HR and Recruiting

How employer branding will help you hire the best and the brightest

Written by Eric Titner

Most companies today are keenly aware of the strategic importance of having a well-developed, clearly defined, and easily identifiable company brand and industry-differentiating brand strategy (if they’re not, they likely won’t be around for long anyway. But how much time does you and your organization devote to focusing on employer branding?

Chances are, the answer is not nearly enough, and you might not even be fully aware of how it’s impacting talent recruitment and retention in your company. The truth is, company branding is just one side of the branding coin—your team should also have an employer branding strategy that helps you attract and keep top-tier talent in your industry.

Essentially, employer branding refers to how your company is viewed as a potential employer. It goes a long way towards ensuring that you have a steady supply of passive and active candidate talent in your HR pipeline at all times, which is mission critical when you have key open positions in your company and when you’re pursuing aggressive growth or new initiatives that require staffing changes.

A positive employer brand is often a key determinant when a potential candidate is deciding whether or not to consider joining your team. If your industry is crowded with aggressive companies that are clamoring for top talent, what makes your company an attractive option? How does your organization stand out from and rise above the industry traffic and noise? What is your current employer brand like, and how do you envision its growth and evolution?

Confronting these questions should be a top priority for your HR department if it’s serious about impactful employer brand development. Not only will it make your team’s recruitment strategies more fruitful and effective, it will also help your team do more with less by freeing up time and resources normally spent on pursuing potential candidates and clumsy recruitment advertising—having an effective employer brand means candidates will seek you out for opportunities, not vice versa.

Now that you’re keenly aware of the importance and value of employer branding, consider using the following strategies for developing your company’s brand.

Define your purpose

For many companies effective employer branding starts at its mission statement, which encapsulates what your company believes in and is striving towards achieving. It then builds from there. Today’s job candidates care about more than salaries and perks—they want to know that the goals and beliefs of the companies they choose to work for and devote their time to align with their own. Make sure that your company shares its mission and values loud and proud, and that they’re well-known throughout the industry and clearly defined for prospective employees whenever a job posting is made available. Make sure it’s both meaningful and impactful, and that it passes the jargon detectors—today’s candidates are too savvy to fall for half-baked and half-hearted mission statements filled with hollow corporate-speak.

Mean what you say

Your company needs to demonstrate that it actually upholds the values it says it believes in. An effective employer brand not only has a strong and clear message, it’s also backed up by actual proof. Does your company espouse effusive support of a specific charitable cause or environmental initiative for example? If so, back it up with actual proof that you’re making a difference, and it will really resonate across your industry and with potential employees who believe in those causes. Remember, we’re living in a visual information age, so videos and photos of your efforts on your website and across social media will have a real impact.

Make community a priority

Today’s job candidates don’t want to join a faceless corporate monolith and simply clock in each day to earn a paycheck. The truth is, we’re spending more raw hours working than ever before. Most of us want to devote that time to a company that believes in being inclusive and fostering a sense of real community. Make sure that it’s apparent that this is a priority for your organization across all outward-facing resources—from websites to social media and everything in-between.

Show that you’re listening

An effective employer brand is not a static “one a done” effort. In truth, it’s much more like a living thing—it learns, grows, and evolves as times change, cultures shift, and industry norms progress. This means listening to what others have to say about your company; responding to positive praise, negative thoughts, and constructive criticism; and using this valuable feedback to constantly improve.

Make sure your brand never gathers dust or becomes known as the “stodgy dinosaur” in your industry. Today’s top talent, particularly younger recruits, tend to seek out progressive, industry-leading companies that care about what they have to say and embrace cutting-edge growth and meaningful change. Bottom line: make sure your brand perspective is that of a company that listens in an effort to lead the way in its industry, not one that’s fumbling and struggling just to keep up.

Value your employees

Candidates want to know that if and when they join your team, they’ll be valued members of your organization and will continue to be important and valued over time. Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP; the combination of policies, programs, and benefits that you offer to those who join your team) should be a key component of your employer branding strategy and should be clear to potential candidates at all stages of your HR pipeline.

Are you ready to focus on taking your company’s employer brand to the next level in an effort to recruit and retain the very best available talent? Use the advice and strategies presented here to make effective branding changes that will have a positive impact across your organization. Good luck!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.