Right now, the biggest trend in recruiting is employer branding, crafting the promise your company makes to its employees. And the biggest trend in marketing is brand storytelling, using content, examples, and experiences to bring your brand to life in the mind of consumers.
Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. But it’s not always straightforward. Harnessing the best of employer branding and storytelling means sharing not only the story you want to tell but also integrating the story your best candidates want to hear.
For example, your company may have a customer-service focus — but that’s not necessarily part of a compelling employment offer. That sort of disconnection happens all the time: Many employers think that recent college graduates are concerned about the environment, but a recent NACE study showed that working for a “green” company was last on their list of desired employer qualities.
And don’t mistake storytelling for content. You may have a regular blog, Pinterest boards full of photos, and a YouTube channel with lots of videos, but if none of it emotionally connects to job-seekers, you won’t move the needle. As Momentum Worldwide’s Jon Hamm put it in Adweek, “Audiences have always asked for stories. They’ve never asked for content.”
To most effectively integrate storytelling with employer branding, I recommend that the HR department — and even the C-suite — become best friends with recruiters, because they’re the ones “selling” your company and know what resonates with job-seekers. You’ll have to go beyond a few casual conversations, too. Conducting independent focus groups with your recruiters allows you to marry what your company offers with what people want. It also lets you create counterpoints to what people are saying about your company “behind your back.”
|Another successful hire!
The result? You’ll build a compelling employer value proposition that resonates with desirable workers in the job market. They’ll be the right cultural fit, too, which means you’ll decrease hiring times, hiring costs, and turnover while increasing retention, referrals, and productivity.
The best branding involves storytelling, and employer branding is no different. Good employer branding is easy to spot — Southwest Airlines, Taco Bell, Deloitte. Bad employer branding…well, those companies never seem to become household names.
It just so happens that Brandemix specializes in brand research and employer branding, so we’re an ideal partner for determining what top talent is hearing from your company and what they want to hear. If you’d like to stand out from your competition, I’d love to hear from you. Write to me or read about our successes on the Brandemix website.
Considering how important employer branding is, I still encounter a lot of confusion and misinformation about it. So, as a public service, I thought I’d bust some of the myths about employer branding.
Myth #1: Employer branding is unnecessary
Some clients tell me, “We’re an employer of choice; great candidates will
find us.” And yet you never hear executives at Apple or Disney or Coke
say “Everyone knows our products; customers will find us.” In fact,
those brands have massive marketing budgets. You can’t assume that your
exact desired demographic, whether it’s MIT grads or truck drivers, will
actively seek you out. Or think about this: What if great candidates do know you — and don’t like what they see? Employer branding can increase awareness and engagement by refocusing your messaging on your company’s mission, vision, values, and business strategy.
Myth #2: Employer branding is expensive
Good employer branding actually saves you money, through lower recruiting costs, higher engagement, and increased productivity/sales. Depending on the plan goals, a basic research project can be launched for as little as $10,000. You can start small with communication audits and internal surveys, and then add executive interviews and employee focus groups. If you can secure a larger spend, we recommend surveying external constituents to provide context to your internal findings.
Myth #3: Employer branding is completely separate from consumer branding
It better not be! An employer brand must be absolutely aligned with and inspired by the consumer brand. After all, candidates are customers, investors, and influencers. One of the first things we do on any employer branding project is break through organizational silos and align the employer brand with the company’s current messaging. We try to get all stakeholders — Marketing, HR, Internal Communications — into the same room to make sure we have a consistent brand that’s authentic on both sides of the house. Along the way, we
often help Marketing and HR become friends!
Myth #4: Employer branding research can be done in-house
It can, but it’s much more difficult. Employees are reluctant to share their true
feelings with their HR department for fear of reprisal. Executives
interviewing each other often leads to an “echo chamber” effect, where
no one advocates change. And external constituents, such as customers
and former applicants, think surveys are a marketing ploy and
stay away. Brandemix is a neutral third party; we take empathetic listening to the next level by listening, probing, and processing. An outside set of
eyes can reveal things about your employer brand that you never saw.
Myth #5: Employer branding only helps the hiring managers
Au contraire! The entire company benefits from a strong employer brand. You’ll attract employees who are a good fit for the culture, who stay longer, perform better, and recommend the company to others. More referrals and lower turnover makes for a happier, more stable workplace. HR will have more time to work on other initiatives, like workforce planning, talent management, or diversity. Eventually, you’ll have weeded out the underachievers and filled your roster with satisfied employees, which studies have shown create more profit for the entire organization.
Don’t let these myths fool you. Employer branding is crucial to the success
of any company, from a nonprofit to a regional chain to a global
corporation. It cuts costs, generates profits, and can turn your company
into a true employer of choice.