However, many companies are doing it wrong—and ending up with a huge pool of the wrong candidates for hire. So, why is employer branding still not hitting the spot when it comes to attracting the well-skilled candidates for job roles?
What is Employer Branding?
According to Universum, employer branding is “the process of promoting a company, or an organization, as the employer of choice to a desired target group, one which a company needs and wants to recruit and retain.” It's about attracting, recruiting and retaining the ideal employees for your organisation.
An employer brand is an image and the values that candidates and employees see when they think about your company. In order for it to be truly effective, it needs to be perceived as authentic, credible, relevant, well-defined and aspirational. Research and a lot of work is required to distinguish the wants and needs of a company and its candidates—and instilling these company values into a brand identity will attract the right candidates.
What's the Problem?
Recruiter identifies the problems regarding employer branding and how many companies are still getting it wrong—they should be attracting better-qualified candidates instead of more candidates.
According to research from the member-based advisory company, CEB,78% of organisations have engaged in an employer brand building project over the last three years, but these initiatives only seem to attract more candidates, rather than better quality candidates.
During the three years that were considered, the median number of applicants per position rose by 33% to reach 40 people per spot. However, only 28% of these were high-quality candidates. The study reported that the best employer branding encouraged the best applicants to apply, while dissuading less qualified candidates from responding. The research claims that through effective employer branding, businesses can improve the quality of the group of candidates they have by 54%, and the quality of those they hire by 9%.
Jean Martin, executive director at CEB said, “Today’s employers face greater challenges than ever in attracting the right mix of talent, especially as the economy allows for a move from survival to growth mode. As businesses diversify their products and services, they have to hire people with skills their brand was never designed to attract.
Globalisation is leading companies into new geographies and labour markets where they are unknown or perceived differently than in their home country. Employers simply cannot carry on doing what they’ve always done. Branding for universal appeal just results in more headaches for the HR team who have to sift through a greater volume of low-grade candidates. Companies have to stop chasing universal popularity and adapt a ‘lure the best, deflect the rest’ mindset to employment branding.
A Clear Story
Ere.net refers to the important role employer branding has in business today, by aligning potential and current employees with an organisation's purpose and values. Employer branding is about having a story that is emitted across all communication channels, experiences and programs, so that candidates receive a consistent and clear message.
The story needs to be simple and definite so that candidates can easily understand what it is, and determine whether they identify with it. When your employer brand story is precise and eminent, it will drive the experiences and conversations between company and candidate in the direction you want it to go, attracting the candidates you want most.
Employer branding can be used to form ambassadors and build a strong company culture, creating a genuine network of employees and customers that believe in what you do and that want to be a part of it.
It's these employees that you want because their values are similar to the company’s even before the work relationship starts. It’s these employees who are most likely to embrace your company goals and work towards them as if they were their own.
It's All Happening
Market Watch has released news of the Glassdoor Employer Branding Summit, which will take place in San Francisco on Friday 12 September and feature presentations from experts in employer branding and talent acquisition from companies such as Deloitte, IBM, Zappos and AT&T.
The event reflects the central position employer branding is taking in the HR world and is set to reveal new ideas from industry experts about how employer branding is changing the way companies hire. Those that cannot attend in person are able to watch online via a live stream.
Kirstie Kelly, director of LaunchPad Recruits says, "businesses should aspire to develop a meaningful conversation with the most 'ideal' candidates rather than broadcasting to the world. Their employer brand proposition should be driving towards that aspiration. And their recruitment process should allow candidates sufficient information to make their own decisions about the role. The concept of positive de-selection is an interesting one to explore too. But what does that mean in real terms...I guess, simply put - it's all about being genuine and straightforward - in your potential employee communications, in the screening approach you're taking and why, and the expectations your business has once a candidate is in the role."
Applying the Same Rules as Consumer Targets
In the world of consumer brand marketing, companies would not dream of wasting money positioning their brands to people not in their target market. We still have a lot to learn in the world of work. For many of our clients the biggest issue they have is dealing with the volume of applicants and they are becoming increasingly aware of the time and money it takes to work their way through to find the best fit for their company.
Employer Brand expert David Richardson (MD of People in Business) explained: “Every project we work on starts with a rigorous focus on describing the target profile for potential hires – this provides the foundation for the development of the company’s employer brand – it’s all about helping clients become a talent magnet for the right type of talent.”
According to Richardson, the most successful organisations – the true talent magnets so not just have a compelling story to share they also deliver an experience that matches the promise: “On-boarding talent in the right way is just as important as recruiting the right talent. If you get it right, high expectations will fast forward into high engagement and high performance. Likewise, a negative candidate experience will be widely shared. Research suggests that the majority of people who’ve had a bad experience during the application and selection process will tell at least three of their friends, and a significant number will tell considerably more.”
Good employer-branding helps companies hire quality people and high performers, which in turn reduces turnover and improves profitability. Casting a wide net is no longer the optimal solution. By narrowing your scope and going specific, it greatly increases your chances of catching employees that you want, and employees that want to work for you.
(Main image credit: The World According to Marty/flickr)