Employer Branding Strategy: How to Avoid a “Faux Pas”?
Did you know that 50% of recruiters still don’t understand their own employer brands? This alarming figure translates easily the challenge organisations face to create a comprehensive employer branding strategy that will help them attract sought-after talent and resonate with current employees.
Many business leaders believe naively that their organisation is an ideal place to work, and drive their employer branding strategy based on this assumption. However, employer branding should mean much more than just good PR or a good slogan. These days, candidates are in search of a workplace culture that will correspond to their own values. They spend a lot of time online searching for clues that will give them an indication of the work environment vibe. The proactive management of your employer brand and its strategy constitute the key to great recruitment and much more.
Here are eight recommendations to follow in order to avoid an employer branding strategy mistake or HR “faux pas”:
Create an Employer Branding Campaign
It’s important to set clear objectives for your employer branding strategy and aim at reaching them. A continuous internal feedback system will help you keep track of the worries and concerns your current staff may have in order to establish an effective action plan.
A typical error would be to assume that the HR department has the sole responsibility for the success of such a program. You should ensure that the head of your organisation (if not the entire leadership team) is invested in the development of your employer branding strategy. Think about Steve Jobs and Apple, and how his image was and still is strongly associated with the brand and products of the company. Are the messages of your CEO clearly in line with your employer branding strategy, which itself communicates the culture and values of your organisation?
Social media are a simple and cost-effective way to broadcast your employer brand message. However, solely relying on this communication channel would be reducing the impact of your strategy. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are today becoming saturated by brands and the reach of the content published is lowering week after week (unless you’re ready to pay to push that content!).
If your target audience is present on social media, great! But that shouldn’t impede you to widen your HR marketing plan: think trade shows, events, open doors, guest-posting opportunities, press publications, radio campaign, advertising, etc.
Create Targeted Candidate Personas
Nearly 80% of candidates reveal relying on the information they find online before applying to a job. So how can you reach them more effectively? Firstly, you need to identify the profiles you’re interested in targeting: who are they? What do they do? What are they looking for? Asking these questions will allow you to create candidate personas that will help you pinpoint the most relevant communication channels you should use.
Next, you’ll need to think content – it’s important to plan your editorial calendar ahead of time. Simply releasing ads on a variety of job boards is far from being enough to convince your talent target. And beyond thinking about themes and topics, you shouldn’t forget the formats you will use to communicate. Video is certainly a must-have of your HR marketing toolkit as part of a compelling employer branding strategy. In 2018, video content will represent 84% of all web traffic.
Once you have thought your content, do not forget about SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. Good content is only useful if it can reach the audience it’s been prepared for. So think about optimising the signals that make your content be found and shared.
Leverage Segmentation for a Better Employer Brand ROI
Employer branding strategies are living entities that continually evolve. Too often, they are considered as HR projects, with a beginning and an end, while they should in reality provide guidance, adapt and evolve throughout time.
By dividing your employees into groups of similar individuals you can more easily tailor your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) by providing targeted benefits and rewards that will have a superior appeal. Let’s say that your organisation is made of a high performing sales team. You could survey these employees to get a better understanding of what’s most likely to attract and retain sales talent. If your client support team is composed of a mix of working mums and university students who work to pay their study; take advantage of that to build an attractive employer brand image by creating flexible work schedules and incentives tailored to these groups.
Optimise Your Recruitment Pipeline
It only takes one successful candidate to fill a vacant position, not 500! There’s not point aiming at receiving a high number of applications, you will only waste time having to browse through them all later on! Above all, you’ll most likely be disappointed…499 times. Monitoring the conversion of your recruitment pipeline is the best way to measure the effectiveness of your HR marketing efforts. There’s no point focusing your efforts on attraction, look at conversion instead.
Think about your marketing initiatives as a series of successive steps designed for a specific segment of candidates – the ultimate step being the first interview with the recruiter. Include call-to-actions within your content and career site to build an automated inbound flow of talented candidates (e.g. “Sign up to our newsletter”, “Follow us on Facebook”, “Attend our online CEO’s presentation”, “Sign up to visit our office”, etc.).
Place the Spotlight On Your Workforce
A strong employer branding is of crucial importance when it comes to creating an effective digital recruitment strategy. People generally try to get a sense of what it’s like to work for your company, and who’s best to talk about that than your own staff?! Showcasing your employees through the content you develop is a great way to display your appreciation for how they literally bring your business to life.
So how could you put this in practice? Why not create a mini-series of videos where your employees will be featured? The gains are double: you can show both the professional aspect of someone’s day-to-day life in your organisation, but you can also introduce their passion outside of work.
A similar campaign could help you demonstrate how you encourage people to express their talent and engagement for their organisation. It makes you, as an employer, look more approachable as prospective candidates can more easily relate to their potential future co-workers. When an employer brand is positive and appreciated, it should be easily expressed and propagated through an organisation’s employees.
Fine Tune Your Candidate Experience
Believe it or not but 65% of candidates say they never hear back from an employer if their application hasn’t been selected. This number isn’t without consequence given that nearly 90% of these forgotten applicants declare feeling bitter towards the employer.
To avoid ending up in this situation, it’s important that your employer branding strategy encompass elements that will guarantee a positive candidate experience. You should create a step-by-step recruitment process that defines the objectives of each phase from both a candidate and recruiter perspective.
Facilitating the submission of applications on your career site or sending an automatic “thank you” message are simple things that can be implemented to improve the candidate experience for example.
Think Beyond Recruitment
HR professionals who believe that their employer branding strategy only impacts recruitment do make a big mistake. Your employer branding strategy should extend way beyond that step of the employee lifecycle. Employees who leave after less than 12 months of service are ten times more common than people who leave after five years. In fact, 33% of new hires admit looking for a new job within the first six months on the job.
After working on your candidate roadmap, it’s also important to think about your new employee roadmap by communicating you EVP – e.g. above market salary, dynamic social corporate life, individualised career path, etc. – during your onboarding process and also using both print and digital mediums. Be aware that the latest HR trend consists in measuring employee engagement in real-time, opening the door to a whole new world for your employer branding strategy.
An employer brand is like an invisible force that influences the behaviour and choices of an organisation’s employees. Candidates’ first impression of your company can be either profitable and help you build your talent pool, or on the other hand, impact their views negatively for the worst. In fact, 72% of job applicants who have experienced a negative recruitment process share their impressions on employer review sites like Glassdoor. A poor employer branding strategy is the opportunity to improve work culture and attract better candidates. Organisations with an employer brand that does poorly for recruitment must be honest with candidates. Admitting that your company still has work to do and that you are actively working on improving the situation is better than pretending to do well.
Job candidates are far from being gullible. It’s easy to notice when employer brands play fake. Just like in fashion, things come and go. Auto-praising corporate speeches, “stocky” photos of anonymous people, overly flattering testimonials, long and useless text, career sites as dry as administrative paperwork…
Focus on creating interviews with the key stakeholders of your organisation. Create content that is either useful, unexpected or entertaining and think about using a variety of formats (e.g. articles, videos, memes, infographics, etc.). Schedule your content calendar around the events that rhythm the life of your organisation as they have a real purpose in bringing your brand to life.