I used to identify strongly with the “first impressions matter” logic, especially when it came to my career.
Don’t worry, I still hold myself to high standards when it comes to making a good first impression during an interview. However, I recently realized it’s becoming harder for companies to leverage a good first impression with a prospective hire due to the amount of information available with a simple Google search.
And if you work in the human resources space, you know the ball is in our court—us being the employees, the “talent” if you will. So how can a company stand out above the rest?
To stay competitive in the war for talent, companies must have a strong employer brand. It is employers’ number one tool for attracting and retaining top-tier talents. According to a 2016 Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey, 69% of active job seekers are more likely to apply for a job that actively manages its employer brand.
Your company is already creating an employer brand whether you realize it or not, so it’s best to control the conversation and communicate why your company is an amazing place to work. In fact, I believe having an effective employer brand is so crucial to your company’s bottom line, I wrote a 14-page eBook on the importance of employer branding. For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to share some takeaways—but I highly encourage you to get your copy today, as it has a handful of useful charts, including 7 ways to measure ROI and 9 signs your company needs an employer brand.
Let’s talk a little bit about the why.
In addition to attracting and retaining the best and brightest employees, an employer brand helps manage the evolving workforce. Not that it’s any secret to employers, but millennials work habits are marginally different than that of our previous generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X). Millennials are much more in tune with how a company’s culture aligns with their core values and beliefs, which is why they have high expectations for what they want out of a job. Because millennials have this mindset, ensuring that they trust your company and its mission is the be all end all.
Trust is exactly how technology conglomerate Cisco reinvented itself through its recent employer brand overhaul. Prospective candidates trust employees not brands. So as a company, you need to trust your employees, too. You can do that by putting the power of your employer brand in their hands.
For instance, the company launched its WeAreCisco Snapchat channel. Each day features a takeover by a real-life Cisco employee—and it’s not scripted. That’s what makes it so authentic. One of the points I hit home in our employer branding eBook is that prospective employees—especially the millennial workforce—can tell when the company brand doesn’t align with the “true” work experience. And they can usually tell that during the interview process. If the best candidates are turning down job offers from your company, you may need to do a better job communicating your employer brand during the interview process.
For employers who are assessing whether or not they need an employer brand, and where to start with the research, there are three main questions to consider, according to Kristin Oravec, employer brand strategist at CKR Interactive:
- What is your company trying to accomplish with an employer brand?
- Are your company’s concerns more aligned with the internal or external audience or both?
- Where does your current employer brand stand (if one exists)? (i.e., have you recently completed an employee engagement survey?)
Once you’ve established where your company stands with these three questions, you should then figure out how to tie it into your corporate-brand strategy, Oravec explained. She also goes into greater detail in the eBook about the ROI of implementing an employer brand, including how it impacts your business’ bottom line by boosting your corporate brand as well.
Switching gears a little bit, a recent RecruitingBlog.com article made some great points about the basis of your company’s employer brand identity that I believe were worth adding to this conversation. This excerpt in particular:
“If you have a buttoned up culture and clear hierarchy, that is what will eventually seep out into the world. Working on game changing technology in a fun atmosphere? That’s what will eventually come to define you.”
Like I mentioned above, you’re already creating an employer brand based on what you and your employees do day in and day out. That’s why it’s critical to assess, define and maintain your employer brand so you can create a place where people want to work—and an environment that people never want to leave.
I’ll use myself as an example. At my first job, the culture was so great that I stayed with the company for six years despite there being little room for advancement. I had amazing coworkers, I got to travel to places I’ve always wanted to go (on the company’s dime), I had my own private office, I received a stipend for both my cell phone and my gym membership, I had a 6% match on my 401k, the list goes on. It was by far some of the best years of my life. And because of the amazing culture, they were able to retain quality talent (me) far beyond the normal time an entry level millennial will stay with a company.
Establishing a strong employer brand is a huge competitive advantage to companies. It not only helps your talent acquisition team convert passive employees into star talent, it also helps human resources with internal marketing. If you’re looking for a natural starting point, I encourage you to download our eBook on the importance of employer branding today.