Most HR, TA, and People Ops practitioners that I connect with understand the importance of having a strong employer brand. Yet, rarely do I connect with one that has accomplished their employer branding goals. It’s apparent that employer branding is one of those things people want to do, but there aren’t enough hours in the day to execute effectively. The reality is they spend all their time screening resumes, interviewing candidates, and onboarding new hires. When are they supposed to develop content and build a brand that will make all of the other things easier?
Everyday we prioritize and everyday we choose to prioritize other work over building a strong employer brand. Whether or not this is an active decision is debatable. In order for this whole employer branding thing to work, you need to declare that it is important, invest in a team, and give them the resources they need to execute.
I know that all sounds great, but if you’re reading this, then your company is probably not there yet. And if you’re not there yet, then chances are you’re going to need to start small. This article is meant to help you determine what employer branding tactics you should focus on to make the biggest impact. To do this we’re going back to an employer branding event we organized with CloserIQ, Stories Inc., and Kununu. It was a great discussion that talked about the tactical ways for you to execute an authentic employer brand strategy. One of my favorite takeaways was The Employer Branding Pineapple by Kununu.
What I love about this pineapple is it takes the seemingly intangible concept of employer branding and breaks it up into areas you can control or influence. Employer branding is all about balancing the short tail and long tail benefits. Things you can control are going to have more of an impact today. The things you can influence will take a bit longer to see the results. You need to understand where your company is at the moment. If your turnover is really high because they didn't understand the culture coming in then you can fix that. For this company focusing on culture & values will help in the short term with current staff and give you a headstart on what you should be incorporating into your content to ensure a unified message. It doesn't make a lot of sense for this company to start a blog. Look at this pineapple and think about what makes the most sense for your company.
If I were a recruiter at a pretty stable company who could only dedicate up to 5 hours per week to employer branding this is what I would focus on.
If you don’t have a top-notch employer brand job postings are likely the farthest-reaching pieces of content. Read your job descriptions and think about what it says about your company. Writing an interesting, compelling job posting will stand out. Don’t know how to write good copy? Google it and remember 80/20 - you don’t need to be perfect, you need to be better than today. These are ads, not job descriptions. You need to hook people and they should make them want to learn more. Don’t think about candidates, think about candidate leads.
The candidate experience is a huge opportunity. The bar is set so low that every company has a shot at making an impact here. As a former recruiter, I understand it's not intentional. You are in the thick of it, recruiting, screening, driving the process forward. But you’re also driving the candidate experience. That means you need to have meaningful touchpoints. Letting candidates know where they are in the process and understanding what their expectations are will go a long way. If you forgot to follow up with a candidate because another position took priority, then tell them that. If you’re not sure where to start with owning this process then ask your most recent hires what you could have done differently to improve the process. You could also survey candidates that have gone through the process.
This one is near and dear to my heart because career sites are the number one resource for candidates to learn about your company as an employer. I look at career sites every day and blows my mind how many companies are still rolling with a list of jobs. More mind-bending, some companies don’t even have a career site. (BTW - if you know of one of these companies tell them to email me Brian@nextwavehire.com Believe this - your career site says everything about your company and it’s the first place candidates look. The good news is this project doesn’t need to take 6 - 12 months. You need a few photos, a handful of employee stories, and benefits information, etc. Whether or not your hiring, you need to optimize your career site to build a candidate leads list (just like marketing is building a customer lead list). These are people who are interested in learning more that can be nurtured and re-engaged when the timing is right.
The investment is why you see such a huge disparity between companies. Company A who has made the investment pops up on your social media feed all the time, they are getting the first look at the best candidates, and they are dedicated to this concept. Company B who is inconsistent and doesn't dedicate time to building their employer brand is losing candidates to Company A.
Even if your title doesn’t say Employer Brand Manager you can still make an impact and take the first steps to build a powerful brand. Don’t spend too much time thinking and planning, just do something today that has the potential to make your brand better than yesterday. It won't be easy and most of the things you do will look like flops, but when something works it can have an amazing impact. Then you can make it known and maybe one day you'll be an Employer Brand Manager. After all, most Employer Brand Managers were in HR, People Ops, or TA before.