Thoughts on Employer Branding — 🐶 Beyond Cute Office Dogs 🐶

This dog is cute. Maybe it caught a bit of your attention. But that’s a short-lived win in hiring. Images of cute dogs on your company LinkedIn aren’t enough to get yourself a kick-ass team. I thought we’d look at how you can leverage employer branding to do so, beyond the canines.

We’ve all heard how important employer branding can be in hiring, and we all admire the companies that seem to do this well with their fancy merch, webinars, ad campaigns and the works. It’s true that big bucks 💰 can pay for a pretty picture. But you don’t need all that jazz to get started. Or to do this well.

Summarised here are a few easy and actionable ways to jumpstart your employer branding. You want to attract the best candidates to you, so you don’t always have to do all the (costly) chasing🏃‍♂️💨.

Employer Branding — Wait But Why Again?

Brand is more than your image operating at scale. The way I think about it, your brand is alive in literally every touch point and with all stakeholders over your company lifetime. And therefore also hot stuff for attracting applicants.

As often is the case, referrals 👯‍♀️ (1) and headhunting through active search 🕵️‍♀️ (2) often take centre stage, and annoyingly most of the budget in hiring. 👯‍♀️(1) and 🕵️‍♀️(2) are two great pillars for increasing speed of hire and ensuring a balanced and diverese hiring funnel. But employer branding serves an equally important part of your hiring success — by increasing activity in a third pillar — inbound candidates 📥 (3).

In order to build a scalable hiring machinery you’ll need all three pillars 👯‍♀️(1), 🕵️‍♀️(2) and 📥(3) to be working together. Balancing volume of applicants equally between these pillars will help you attract, select and hire the right candidates for your needs. When done well, employer branding will decrease your hiring costs and prevent your hiring funnel from filling up with noise. It’s a bit like “what you put out there is what you’ll attract”.

Five Steps to Jump-Start Your Employer Branding

Here are five steps to consider to attract the right candidates to you 📥.

1 | Communication Channels 🧚

As a very first thing I think the biggest mistake is trying to do everything all at once online. I’d try sticking to the communication channels where you already have some sort of following. Or consider targeting applicants by becoming more engaged in existing communities of your field or industry.

A little obvious perhaps for some but a career site, including well-written job specs, are a good place to start. I don’t think a career site needs expensive design overhauls to be great either — focus on giving future applicants what they want: personal stories, see point 2 and 3 below. Notion is a popular, easy to edit and cheap option.

Social media accounts like Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are the biggest levers for team generated “done on the cheap” employer branding 🤳. More on that in point 2 and 3.

Super important and often overlooked: your candidate experience is one of the most important engines of jumpstarting your employer branding. Build your process to include prompts for applicants to leave reviews on Kununu and Glassdoor. You can automate this in your ATS with one click. Don’t forget to mobilise your current team or even company alumni to contribute here too.

You can also consider venturing into a company blog. Content doesn’t have to be long, and if you have team members who love writing, get them involved.

Attending or hosting any form of online (and offline, once COVID is behind us) events and meetups is a great way to build brand awareness. You’ll strengthen positive associations to your brand whilst at the same time getting your community closer through shared experiences.

2 | Authenticity

To make sure you continue attracting the right candidates to you, you want to know and show what you really are, and even more importantly what you are NOT. Hiring is a bit like dating. Smoke and mirrors always fail in the long run. So just be as authentic as possible.

To do that, leverage as many of your team as your main brand ambassadors. Let them be your content creators 🧑‍🎨. Get them sharing their favourite moments on the company social media channels, create incentives for those internal celebrations to be made visible 🤳.

Although it might not always be visually the most unified, a real snoop on the inside rather than an over-polished facade will touch people more. If you can get people used to capturing the little simple moments of joy at work and share it online, magique!

Even a mini gesture like personalised chocolate can be an easy feel good to get the team together and active on their private ‘Grams “doing the work for you”.

3 | Relevant Content 👀

Being authentic is one thing, but you also want the content you create to be relevant. The messaging for employer branding shouldn’t read like an investor report or product release. Relevant content for applicants is you showing applicants that they’ll work for a (A) valuable purpose, (B) be solving interesting problems, (C) work with great people and (D) have personal development opportunities.

Nate Guggia hit the nail on the head in his post: employer branding is simply showing the “Why we do this , How we do it, What to expect when…”.

Think of these as you write your job specs and careers page to help candidates 🪄dream 🪄 of a future with you. Show them how exactly you will support them with their personal development. If you happen to have real life team examples of how this happened in the past: include them — best boost of credibility out there!

Or you could try applying this for a series of Instagram posts showing the potential designer what a typical day of wireframing with the engineers would look like. Or take to LinkedIn to highlight to future sales managers how the current growth strategy still needs a skilled negotiator to explode. Or play on Twitter with tagging and showing (off) a unique thing about the backgrounds, skills, routines of the team, their inner drivers and why they joined the company…

You see where I’m going with this? The opportunities are endless! 🦪🦪🦪

4 | Consistency

With your employer brand you’re essentially trying to sell an aspirational lifestyle and employee experience. Since not everyone’s online all the time following your every move, the bad news is you’ll need to keep repeating yourself until you feel like you’re a broken record.

Despite the repetition, you’ll still want to strike a pace that you can actually keep up with. One of my previous managers once said that you can tell when motivation internally is dwindling when you see a big drop in their social media activity…

Short side not: consistency doesn’t mean same content being recycled or copied on every channel. That’s sort of the opposite of authentic. Each channel can have their own thing going on, but the underlying promises should stay the same and true to who you are as a company, as per point 3 above.

5 | Measurability 📏

One of the trickiest aspects of employer branding is that the effects are not always immediate but do compound over time. And since employer branding is a long term investment, not a cost optimisation game it’s even more important to start tracking from the very beginning to know what is really attracting the right candidates to your inbox.

To not lose oversight, I always think of experimenting with one thing at a time. Decide on a goal and your success metrics, measure your starting point and then keep tapping in on a regular basis. Look at eg. the number of likes or shares, general following number, site visits, or track changes in numbers of candidate sources etc.

TL;DR

  • Focus on the one or two channels where you have already some sort of following.
  • Keep it authentic and bring your team onboard to create and share all that’s poppin’ hot in your company.
  • Think of the four dimensions of “valuable purpose, interesting problems, great people and personal development” to create relevant content for applicants.
  • Create a steady stream of content, but importantly also one you can keep up to avoid big activity dips!
  • Measure it all — never too late to start now and just keep it up on the regular so you have a chance to know what works 3–6 months from now.

That’s my take on how to jumpstart your employer branding — thanks for reading y’all! ✨

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