Employer branding - it's a term recruiters have been banding around for a couple of years now - but what does it actually mean?
Sure, if you are a huge global corporate, the chances are your employer brand is as ingrained as your product or service brand. You've had marketing experts working on your 'employer of choice' badges for years, your employees can chant your values and mission statement in their sleep and your talent pool is heaving to the brim with candidates, keen for their phone call with a Recruitment Adviser hoping their name gets bought up in a key word search on your top end ATS system.
But what does it mean for the littler guys? Maybe not the one man bands, but the SME's, the 5 - 30 person, steadily growing companies, who have recruitment needs - but not the need for a recruiter? How do they get a piece of the employer branding action?
Actually it's really simple. Start where you stand. You've probably already spent some time thinking about the company as a whole, and what your company brand is?
Well, the good news is that this translates directly into your employer brand. Start thinking about why prospective candidates would want to work for your company? What do you offer as an employer that others don't? Ask your current employees why they work for you, and what attracted them to the company. Start to build a picture as to what your employment proposition really looks like vs how you would like it to look, and do some work to bridge the gap.
Next, get really clear on the type of person you want to attract into your business. In much the same way as you would for a product or service launch, start thinking about your 'target candidates', the type of messages that would attract them and the platforms to engage with them.
Once you are really clear on what you offer and who you want to offer it to, start building a story. Make it compelling. Don't just churn out job ad after job ad hoping the right person will stumble across it. Create an identity for your business as an employer people genuinely have an interest in working for.
Start with your social media presence - the perfect place for building that story and subconsciously, continuously selling the 'dream' to passive candidates (the best kind in my humble opinion!). If you have the best coffee machine in town - shout about it! If you offer flexible working hours - tell people! If the views from your office are what dreams are made of, then post pictures.
Next, look at your website. Are your careers pages easy to find? Are they interesting, or do they simply list jobs adverts? Can candidates get a feel for what it would be like to work with you? Put simply - is your website helping you sell your company as an awesome place to work? If not, then start to build some content. Create a careers 'homepage' where you let candidates know what it's like to work with you, entice them in, sell the company - then let them see your current opportunities. Give candidates a chance to engage with you, before bombarding them with adverts.
Then post those job ads sure, but just make sure the content is great! Rehashing the job description is not a job advert, it's still a job description. The job advert needs to tell a story, but it needs to be two sided. So not only do you need to ensure the candidate understands what the job entails - but also what's in it for them? Avoid bullet points, and speak to your audience like human beings. Don't use jargon or abbreviated words, and stay clear and concise. Provided you are using the right job title for the role, the right sort of candidates will know from that whether or not they could be suitable - they don't need to read 1,000 words and a list of bullet points to come to that conclusion.
Next, make sure that your candidate experience lives up to your branding. Keep your tone and language consistent, stay in touch and make the candidate feel special. It is possible to automate some areas of the process and for it to still feel personal, just be mindful of what and how you are automating.
Finally make sure all candidates exit the process on great terms. Whether that be a 'thanks but no thanks' or a new hire, ensure no-one walks away unhappy or unsure about how they feel about your company.
For those who weren't quite right for this role, maybe they will be right for another and can save you going through the hiring process in the future. For those you do hire, look after them, on-board them well from offer to new starter (and beyond) and you won't have to repeat this process.
For those that will never just be quite right, still look after them. If you're trying to build an employer brand the last thing you need is bad reviews on Glassdoor or negative feedback on your social media page.
Building an employer brand takes a little bit of effort in the short term, but get it right and it will pay off in dividends in the long run.