Every Question You've Ever Wanted to Ask About Employer Branding—Answered

Imagine for a moment you are sitting in a room filled with talent acquisition and human resources pros. If your heart rate suddenly quickened, don’t worry—we’re talking about the “I live to make my company better” type of HR person, not the “I live to make policies as pointless and rigid as possible” folks, previously known as the Personnel Department.

If you asked this group, by show of hands, who thinks they have an employer brand, how many do you think would raise? Twenty-five percent of the room? Half? The answer should be 100%—in fact, whether they know it or not, every company has an employer brand.

Think of it this way: Every company has a culture, right? Some are playful, some are hard-charging, some are casual, and some are buttoned-up. No matter what, and whether you shape it deliberately or not, a culture exists.

The same is true of an employer brand. If culture is the thoughts and feelings that your employees have when thinking of what it’s like to work for your organization, employer branding is the same idea, replacing employees with potential applicants. In other words, your employer brand lives in the answer to “So, what did you think of the company?” after a candidate applies, interviews, or even encounters some of your employees at a networking meetup.

The catch is, of course, that you want to be able to control your employer brand—to tell the story that you want to tell to the outside world.

Read on for a primer on understanding your own employer brand—and making sure it’s contributing to your recruitment success.

Who Does an Employer Brand Reach?

The easy answer here is candidates: active ones, passive ones, and potential referrals. From your job postings to your Snapchat account, your employer brand should provide an accurate picture of your company to anyone who might consider it as a place to work.

Active candidates (those who applied directly or who are currently interviewing) are visiting your careers page, social media accounts, and perhaps talking with current or former employees.

Passive candidates (folks who aren’t on the job market but who still consume information online) may not Google your company specifically, but they may notice the cool things you’re doing for your employees, customers, and community if they come across it other places. Think about it this way: If your employees are posting fun pictures of team celebrations, rewards for a job well done, and exciting company announcements, their posts hit a large potential employee referral network, making recruiting top talent that much easier.

On that note, in addition to candidates, your employer brand should reach your existing employees. It serves as a way to connect people across team, regions, and countries, uniting them as a single, high-achieving entity. Your brand also acts as a reminder of all the amazing things your colleagues accomplished together, whether that’s a huge software release or a successfully stocked beer fridge. Help employees remember why they chose your organization through the messages you project.

So, How Do You Uncover Your Employer Brand?

Again, your employer brand, like a corporate culture, already exists in some form. Work with your team to uncover the themes that are already there: What made your star employees join your organization, and what makes them stay? Of their answers, what are the themes that you want to promote? Anything from your company core values, your commitment to ongoing learning and development, or your unlimited PTO policy works, though especially focus on the things that distinguish you from other employers. The idea is to pick things that genuinely delight your co-workers and make your company stand out.

Once you’ve done that, your job is to highlight the best parts of your company in unique yet consistent ways. You’ll want to incorporate these themes into everything from your career page (here’s a list of companies that do it particularly well) to your in-person interviews to provide an unwavering message about why employees choose your company over others. Which brings us to:

How Do You Promote Your Employer Brand to the World?

A great place to start is social media, where you can weave your brand through three main content types: employee news, company updates, and open roles.

Use your platforms to broadcast achievements, boast about new and newly promoted comrades, and share pics of team outings, à la ContextMedia. Do your organization proud by sharing notable company accolades such as a freshly completed product launch, an exciting new partnership, or a meaningful philanthropic effort. Or showcase a different employee each week: Let them take over your social media feed to give viewers a true picture of a day in their life. Let others follow their morning commute, daily standup, lunch with co-workers, and an afternoon of collaborating with teammates to understand what life is like inside your company. (Rise Interactive does this well with its #risesnaps posts.)

And share open roles, yes, but also make sure you take the opportunity to provide more than a vanilla list of links to open jobs. Tell the story of why someone should jump at the chance to work with your colleagues, focusing on people, not products or perks. Lure jobseekers in with pictures of the team or quotes from your hiring managers.

For even more inspiration, check out the Instagram feed of Sprout Social—an excellent example of employee stories, company acheivements, and overall brand awesomeness at work.

OK, But How Much Does This Really Matter?

In short, a lot. Not only is your employer brand a direct link to the regular happenings at your company, it also should serve as a point of consistency for job seekers. If your brand depicts a fun, transparent, high-energy environment, your interview shouldn’t suggest one that is more sterile and serious, or you’ll quickly lose candidates’ interest. Be strategic, yet realistic, with your messaging to ensure that applicants get the real picture of what it’s like to work for your company—and that the right applicants will want to learn more. And remember: The more often this message hits their feed, the more likely candidates are to think of your organization when it’s time for them to consider a new opportunity.

You already do amazing things for your employees—use your employer brand to announce these terrific efforts to the world.

Want to learn even more about employer branding? Download our ebook.

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Daily Muse
The Daily Muse is the daily publication of The Muse, your ultimate career destination that offers exciting job opportunities, expert advice, and a peek behind the scenes into fantastic companies and career paths.

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