It seems like everywhere you look today you see “Now Hiring” signs.
As vaccinations roll out and we begin to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, more and more businesses are able to reopen and return to operating as normal. But even though there seems to be a record number of job openings out there, people don’t seem eager to fill them. In fact, a lot of people are deciding to juggle multiple gig jobs, rather than work for a company. Jobs have become commoditized—which means businesses have to find a way to stand out to potential hires to attract and retain great people.
Making your company stand out is all about branding—not just to make sales, but to recruit the best new hires for your business. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of employer branding, and how you can use it to position your company as one people are clamoring to work for.
What is employer branding?
Usually when you think of branding, you’re considering how your business can appeal to whomever you’re selling to. You have a target audience in mind that helps direct your marketing initiatives. The key difference in employer branding is that target audience: Instead of who you’re trying to sell your product or service to, your target audience is your current and potential employees. And instead of convincing them of the benefits of your offer, you’re convincing them of the benefits of working for your company.
Good employer branding adjusts the perception both current and potential employees have of a company. It encompasses how employees feel not just about their individual jobs, but a company overall. And while feelings can be hard to quantify, there’s no doubt they have a powerful impact on an individual’s decision to apply for a job.
For instance, imagine you need to buy a new laptop. That’s a real investment, so you’re probably not going to just throw your money at the first one you see. You’ll head online to browse the specs, ask friends about their preferred brand, and read reviews from people who’ve already made the purchase. Job hunters are doing the exact same thing, learning not just about the position, but about the company posting it. What they find can make or break their decision to apply: CareerArc found that 55% of job seekers abandon applications after reading negative reviews of the company. But if your company maintains a positive employer brand, that can swing things in your favor. 67% of job seekers said they would accept even a lower paying position from a company with positive reviews.
Just like a positive impression of your brand can draw in consumers, it can also draw in job seekers, bringing quite a few concrete benefits to your business.
The benefits of a positive employer brand
At first glance, the benefits of maintaining a positive employer brand seem obvious enough. You need to build your team, so you need applicants, and you’re more likely to get them if people like your brand than if they don’t. But the effects of a good employer brand run much deeper, influencing everything from your company culture to your bottom line.
Here are three key benefits of improving your employer branding:
1. Better applicant pool
When you develop a positive employer brand image, your company becomes one people really want to work for. That means no more scrambling to hire or struggling to find someone with the right qualifications—more talented applicants will be knocking at your door, excited to join your team. You’ll have the freedom to take a more proactive approach to hiring, as well as bring on cream of the crop employees who mesh well with your company culture and values.
2. Improved employee retention
A positive employer brand also means your employees stick around longer once they’re hired. According to a LinkedIn report, employee turnover can be reduced by 28% by investing in employer branding. Not only is this great for your company culture, it’s great for your bottom line. High retention rates mean you don’t have to waste your time and money on hiring and training new employees all the time.
3. Better overall brand image
How companies treat their employees matters not just to the employees themselves, but to everyone else, too. For example, think about the many recent stories exposing the conditions inside Amazon’s warehouses. It’s pretty unlikely you felt positively about the Amazon brand after reading about the way they treat their employees. Conversely, whenever someone tells you they love their job, don’t you have a better impression of that company overall?
A strong employer brand creates a positive feedback loop: it brings in the best candidates for the job and keeps them there, which makes the employees happy, which encourages the general public to feel more positively about the brand. And when people generally feel positively about a brand, they’re more likely to seek out employment there and recommend others do so as well.
How to use branding to attract job seekers
Now that you know why employer branding is so important, let’s dive into some ways you can improve your own employer brand. Here are 5 strategies you can use to differentiate your brand from competitors and encourage top candidates to apply to work with you.
1. Understand your core values.
One important aspect of building your employer brand is understanding your company’s core values. Job seekers generally have a wealth of open positions with roughly the same job description to apply to. But your specific values are unique to your company, which make them a clear way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Given the choice, people will most often choose to work for a company whose values align with their own. (Just make sure you’re walking the walk as well as talking the talk—learn how to implement your core values into your branding.)
2. Create an employee value proposition.
This is the basis for positioning your employer brand. Your employee value proposition (EVP) combines your company’s values and culture with all the specific benefits you offer employees. It can help to imagine this as the point in a job interview when you let the applicant ask you a few questions of their own. In short, your EVP answers the question, Why should I work here, instead of somewhere else? To build a strong employer brand, you should be able to clearly convey how your company can meet (or exceed!) the needs of your potential employee.
3. Offer feedback opportunities.
People want to feel heard and understood. Offering regular opportunities for both employees and applicants to give feedback on the company, their position, and/or the hiring process is a great way to improve your employer brand. By incorporating engagement surveys for your employees and post-interview follow ups for potential hires, you let them know you value their opinions, goals, and general wellbeing. And remember, sending out a survey alone isn’t enough. Once you get the feedback, you need to take action to reflect what you’ve learned.
4. Make the right friends.
Has anyone ever told you the company you keep is a reflection of who you are? The same is true for brands: The companies you endorse, interact with, or partner with are a reflection of your own business. So, make sure your values and commitment to your employees are echoed in your relationships with other brands. Their positive employer brands will bolster your own image, but the reverse is true as well: if you’re found supporting a brand that’s gained a reputation for having an unpleasant working environment or high turnover rate, it will leave prospective applicants wondering if you follow the same bad practices.
5. Support a cause.
Making an emotional connection with your audience is a powerful branding technique, and it applies to hiring as well. One way to achieve this is by publicly supporting a cause closely aligned to your audience’s—and your employees’—hearts. Giveback campaigns are proven to increase brand loyalty and improve a company’s internal culture. When you support a cause you believe in, you make your brand more appealing to potential hires who share your vision for making the world a better place.
Communicate your commitment
It’s clear that having a strong brand can help you hire. But where should you start?
Keep in mind that each of the strategies we’ve presented in this article has marketing tactics and deliverables to put into action. A great place to begin is by writing content—blog articles, social media posts, and more—that speak directly to your employee audience. Use your platforms to talk about your work culture, your core values, or what a typical day in your company office looks like. And co-branded content with companies you endorse and causes you support can go a long way in fostering positive associations and emotional connections.
When you invest in improving your employer brand, what you’re really doing is demonstrating your commitment to your employees. When you can differentiate your brand based on its values and company culture and clearly articulate the benefits of working for your business, you won’t have to struggle to find employees. The best candidates will make their way to you. And by taking the right steps to maintain your positive employer brand, you’ll be able to retain those great employees in the long run, setting your brand up for ongoing success.
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