April 19, 2016

Why Your Company Needs Employer Branding & How To Get Started

There is no company on the planet that shouldn’t use employer branding to help them attract and hire the best talent. That was my response when I was recently asked by John Sumser, Principal Analyst at KeyInterval Research and Founder of HRExaminer, to share my thoughts on whether there are companies out there that don’t or shouldn’t need to focus on employer branding in The Definitive Guide To Employment Branding by Dice. If you haven’t checked out this guide yet, I highly recommend it.

Having worked on and led employer branding at various companies ranging from startups to large international organizations, I can confidently say that every company, even a Google or Facebook, needs employer branding.

If you’re not proactively making an effort to manage and join in on the conversation around your company’s employer brand, you can bet that someone else is. You then risk letting others control the perceptions of your company as an employer and attracting candidates who may not actually be qualified or culturally fit for the roles you’re hiring for.

So why is employer branding important, and just how much can a poor employer brand cost you?

Fact #1: According to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review and ICM Unlimited, companies with a bad reputation are expected to spend at least 10% more per hire. For a company with 10,000 employees, they are looking at spending as much as $7.6 million in additional salaries to make up for a poor employer brand.

Fact #2: Based on their calculations, Harvard Business Review and ICM Unlimited found that companies needed to pay $4,723 more per hire in order to convince a candidate to accept a job offer at a company with a poor employer brand. And this is only the candidates who may be willing to take the job offer. Nearly half of all respondents surveyed say they would still rule out a company with a poor reputation if offered a pay increase. Even a 10% pay raise would only convince 28% of candidates to sign on the dotted line.

Fact #3: In Canada, the annual cost of a poor employer brand is estimated at approximately USD $3.5 million per year, $5.9 million for UK and a whopping $8.2 million for Germany. That’s not cheap, is it?

Fact #4: A real case study: Two years ago, Virgin America surveyed its rejected candidates and found that 18% were their customers. What’s worse is that 6% switched to a competitor airline as a result of a negative candidate experience. This weak employer brand cost Virgin roughly $6.2 million in lost revenue – that was almost as much as the company’s annual recruiting budget.

Fact #5: A CEB study shows that a strong employer brand can increase your quality of hire by 9%. A poor employer brand, on the other hand, would mean hiring average to below average performers, given most of the highly sought-after top talent on the market will not apply or accept job opportunities with your company. For a company like Apple, the cost of hiring an underperforming employee would cost them $240,000 a year! However, by proactively building a brand that influences only the best talent to apply and work for them, organizations can expect improved profitability and $1.4 million in savings every year.

So now that you’ve gotten the leadership team’s attention and buy-in on the need for employer branding, what do you do next? Before you go and create a Snapchat account for your company (just because every brand seems to be doing that nowadays), you need to first evaluate and understand the current state of your employer brand.

7 Components Of An Employer Brand Audit

Conducting an employer brand audit will help you identify what your company is currently doing right (and should keep doing) as well as the areas your company can improve on, with actionable insights to better inform your employer brand strategy. Here are 7 things you should include in your employer brand audit:

1. Candidate Personas
You’ve likely heard of marketers talking about the term buyer personas, which are representations of a company’s target consumers based on market research and data. Similarly, candidate personas are research and data-driven insights and characteristics of your target talent audience.

Candidate personas can help you identify the platforms where your potential candidates are hanging out, to ensure you’re targeting the right channels that will actually reach your target audience. At the same time, candidate personas can help you create more relevant employer brand content and employee experiences, helping to differentiate your company from your competitors to attract the best talent out there.

2. Careers Site
Take a look at your careers site and ask yourself how easy it is to navigate your careers site, and to find the information a candidate wants to know about your company, such as your culture, teams or job opportunities? Does the content on your careers site actually “show” instead of tell what makes your company a great place to work? Is your careers site optimized for mobile? Does it have clear call-to-action at the end of every piece of content or page? These are just some example questions you want to be asking yourself as you start conducting an audit of your careers site.

3. Social Media Presence
Which social media channels are you currently using to promote your employer brand? Based on your candidate research and personas, are these the appropriate channels to be on or are you missing any? What types of content are (and aren’t) resonating with your target candidates? Are there duplicate or unofficial brand channels you need to take action on?

Your social media presence also goes beyond your company career social media accounts, it includes your recruiters, hiring managers and employees as well. They are the “face” of your employer brand and your biggest brand advocates who can help amplify your employer brand messages. You’ll want to understand how they are currently using their personal social media channels to engage with potential candidates, and provide the necessary training and guidelines they need to help with your employer branding efforts.

4. Hiring Process & Workflow
What does your company’s current hiring process look like, from requisition to interview and offer approval? You want to make sure it is clearly defined and consistent across the entire organization to improve efficiency and data integrity, which is essential to making your recruiting efforts more data-driven.

As well, are there any gaps in communication and collaboration between all teams involved in the hiring process? If so, what trainings can you offer to break down those silos?

Also take a look at your existing technologies to see if they are properly and fully utilized to automate and optimize your hiring process. Are there any tools you can eliminate to free up resources and focus on more value adding technologies?

5. Recruitment Marketing
Review every tactic you’re currently using to find, attract, engage and convert candidates into potential applicants to fill your current and future openings.

Are your job descriptions consistent in terms of content, quality and voice? Are they compelling and insightful enough to help candidates screen themselves in or out, from both a qualification and culture-fit perspective?

You’ll also want to look at your referral program, recruiting events and programs, job board posting strategy and recruiter outreach messaging. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen companies make is not having a compelling, consistent “sales” pitch recruiters can use to give to candidates when engaging with them. This inconsistency can negatively impact how candidates perceive your company and employer brand, which ultimately hurts your recruiting performance.

6. Candidate Experience
42% of job applicants say they would never apply to a company again if they had a negative candidate experience. But if you do it right, your candidate experience can be the key differentiator to help you stand out from your competition.

Try applying for one of your current openings and ask yourself how you feel about the entire process. Was it simple, quick and seamless? Once an application is completed, do candidates receive any communication on next steps and timeline so they know what to expect throughout the hiring process?

You’ll also want to audit your applicant screening, interview, selection and onboarding process, as well as the level of candidate communication during each process. How long does your entire hiring process take? What changes can you implement to improve your hiring speed and quality of hire? What do candidates find frustrating about your hiring process, and what can you do differently to enhance their experience?

If you’re currently not gathering feedback from job applicants about their candidate experience, you want to start doing that now. Far too many companies don’t take advantage of this opportunity to improve their candidate experience, and to keep the lines of communication open and nurture potential leads for future openings.

7. Competitive Analysis
Now that you’ve completed an audit of your employer brand, you’ll want to research your competitors to analyze and determine the strengths and weaknesses of their employer brand. Conducting a competitive analysis can help identify changes you can make to your strategy, as well as inspiring you with new ideas which can give you the edge you need for employer branding success.

What does their employer brand strategy look like? Evaluate their careers site, employer brand channels and content, and even their hiring process. What are they doing well? What aren’t they doing? These can be opportunities for you to take advantage of to differentiate your brand from your competition.

A great employer brand doesn’t happen in one day. But by starting with an employer brand audit, you are on your way to building an amazing employer brand that will ultimately help you attract and hire the top talent your company needs for success today and tomorrow.

Do you need help with building or auditing your employer branding strategy? Contact me here and let’s chat about how we can help improve your recruiting results.

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