Your employer brand is what makes your company stand out to candidates who are looking for a job. One of the most important things to consider when building your employer brand is that it is distinctly different than your consumer (or outward-facing) brand.
Your employer brand is your reputation. In fact, a study by Corporate Responsibility magazine found that 69 percent of job seekers wouldn’t accept a job with a company that has a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Companies that focus exclusively on the consumer-facing brand (how your company is perceived by customers and prospects) can sabotage hiring efforts by not highlighting the positive aspects of the company culture that directly impact the experience and values of the worker.
So, if your employer brand is so crucial, how do you build it?
Groom Brand Advocates
The ability to promote your employer brand by current, or—better yet—former employees is important in attracting top talent. Companies that recognize the value of employees as advocates make it easy for employees to talk about how it feels to work there. This serves dual purposes. First, it promotes a sense of inclusion and the feeling that each voice matters, particularly if the company encourages diversity and inclusion. Additionally, testimonials from employees provide an authenticity that marketing material, messages from the CEO and website content can not.
If the best ambassadors of your company are your employees, leveraging those voices in your efforts to attract top talent can yield high returns. The authority they can provide in terms of “what it’s really like” is second to none. Invariably, candidates want to know if the company culture aligns with his or her values. Therefore, using the testimonials of employees, both present and former workers can be a powerful tool in promoting a positive employer brand to candidates.
Encourage employees to leave reviews that include details about why they continue to work for your company and, if possible, recount relevant anecdotes that provide a first hand account of workplace culture. This type of “user generated” content gives prospective candidates a glimpse at the types of people they would work with and the behavior your company values. Additionally, studies have shown that video testimonials have the greatest conversion impact. They trigger emotions, command higher retention rates, and, of course, they are shareable. The good news is that most social media platforms afford the opportunity to incorporate video. Use it. It can be a powerful advocacy tool.
To say that social media is ubiquitous in today’s world is a severe understatement. It stands to reason that candidates also utilize this tool as they vet companies for employment, since they use social media for many other aspects of their lives. A negative review by a customer or employee can damage an employer brand if not countered immediately. It is the company’s responsibility to address negative comments directly. They should never go unanswered. These instances should be considered opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade. By responding swiftly and proactively, you’re demonstrating that your company is open to feedback and willing to discuss any criticism. Testimonials from your brand advocates can go a long way to mitigate against the effects of a negative review. Conversely, don’t underestimate the value of responding to positive reviews, as well. Always acknowledge and thank those who leave positive reviews. Those individuals are potential ambassadors.
Walk the Talk With Your Mission, Vision, and Values
With historically low unemployment rates, top candidates have their choice of opportunities. In today’s climate, millenials and Gen Z in particular, want to work for a company that foregrounds values and company culture that aligns with their own.
Sometimes, there are very positive things that a company is doing, but these great things are unknown to potential employees because the culture is not actively promoted. Often, candidates only learn about company initiatives, both external within the community and internally among its workforce, after they have been hired. Promoting those values and forward-leaning activities on the front end benefit both the candidate and the company.
Workers, particularly young candidates, want to feel connected to their work. Employers must realize that candidates vet and choose employers in much the same way that employers make hiring decisions. These new hires are looking for companies that “walk the talk.” Not only are the companies saying the right things in terms of values and culture, but they demonstrate their claims in their everyday actions. In short, job seekers will choose companies they can trust.
The most effective way to demonstrate the mission, vision, and values of your company culture is three-pronged:
- Clearly Define It.
- Infuse It Into the Culture.
- Reinforce It at Every Opportunity.
Infuse Your Company Culture into the Hiring Process and Beyond
The candidate experience during the hiring process is key. What messages are you sending to candidates as they assess your company? Are you making your values clear? Make sure your career pages and any external recruitment sources you use to help hire on your behalf are not only in alignment with your brand, but promote it in its best possible light.
Demonstrating company culture and values extends to the physical environment, as well. If candidates enter your place of business either as a consumer or potential employee or both— does your physical space and environment match your employer brand? Is it warm and welcoming, clean and safe, just an overall good working space? Is it a place people will want to come to work every day? Your working space is a reflection of your brand and you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Promoting your employer brand to attract top talent begins with the hiring process and extends through your efforts to infuse and reinforce your mission, vision, and values.
Take every opportunity to reinforce the culture you want to establish by embodying those things your company truly cares about every day. By truly walking the talk, you’ll position your company to attract top talent.