Who Has Time to Build an Employer Brand?

Odds are, you read the title and just said, “not me!” So we’re left with the question, “Is it worth your time to build an employment brand?” Absolutely.

I get it. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and this isn’t exactly a “today’s to-do list” type of endeavor. But building an employer brand is only as complicated and time consuming as you make it. It will also be as expensive as you make it, but it will be worth more than its weight in work.

You will get more out of a properly constructed employer brand than you put into it. And if you believe that time is money, then take note. In a survey of more than 4,700 talent acquisition decision makers, a reported 50 percent savings in cost per hire is associated with a strong employer brand.

I work with small- to medium-sized businesses every day, and many of them don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge base that the big guys do to recruit. That’s where employer brand shines. According to research firm Universum, two of the top three channels that will be the most used for employer brand promotion are the website (92 percent) and social media (80 percent). Most of us have those things and in a smaller firm you often have far more access to the control of those things than you would in a Fortune 500.

Here’s what to do:

Abstract, fake promises are easy to make and market. They’re also easy enough for a candidate to spot. In order to stay true to your company culture, figure out what it is before you go around marketing it. According to Employer Brand International, “84 percent of companies believe a clearly defined strategy is the key to achieving employer branding objectives.” In layman’s terms, don’t try to be something you aren’t. Figuring out your culture isn’t difficult.

Consider how the company interacts, behaves, and communicates. Incorporate surface interactions as well as the underlying aspects like attitudes, common goals, perspectives, standards, and beliefs.

All too often we see an employer brand that conveys what a company wants to be, not what they are. The company culture that you want people to see should be a good mix of the two. Stay true to who you are as a company, while keeping a constant heading toward who you would like to become. Clear, authentic messages and offerings are what you should concentrate on.

When you have a clear message in mind, make it visible and get to the meat of creating an employer brand. And back to the beginning of this post, who has time for that? That’s like asking, “Who has time to be good at their job?”

Article Continues Below

Employer branding has become such a huge part of recruiting today that it is now part of your job, whether you’re concentrating on it or not. If you haven’t started fostering a strong employer brand, you’re not doing your job. So start simple.

Use Social Media in a Unique Way

With 92 percent using or planning to use social media to recruit, you better make your content interesting.

  • Don’t just highlight job opportunities, reach out, and socialize. It’s called the world wide web for a reason: reaching one means reaching dozens or even thousands more. A reported 78 percent of Internet users trust peer recommendations. Seek out ways to make your rating on sites like Payscale and Glassdoor better. See if current employees are comfortable or interested in a low-key referral program.
  • When you’re building your strong talent community, use the new tools. The techy talents that run the world are coming up with apps and social communities by the minute. Find out what’s new and popular and use it. It’s free, they’re easy to use, and the more outlets, the better. Videos on Vine, pictures on Pintrest, polls on Facebook. You don’t have to stick with the traditional social media tools. Expand. (Choosing a social network is as much about your internal culture as it is about the people you want to attract; you might love making videos but if your audience prefers to read … they won’t get you very far.)
  • Check out what the competition is doing with their social media. See what seems to be working and what looks like a waste of time. Constantly outgunned by a bigger, fancier competitor? Use its best moves to your advantage.

And this doesn’t mean being glued to your social media profiles 24/7, use a tool like Buffer or TweetDeck to organize and schedule your posts. And don’t forget to drive traffic to and from each media source.

Use Referrals

Most companies consider employee referrals the most important indicator in evaluating candidate quality.

  • When building a marketable company culture, who would know better who would fit into that culture than someone in it? Referrals generate a social aspect in the workplace like nothing else really can. When employees have the chance to refer someone who they believe will fit into the culture and do a great job, it’s a win-win. Referral programs don’t have to be difficult, and there are lots of easy referral programs on the market today.
  • High turnover does horrible things for a company culture. Referrals are known for their longer-than-average stay at the companies to which they were referred. Low turnover tells people that this is a company that people want to work for.
  • When an employee gives a referral, it’s not for the free toaster, it’s because they actually like the company. When your employees are happy, it shows, and that makes for a great employer brand.

Offer Personalized, Unique Perks

Happy employees equal a good employer brand, and it might be easier than you think to make them happy.

  • 1 in 3 Millenials said they would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job off.
  • For the Gen Xers who have the work ethic of the Boomers and the tech savvy of the Millenials, they truly prize their autonomy. Work from home or telecommuting options are extremely attractive to this group.
  • Baby Boomers are retiring at a later age than any generation before them. They’re not ready to be put out to pasture, and they have a wealth of knowledge. What they want is to slow down. They’ve been working 70 hour workweeks most of their lives. Consider creating a mentoring program in which your boomers can cut back on the work and pass down their pearls of wisdom.

Sometimes, meeting your employees expectations can be cheaper and easier than you think. You just have to know what they’re looking for.

Raj Sheth is the co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, he founded two other web startups -- a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He is a graduate of Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston. Visit his website at recruiterbox.com.


14 Comments on “Who Has Time to Build an Employer Brand?

  1. Who Has Time to Build an Employer Brand?
    Marketing does; it IS marketing, not recruiting.


  2. It’s an issue that needs to be drummed into SME owners and hiring managers. To compete in hyper-competitive sectors like recruitment, you have to have a discernible brand presence.

    I met with a small business owner just yesterday who claimed his differentiation was that he had 30 years industry experience. That chap was having a laugh.

  3. You can’t build your employer brand as you don’t nor do you control it. The marketplace in general and your candidates more specifically own and control your brand. You can measure your brand and you can attempt to influence your brand, but it is wrong to say that you own or even control it.

  4. I’d like to add a few thoughts to the brand research section, since that’s what my agency does.

    It’s definitely important to involve employees when building an employer brand. However, they often won’t share their true feelings with superiors or HR because they’re afraid of the consequences.

    Bringing in a third party not only reassures the employees, but it also insures that the people listening are objective, neutral, and non-judgmental. When companies run their own focus groups and ideation sessions, they sometimes hear only what they want to hear, creating a sort of feedback loop that doesn’t generate any new ideas. Using outside consultants solves this problem.

    And thanks for saying something I always tell clients — don’t use social media just to post job listings! That content isn’t entertaining or compelling or shareable. Post videos of office life photos of employee outings, polls, fun facts, info about your industry or location. Job listings should only be every fifth or sixth post.

  5. @ Stephen: I wonder if it’s more cost effective for a company that’s a sucky place to work to brand itself as a non-sucky place to work or to actually become a less suck-place to work. I’d guess the former.

    @ Steven: Very true.

    @ Jason: I like the mention of the increased Objectivity/trust inspired by third party brand consultant, though I’d imagine there’d still be a certain amount of reluctance.

    More of my branding thoughts:
    1) EB can really turn a company with major hiring, organizational dysfunctions into an EOC. I suspect there’s little EB can’t accomplish with the applications of huge sums of money.

    2) I think that in this economy, must people aren’t carefully picking and choosing who they go after as employers, they go after any/all employer that offers a fairly decent job match. You don’t need branding for those applicants.

    3) I’d expect that most EB is designed to specifically attract the “Fab 5%” that everybody drools over; actually a subset of these folks who are young, naive, or foolish enough to believe what they see on an EB campaign.

    Happy Friday,


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *