile when we are asked “When will our careers website be finished?” It’s a fair question but our answer often surprises clients. We’d hate anyone to feel disappointed so we don’t say ‘never’ (although this is actually true), rather, it’ll be a process of constant evolution. When a careers website goes live, that’s just the start.
Your careers site and its content should continuously evolve with the needs and expectations of your job seekers. At the very beginning, the careers website focussed on creating a great process from advertising vacancies to handling the applications. Then the need for compelling content arose, not just around the roles but also why job seekers should join the company.
And nowadays the job seeker also looks for an emotional connection. Candidate research has shown that 85% of job seekers want to be able to picture themselves working at an organisation. When visiting a careers website, they want to see themselves represented as individuals or professionals. And of course the nature of work has changed immeasurably this past year. No careers site should be the same as it was before the pandemic.
So, how do you keep your careers content fresh and with relevant and relatable content. This article has many tips: ‘What makes compelling content for your careers website?’
… a passive jobseeker
Don’t think of candidates as passive – or active, instead look at them the way they see themselves. For example an active candidate may think and feel: ‘I won’t be here in 6 months time’. While passive candidates feel very connected to the business and may see themselves there for a long time. So, it’s more realistic to talk about ‘active passive’ – or ‘inactive passive’ candidates. Which is why it’s important to appreciate there are different versions of how they picture themselves within the organisation. So how can we connect with those candidates (whether active or passive), influence them to apply and likewise, influence good employees to stay? We can engage with active candidates by using job boards and careers websites or, to convey real authenticity, reach out via sharing stories from your own employer brand champions.
The most powerful messages focus on what you want people to feel and think rather than just telling them what the job, or organisation, is about. Its not only what the role does, but how it contributes to the success of the team, or on a wider scale, the purpose of the organisation.
… an employer brand you can measure
It’s all very well, this employer branding activity – but many recruiters believe it can’t be measured to show the ROI. Oh yes it can. What’s more, you’ll be in possession of some pretty in-demand skills in terms of supplying HR data. Not only can you measure the recruitment process – with data such as time and cost to hire, you can measure the experience of the actual brand in terms of post recruitment satisfaction.
What was the retention or attrition in the first year? It’s measurable. What was the candidate experience like – something critical when candidates are buying in – or out of the recruitment process? It’s measurable via a survey or focus groups – as is the experience of working for you in the first year. What impact did the hiring or line managers make on the experience of the employer brand? Feedback can be gained face to face or by an anonymous survey.
And then there’s social media metrics. High or increasing numbers of likes, shares, clicks, and other engagements with your careers content can be a good indicator of employer brand strength.
In fact, you can measure so much, we wrote an article covering all the main metrics and formulas you’ll need. It does what it says ‘Recruitment metrics. What you should be recording, how and why.’
So, put away some of those myths and misconceptions. As HR, recruiters and agencies we sometimes need to shift our thinking. Employer branding is not just about attracting and retaining talent. It’s about building positive emotional connections with existing and potential colleagues and recognising how they may be feeling about working for you. And these interactions can be measured, and therefore managed, just like other forms of branding activity.
As we said at the start, having an employer brand is not an option. Once you have got that myth out of the way, you’ll soon realise that you might as well manage and influence your brand so that great people come… and stay.
For further information
If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around your employer brand, just drop me a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea, a biscuit and a Zoom call.