If you think the first impression candidates have of you is when they walk in the door for an interview, think again.
Modern candidates have the freedom to pick and choose which employers and positions to pursue. In fact, it’s expected of a potential candidate to do a little research on the background of the business.
Even if they don’t dig deeply, the internet is bound to tell them more than you think. There are sites like Glassdoor that offer anonymous employee reviews, social media platforms to post team photos on, and the other various nuances that make it seem hard to adopt employer branding best practices.
Employer branding is the process by which a company creates an internal and external face of the company, focusing on a target audience comprised of prospective hires. What is it like to work for the company? What do people think it’s like to work for the company? The answers to these two questions should align. An example of employer branding best practices is that of Google, voted the best company to work for – seven years in a row as of 2016. Google successfully promotes a fun, challenging, and, most importantly, genuine work environment.
You want to create an employer brand that attracts and retains the right candidates. We have an easy, step-by-step guide that will show you how to craft an image of your brand that creates buzz around your company and an excitement in job seekers when they see the challenges and benefits offered.
Step 1: Company Values, Goals, and Culture
Get out a piece of paper and a pencil (or pen or marker or whatever floats your boat). Write down words that you associate with your company. A few questions you can ask yourself to come up with these keywords are:
What does the company offer to current and future employees?
What is the company’s product and purpose?
What do employees at the company value, in the company and in themselves?
What color is the logo? (This is something you may not be able to change if you are late in the game, but at least take note!)
What are some accomplishments of the company?
This is just a start, but try to make a cohesive list. Then narrow it down to the most important, influential markers of the company as a valuable employer. Choose challenges and rewards that are unique to the company and would offer an enticing benefit to potential employees.
MOD, a pizza place that celebrates diversity, does it right. “Join the MOD Squad” is a catchy phrase, and there is a clear, memorable value statement on their careers site. This makes for a welcoming employer brand.
Step 2: Employee Rallying
Once there is a clear impression established that the company desires to make on potential candidates, it’s important to ensure that this aligns with the current impression of the actual employees.
If the employees don’t believe in the employer brand, then no one will. The employees are just as big of a part of employer branding as the HR team (if not bigger!). Employees are the brand’s ambassadors, promoting real-life experiences within the company. Work to make sure those experiences are positive ones.
This is not something that will happen overnight, but will happen with careful consideration of employee needs. Not sure what your employees need? Ask them! Offer comment cards to see what the company can improve upon. Look on Glassdoor and work on reversing any wrongdoing from the past (before you read this article). Create a strategy for a positive workplace.
There is one caveat: this must come from a genuine place. No one likes phony “team-building” activities. Rather, build a work environment that is open and welcoming to new ideas, new people, and new opportunities for growth. Make sure your benefits are fair, the office is inviting, and hard work is rewarded. It seems like a lot to take on at once, but with patience and determination, it will all fall into place naturally. Happy employees = a positive employer brand.
LUSH is a perfect example of creating a cohesive, enjoyable employee culture. They have an entire YouTube playlist devoted to getting to know LUSH and their employees. In the video below, they showcase a few employees passionately explaining how a LUSH product is made.
Step 3: Brand Image & Recognition
Your company has an impeccable work environment. You know it, and your employees know it. But do potential candidates know how great the company culture is? They should! Brand image is important in establishing visibility and cohesiveness, ensuring that job seekers recognize and acknowledge your brand when looking for a position.
Brand image is “the perception of a brand in the minds of persons. The brand image is a mirror reflection (though perhaps inaccurate) of the brand personality or product being. It is what people believe about a brand-their thoughts, feelings, expectations,”according to the American Marketing Association.
The “persons” we are focusing on are potential candidates and their thoughts, feelings, and expectations for what it would be like to work for your company. When job seekers are scrolling through thousands of job listings, your job listing needs to stick out. Potential candidates may even come knocking if you create a compelling brand image! There are a few basic categories you want to think about when crafting this image:
Logo, colors, and fonts
Careers site (office space, benefits, etc.)
Type of employee
Values and culture
These may seem simple, but you need to take the time to pin down exactly how you want your company to be represented. Get input from every department. Give surveys to consumers about their perceptions. Keep it consistent. To give you an illustration of a successful brand image, we will fill in these categories for Google.
Logo, colors, and fonts: Simple red, green, blue, and yellow logo, and sans serif font
Writing style: Simple and direct, yet intelligent and friendly
Type of employee: Innovative, fresh-thinking individuals, veterans, cool problem-solvers, diverse
Values and culture: Innovation, problem-solving, and inclusive
This shows through their careers site and entices job seekers to want to be a part of that journey. To do this for yourself, take Step 1 and Step 2 (which should now be aligned) and make your brand image reflect them.
Step 4: Content Creation Strategy
Now that you have the general vibe down that your company wants to give off as an employer, it’s time to start creating content. Before you start posting right away, here are some tips for content to keep in mind:
Tone and voice: Be unique, but don’t be offensive
This sounds obvious, but what you think of as playful may be offensive to a certain group. Employment is all about diversity and acceptance of different cultures working together. An example of what NOT to do is found in this Urban Outfitters’ apparent office party flyer from 2014:
Even though the bottom of the flyer mentions donations, and the whole thing could be a celebration of diversity, due to their previous offenses of a similar nature, it was not appropriate. This sends the wrong message to potential hires, even though Urban Outfitters has been quite successful despite its mishaps.
The right thing to do in a situation such as this is to have one designated spokesperson that is relatable to the target audience affected. Immediately apologize as soon as you are aware of the blunder. Own up, and make sure the public knows that you are doing everything in your power to resolve the situation. This reestablishes trust, and future employees like to know that they can count on their future employer to take responsibility for its actions.
Strength showcase: Promote office perks and benefits
Play up what your company has to offer to potential employees. Twitter is a great example of this, providing free health classes, acupuncture, meals, gym memberships, and unlimited paid-time off, according to Glassdoor. Plus, just look at their office space!
It shows that Twitter works hard to make their space fun and inviting for their employees. The reviews on Glassdoor for Twitter are also massively positive. You can infer from this that whatever Twitter promises to employees, they deliver. This is worthwhile, as it comes back to help a company in the form of reviews and ratings.
While Twitter is a largely successful social media platform and your company may not be (yet), you can still offer perks. Make your office space as fun and productive as possible, and allow employees to have a good work/life balance. Most importantly, don’t offer something you can’t deliver!
If your offices have a great view, use that to your advantage. If you can offer free lunches, do it! If you are realistic about your benefits and successful, this will turn into glowing reviews from employees and buzz around how enjoyable and valuable it is to work for your company.
Another simple way to show how fun your office is is to take team photos (and videos)! If you talk the talk, you should walk the walk. Take professional, yet candid photos and videos at team events, fundraisers, meetings in the park, or just around the office.
If your employees are truly happy with the company culture, it will be apparent. Get creative with your media, and show the company’s personality through its employees and workspace. Here’s an example from Recruitee’s careers site:
The genuine smile on the team members’ faces, the cohesive color-scheme, the open body language, and the centric logo all pull this image together into a space that potential candidates can easily picture themselves in.
Show the WHY: Position your brand into the big picture
Job seekers are knowledge seekers, firstly. Create content they can use and learn from. If all of a company’s content is purely promotional, it doesn’t offer any value.
Hotjar, a CRO (customer relationship optimization) solution, offers this action plan, giving users a clear idea of how to use their product to its full extent.
As you can see, Hotjar starts big and zooms in, going from the ‘big picture’ to the nine-step plan. This way, potential candidates get the overview of the process of uncovering growth opportunities before getting down to the nitty gritty, step-by-step plan. The purpose of this is to show consumers and potential candidates, alike, that Hotjar is not just “in it for the money,” but they have knowledge and expertise to share.
It’s a little coincidental, because that is exactly the type of information employers want to know about their candidates! So put your best foot forward as you would expect your candidates to, show your credibility, intelligence, and willingness to work hard regardless of pay. Show potential candidates that if they choose to apply and get hired, they will be in good company!
Step 5: Content Distribution
The content of your employer branding is pinned down, but where should you share? When do you share? How do you share? There are written and unwritten rules for the various places around the internet to distribute your content. Here are the main places to post and how to do so:
Whether it is on your blog or as a guest post on another relevant blog, articles written in a consistent, informative tone can generate organic traffic to your employer brand. Write a blog post about the hiring process, linking back to your job openings in a relevant spot.
Most blogs that allow guest posts don’t allow purely promotional content or content that is available somewhere else on the internet. It’s important to create original, useful content so that search engines will index the post, as well as your company does not appear to be spamming blogs with promotional content.
A great example is this blog post about Tiqets, the fastest-growing Dutch startup. It tells the story behind the hiring process, offering useful information about the company, and also offering a place to put links to Tiqets’ careers site.
Job boards are a no-brainer as an outlet for your job openings and employer brand. Mainstream and niche job boards can boost your SEO and increase visibility. Make sure that the job description is clear and rid of gimmicky buzzwords. These job description templates are a solid place to start, but make sure to tweak them to match your hiring needs.
Instagram is highly image-centric. Twitter has a 140-character limit. LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Each social media platform has its own uses and preferred form of content. To adapt your content to Instagram, for example, create a visually-appealing graphic that entices people to want to work for your company:
This is an example from Coolblue, a Dutch online store selling tech gadgets and gear! You can get a sure sense of its work environment from the visually-appealing, oftentimes humorous, Instagram posts.
Do some research on the best practices for each platform. Be present on each platform. Update each platform. A blank Facebook page for a company is almost worse than not having a presence on Facebook at all.
Reach out to influencers in your field. Do the work, and get your company name on “top 10” lists that come up high in relevant searches. Publish white papers that are, again, useful for the target audience. Good press is important for SEO and gaining credibility in the eyes of potential candidates. This list of 100 best companies to work for from Fortune is a top-notch example.
Short and sweet videos with informative, personality-laden content are a great way to gain exposure. People are more likely to watch a quick video on a company than read a lengthy post.
Like the LUSH video above, you can make a good quality, genuine video showing the behind-the-scenes action of what a potential candidate can expect from your company after the date they are hired.
If you don’t have the time and funds to make the next award-winning feature film as your company video, it’s perfectly fine (sometimes better, even) to create a less-polished video. As long as you are genuine and showcase the positive things about working for your company, the video can give potential candidates just enough insight into the company culture to feel as if they know it well. Take this video from Impraise, for example:
Keep all candidates you don’t proceed with in one place, and nurture those (candidate) leads with newsletters, mentioning upcoming job openings available. This way, you are reaching those individuals that are already interested in your company, as well as their network. They may share this with someone that they know is right for the position. There are certain rules for email etiquette to follow, but in general, don’t overload their inboxes. Being marked as spam is not a good thing!
The careers site is the home base, the page that job seekers go to when they want to size up a company as a potential employer. It is the top used platform by employers and candidates, alike.
For this reason, you should seamlessly inject employer branding best practices into your careers site. Take all of the insights about your employer brand that you have learned up to this step, and allow them to culminate into a careers site. This website can be SEO optimized, have expressive imagery and videos, and showcase the benefits and perks of working for your company. Always link back to your original website so candidates can easily find more information. Here is the careers site for Isentia for your inspiration:
Isentia designed this web page with Recruitee’s careers site editor. Notice how it uses the cohesive color scheme and clearly states what type of employee they are looking for. There are clear guidelines around the site with the tabs at the top and a link back to the company website.
That’s a wrap!
But wait! Before you celebrate your newly found employer branding best practices, you must keep something in mind. It is important to constantly build your employer brand. The more you learn about how you want your company to be perceived, the more you can shape and mold your content into something that reflects that more accurately.
Use feedback from consumers, candidates, and current employees to continuously optimize your employer branding best practices. Change and flow with the events around you, allowing your company to stay afloat amidst a sea of companies that are just as appealing to candidates. Social media, for example, requires regular updating, so keep abreast of new techniques and tags that can help boost your job listing. As your company grows, your employer branding should grow with it!
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