What is Employer Branding and How Can You Use it to Lead Candidate Attraction?

If you are in a position to bring in new talent to your team, and if this responsibility falls to you, now more than ever you will be met with a challenge – especially in the world of technical recruitment. You may have seen the phrase Employer or Employee Value Proposition, generally shortened to EVP while networking on Linked in or reading an industry newsletter or article – but have you had the time to understand what this is, and how it can be beneficial to you?

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This article will take you through some of the steps that are crucial to getting it right. You can find out the benefits to you, which can be invaluable;

  • Decrease in cost and time per hire
  • Improved employee retention
  • Increased visibility in your candidate market with plenty of candidate engagement
  • Functional, organic talent pipeline across technical disciplines

We live in a connected, social media savvy age. We can find a review or an opinion on anything with ease, if we want to make a new purchase, go on holiday, find a new energy provider, select a restaurant…then we can, in the time it takes to unlock our smart phone and access google, gain access to a massive amount of information that will influence our decision. The same is true of a candidate entering the job market, chances are before they have even applied, and certainly before they have even spoken to you, they have carried out some research on your business and have started to form an opinion of you.

For this reason, the importance of your employer brand cannot be underestimated! Some companies in the tech world have excelled at this. Apple’s identity is so strong that while you are reading this you can already see in your mind the white logo, the wide-open clean space of an Apple Store and can feel the very particular way in which they engage with you as a customer. And yes, this is perhaps the extreme in product and experience branding, but can you argue with the success? I am willing to bet that you have a feeling, right or wrong, of what it would be like to work there.

A strong employer brand and identity is increasingly important in today’s ultra-competitive tech job market. If you do not have one, and if you do not understand what yours is…you are going to struggle to find, attract, engage, and hire talent. We are not talking about how much you pay here, because hopefully you already know what you need to pay to be competitive, and a candidate can earn a salary anywhere.

No; we are talking about what it means to someone to work for you. What is your purpose? Why should someone get up every day and give their all for you? What will their experience be, how will they grow and develop? What culture will they be a part of and what goals will they work towards and contribute to? What will it feel like to work for you?

The good news is that you can improve, or if required start to build, your employer brand quickly and effectively. In this article we will look into what employer branding is, how to improve it, and the benefits it can bring.


What Is Employer Branding?


Employer Branding is your marketing tool to create your brand, and your brand is your reputation as a place to work as well as your employee value proposition. This is not the same as your external corporate or customer value proposition.

To put it another way, Employer Branding is how you promote your company to potential and current employees. Get the message right externally and you in theory will not just attract talent, it will be the right talent for your company – get the message right internally and you will retain the right talent as well.

According to Glassdoor 86% of job seekers read business reviews and ratings before applying for a job. If you have a lot of negative reviews, well clearly more people than not will pass on your opportunity, but also you need to quickly understand why these reviews are happening.

Your brand, your value proposition (which we will come to soon) is what is being lived every day by your current employees. If they are speaking negatively of this, you need to find out why and you need to put it right.


What Is an Employer Value Proposition (EVP)?


Let’s take the word ‘Employer’ out of this for a moment, what is a value proposition in any other capacity? It is the promise that if you engage value will be delivered, looking at this from the product and consumer angle – the product in its branding delivers a promise of what the consumer can expect if they part with their money. Ok, put ‘Employer’ back into this. Your EVP is your promise to current and potential employees. It represents your company vision, beliefs, and culture – it is all your company has to offer in return for the employees’ talent and expertise.

A well designed, accurate and well-articulated EVP will benefit your business. An authentic EVP will lead the conversation in hiring the best people, it will engage and retain your current workforce, and it will provide you with a solid foundation to succeed in a candidate led job market.

This is not a message about how much you pay, or what the incentives are. It’s not even really about the pool table, work gym or free fruit – this is a part of it, and you need to articulate some tangible benefits – but moreover, this is about what it feels like to work there. It’s about the personal development and growth, it’s about how valued someone will feel working there. It’s about the culture.

Before starting to define your Employer Brand Proposition you need to spend some time speaking to the people who already work for you. Listen and understand from them what it means to work at your organization. They will tell you all you need to hear about how much of an impact the company perks and benefits have on their day-to-day life. They will tell you what it feels like to work for you, and they will give you the insights you need on how growth and personal development manifests itself, because they are living this experience.

If the message coming back is positive…excellent, use this and build on it. If the message is negative, then you need to change this and fast.


The Importance of Employer Branding


The importance of Employer Branding cannot be overstated.

The advantages of strong Employer Branding will be felt in the short term – a successful hire. Get it right and in the long-term repeat hires will come, get it right and you keep the talent you already have.

Let’s take a look at some more advantages and focus for a moment on some statistics.

  • When it comes to new job opportunities, 95% of applicants say that a company's reputation is a major factor to consider. Before applying, each candidate — whether active, passive, or somewhere in the middle — will consider your company's reputation.
  • Even if they were unemployed, 69% of job seekers would reject an offer from a company with a poor employer brand. I don’t think I need to say much more on that point!
  • 66% of job candidates want to learn about your company's culture and principles. And remember, it is equally important that this message is as successful in excluding the wrong fit as it is in encouraging the right fit. I mentioned authenticity earlier, understand your strengths from your current employees, turn this into a message for potential future hires to hear…employer branding efforts can be an excellent way to convey these features.
  • If the company had a solid employer brand, 40% of passive applicants would take a new job without a compensation rise. For almost half of the workforce, a positive employer brand is all that is required to remove the stigma associated with lateral moves. Again, this comes back to an fundamental understanding of the importance of the experience, of working for you. If we enjoy something, we will keep going back for more!
  • To attract top talent, companies with a bad employer brand must provide a minimum of a 10% pay increase. Consider paying a 10% premium on each and every hire you make. Take a moment to consider the state of your company's brand, are you currently paying that premium without knowing it? It is also worth pointing out here, ok, so suppose everyone is having to do the same thing, all your competitors need to find 10% more, and its unavoidable. You offer parity on pay to the competitive landscape – now where do you go? What more will you need to tip the decision to your favour?

These figures show that employer branding has an influence on every aspect of employer-employee interaction. While employer branding is often connected with recruiting, it also has an effect on employee performance, engagement, and even profitability.


How to Build an Employer Brand


Here is a step-by-step guide to building an employer brand:

Get Familiar with Your Company

When you are able to define your company's distinctive features, it becomes much simpler to create an EVP. Learn about the core business, vision, purpose, values, and culture of your company. Understand what your company's goals are and what kind of talent is required to meet those goals.

Carry Out an Audit of Your Employer Brand

To do this open up the lines of communication internally, workshops, questionnaires, internal interviews and opinion polls. Start gathering that qualitative data!

The data from this should reveal the positives, it should communicate to you what works. It will tell you what your employees like about your company culture, what makes them stay and feel valued. It will also tell you what is not working and where you need to improve.

Define an Employer Value Proposition

Now is the time to be creative with your corporate messaging. Create an EVP that effectively conveys your corporate brand's values, while also reflecting what makes working at your company special. It should reflect your company's brand while also speaking directly to your employees.

Leverage Current Employees

So, why does advertising work? Why do organisation’s spend billions every year on 90 seconds of interaction? Because they recognise the importance of a visual message and a shared experience. If they get it right and it resonates with the audience, then the audience will part with its hard-earned money. They have seen someone not only enjoying the product, whatever it might be, but they have also seen potential for their lives to also be enriched by this product. If the person on the advert can take on the world after eating (insert cereal) and driving to work in (insert – probably – German car) then I can too!

This is what your current employees can do for you. Listen to their story, their experience and use it! Get their testimonials on your website. Or if you want to be even more effective, make videos and post them on your site – or on social media platforms.

Consider when doing this, while it is important to be aspirational, not every new employee is going to be the next Manager, Director, VP or CEO – so don’t use them to spread the message. This is a message from peer to peer because that is who they are now.

Pitch at The Right Level and Demographic

You want someone in your Cyber Team, an analyst, consultant, penetration tester – then have someone who is in that position create the message. You want someone for the Engineering Team – then bring out your software or embedded engineers, and have them tell the story of the innovative projects and solutions they are contributing towards. Product Development team? Get your Product Managers, Engineers and Sales teams to articulate the impact they are having everyday on the strategical direction of their business unit.

Your collateral is right in front of you, it’s the amazing and talented people you already have working for you who will help you to attract new amazing and talented people.

Write Eye-Catching Job Descriptions

Do not put out a shopping list of technologies. Or a few uninspiring lines that start with “the right candidate will exhibit…” No. Tell them about the projects they will contribute towards the success of, tell them about the application of the incredible solutions you work on and how your innovations make a difference in the world of Cyber, or Industrial Automation or Edge & IIOT. You will need some reference to some technical skills, but if you describe what you are doing well enough, the skills needed will be implied by the solutions you are delivering.

If you are talking about the SIEM solution which helped to secure the IT infrastructure of a global bank, or the automated solution which resulted in a global manufacturing organisation improving its efficiency by 95%, or the Edge solution which improved the data flow and capture within an leading automotive OEM – then you’re already clearly speaking to a defined audience. Chances are high you’re going to engage a SIEM consultant/engineer, or a process or automation engineer or in the final example an embedded software engineer.


How to Improve Your Employer Brand and Maximize its Benefits


You need to be able to connect with your employees to maximise your brand, and in turn they need to be your voice to connect with the market place. You need to open a dialogue with the market and bring to life your business, and this needs to be on going. This is about creating a proactive culture when it comes to hiring new talent, keep communicating with the people you want to bring to your business.

How can you do this? Here are some ideas;

Start a Company Blog If You Haven’t Yet

Content is a great way to stand out in a crowded market. Having a blog offers job seekers the opportunity to keep up to date, on a very personal level, with the work that you are doing. Again we come back to authenticity. You can use that authentic voice to post corporate news, culture updates, and articles written by your workers or company executives. A blog can also be used to promote your company's unique people policies, practices, and initiatives that show your dedication to employee satisfaction.

Don’t Focus on Compensation

Your EVP should be one-of-a-kind, compelling, and customized to the underlying reasons why someone would want to join your team. As I mentioned earlier, you can get paid by anyone, but not every organisation can give you a life improving experience! Of course, there still needs to be an open conversation about compensation – and you should not shy away from it. But do not make it all about the money.

Hire People from Diverse Backgrounds

Our society is diverse, our work environments should also be. Be proactive with diversity, by this I do not mean that you should go to the market with an agenda to hire any particular demographic. Rather you should work hard on the messaging, clearly articulate, and demonstrate that yours is an inclusive environment where anyone of any background can thrive. Your culture is about inclusivity, age, race, gender, religious background, it is not what defines your workforce – each individual is just that, and will be treated as such and provided with an environment in which they can flourish.


Benefits of Creating a Strong Employer Brand


Attract Top Talent

If a job seeker opens their search engine and types "top companies to work for in 2022" or "top companies hiring near me" are they going to see your name? People want to work for a company that has a good reputation and treats its employees well, make your company a great place to work and people will want to work there.

Decrease Cost and Time Per Hire

I mentioned earlier that if you get this right then repeat hires will come. Why is this? Well, if you are being proactive, constantly communicating with the market, you will start to find that people apply to your business even when you are not proactively looking for them. You can start to build a pipeline of engaged candidates and will not have to start every campaign from scratch.

Your communication is really important here. You need to find a way to engage with each of these applicants even if you do not have an opening for them right now. You need to acknowledge their interest and you need to maintain it. If you don’t, this can be damaging to your reputation, so once they have applied;

  • Send a response
  • Offer an additional touch point – sign up for a newsletter for example, or ask them to sign up to be kept informed of new developments within your business
  • Work on original content to send to mailing lists of candidates who have expressed an interest in your business
  • Keep them informed, keep them engaged!

Furthermore, companies with a positive reputation are more likely to have a positive work environment, and existing workers will refer new prospects to your open positions. According to CareerBuilder, employee referrals have the best ROI, and HR technologist claims employee referrals come in 55 percent faster than those sourced from job portals.

Increase Retention

Your employer brand has a big impact on your retention rates. Make your workplace an environment where people like to spend their time, and you'll see a significant reduction in turnover.

Low turnover is an excellent indicator of a solid employer brand, so it all comes full circle. The most obvious benefit of low turnover is an improvement in your bottom line - according to LinkedIn data, companies who do not invest in their reputation lose $5,000 per person on average. As a result, investing in your employer brand will pay off in the long term.


Final Thoughts


The job market has seen a huge power shift - job seekers now have the power and information to choose where they want to work. Due to a lack of resources and talent, applicants now have the option of choosing from a variety of employers. You must stand out from the competition if you want them to choose your company. Employer branding is a highly effective way to do that.

In a competitive job market, an executive search firm can help you in developing a strong employer brand. Even in the midst of a heated ongoing war for technical talent, it allows your company to recruit the right talent, save costs, retain quality employees, and gain a competitive edge. So, make an executive search firm a part of your employer branding strategy. Get started by contacting us today and we can tell you more about the work we have done with our clients to help them to build their Employer Brand.

About the author
Doug Mackay
7 min read

Having started his career in Executive Search in 1998, Doug set up Collingwood in 2005 alongside his wife, Claire Mackay.

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