Employer Branding

Are You Living and Breathing Your Employer Brand?

It’s not easy to make sure that your employer brand is anywhere close to finis – in fact, just when you think you have a handle on how to attract the top talent, you find out that the finish line has moved…and no one told you.

Not only are there tons of ad agencies out there to assist talent acquisition professionals with their employer branding (EB) campaigns, there are research firms out there that tell you just what you should be saying, through which channels you should say it and precisely how you should say it. Dang, I got tired just typing that sentence!

The truth is, every employer branding initiative starts somewhere and that’s with a list of goals and tasks – a checklist if you will. Simple questions that leadership must address before embarking on any new campaign (it’s the same in regular marketing and advertising believe me, it’s just hard to get the budget for a “cost center” like HR) include:

1) Who is going to be on the EB team?

We suggest comms representatives, even if they aren’t in the HR department. Why? Because Marketing, PR and Corporate Communications are skilled at getting targeted messages across. You need them on your team. Representatives from other departments like legal and executive buy in are useful. Often overlooked are the tactical technical folks who can tell you how long it will take to complete this survey or snag an ad in that swanky publication so include someone from the frontlines. Also HR, duh.

2) Will you focus on existing employees?

If the answer is no, sack your campaign now. Any successful EB campaign will focus on its current employees. Why? Because research shows that candidates (especially entry level ones) want to hear from them. It’s authentic and interesting and guess what? According to global research firm Universum, students are not interested in hearing from management, they want to see the people who work in positions similar to theirs.

READ MORE: Why Employee Referrals Are the Best Source of Hire [INFOGRAPHIC]

3) Is your culture in shambles?

You don’t invite people to a party when your house is filthy and you should start shilling your corporate brand if it’s in tatters. If you have budget to burn, don’t waste it on EB, make sure you’ve got your house in order and THEN you can use the generated goodwill to jumpstart your employee centric branding campaign.

4) Have you figured out what success looks like?

You best! If you don’t know what your KPIs are going into your campaign, you won’t know if it’s working or not. People often save this until the end of the conception stage, but that is, pardon my French, bass ackwards.  You need to know what you need to end up with in order to start with the right ingredients. People don’t throw three eggs, some flour and oil into a pan and wait excitedly to see what pops up in the oven. Instead they see that they need to end up with a lovely cake and work towards that.

5) Have you researched what success looks like in your space?

Comparing your EB campaign to PepsiCo, Apple or Starbucks is stupid, unless you are Coke, Microsoft or Dunkin’ Donuts. Figure out your market, focus, (sensible) goals, budget and team. Work from there instead of trying to emulate someone who will beat you in every category. In Omaha, where I live, many great employers are known by WOMM (word of mouth marketing) despite some of the worst making Best Places to Work lists year after year. Figure out how you can reach the people you actually need to hire. What is your desired scope?

Other questions to ask:

  • Have you conducted research?
  • Have you briefed your creative teams or agency?
  • Have you spread the word about your brand to your (actual current) employees?
  • Are you a brand ambassador? Have you secured brand ambassadors?
  • Have you briefed all applicable partners?
  • Do you have brand parameters that everyone is aware of?
  • Do you have dashboard metrics that are transparent and accessible?

Anymore questions that should be asked? Let us know in the comments below!

By Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a consultancy offering marketing strategy and content development.