Mastering the art of employer branding storytelling

Last updated:
March 10, 2022
March 10, 2022
min read
Brendan McConnell
employer branding storytelling
Table of contents

Strong employer branding is an important piece of any talent acquisition strategy.

Creating an image of your company as a highly desirable place to work, and backing that up with strong candidate experiences will help you attract and land top talent. A key component of this process is your employer branding storytelling, and your ability to create compelling content that drives sustained interest in your company.

In this article, we're going to take a deep dive into the different employer branding storytelling techniques and strategies that you can use to create a desirable image for your company. By the end of it, you should feel empowered to tell your brand story to new candidates, and confident that you're putting your company's best foot forward to the public.

Let's get started!

What is employer branding?

Before we jump into storytelling techniques and strategies, let's step back and have a quick reminder of employer branding. While employer branding storytelling falls under the umbrella of employer branding, they are two separate things. Employer branding storytelling is a strategy that is used to achieve strong and clear employer branding. 

Have you ever noticed that some companies are just talent magnets? As soon as their job opening goes live on their chosen marketing method - from social media to job boards to their own careers website - they receive applications from the top talent without even having to try hard? You can bet your bottom dollar that it’s happening to some of your competitors. 

Often, that’s because they have a strong employer branding strategy in place that helps them put their best foot forward, and makes them appealing to the best applicants.

So, what exactly is employer branding?

Employer branding, at a high level, refers to your company’s reputation as a place to work. This takes two forms:

  • How others view you as an employer.
  • How you present yourself as an employer.

Employer branding, in a nutshell, is your reputation and image as a place to work. It's made up of a combination of your employees' perception of you as an employer, how candidates see you as a potential workplace, and what message or story you're telling the public about yourself.

This story will be molded by the following factors:

  • Personality
  • Voice and tone
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Experience

Employer branding is both built and earned based on the types of strategies, messaging, and internal processes you have in place. How you speak to applicants, how you treat employees, and how they talk about you all contribute to your employment brand.

So, ultimately, employer branding storytelling is the content and information you use to craft your employer brand image. This requires a careful cocktail of brand messaging, authentic storytelling, strong candidate experiences, and reliable communication.

Together, these components present a detailed story about your brand.

Now that we've had a primer on what employer branding is, let's look at why these activities are important in the first place.

Employer branding techniques and strategy

Storytelling is one of the key employer branding techniques that convert to top talent. As human beings, we respond best to stories. We’re taught, ever since we’re young children, to make judgments of characters from stories. This extends to brands, too. 

There are many other employer branding techniques that help to build a strong impression of your company. However, storytelling is the most effective. 

With that in mind, here at Recruitee, we felt that we could dedicate an entire article to this specific technique. So, this post explains the employer branding technique of storytelling in its entirety.

If you’re looking for more employer branding techniques, check out this article.

Why is employer brand storytelling important?

Storytelling is one of the most powerful and effective techniques that a company can use to develop and showcase their brand.

Polished messaging and glossy images are usually just a starting point for brand communication, especially in recruitment. Don’t mistake this for us saying that design isn’t important. It is.
But there’s so much more that goes beyond solid design. The design will grip and engage, but the story itself is what helps to convert. It's the detailed and authentic stories behind that messaging that really sell your company as a desirable place to work.

But what are the advantages of mastering the art of employer branding storytelling? Why is it worth your time? Creating and executing a robust employer brand storytelling strategy has many benefits, including:

  • Attracting the attention of future talent and inspiring them to work for your organization
  • Planting the seeds in passive candidates' minds that you're a great place to work
  • Differentiating yourself from other employers within your market segment with highly unique content and stories
  • Showing top, in-demand talent why you're a better fit for them than a close competitor
  • Creating a clear vision, purpose, and mission for the company
  • Attracting like-minded candidates who feel a connection to the stories that you're telling
  • Creating increased demand and interest for your positions, without having to source new talent and traffic actively
  • Providing authentic employee stories that show real-life examples of what it's like to work at your company

Employer branding storytelling digs deep into what makes the company authentic and uses real stories from genuine people to present the company's unique image. Reading real-life stories helps instill trust while conveying an overall atmosphere to your working conditions. 

Finding and crafting those stories is incredibly important. But it can also be relatively challenging. You need the right people for the job, and the right brand storytelling strategy in place to find and create those compelling stories.

Your stories need to position your company as the hero by showing some of the benefits available for candidates should they apply and be successful. For example, perhaps one of your employees struggled with their health and had no support in their previous role. That employee could tell their story, positioning your company as the hero who offered private medical care and flexible working. This story will be particularly touching and allow specific resonation with other job-seekers who see this benefit as a priority, too. 

In the next section, we'll dig into some helpful tips for perfecting your employer brand storytelling.

10 effective employer branding storytelling techniques 

The following is a list of techniques and strategies that you can use to create your own employer brand stories. These recommendations are by no means exhaustive. It's important to use the tactics that align and work best for your organization.

One important thing to remember is that storytelling is a skill. It requires someone with a talent for content creation and an ability to dig deep within the organization to find compelling stories. It also takes buy-in from across the organization, and a collective willingness to share what's unique and special about your workplace.

It may be that you already have creative employees on your team who can assemble stories with strategy. However, if not, don’t underestimate the task. It’s not a simple as ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’ Consider hiring a professional to master your employer branding storytelling. If that’s not a possibility right now, then there are strategies and techniques you can use to create a robust employer branding story yourself.

So, with that in mind, let's dive into some employer brand storytelling strategies.

1. Understand your target audience

Most organizations will have a specific type of person or set of personality traits that they like to see in a majority of candidates. These preferences are what make up your target candidate personas.

Before telling your employer brand story, you need to pinpoint and understand the people you're trying to appeal to. Who are they? What do they value? What types of stories will interest them? Consider the demographics, but also the psychographics of your ideal candidate. 

Demographics are set areas that people fall into. A demographic could include factors like age, race, gender, education levels, and so on. A psychographic dives deeper into a candidate’s mind, asking for viewpoints on wider cultural issues, their personality traits, interests, and strong values. 

Combining demographics and psychographics when setting a target audience is crucial. You’re envisioning one, single person when you’re writing, which allows the story to be more powerful and resonate deeper with your ideal candidate. 

Millennials and Gen Z employees, for example, will likely have different priorities, values, and interests than their older counterparts. If your goal is to target these two generations, then you'll need to find some compelling stories within your organization to present to them.

You'll also want to consider which media and platforms those audiences are most likely to use when consuming your content. Don’t decide this based on a knee-jerk reaction. You could, for example, simply assume that young, fresh-out-of-college kids will be on TikTok. However, if you dig into the psychographics of your ideal candidate and research the platforms this ideal candidate uses, you may discover that they’re not on social media at all. The takeaway is to do your research and collect evidence to back it up. 

2. Create a unique value proposition

Once you've established your target audience, the next step is to create your unique employer value proposition. What makes you different and unique from other employers? What can you offer that other companies can't?

Part of this exercise will be to identify certain elements of your company culture that appeal to your target audience. Find interesting stories from within your organization to explain what makes you unique and appealing.

Your unique value proposition should be very clear. There should be no ‘fluff’, and shouldn’t use complex, industry jargon. The more to-the-point, the better. 

3. Decide what to talk about

Now is the time to prioritize what stories you're going to focus on. Will your priority be on authentic employee testimonials? Do you think a high-production employer branding video is the best way to showcase your company's personality? What about a virtual office tour?

Going through steps one and two mentioned above should give you a clearer picture of which stories and pieces of content will appeal most to your audience. Come together as an editorial team to decide on short- and long-term priorities, and start creating!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at this stage. It could be that you can’t think of anything. Similarly, you could think of way too many ideas. The best method to tackle this is by communicating with your team, asking for their input. Mind-map, research your competitors and get creative.

Check out our podcast on how to create employer branding videos

4. Source authentic stories from within your organization

One of the best ways to ensure that you're doing justice to your employer branding story is to actively source stories from within your organization. That is, actively talking to current employees about what they like about working at your company, what makes their job special, and why they think other people should join the team.

Your employees will have a huge variety of different insights into what it's like to work at your organization. Harnessing these stories and insights will give you a much wider range of authentic perspectives that you can use to really flesh out your brand identity.

You could create a quick survey and ask your employees to fill it in. That way, you’ll have written data that you can analyze and spot patterns. Further, allowing an anonymous option will ensure full transparency. 

5. Adopt a brand journalism mentality

In order to effectively source stories from within your organization, it helps to adopt a brand journalism mentality. If you're in charge of telling your company's unique brand story, then you're effectively acting as a journalist within your organization.

Brand journalists are passionate about finding interesting stories to tell. They interview people across the organization to get different perspectives. They record videos, audio, and written testimonials to form a complete picture of why the organization is the way that it is.

Adopting that mindset will encourage you to investigate and get the job done properly. 

6. Use storytelling best practices

When it comes time to put pen to paper or start cutting video, it's important to remember some of the key components of great storytelling.

Remember who your target audience is, and who's reading or listening to the story. What do they want to hear? What types of stories or presentation styles most appeal to them? Take a step back to consider your audience, and craft your story in a way that they will enjoy.

When writing your brand stories, make sure you add in the key elements of a good narrative. 

  • Who are the key characters? 
  • What will happen in the climax?
  • What are the interesting themes? 
  • Were there any conflicts or problems that were overcome?

Just because you're creating content for a corporate purpose doesn't mean that it should be bland. Find ways to make your employer branding content compelling, and your target candidates will thank you for it.

7. Choose the right channel and medium to tell your stories

Once you've found the compelling stories within your organization, and told them in a way that appeals to your target audience, the next variable to consider is how you're going to present it to them.

Choosing the right medium for your story is just as important as choosing the right story. For example, an employee testimonial will likely pack a bigger punch with potential candidates if it's delivered in a video. That's because testimonials usually have more of an emotional angle than other brand messaging. Video helps to convey that emotion much more effectively than writing. It also instills more trust between your brand and the viewer. 

At each step of the production process, consider how you are telling your stories, and how they will resonate with your target candidates. If you feel that your medium of choice isn't quite cutting it, consider repurposing that story for a different platform.

Equally important as the medium you choose is the channel you use to distribute your employer brand stories. This comes back to understanding your target audience and candidate personas.

Do some research into which platforms and websites your target audience typically uses when researching potential employers. Package your brand stories for those platforms and present them in a way that matches the platform's expectations.

8. Use your brand storytelling for candidate outreach

Once you've gone through the process of sourcing and creating great employer brand stories, you can then start to incorporate them into your outreach strategies. Leverage your career site as a central hub for compelling stories and brand content.

Likewise, you can use your brand stories and content samples throughout your job posts, recruitment ads, LinkedIn interactions, social media posts, and 1:1 communications with candidates.

Remember, employer brand stories are real accounts of who you are as an organization and your value. This is all important information for a candidate who is evaluating you for a potential position.

9. Tell the truth

It should really go without saying, but if you're going to go to the trouble of creating employer brand content, it needs to be honest. 

Candidates will see through you pretty quickly if you tell less-than-convincing stories about your organization, or try to position yourself as something you're not. Additionally, being dishonest in your employer branding storytelling feeds into your employer branding, and trying to keep up with a web of lies is exhausting, dangerous, and seriously unappealing. 

No brand storytelling strategy - no matter how good it is - will overcome an untruthful story. So, don’t lie. You’ll have hundreds of stories under your belt that will make your company shine. Don’t fib just because you’ve yet to find it. Just keep mind mapping and communicating until you find a story that appeals to your ideal candidate.

10. Test, measure, refine

No matter how good your brand storytelling techniques and strategies are, there's no guarantee that they'll always resonate with your target audience.

That's why it's important always to measure the success of your branded content, test new variations and messaging, and refine your approach based on your findings.

Set up KPIs and reporting timelines to hold your team accountable and continuously monitor your brand storytelling strategies' effectiveness.

You can only improve what you can measure. Even with creative outlets, metrics underpin their success. Measure frequently, and edit based on the results. 

Bottom line

As you can see, effective brand storytelling is all about understanding who your target audience is, understanding what makes your organization and the people within it unique, and using the right strategies to get your message across.

This combination of creativity, strategy, and ongoing improvement will help you create a robust and compelling employer brand story that your target candidates won't be able to resist.

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